Your 2018 summer reading list

If you’re readying yourself for one long, hot summer and need some fabulous books to accompany it, then here are all my book reviews for the season. From memoirs to thrillers to historical fiction (including Instagram influencers, the AIDS crisis and mermen), I have you covered with all these new book releases that are great additions to your summer reading list.

📌 Looking for more fabulous books for summer reading? See my previous book reviews.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

Summer reading 2018 @minkaguides The Pisces by Melissa Broder

Lucy has been writing her dissertation for nine years when she and her boyfriend have a dramatic break-up. After she hits rock bottom, her sister in Los Angeles insists that Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Staying in a gorgeous house on Venice Beach, Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety – not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the dog’s easy affection. Everything changes when she becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn.

Lucy is at a very loose end. Her interest has diminished in both her PhD and long-term relationship and life in her college town has grown pretty stale. But when her boyfriend enthusiastically jumps at the idea to break-up and a deadline is set for her dissertation, Lucy finds herself without loveless and almost definitely jobless. Her sister throws her a lifeline, offering up her Venice Beach house for the summer while she travels around Europe, in exchange for looking after her much-adored dog. Newly single, and hoping the months away will help her finally finish her writing, Lucy plunges headlong into life by the sea in one of the world’s most iconic (and bonkers) beach suburbs. Balancing group therapy sessions with Tinder dates and dog walking duties, Lucy finds herself unravelling until she meets a secretive night swimmer who has a strange hold over her.

So, this book is pretty weird. It’s a modern reversion of the mythical sirens, and Lucy is definitely lost at sea. This woman is definitely not making smart choices in her life and this is probably why I really loved this character and the other women that surround her. There’s this idea that our 20s are for messing things up and our 30s are for getting our sh*t sorted. As anyone over 30 will tell you, this is hilariously untrue – you’re pretty much the same silly person but with more responsibilities. So it’s really refreshing to read a book from the perspective of women who are really not getting anything right. There were a couple of hands over my eyes and cringe moments were Lucy’s poor choices led her into some pretty unsavoury situations, but Melissa Broder’s acerbically funny internal dialogue saves you (nearly) every time.

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UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

Summer reading 2018 @minkaguides This Is Just My Face Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

This Is Just My Face is the whirlwind tour of Gabourey Sidibe’s life so far. In it, we meet her polygamous father, her gifted mother who fed the family by busking on the subway, and the psychic who told her she’d one day be ‘famous like Oprah’. Gabby shows us round the Harlem studio apartment where she grew up, relives the debilitating depression that hit her at college, and reminisces about her first-ever job as a phone sex ‘talker’ (less creepy than you’d think). With exhilaratingly honest (and often hilarious) dispatches on friendship, depression, celebrity, haters, fashion, race, and weight, This Is Just My Face will resonate with anyone who has ever felt different – and with anyone who has ever felt inspired to make a dream come true.

This is less a “memoir” and more a bringing-you-right-up-to-speed on the life so far of Oscar-nominated actor Gabourey (not Gabby) Sidibe. If you don’t know her from the intensely brilliant 2009 film Precious, then you’ll probably know Gabourey’s blonde locks from the hit TV series Empire. The book covers her pre-fame days, growing up in Harlem with an iconic subway singing mother and secretly polygamist father, and then moving on to become a phone sex worker before accidentally becoming a huge star.

Gabourey writes in a really likeable conversational manner, tripping over all manner of subjects on her way to getting the point and interjecting with the frequent amusing side note. It’s all too easy to say something about this book like ‘Gabourey is so strong and so sassy – she tells it like it is’, which is totally true but also feels (as an industry-shaking plus-size black female actor) incredibly glib. There’s much more to this book than that. I was especially interested in how she talks about trying to fit into her father’s life and trying to fit him into hers; how weirdly her mother turned down the role in Precious long before the film was ever made; and how she pulls no punches when it comes to her relationship with Lee Daniels and fame. Also, as soon as she mentioned that her name is pronounced like Cabaret (my favourite musical) I couldn’t stop purring her name over and over throughout the book. I am now officially a massive fan of Ms Sidibe after reading this.

Support my blog and buy this book for your summer reading from

US: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Summer reading 2018 @minkaguides The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup: bringing an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDs epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, he finds his partner is infected, and that he might even have the virus himself. The only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago epidemic, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways the AIDS crisis affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. Yale and Fiona’s stories unfold in incredibly moving and sometimes surprising ways, as both struggle to find goodness in the face of disaster.

Covering three different eras (skipping between 1980s Chicago and current-day Paris with each chapter, whilst also looking back to 1920s Paris as well), this is the story of one man’s attempt to live a normal life as his world crumbles around him and another woman’s attempt to deal with the fall-out from her the trauma of her youth. In Chicago, we follow Yale and his friend Fiona’s journey the growing AIDS epidemic and in Paris, many years later, we follow Fiona’s attempt to track down her missing daughter. These two narratives start out feeling distinctly separate but grow entwined as we learn more about the space between them.

This novel is probably one of the best literary attempts at conveying the impact and fallout of the AIDS crisis that I’ve ever read. Viewed from the assumed security of a monogamist relationship, we watch Yale grapple with the growing understanding of what shape this epidemic will take as more and more of his friends fall ill. He’s also just trying to get on with his life and his relationship as well acquire a potentially exciting collection of art for his gallery. Fiona, on the other hand, is way over her head in caring for her brother, then his boyfriend and one friend after an another as the virus wipes out almost her entire circle of friends. How does one possibly move on and lead a normal life after that? This book humanises this era with incredible grace. I did wonder at times where it was all headed but that’s the charm of a good story, right? Definitely one of the best new book releases you can read this summer.

Support my blog and buy this book for your summer reading from

US: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

Shame on You by Amy Heydenrych

Summer reading 2018 @minkaguides Shame On You by Amy Heydenrych

Have you ever wanted to reinvent yourself?

Have you ever lied about who you are to get more likes?

Have you ever followed someone online who you think is perfect?

Meet Holly.

Social media sensation. The face of clean eating.

Everyone loves her. Everyone wants to be her.

But when Holly is attacked by a man she’s only just met, her life starts to spiral out of control. He seemed to know her – but she doesn’t know him.

What if Holly isn’t who she seems to be? What if Holly’s living a lie?

You know Holly. She’s that famous healthy eating influencer, who has basically invented ‘clean eating’ and has an Instagram full of juices, yoga wear and being #thankful. Everything about her life is picture perfect – aside from the fact that she doesn’t appear to have any love interests, family or friends – aside from her PR agent. When an impromptu date turns into an almost deadly attack, Holly has to work out why this man wants to kill her – or destroy her reputation at the very least.

This is quite an interesting, albeit cheesy, thriller about the world of influencers. This story is pretty clearly inspired by the scandal surrounding the Australian wellness influencer, Belle Gibson, and the revelations about her health empire in 2017. But, of course, this is fiction so the story goes off on one crazy, but relatively believable, tangent. There’s a moment about midway through the book (without giving away any spoilers) where I thought Holly was going to go completely 180 and have a total feminist rampage with her target set squarely on the world of influencers. Sadly, this doesn’t happen (that would have been amazing though) but this is still a pretty fun and thought-provoking read. Definitely a great summer reading option for the beach these holidays.

Support my blog and buy this book for your summer reading from

US: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

📌 Looking for more fabulous books summer reading? See my previous book reviews.

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