By Julie Kish

As the warm weather struggles to take hold, we look forward to the perennial tradition of summer reading. Whether you plan to cram your e-book readers with an entire collection, tuck a paperback in your beach bag, or listen to an audiobook while you weed your garden, it’s time to choose the stories that will keep you company through the warm months. You can be a prolific reader without spending a fortune because you can find e-books, audiobooks and hard copy volumes at the Toronto Public Library.

I like my summer reads to be page-turners with substance. Above all, they should be informative and thoroughly entertaining. I give bonus points for humor. 

People We Meet on Vacation

By Emily Henry
Berkley Books, 2021

            My first recommendation is a tender-hearted romantic comedy with
a “friends to lovers” trope. Alex and Poppy form a lasting friendship after sharing a long car ride home from college…like When Harry Met Sally. They live far apart but follow through on their vow and meet for a one-week vacation every summer for the next ten years. That is until they have a falling out. Poppy tries to repair their relationship by inviting Alex on one last holiday to Palm Springs, California, and this is where the magic happens.

The author creates multi-layered characters with chemistry that oozes off the page. As with all rom-coms, you can expect a happy ending.

56 Days

By Catherine Ryan Howard
Blackstone Publishing, 2021

Perhaps you’d prefer a good murder mystery with a modern Covid-19 twist. This contemporary thriller is set in Dublin during the first Covid-19 lockdown of 2020. Ciara and Oliver meet in a grocery store and fall hard for each other after a couple of dates. When a two-week national lockdown threatens to keep them apart, they decide to temporarily move in together. However, neither one of them has been honest about their past, and by the time the extended lockdown ends, one of them is dead.

As their secrets are revealed, the story takes unexpected twists and turns. It’s a true page-turner and an engrossing whodunit.

Operation Angus

By Terry Fallis
McClelland & Stewart, 2021

How about a humorous Canadian spy story with cheeky characters and a madcap cloak-and-dagger plot? Angus McLintock, who refers to himself as an accidental Member of Parliament, and his trusty Chief of Staff Daniel discover that Chechen separatists are plotting to assassinate the Russian President when he’s in Ottawa to meet with the Prime Minister.

They find themselves in a race against the clock to uncover the Chechen sleeper cell, thwart their plans, and ultimately save the Russian President.

Known for his Canadian political satires, author Terry Fallis has published eight novels since 2008, but Operation Angus is the first novel I’ve read by this award-winning humorist. I’ve become an instant fan. This is the third novel featuring the characters of Angus and Daniel, but it can be read as a stand-alone story.

The Diamond Eye

 By Kate Quinn
William Morrow & Company, 2022

If you’d prefer an adventurous fact-filled historical fiction that will keep you busy for a while (435 pages), I highly recommend The Diamond Eye. Kate Quinn is the unequivocal queen of WWII historical fiction and always features strong, angry women who live hard and fight harder. Her previous novel, The Rose Code, was one of my favorite reads of 2021. The author’s prose is terrific, and her research is meticulous.

The protagonist, Mila Pavlichenko, is based on a real-life Russian student and teen mother who took up arms when the Nazi army invaded her homeland. She eventually becomes history’s deadliest female sniper. The story is fascinating and features Kate Quinn’s most kick-ass heroine yet. I love how the author weaves actual historical figures with fictional characters, and the heroine’s friendship with feisty Eleanor Roosevelt is the icing on the cake.

Don’t forget that summer is always too short in Toronto, so grab a good book, get outside, and read.