AHR's Favorite Summer Reads

July 10, 2022

AHR's Favorite Summer Reads

Summer reading. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved stocking up on books for the summer. If I’m being honest, I love stocking up on books any time of the year, but there’s something about the promise of long summer afternoons spent lounging in the shade or by water, with a good book. It’s the anticipation of relaxation, when the most pressing thing you have to do is finish a chapter, refill your drink and reapply your sunscreen.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence the books I read on vacation are the ones I remember the most vividly. It’s probably a combination of long, focused periods of reading and less distraction. My usual habit involves reading before bed and results in me falling asleep several times while holding my book. To actually make the time during the day to sit and read is something that doesn’t happen often enough, so this summer I decided to make it a priority. As mentioned in last month’s blog, AHR’s Most Fun Summer, I’m committing to reading one book in July and one in August on top of my regular bedtime reading. This month I’m reading Anna by Amy Odell, and next month I’m reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.

So, what makes a great summer read? Over the years I’ve developed a few things I look for when choosing my pile. I look at summer reading a little differently than I do my usual reading. If these are the books I remember most vividly, I want them to be good. Here are the things I look for when choosing:

  1. I’ve got to be excited about it. Anticipation is key, and I’ll often save a book I’ve really been looking forward to and have heard great things about for my summer reading.
  2. It must be completely engrossing, a page turner if you will. I want to be enthralled, if I have to fight to get into it, it’s not the summer read for me.
  3. No dense reads. This doesn’t mean no heavy topics, I’ll read about almost anything, but I’m not looking to read a dissertation.

Now that you know my criteria, let’s get to the list! These are just a few of the great books I’ve read over the years. Some I actually read during the summer and some I wish I had read during the summer. All are outstanding and really run the gamut in terms of subject matter, time period and overall mood.


Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

One of my all-time favorite books, and one of only two book I’ve read twice. Set in England and spanning both wars, Life After Life tells the story of Ursula Todd. She dies the day she is born initiating a pattern that will repeat time and time again giving her something we’ve all wished for at times, the chance to right the wrongs of our past and potentially change the course of history.


Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Picture it: the coast of Malibu in the late 80’s. The glamorous children of an estranged rock star are preparing for their famous annual end of summer bash. Beginning the morning of the party, a series of flashbacks walk readers through the tumultuous lives of the Riva children, hinting at the secrets and deception that will culminate in disaster before the night is through.


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The story of identical twin sisters who run away from home at age sixteen and go on to live separate lives after one vanishes from their shared apartment with no warning. One twin returns to their small town to raise her daughter, the other erases her racial identity and her past, creating a life where she remains an unknown, even to those she is closest to.


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

If the fact that this book is partially set in Cinque Terre, Italy isn’t enough to convince you it’s a worthy beach read, it also involves an ill but glamorous Hollywood starlet, a handsome Italian inn keeper, and an almost love affair that spans fifty years and multiple locations. It’s a romance, but it’s got weight.


The Girls by Emma Cline

True crime lovers, this is the book for you. The Girls is set in 1960’s California and follows the story of a bored, lonely teenager that befriends an older girl she meets in a park. Entranced with the freedom of her new friend’s lifestyle, Evie begins spending increasing amounts of time at the compound where Suzanne lives among a group of individuals who are under the spell of a man who will become an infamous cult leader.


What are some of your summer reads? What are some of your all-time favorite reads? Drop them in the comments below and help me build my stack!

Leave a comment

Also in AHR Dispatch

AHR's Guide to Being Scared Silly
AHR's Guide to Being Scared Silly

October 16, 2022

Allow me to immediately absolve you of the illusion that I’ve been a lifelong fan of all things scary. It’s true that movies like Nightmare on Elm StreetFriday the 13th and Halloween were all the rage when I was a teen but, unfortunately for me and my street cred, I was the kid who’d leave the room at the mere mention of them. I once found myself in a situation where I was forced to watch Children of the Corn and it traumatized me for YEARS. For literal years, every time I thought about the movie, I’d get a chill that would run from the front to the back of my left shoulder. I literally have no idea how I ended up in a situation where I watched this movie, but it probably involved a boy and dear reader, it was not worth it. I’m still not into slasher flicks, mainly because I just find them a little ridiculous, but I am into psychological thrillers and have a passion for true crime that occasionally concerns my husband (but also keeps him on his toes?). Apparently, I’m only engaged if these horrible things are within the realm of possibility? I’d prefer not to look too closely at the psychology behind that, so let’s get down to business!

Continue Reading

Get the Look: You've Got Mail
Get the Look: You've Got Mail

September 11, 2022

"Don’t you love Okotoks in the Fall? Makes me want to watch You’ve Got Mail."

Well, I guess if I’m being completely honest, I always want to watch You’ve Got Mail, but the urge is especially strong at the first hint of Fall. In a lot of ways, I’m not typically nostalgic when it comes to the 90’s. I’m not eager to revisit my grunge phase, but I do have a special place in my heart when it comes to 90’s interior and set design. Enter You’ve Got Mail and, more specifically, Meg Ryan’s apartment.

Continue Reading

AHR's Design Rules
AHR's Design Rules

August 14, 2022

"Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist." - Pablo Picasso

When you think of creativity, rules probably aren’t the first thing that come to mind. But in art, as in life, there are certain rules that point us in the right direction and give us a better chance for success; interior design is no exception. The following are guidelines for some of the most common stumbling blocks I see, those tricky little design conundrums you shouldn't need a degree to master.

Continue Reading