Last year I had a colleague challenge me to begin to read fiction again. I scoffed at first citing that if I could find time to read, it would certainly be spent reading books to better my business.  She reminded me reading fiction places me in the shoes of someone I could never relate to otherwise. It requires imagination and results in an increase of creativity.
All things I need when designing a new gift box. This dive into literature sparked a reintroduction to my local library. It’s a sustainable way for me to get both my fiction and non-fiction fix.  Seriously, just walking in to the library gives me the most vivid memories of the first week of summer.  My mom would let my sister and me check out stacks and stacks of books for the weeks to come.
So, here I am paying homage to the good old days and giving you a mid-summer reading list! I’ve asked some of my dear friends for their picks and have included a few of my own. Enjoy!
Photography by Nikki Mata


By day, I am a digital brand manager, but you can also find me writing on and VERY SOON you’ll be able to listen to my very own podcast called Show Me Your Friends.
IG @justineslife
Twitter: @justine_brown
Fiction Pick: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I have fond memories from my childhood of my dad reading to my sister and I before bed each night. One series I vividly remember him reading was the Chronicles of Narnia. Not only was this was something that my sister and I both very much enjoyed, but looking back, I now can appreciate how much it meant to my dad. I want to restart the Chronicles with TLWW for a bit of nostalgia and a nice little fictional escape from the real world.
Non-Fiction Pick: City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence
This book follows the daily lives of nine individuals living inside the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. After recently spending time at the Nea Kavala refugee camp in Northern Greece and being acquainted with several Syrian refugees, I have found myself rather engrossed with learning more about the world’s refugee crisis and it’s despondent circumstances.
Profession: Wedding Photographer
Instagram: @sorellamuse​
I studied English Literature in college, so it’s really hard for me to narrow my summer reading list suggestions to just two. But here are two of the books I can’t wait to pick up this summer!
Non-Fiction Pick: The Unwinding by George Packer
This book is about the financial machinery of America, how banks have become unchecked and how social structures are collapsing. After the election, I’ve been trying to read more non-fiction about the state of our country. The Unwinding seems like it creates an interesting portrait of the country through multiple narratives. It is filled with profiles of people including a factory worker in Ohio, a political staffer, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and smaller pieces on influential Americans from the past few decades like Oprah, Jay Z, Sam Walton, and Elizabeth Warren. I feel a sense of urgency in reading books that help me understand what economic, political, and social forces have brought us to this moment in America’s story. Ok, so maybe it’s not a beach read, but I’m excited to dive in!
Fiction Pick: Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk
This recommendation came to me via one of my best friends from college who is from South Africa. Ever since visiting her in Cape Town and attending a literary festival together there, I’ve been wanting to read more South African literature. This book is set in apartheid South Africa. It shows the unique relationship between two women over forty years, a white woman and her black maidservant, whose lives are deeply intertwined. It got an amazing review in the NYT, quote “Books like “Agaat”…are the reason people read novels, and the reason authors write them.”
Director + Photographer
Non-Fiction Pick: The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
I’m really fascinated by history and anthropology and this book examines life during The Dust Bowl — a topic I always find so interesting.  I love imagining what life was like back then, why people chose to stay, and what lives were like when people did leave.
Fiction Pick: The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
This thriller is about survival and how media really influences our perception of what is real.  I’ve read that this book is Survivor meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I know I’ll be hooked and the pages will keep turning.  I’m so looking forward to reading this!
Twin mom and thoughtful consumerism blogger
insta: @letsbefair
Fiction Pick: Salt by Nayyirah Waheed
I’ve had “Salt” by Nayyirah Waheed on my nightstand for a while. It’s the most beautiful and timely book of poetry. I’ve read it so many times but it still feels new each time I read. I think that’s part of the magic of poetry. The meaning changes as we do. I imagine it will remain on my nightstand through the next season and probably longer.
Non-Fiction Pick: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
With twin toddlers my time is really limited so I’m loving super practical reads and things that I can easily jump in and out of. I think I might be the last to the party but I finally just got Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and am so excited to read and implement her wisdom!
3rd year Law Student
Instagram: @thefaithfeast
Fiction Pick: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
We read all these classics in High School before we have the wisdom to know why they are classics! Going back in to see what I missed the first time around!
Non-Fiction Pick: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Because the Founder of HH told me to read it! But also because who doesn’t want a more abundant life with less?
Founder at Haute Hope
Instagram: @jesspuccinelli
Fiction Pick: The Antiques: Kris D’Agostino – Truthfully the cover is what first caught my eye. But I’m most excited to escape into the world of family other than mine. The death of their patriarch during a hurricane brings everyone together – as well as all of their issues in a way that is relatable and hilarious.
Non-Fiction Pick: Relentless by Tim S. Grover. The tag line reads; From good to great to unstoppable. Enough said.
Happy Reading!

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