Shopping My Shelves: Summer 2021 Reading Recommendations

Hooray! Summer is upon us. If you need some light (and not so light) reading recommendations, then please come in! I shopped my bookshelves to share a few reading ideas with you!

Let’s start out with a very light reading recommendation. The Wind off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart is a novella (more of a long short story, really) set in the breathtaking Canary Isles. It’s a Mary Stewart classic so this means there will be a ton of suspense packed in while a romance is brewing on the side; hence perfect read for the beach getaway. (Or if you’re like me and not traveling far because of the pandemic then read it at home with a frosty beverage. Win-win.)

You can not go wrong with Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson. It’s the charming tale of Miss Buncle and her adventures. Miss Buncle, you see, is in need of some funds. So she sets out to write a book set in her village which features all of the villagers. Unfortunately Miss Buncle did a terrible job of disguising the actual people she wrote about and the villagers become quite upset with her. All kinds of mayhem ensues. If you love classics, romance and English villages then this is the summer read for you!

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson is a little bit more serious but just as charming of a read. Miss Pettigrew is a governess who endured hardship most of her life. But thanks to a plucky young American she finally (after a very long day gallivanting around London) may just get her happy ending. I’d compare this story to Cinderella but without the stepsisters.

Summertime should be all about adventures. So what better adventure than the Harry Potter series? I just love this series and will never tire of it. I wonder if they are teaching Harry Potter in schools yet? I think they should. The school curriculum in the US is extremely outdated (we can all live without reading Lord of the Flies ever again) and I think they should replace a few of the books for the Harry Potter stories, in my humble opinion.

Can we let summer pass without reading a Jane Austen novel? Not in this house! May I recommend the timeless, sparkling tale of Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice? If you need another Austen recommendation, Persuasion is a good book for any time of year. Persuasion happens to be my most favorite Jane Austen novel. If you’re interested, I ranked the Jane Austen novels in an earlier post.

Which books would you recommend for summer reading?

xoxo, Jane

Four Books Set in London

Who doesn’t love a literary walk through London? Now that summer is slowly coming to an end, letโ€™s talk about books that make for perfect fall reading.

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Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans by Jane Green

Jemima J was the very first book I ever read by Jane Green way back when. This book is an oldie (Hello, 2001, I’ve missed you) but such a goodie! It’s a charming story about a Londoner, Jemima. She is overweight and bullied by everyone around her because of it. When Jemima meets a handsome Californian, Brad, over the internet, she quickly re-invents herself as JJ, a sexy, thin, and glamorous girl. But then of course Brad insists on meeting JJ and that’s when the fun and misadventures begin. I think the story held up really well over the years.

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Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

I enjoyed reading Belgravia so much that when it ended I hugged the book. It’s set in London (specifically, a newly-created Belgravia) and follows the destinies of two British families. One family is newly rich and the other family is “old money.” Something happens (I can’t give it away as it will ruin the story for you) that forces the two families to intertwine with each other, much to the disdain of the “old money” family. It’s funny, heart-warming and fun to read. It really should be adapted for TV. I think the best part about this book is that Belgravia is a main character.

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Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs is the first book in a series about a private detective set in London. Since this is the first book in the series, it introduces us to Maisie’s present and to her past. In her present, she tries to uncover a horrible secret involving veterans of the Great War. In her past, we learn that she herself is a veteran of the war. She worked as a nurse in the trenches of World War I. We have vivid flashbacks of her nursing days in the trenches. I must say, I’ve read lots of stories set in the trenches of World War I, but this is the only book where the scenes jumped out at me. I could actually visualize Maisie’s blood-soaked dress hems. If you are looking for a new mystery/detective series, with a witty female protagonist, then please start here.

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Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

Was this the book that started the “chick lit” genre? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it was crazy enjoyable to read. It also made me fall in love with this type of story (single, living in a big city, job problems, guy problems, happy ending). Just like the title conveys, this book is written diary-style over the course of one year. Bridget writes about her dreams and desires, her weight issues, her guy problems… It’s really hilarious! Highly recommended!

Do you have any favorite books set in London? xoxo, Jane

Also, four books set in Paris.

xoxo, Jane