We just can’t shake our roots.
Having started out as a secret book club, we here at Molly Jones are major novel aficionados. This summer, we think you deserve an escape and what better way to do that than with a deliciously captivating book. Here’s our list of the six best novels we’ve read so far this year. Get to work and let us know what you think!
1. Daisy Jones & The Six
A behind-the-scenes novel about life on the road for a fictional rock band, Daisy Jones & the Six. Lots of sex, lots of drugs, lots of rock-n-roll. So easy to read, we devoured it in two days. Even though it’s fiction, we learned so much about what goes into creating and promoting music. Easiest beach read we’ve ever read, highly recommend!
Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
2. The Dreamers
What starts as an apocalyptic nightmare ends as a curious look at the human capacity for love. Another easy-to-read fictional story with a twist at the end that leaves you wondering whether our dreams have more meaning than we know.
One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster
Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
3. City of Girls
When we saw a new novel from Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Prey, Love), we had to get our hands on it. With City of Girls, Gilbert uncovers a common (yet secretive) time in a woman’s life – an era of sexual exploration, rampant promiscuity, heavy partying, and stubborn independence. And here we thought we were the only ones who had a crazy time in our twenties…
With a transparent look at the double standards for men and women, City of Girls makes a strong case for why young girls should be able to live free of judgement.
Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love.
In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand.
Now eighty-nine years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life – and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. “At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time,” she muses. “After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.”
4. The Tattooist of Auschwitz
We know, sounds heavy for a beach read, and yes, there are parts that are hard to take in. But this mostly true story shines a light on the resilience of the human spirit and our capacity to love. You’ll inevitably fall in love with the main character Lale, and marvel at how he manages to look out for everyone around him, even at the expense of himself, over and over again. This heartwarming book will leave you feeling optimistic about the goodness in people, even in the worst of times.
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
5. The Night Olivia Fell
A true who-dun-it beach read about a mother in search of answers after her daughter’s death. An intenseful page-turner full of unraveling secrets that keeps this storyline twisting through to the very end. Perfect book for a beach vacation!
In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.
When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?
Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?
6. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
There’s nothing better than watching a woman throw off the shackles and unashamedly become herself. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is a heartwarming story of older women giving into their secrets and fantasies, ultimately liberating themselves in the process. A quick and easy read that will give you insight into the Indian culture and changing expectations for women, marriage, and aging.
Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.
Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.
As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.