The Bookshelf: Reviewing my Summer 2021 Reads

This summer, I have spent quite a bit of time reading. As a kid, I was a huge bookworm. In all honesty, the amount of time I spent in fantasy worlds and far-off places helped inspire me to pursue storytelling and media as an adult. After taking a bit of a hiatus from books to focus on the wide assortment of readings and assignments from school, I decided I wanted to get back to the shelf and pick up some new reads. 

Within the first hour of making my new Goodreads account, I found more books than I could possibly read in a year- there are just so many good choices! I selected my top favorites, hopped onto my library’s waitlist for many of them, and immersed myself in the pages. If you’re looking for something new to read, here’s what I thought of everything I read this summer.

DisneyWar, James B. Stewart

I originally discovered this book online after doing a quick search for Disney history books. I’m a huge Disney fan and love reading about Disney history, but this book was a little disappointing. The introduction and first section, The Wonderful World of Disney, were quite interesting and engaging. However, as the book continued into parts two and three, I found it harder and harder to read. Some of the language got rather boring and repetitive, so I would skim over large sections at a time. On a note more related to personal interest, I found some sections would go in depth on some business and financial related stories that were really not interesting or relevant and could have been told in far fewer words.

As a whole, I would recommend the book to a devout Disney fan who wants to learn more about a time period that is so significant in the company’s history and has affected so much of what we see today. The Eisner years were certainly an interesting time period and the book covered a lot of what happened behind closed doors. I find it pairs nicely with several Disney+ docu-series shows, like the Imagineering Story and Howard. If you’re not a huge Disney fan and don’t have much of a background of the main “characters” and settings, you’ll probably find yourself disengaged and slightly confused. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it’s certainly not my new favorite.

Calm the F*ck Down, Sarah Knight

My anxiety got really bad during the pandemic, but I actually very much enjoyed this book! While it’s certainly not a cure for anxiety (as the author also admits), I found it to be a good way to reframe the way I approach stressors and “freakouts” in my life. Knight’s writing was quite humorous and was really enjoyable to read, which helped some of the lessons to stick. I also liked how realistic Knight’s approach was, as it felt easy to connect to. Overall, the book was easy to read and follow, and I found it to be a good start to “calming the f*uck down” in my everyday life. Plus, it was simply fun to read!

The Unhoneymooners, Christina Lauren

I literally could not put this book down! The writing style and the plot were so engaging and entertaining, and it seemed like every page was better than the last. I loved how the plot had both its “oh, only in fiction” moments perfectly balanced with its realistic scenes that were so relatable. It was easy to connect with the characters and their situations and I was so invested in the story by the second chapter. It’s the perfect book for a summer beach read, but even if you’re reading from home in the breaks of your remote job, it’ll instantly transport you to (a slightly chaotic, but perfect) paradise. To say this is one of my new favorite books is an understatement!

The Friend Zone, Abby Jimenez 

I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would! The beginning started off a little slow, but it eventually picked up and the last hundred pages or so took a definite turn that spiced up the plot. I loved watching the characters grow, specifically Kristen (partially because I find myself with a similar mindset that is mentioned towards the end of the book). The ending itself was quite a positive twist for the characters, though it may not have been entirely realistic. The book was quite well-written and I look forward to hopefully reading the sequel soon!

Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston

This book was so adorable! All of the characters were so well written, and I can’t describe how many hilarious lines there were in every chapter. While most of the book I was ok with putting down when I needed to stop, the last hundred pages or so were addicting. Certainly one of the more fun summer reads I’ve had so far!

The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

I cannot say enough good things about this book! I rarely say this, but I believe this is a book everyone should read and I could see this entering classrooms (or becoming a college common read) in the next few years. It was easy to read and the story moved at a good pace. Coming out of the pandemic and into a world where we all have to being to “live” again, it’s one of the best reads you could find. Be prepared, though, you can’t help but start to think about your own regrets and how you should live your own life.

Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

I cannot describe the experience I had reading this book- I don’t think I’ve gotten so into a book in such a long time. The last 50 or so pages had me in tears the entire time, and the last two pages I completely lost it, it was so good. The writing is beautiful and the plot is gripping, there is just so much to love. I’m typically not super interested in mysteries, but this one I just couldn’t put down (so much so that I read the entire second half in about 2 hours without a single disruption). I recommend this book most highly to anyone- the hype is so real, and perhaps doesn’t do the story justice. I cannot wait to see the movie rendition, I can only hope it lives up to close to the book!

The Anxiety Journal, Corinne Sweet

This book is a good “startup guide” for anxiety and self-care. While the text is more of a one-and-done read, the activities in it provide a good framework for how to think about and approach anxiety and how to relax your mind in a stressful situation. Definitely a good book to get the ball rolling- it’s now sitting on my journal shelf with flags on my favorite activities!

Get Your Sh*t Together, Sarah Knight

As always, Knight’s writing is such a delight to read. Her voice is so fun and definitely brings joy to difficult situations that are often hard to talk about! While I did enjoy Calm the F*uck Down more, this book definitely wasn’t bad and is certainly a resource for people who feel like their lives aren’t where they want them to be. It isn’t a cure-all, but it’s the perfect place to start and frame your mind.

The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a great read if you want to learn more about Disney history or leadership skills from an entertainment industry leader. While I may not have agreed with all of his creative decisions, I do have a better understanding as to why Iger chose the route he did for the overall company. Overall, it was a good book and I would recommend it, especially to college students and young professionals!

Undaunted, Kara Goldin

I very much enjoyed learning about Kara’s story and gaining some life and career advice along the way! I thought it was incredibly well-written and had a strong voice. I also found her narrative to be quite engaging and inspirational. A great read overall, and it goes by pretty quickly!

We Were Liars, E. Lockheart

For the first 50 pages or so, I wasn’t interested and didn’t think I’d finish it. By the end, I was incredibly engaged. The author’s language and sentence structure does leave a lot to be desired, but in my opinion, it made sense (to an extent) for the character once the major plot twist was revealed. One of the recurring metaphors was also not the clearest. The story itself was excellent, but it’s approach definitely could’ve been stronger. While the first part is rather droning, parts four and five are truly unforgettable and will play with your emotions. In terms of emotion and story, this book would get 5 stars, but in terms of structure, I’d give it about 2.

Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid 

I had been waiting all summer to read this book and it truly did not disappoint. I simply could not get enough of this book! Every page was so well written, every character was so well developed, even secondary and background characters. I also loved the intertwined subplots and how well-thought out every moment was. This truly was the book of the summer, and I think I need to start reading more Taylor Jenkins Reid now!


If you want to keep up with what I’m reading and get some recommendations from my shelves, be sure to check out my GoodReads account! Do we have any summer 2021 reads in common, or do you have books you loved and want to recommend? I’d also love to hear what books you’ve been loving, so comment them down below!

Have a terrific day,

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