Summer reads: 2018 edition

Find out what we have been reading by the pool, on the dock, or on the beach this summer.


Remember that time we started a book club on the blog but read one book and then didn’t read another book as a group again? Well, we have yet to resurrect it, although we have been passing a few great reads around the office this summer. We’ve kept chugging away on our own, each reading things throughout the season and we’re here to report back to you.

88 reader: Kaitlyn Ward, PR Account Manager
The book: Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favourite Guilty Pleasure by Amy Kaufman
The TL;DR version: Amy Kaufman is a journalist with the LA Times and a huge Bachelor fan, often writing about the show (ABC even banned her from attending show events after her coverage of the program got a little too real for its liking). Bachelor Nation includes insights from interviews with dozens of producers, contestants, and celebrity fans to give readers never-before-told details of the show’s inner workings. The book boasts salacious tales of producer manipulation, revelations about the alcohol-fueled debauchery and of course the truth about what happens in the Fantasy Suite. While it’s a juicy page turning for any Bach mega-fan like myself, it also explores what our obsession means, culturally and takes an interesting look at the history of television dating shows.
Thoughts: I absolutely loved this one! Anyone that has met me for more than three minutes know that I practically have a Masters in the Bachelor franchise, but this book had some really crazy inside tidbits that I didn’t know. While I already knew they used sponsorships with airlines and hotels throughout the show, I didn’t know that each episode has a budget of $2 million! I read this front to back in a weekend and although it did touch on some of the darker aspects of the show’s production, it still left me wanting to continue to foster my favourite guilty pleasure.
Would you recommend it? If you love The Bachelor (or reality television in general) then this one is for you. It brings the best of both worlds with some juicy TV secrets and also an interesting analysis on why our culture can’t get enough of this train wreck.

88 reader: Erin Bury, Managing Director
The book: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
The TL;DR version: Elizabeth Holmes was on the cover of Inc., Forbes, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and touted as the next Steve Jobs, because of her work building Theranos, a blood-testing startup that reportedly tested for diseases with one drop of blood. This book highlights her fall from grace stemming from a Wall Street Journal investigation outlining a pattern of fraud, deception, and criminal practices within the company – written by the investigative reporter who wrote the first explosive article outlining these claims.
Thoughts: This book is un-put-down-able. It’s narrative non-fiction and reads like a fast-paced Aaron Sorkin movie. You’ll flip-flop between being incredulous, outraged, and amazed at the Theranos journey, and by the end you’ll be asking yourself how Elizabeth Holmes got away with so much – and questioning why people STILL support her (she’s reportedly starting a new company). The movie version of this book is slated to star Jennifer Lawrence, and if that’s not reason enough to read this I don’t know what is.
Would you recommend it? HELLS YES, best book I’ve read in a long time

88 reader: Erin Bury, Managing Director
The book: When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
The TL;DR version: Real-talk: The Devil Wears Prada is one of my top-10 favourite movies (judge me if you want). I read the original book, so was excited to hear the author was writing a sequel based on (arguably) the best character from the movie, Miranda’s assistant Emily. This book follows her journey post-Miranda Priestly, and while it does feature your fave characters from the original, don’t expect it to be set in Runway’s offices. Emily is now a celebrity fixer who teams up with one of her oldest friends to fix a situation for a supermodel in rural Connecticut.
Thoughts:  I loved this book not because of its ties to the original, but because it was a fun, light, smart beach read. A quick read but definitely a fun one. And of course, it contains Emily’s biting wit and ever-present sarcasm, so her presence alone makes it a must-read. Plus, you know they’ll be turning this into a movie with Emily Blunt…
Would you recommend it? Yes, if you’re a fan of The Devil Wears Prada

88 reader: Erin Bury, Managing Director
The book: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
The TL;DR version: This book is like a real-life game of Clue, which should tell you everything you need to know. Written by Canadian author Shari Lapena – who previously wrote one of my top thrillers of the past couple years, The Couple Next Door – the plot centres on a group of strangers who descend on a remote hotel in the Catskills for a weekend of R&R. A winter storm results in them being snowed in with no access to the outside world, which is fine until one of them shows up dead. The book follows the search for the killer among them.
Thoughts: I love a good mystery novel, and Shari Lapena is one of my fave authors in the genre. This book didn’t disappoint – it was fast-paced (I read it in one evening), had lots of twists and turns, and I didn’t guess the ending. That doesn’t mean much though – I don’t think I’ve ever correctly guessed the end of an episode of Law & Order: SVU, so I can’t be trusted.
Would you recommend it? Yes, if you love Clue and a good thriller. Another thriller I loved this summer was The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (really liked it – almost Kate Morton-esque), and The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (great concept – an agoraphobic woman witnesses a murder and must figure out how to find the killer while staying inside – but didn’t love the ending).

88 Reader: Jamie Gillingham, PR Account Manager
The book: What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell
The TL;DR version: An American professor moves to Bulgaria to teach English and falls for an escort.  
Thoughts: It was amazing. It’s difficult to find queer literature that doesn’t feel like you’re being pandered to. This is the opposite—while the story might exist in the extreme, I saw a lot of myself and my friends in the characters.
Would you recommend it? Definitely. If you’re a fan of James Baldwin, you’ll love Garth Greenwell.

88 reader: Stacey Orth, Project Manager
The book: The Secret History by Donna Tarrt
The TL;DR version: It’s a novel about a group of students at a really bougie college in the 70s and it centres around a murder. The protagonist is an outsider who transfers to their school and wants to study Greek, but only a select group of students can study under the Greek professor (it’s a BFD to study Greek I guess). He eventually proves his genius and gets in with these six other Greek students who are all weird and interesting and mysterious and only really hang out with each other despite their relationships being super weird and not making a lot of sense. They’re all super rich and high class and elitist. Eventually, one of them is murdered and while it’s always obvious that he was murdered by the rest of the group, the rest of the book is centred around why they did it, how it happened and the ramifications (mental, emotional, legal etc.)
Thoughts: I love a good book about rich, high class weirdos who I would never otherwise relate to and the idea that perfect, beautiful people are always the most damaged and horrible deep down so I definitely enjoyed it. It was a depressing read without much of a happy side; it gets sadder and more hopeless as the book goes on without any sort of happy redemption. More and more people die, get hurt and get emotionally damaged and it actually ends with the protagonist having a dream about one of the other Greek students where he just asks him “Are you happy?” and he goes “No, but you aren’t either” AND THAT’S IT. So you don’t finish it feeling like you’ve learned anything, bettered yourself or really gotten anything out of it other than sad. The writing is good and it held my attention, but when it ends you just find it a little pointless and sad.
Would you recommend it? Depends what you need out of a book. As I said, I definitely found it interesting; it kept my attention and I wanted to know exactly what had happened and why. I didn’t feel super satisfied or moved by the ending and it certainly made me sad inside. But maybe that’s your thing!

88 reader: Andrea Pace, Marketing Strategist
The book: Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler
The TL;DR version: A dystopian tale about a bad ass teenage girl who literally has too many feels and is leading a group of followers to a (hopefully) better life.
Thoughts: I don’t consider myself a huge sci-fi fan, but when it comes to dystopia (think Margaret Atwood-esque) sci-fi, I’m so into it. This book told such a strong story – one that could very possibly be real – and read more like a horror. After sitting in the park reading it for hours I legit didn’t trust the people I passed on the street and half-expected I would have to grab a go bag and set off for survival at any moment.
Would you recommend it? Heck ya. Incredible writing by an incredible woman with a rad female protagonist.

88 reader: Morgan Craig, Senior PR Manager
The book: The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane von Furstenberg
The TL;DR version: This is Diane von Furstenburg’s memoir. She’s the iconic fashion designer who invented the wrap dress in the ’70s, but this book proves she’s much more than just that. She’s a public icon, a serial entrepreneur, a businesswoman, a hustler, a survivor, a philanthropist, and much more.
Thoughts: Full disclosure: I picked this book up at Home Hardware in Gravenhurst a few weekends ago because I forgot my book for the cottage at home (props to HH for knowing what the people want). I didn’t go searching for DVF, DVF found me. Everyone knows who DVF is (right?) but like most, I thought of her as only a fashion designer. The memoir starts with her recounting her mother’s internment at Auschwitz and Ravensbruck as a young woman. She survived, came back home weighing only 59 pounds, and went on to give a “miracle birth” to Diane only one year. The rest of the memoir details Diane’s fascinating life (spoiler alert: her first marriage was to a prince and she once had an affair with Richard Gere), but it’s clear that her mother – the strength and survival instinct she gained as a young woman – is at the root of all Diane does in life, love, and her career.
Would you recommend it? Absolutely – you don’t have to be into fashion to be fascinated by DVF’s life.

88 reader: Brittany Giles, Marketing Manager
The book: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
The TL;DR version: Three longtime friends had a band in their college days with a friend of theirs who has since passed away. While their dead friend Lydia gets credit for their one hit song, it wasn’t actually her that wrote it, but one of the living friends. Set in Brooklyn (of COURSE), this novel is really about them hitting their 40s and everyone hitting their mid-life crisis.
Thoughts: I’ll be honest, I picked up this book based on the cover because I thought it was pretty. I was looking for something light and the first few chapters weren’t too bad and had a good flow to them. There are a lot of subtle inconsistencies with dates and ages throughout the book that really bothered me and I didn’t find the characters all that interesting. Am I going to post this on Bunz and hope that I can get a tall can or cheap wine for it? Probably.
Would you recommend it? If you’re in the mood to read about some Brooklyn hipsters go through a mid-life crisis then sure, but can’t say that I was super satisfied by this book