The Essential Spring Break Reading List, with Author Andrea Dunlop

This Thursday evening at 6PM, I’m co-hosting a wine-and-books event in San Francisco with Andrea Dunlop, author of Losing the Light. Andrea and I first started chatting a few years ago, when she reached out to ask about the process of getting your book published; she talked so passionately about her novel, and how much she wanted to put it into the world, and it has been so incredible to watch her persevere and do just that.

Losing the Light is a story about an illegitimate affair that turns into a study-abroad trip that turns into an intoxicating romance with a hot Frenchman (hello beach read), and in anticipation of our Thursday-night meetup (which Bay Area residents are more than welcome to come to; I’d love to see you there!) I asked Andrea to give me a Spring Break reading list. (We have a long drive to Disneyland on the horizon, and there is always the chance that I’ll be able to get in a little reading in between rounds of “This Little Piggy.”)


(1) Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes.

If you haven’t read Kepnes’ debut, You, read it first. You’ll thank me. These are perfect to blow through on an airplane, or sitting on the beach, or any time when you can say “not now, I’m reading!” to the world for hours on end. The novels, featuring charming psychopath Joe, manage to be haunting, hilarious, and moving all at once. Joe is a Tom Ripley for the digital age (exactly as scary as it sounds).

(2) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

One of my very favorite books of last year. A brisk and breathtaking read that takes place on a private island owned by the seemingly perfect (but deeply dysfunctional) Sinclair family. Love, jealousy, and good intentions gone horribly wrong mix for a compulsively readable, dark, twisty tale. And the ending is shocking. It can be consumed in an afternoon – and good luck trying to put it down!

(3) The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

If you’re not yet aboard the DiSclafani train, now is the time to gobble up her debut novel before her hotly anticipated sophomore effort, The After Party, comes out in May. A spellbinding coming-of-age tale, the story takes place in a riding school for the daughters of the elite during the Depression. Young, headstrong Thea is sent away to school after being held responsible for a family tragedy. The unraveling story of her past is set against the mesmerizing backdrop of the riding camp and its eclectic inhabitants. The characters are unforgettable – and it will make you very glad you did not come of age in the 1930s.

(4) Euphoria by Lily King

Inspired by the life of iconoclastic anthropologist Margaret Mead, this briskly-paced novel transports readers to 1930s New Guinea where Nell Stone, fresh off the publication of a wildly successful book, is embedded studying tribes with her charming, deeply envious husband, Fen. This exquisite novel manages to feel both rooted in history and deeply contemporary. The challenges Nell confronts: sexism about her work, ambivalence about marriage, inadequacy around motherhood, feel as alive today as they were then. The more things change, et cetera.

(5) Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

This decadent novel features Mabel—an ordinary girl who feels utterly out of place in an upper crust East Coast college—and a beautiful (maybe crazy) blue-blooded girl who befriends Mabel and invites her to the family’s bananas summer compound. Parties, sex, skinny dipping, and subterfuge follow. (It’s probably becoming clear that I love a good novel about rich people having messed up families and dark secrets, and this is a solid entry in that category. Rich people. They’re just like us!)

Andrea Dunlop, author of Losing the Light

Andrea at a signing event for Losing the Light


(1) Fabletics Salar Leggings

I am totally hooked on the sportswear brand from everyone’s imaginary best friend, Kate Hudson. It’s affordable and super cute! I work out almost every day and good gear is a must-have – this brand has totally nailed the athleisure trend with clothes that work for a casual brunch and bumming around the house as well as hitting the gym.

(2) Mark + Graham Pashmina

My mom got me this for Christmas and I’ve been living in it. It’s like bringing a blanket everywhere with you, but it’s chic. I’ve been travelling a lot, and this is the perfect thing to bring on the plane since it is always, always freezing.

(3) Nurse Jackie on NetFlix

This show was made for binge-watching. I love how complex the heroine Jackie is: it’s impossible to fit her into one category or another: good mom, good wife, adulterer, drug addict, supportive friend, saint, sinner? All of the above?

(4) The Fleur Dress and the Nyla Dress from BHLDN

Finding bridesmaids dresses was harder than finding my wedding dress! Choosing a dress to suit five very different women is no joke. We found a ton of options at Bhldn, and chose two to mix it up. My ladies looked beautiful and it was obvious they felt like a million bucks in the dresses. Perhaps they’ll even WEAR THEM AGAIN! The holy grail…

(5) The Shaun T Insanity DVD series

I like to work out in the mornings between my writing session and heading to the office. I try to get a lot done in the am and there aren’t any good gyms near my apartment, so these super challenging, super fun at home workouts are just the ticket. Plus, seeing Shaun T every morning just puts me in a good mood!

{ You can find out more about our book & wine event here. Hope to see you on Thursday! }

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