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400 Reads: Summer the perfect time to escape into a good book
Becky Cahill
Becky Cahill is a career educator and an avid reader. She reads extensively in her free time and tracks her favorites (and those that aren’t even close) on her blog at Becky is the host of ‘Read It or Leave It!’ a weekly reading podcast available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

See the full issue of the June 400 Life magazine here.

The spring of 2020 has been a challenging time for our country and our county, but summer is almost upon us and this is the perfect time to escape into a good book. The five books I am recommending are varied in genre and style, but all offer a doorway into a fascinating story. The list was curated using my own reading, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide, and staff picks from the New York Public Library.

Historical Fiction 

As a long-time fan of Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book), anything related to the work of Austen is intriguing to me. The Jane Austen Society, a debut novel by Natalie Jenner, combines references to Austen’s novels and her most well-known characters within an original story. The book centers around the English town of Chawton and its ties to Austen.  Following the end of World War II, the citizens are struggling to find their identify and they band together to preserve Austen’s legacy. 

Jane Austen Society

Family Relations 

It is common for an upcoming release to appear on more than one recommendation list, but it is rare for a novel to be almost universally endorsed.  However, that is the case with The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, arguably the most anticipated release of the summer.  Bennett does not shy away from hard topics in this book, examining family, poverty, and race through the shifting point of view of estranged twin sisters and their own daughters.  This book would be an excellent choice for a book club as it will create discussion on multiple topics. 

The vanishing half


I am not an avid reader of romance novels, but when I do pick up a book in this genre, I want a mix of romance and comedy, along with a unique take on the classic love story. The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (and her follow-up novel Undercover Bromance) ticks all of those boxes. The unique twist is that the protagonist is male, and he needs help saving his marriage. He comes to find out that his friends have formed a book club where they read Regency romance novels in order to keep their relationships healthy. The storyline is predictable, but there is humor and a reversal of roles which help Adams’ books stand out from the crowd. 

The Bromance Book Club


I am a huge Erik Larson fan. This is not an exaggeration, as I own each one of his fabulous non-fiction books. Larson is able to piece together history in such a way that you feel like you are reading fast-paced fiction.  His latest offering, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz is no exception.  Larson takes us through a familiar time in history and examines the importance of Winston Churchill in his first year as the British Prime Minister and his impact on the fate of England and the world during World War II. 

The Splendid and the vile


Mystery novels have been a large part of my reading life ever since I was young. My mother read voraciously, and murder mysteries were her book of choice. I grew up surrounded by the works of Agatha Christie, Carolyn Hart, and Emily Brightwell. If you are a fellow mystery lover, then Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson is perfect for you. Swanson sets his mystery in the world of books, where a bookstore owner writes a blog post about fictional murders that were almost perfect, but now it seems that someone is using his work as a guide to commit the crimes in real life. The book references many famous mystery books and intertwines the murder mystery into the book world. 

Becky Cahill is a career educator and an avid reader. She reads extensively in her free time and you can follow along on Instagram at beckycahill25. 

Eight perfect murders