I love book lists, don’t you? In the summer I feel completely allowed to read all sorts of impractical fiction because in my book brain I am still in sixth grade and summer is when I get to read whatever makes me happy. Summer Book Lists are like a trip to Disneyland, except there are no lines and you can stay in the air-conditioning.
I used to choose one author in the summer and read everything I could get my hands on. In college I chose classic authors every summer. That’s how I read everything F Scott Fitzgerald ever wrote, the Brontes, and everything by Jane Austen. I’ll never be sorry I did that. Reading old books by choice is a special kind of winning in life. Reading new books is for all the cool kids, the hipsters, the high on lifers. So you need both.
Reading both is how you end up standing at a dinner party saying things like, “Oh, yes, I’ve read all the Brontes.”, and then “You’re from Seattle?? I died laughing when I read Where’d You Go Bernadette!” Then find your people when they jump up and down a little and you talk for hours about Jane Eyre or Big Little Lies. Or you alternately get odd stares from people who would rather see the movie. At which point, move on, honey. They just don’t know your life!
These days, I cherry pick various authors and genres with random abandon. There are simply so many books I want to read in life, I can scarcely keep up. Here are my summer reads, for your perusal. I’ve divided it by genre, as usual. Comment and tell me if you’ve found an amazing book I have to read next, because that’s true friendship, and I’ll never forgive you if you keep your books to yourself.
1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I had a little difficulty getting into this book at first, it is told through letters, and they didn’t “grab me” at first. But now I’m hooked. I am halfway through, and thoroughly smitten. The story takes place in England post WW2, and is about an author and her correspondence with her editor, her friends, and a literary society on the Channel Islands. I would put it in the same category with A Fall of Marigolds, which was on my reading list last summer.
2. The Flavia De Luce Series by Alan Bradley. I adore Flavia. She is a cheeky British preteen obsessed with chemistry living in the post WW2 English countryside. Flavia likes to solve murder mysteries, and she is completely delightful. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first book in the series, and the latest one, s being released in the Fall. I want to read the whole series again before my pre-ordered copy arrives in September. These books definitely work well as YA Lit for older middle school and high school. I can’t wait for my boys to read them!
3. A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. Backman writes beautifully, with a poetry that sort of sounds more like wisdom literature. This story takes place in modern day Sweden, but also tells Ove’s life story, so it jumps back and forth a little. Ove’s life is a sad and yet funny tale. It seems so true you easily forget this is fiction. The book is about a man of another era who is forced to accept the post-modern world he lives in by the neighbors around him. This is not Christian literature, so if you don’t like to read books with very post-modern morality and worldviews, it’s not for you. But it is a redemptive story in a lot of ways, and so if you can hang with the secular ways of the characters, you’ll find yourself loving these awkward, broken people with great sincerity of heart. If you liked All the Light We Cannot See, I think you’ll like this book.
4. After You by Jojo Moyes. I am going to shoot you straight. I didn’t like Me Before You, the first book in this series. And I won’t see the movie, because I’m scared of it, frankly. It was too tragic, too sad, and made me furious. Moyes’s book The Girl You Left Behind made me crazy angry, too, so I have a little chip on my shoulder with this author. She makes me really care about her characters and then something happens to them that RUINS THEIR LIVES. It’s hard to take, man! But lots of people have told me this sequel is redemptive, and so I am slowly reading it whenever I am at Barnes and Noble, because my library doesn’t have a copy, and I can’t buy it if it ends up making me mad, too! I know, I’m weird. I’m about a fourth of the way in, and so far, I am liking it, but I still don’t trust her. LOL.
5. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. I have pre-ordered this book, which releases July 26. Moriarty writes fun beach reads, and I love her books so much! She writes well-written fluffy stories about life and people, and her books are completely worth reading in one sitting if you can get your kids to leave you alone and stay up until 3AM dying of joy. I loved her books What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret so much, I will probably read every book she ever writes, because when you love a writer, you stay loyal.
1. Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg. I’ve only cracked this book, and then I tragically left it at the gym yesterday, so I’m dying inside. But I’ve heard amazing things about it, and I will go hunt it out of the lost and found so I can experience it firsthand.
2. Home is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson. This is a fun, funny, southern memoir. It’s delightful in so many ways, like sitting on the backporch with a tall glass of sweet tea and hearing your best friend’s truest tales. It’s about faith and church and home and family. It’s perfect summer reading material.
3. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I pre-ordered this one, too. It releases in August. I enjoy Nieqist’s writing. I loved Bread and Wine, Cold Tangerines, and Bittersweet. I have a feeling this one will be just as good.
4. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg. Another book on writing. Because I want to write so well about God and life that the people who read my words yearn for the love and freedom and the hand of God upon their weary brow. I don’t know another way to say that, and I don’t know any other life that could make my heart sing. The books we read can help us fulfill our dreams, live better, more whole lives. So, yes. Another book on writing.
Well, that’s it! Have you read any of these? Did you like them? What are reading, you guys??? Tell me, tell me! I’d love to hear your book recs, and please say someone else struggled with Me Before You. Because seriously, it sent me into the darkness for several hours.
Peace out, book peeps. And happy reading!