Five road trip reads

Anna McCreary

During the school year, reading time can seem impossible to come by. When you have the time to spare this summer, whether it’s while riding shotgun on a road trip, waiting for your flight or  lying by the pool, toss these five books in your bag and give reading another chance.

“Attachments” – Rainbow Rowell
Easy and light love stories make for great summer reading, and “Attachments” definitely fits the bill with the unconventional romance of its protagonists, Lincoln and Beth. Told from the perspective of an internet security officer, Lincoln’s job is to monitor employees’ emails for offensive or inappropriate content. Beth’s conversations with her friend Jennifer are flagged repeatedly by the system. Against his better instincts (and job description) Lincoln neglects to write them up for it. At first, it’s because he finds them funny; later, it’s because he’s become infatuated with Beth. But because she works days at the newsroom and he works nights, they’ve never met. “Attachments” is a quirky, awkward yet endearing read.

“The Girl on the Train” – Paula Hawkins
“The Girl on the Train” was born from the concept of people-watching — a particularly good activity during seasons like summer when airports and train stations are congested with travelers. Hawkins’ main character, Rachel, does her fair share of people-watching from the train on her daily commute to work where she watches a couple eat breakfast every morning. She idealizes them as having the perfect life — in her head, they’re named Jess and Jason, and their relationship is everything her failed marriage wasn’t. That is, until she catches her perfect “Jess” kissing another man. Later, Rachel discovers “Jess” has gone missing, and goes to the police with information about the affair. Rachel’s alcoholism and the violence and adultery that surrounds the people involved in her life make “The Girl on the Train” a gripping and evocative who-dun-it that will certainly keep you entertained. (And perhaps more wary of the person sitting next to you on your flight.)

“The Song of Achilles” – Madeline Miller
Forget boring and predictable plots based in contemporary society. “The Song of Achilles” is an immersion into the realms of kings and gods through the retelling of Greek mythology. The story follows the boyish and awkward exiled prince Patroclus, who later makes friends with his polar opposite, a young man named Achilles, the son of a goddess. Their bond, however, is quickly threatened by the Trojan War. When Achilles joins the fight to find the kidnapped Helen of Troy, envisioning glory and fame in their victory, Patroclus joins to follow Achilles. “The Song of Achilles” has all the wonder and gusto of the Greek gods and “The Odyssey” without the clunky, lengthy prose.

“American Gods” – Neil Gaiman
“American Gods” follows “The Song of Achilles” in a similar vein as Gaiman reinterprets the roles of gods in modern day society. Days before the protagonist, Shadow, is due to be released from a three-year prison stint, he discovers his wife has died in an accident. When he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday on his ride home, he’s lured into the raging war between the country’s old and new gods. The escalating power struggle is built on the fading influence of gods like the pagans and the Norse, and the overwhelming growth of modern deities, like technology and money. Because the novel’s television adaptation has only recently started filming and is set to release in 2017, now is a particularly good time to add this modern mythology novel to your reading list.

“The Girls” – Emma Cline
Scheduled to be released June 14, “The Girls” tells the story of Evie Boyd and her fascination with a group of older girls. They’re sharp-witted, unapologetic and dangerous. Set in northern California, the novel follows Evie’s fascination as it turns to obsession, leading her to follow Suzanne into what becomes a murderous cult. “The Girls” is a fictionalized account of the nine murders committed in 1969 by Charles Manson and his followers. Cline’s novel is an enrapturing tale of a young girl’s twisted involvement with something much bigger than herself.