Summer Reading List

I love to read.  Growing up, I ALWAYS had a book I was reading.  Usually it was some sort of fiction story, and not always something edifying.  I certainly read my fair share of Sweet Valley High and the like.  But my favorite books were those about people who really lived (I had the Little House on the Prairie series memorized) or at least stories based on real events and real life (my copies of Gone with the Wind and Anne of Green Gables were well loved treasures, and I had a whole collection of adolescent fiction based about different girls set in different times throughout history.  It was like the 1980’s version of American Girl books.  I wish I could remember who wrote them.)

Even as an adult, I would rather read a book about someone who really lived.  (If you haven’t read The Other Boleyn Girl, you don’t know what you’re missing.  One summer I think I read every book Philippa Gregory ever wrote.  And Standing in the Rainbow is one of my all time favorites because of the parallel of the radio homemaker of the 1920s and the modern day mom blogger — I even wrote a post about that!)

I’m not always that girlie with my reading selections.  My husband has helped me broaden my horizons.  When we’re on summer vacation, I often borrow his reading choices when he’s done with them.  One summer I read Lone Survivor (and reviewed it at 5 Minutes for Books, if you’re interested) and another summer I read the narratives on the Civil War by Shelby Foote.

All that to say, I love to read.

But I hardly make time for reading anymore.  The only things I find time to read these days are informational books on food and parenting.  I really miss getting lost in a good novel.  The only time I indulge in pleasure reading anymore is on summer vacation.  I usually spend 90% of my awake time on vacation reading.

We leave for Maine in just a few weeks so I’m already getting my summer reading list ready.  For one thing, I need to finish up The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Untold Story of Milk (if I can ever wrangle it away from my husband) and I just started Born to Run on the Kindle.  OH!  And I just remembered that I never finished Grace Based Parenting.  WHEW!  I don’t think I’ve ever had more than two books going at once, and I don’t like it at all.  I find it quite unsettling.

Once I get caught up, I’d love to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Klingsolver.  And I’ve been ordered by my neighbor to read The Help. Beyond that, I could use some suggestions.  What do you have for me?  What should I bring to Maine to read by the lake?


Have I told you how much I love reading on the Kindle?  In fact, I’ve totally hijacked my husband’s, and he’s never getting it back.  Bwahahaaaaaa…  No, seriously, the best thing about it is, you don’t have to wait for your Amazon order to come in, or for the library to get the book you want.  You can instantly download whatever you want to read with the touch of a finger.

Impatient much?

I know, but seriously.  It’s just so convenient.  Gone are the days that I leave for vacation, too busy to stop at the library or the bookstore, and get to my destination without anything to read.  It’s so easy, and Kindle books are cheaper than they are at the bookstore.

Also, I don’t have to futz with the pages when I’m reading in bed.  It’s so much more comfortable to just hold the Kindle and press “next page.”  No more cricks in my neck, no more arms falling asleep, no more flipping from one side to the other to hold the book the right way.  Oh the trials.

So yeah.  Here is my summer reading list so far:

Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Untold Story of Milk

Grace Based Parenting

Born to Run

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

The Help

What else should I put on my list?

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66 thoughts on “Summer Reading List

  1. I’m not going to be any help, for the past couple of years my taste has run quite light -Charlaine Harris, Terry Pratchett, Janet Evanovich. Reading has become the way I shut my brain off to fall asleep. I’ve also put a moratorium on starting any new books until I finish my own. Four chapters to go, four chapters to go. That’s what I keep repeating to myself, hoping it’ll happen magically.
    Was Wideacre Philippa Gregory or Jane Yolen? The main character in that one was a twisted soul and the book felt sort of depraved, it was all I could do to finish it (so it wouldn’t rattle around in my head longer than it needed to) I enjoy those books when I can devote more of myself to them. Right now I’m using Jane Austen as non-addicting valium.

    1. Omigosh, I totally forgot how much I enjoy Janet Evanovich. So much for reality, lol, but I totally love her Stephanie Plum series. I wish I could remember where I left off with those.

  2. I keep a stack of books on my nightstand that I always promise I’ll get through. The pile tends to grow faster than it dwindles. Animal Vegetable Miracle is on my nightstand. I’m about 100 pages in and it is a fascinating read – especially when you realize that this family is as much immersed in technology and the chaos of life as the rest of us. My husband and I read a book called “Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology” that was fascinating. It forces all of us to question if we had to do it all without modern conveniences.

  3. I’m way behind on my reading. I’m currently reading Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series (so good!) and am planning on reading a Lineage of Grace by her, as well. I’ve always enjoyed Francine Rivers. Redeeming Love is one of my all time favorite books ever. I also am reading Eat Fat, Lose Fat and The Schwarzbein Principle II. I have People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks to get through, as well. I’ve heard good things about The Help. It’s on my Paperback Swap Wish List.

  4. For summer reading I tend to go in a lighter girly direction…that has always been my M.O. I loved loved loved “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah. It is a stroy about two best friends from teen years though adulthood. I had to put it down at times because I would get so teary. “Love Walked In” and “Belong to Me” by Marisa de los Santos are also delightful. She is a poet, so her command of language & writing is lovely. Finally, “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay is a story set during the holocaust and really touched me. No matter what you are reading, doing it by that lake looks heavenly.

      1. “Sarah’s Key” was wonderful. “Pope Joan” was great. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is addicting and awesome. “Shades of Grey” by Jessica James was really good too – historical fiction. Oh, and “True Colors” by Krisin Hannah

  5. Jamie Langston Turner is a favorite author and has a 5 book series that are all set in the same small South Carolina Town featuring many of the same characters, each book focusing on a diff person’s story/POV, exploring really poignant and often convicting aspects of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Really excellent.

    And I have read most of the offerings from Elizabeth Berg – she writes fiction that explores all sorts of relationships – marriage, friendship, family…functioning and not.

    Happy reading!

  6. Hi! I just discovered your blog and I LOVE IT!

    I just finished “The Help” and it’s AWESOME. It’s a great summer read. I would also suggest “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” It’s a perfect summer read that I gobbled up in a day! Oh, and for a foodie read, Julia Child’s “My Life in France” is fab! It’s a marvelous love letter to France, food and her husband Paul. Both books will have you smiling the whole time you read them. Who wants to read a bummer book on vacation?

    And I second your opinion on the kindle! If my husband didn’t need his for school I would have claimed it as mine a long time ago!!

  7. YAY! We are going to Maine this year! I missed it when you didn’t go last year.

    (I’m living vicariously through your trips to Maine…which is probably weird.)

    OK, books, I love “Anne of Green Gables”! And I really enjoyed “The Help”, although it was hard to read in some parts, knowing that historically it is accurate and true.

    I have been on a Sophie Kinsella kick (guilty pleasure!)lately, I espeically enjoyed the “Undomestic Goddess”.

    1. I’m pretty sure I read something of Sophie Kinsella’s. Can’t remember if I liked her or not…

  8. I love to read too. I have 10-12 books at home waiting for me to get to them. Not sure I’ll ever be a Kindle fan. My eyes start to heart after not long on the computer so I think the same would happen on the Kindle.

    Not sure if we have the same taste in books but I personally love James Patterson, the Alex Cross series is especially good. Power Lines by Jason Carter is a great book about apartheid in South Africa and his experience in the Peace Corp there. Sold by Patricia McCormick was also a very good read. It is about a poor, rural girl in Nepal sold into sexual slavery in India. In Defense of Food is another book I’ve read recently I would recommend but I think you’ve proabbly read it.

    1. Oh no no no. The Kindle is NOT like reading on a computer screen. It uses newspaper ink. It doesn’t tire your eyes a bit. It’s fabulous. My only complaint is that you have to remember to charge it, although the battery lasts a long time if you read offline.

      Is the book about sexual slavery graphic at all? B/c that would bother me.

      1. Oh, and I am in love with my Kindle too. I got it for Christmas and it is the best present that I have every gotten. Great, great item.

  9. I’m completely out of stuff I like right now. I haven’t taken the kids to the library yet (I’m scared they are too destructive), but maybe I will this weekend. I would love to have a new book to read, and that would give me a deadline to get it finished.

  10. If you haven’t read the Guernsey Litererary and Potato Peel Pie Society, that’s a fun read. And I’m a fan of Anne of Green Gables, Little House, and those type of books as well so I think we have similar taste in books. Sarah’s Key is a little more heavy & serious, but it was a good book too. Both are not that long.

  11. I’ve found a new author this year that I totally love: Sandra Dallas. Start with her newer ones like Prayers for Sale or Whiter Than Snow or Tall Grass. Or an awesome novel I just read was The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr. Could not put it down.

  12. I loved the SVH series too. This fall, I re-read the entire Little House on the Prairie collection which was amazing. I’ve been wanting to read Gene Kranz’ Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond – heard it’s wonderful.

  13. If you’d like to go the extreme opposite of reality, all Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic books are a hoot. Seriously. WAY girly, but she is one amazing writer. I always get her books hot of the press. She is just too much fun! And we all need a bit of that in our lives : )

  14. Move “The Help” to the top of your list. Best book I’ve read in such a long time. I’ll also second the recommendation of “The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.” Very sweet.

    Next on my list is “Little Bee” which I’ve heard is good, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ll let you know.

    1. You’re the second to recommend “The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Society” and without even looking up the description it sounds right up my alley. 🙂 Going to Amazon now!

      1. Guernsey is great! So is The Help. So you can’t go wrong with those.

        I just read The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes. It falls in the chick lit category, but is not quite as fluffy and predictable as some books. I’m rereading Harry Potter right now because it is easy to pick up and put down in my busy life. 😉

        For some more meaty stories, I loved The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, and Any Given Day by Dennis Lehane.

  15. Beach Music by Pat Conroy. Really anything by him is great but that is my favorite. Most people seem to like Prince of Tides best, but Beach Music for me was one of those soul changing books. He is amazing.

    I would also suggest anything by Jodi Piccoult.

  16. I loved, loved, loved, “The Help.” I’m not one to stay up until 2 AM reading because sleep is so very important to me 🙂 but I could not put this book down. Also, “Have a Little Faith” by Mitch Albom is a nice little read. (He wrote, “Tuesdays with Morrie” as well. Last fiction suggestion is anything by Alexander McCall Smith. He writes the Ladies No. 1 Detective Series. They are wonderful, nice mysteries. The main character is a wonderful lady and the setting is Botswana. I tend to like nice, pleasant reads with some excitement thrown in here and there. I don’t like to be scared or stressed out by a lot of tragedy. Frankly, I could pick up most chic-lit and be satisfied at the beach or lake. (I really like Sophie Kinsella, too…fun and she always seems to have an interesting twist at the end.)

    A wonderful non-fiction read that I’m reading right now is, Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne. http://www.amazon.com/Simplicity-Parenting-Extraordinary-Calmer-Happier/dp/0345507975/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276182655&sr=8-1

    It’s a refreshing perspective to read and implement as a parent in this technologically crazy, consumer-minded society. (not that technology is bad, but has its place.)

    Those are my few cents!

    Happy reading! Maine…ahh…I love New England!

  17. I literally have a 12′ stack of fiction I want to get to by next week 😉 But I have two non-fiction books:
    The Complete Guide to Apserger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood
    and one that you will want to read:
    Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Smith (biologist) & Lourie (non-profit management)

  18. I love Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables, did you watch the the TV shows/movies for both? I adore the last movie of the Anne series, can’t wait to show this to my future daughter (God willing).

    I’m rereading My Life with Jacqueline Kennedy (by Mary Gallagher). It’s a book written by her personal secretary, it’s actually a very interesting perspective on JFK’s time in office and before. I picked up the book on vacation at a garage sale and have read it numerous times. Highly recommend if you want some good non-fiction (though it reads like a fiction a little bit).

  19. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. It’s the real event that Moby Dick was based on. It’s a fascinating book, one of my favorites. It is the next book on our family read-aloud list and I can’t wait.

  20. I am a huge kindle fan too – I’ve been downloading a TON of the public domain works. I love me some free good reading.
    As far as more contemporary works, my book club is working on the Elegance of the Hedgehog – so far so good.

  21. “Same Kind of Different As Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. True story, just a few years old, fantastically encouraging and inspiring. I’m an avid reader, and this is one the best books I have read in years.

  22. I love my kindle as well and it really is nothing like reading on a computer as someone mentioned above. I love that within 30 seconds I can have a “book” in my hands!
    Right now I am reading Emily Giffin’s new book, Heart of the Matter..it’s pretty good so far but not as good as her first two books Something borrowed and Something Blue. I am also waiting for Jennifer Weiner’s new book Fly Away Home to come out. She is a writer from Philadelphia and though they are very light reads I love reading books that take place in a city I know.
    I would also recommend anything by Jodi Piccoult, especially her latest House Rules…it was REALLY good.
    Any way most of these are light reads which are good for summer.
    Hope this helps and hope you enjoy your vacation! 🙂

  23. Unrelated but kind of related – we are going to Maine too!! Which is a bigger deal for us, I’m sure, since – you know, we live 481309 hours away from Maine. Heh

    I need to look through this list, last night I started hunting around the house for a book to read after finishing my last one.

    Am I the only one that hates finishing a book? Makes me kinda sad.

  24. LOVED The Help! Also read The Guensey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society…also good! Little Bee is on my list but I heard its a heavier read…kind of like The Kite Runner. Have you read anything by Lorna Landvik? Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons was great! I also just picked up Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand which looks like a great beach read!

    1. Yes, I did read Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons and a few other Lorna Landvik. She’s a bit unconventional for my tastes, lol, but I still enjoyed them.

      I never read the Kite Runner. I don’t really care for heavy reading so much. It depresses me.

  25. Fun post (of course I’m interested). I love my Kindle, too. People say “Oh, but it’s not a “real” book.” I thought that might bug me, too, but it’s so lightweight and really awesome!!

  26. Sarah’s Key is a great read – not exactly ‘light’ but I couldn’t put it down. Also, if you go to bookseer.com and enter books you’ve read and liked, it will give you suggestions for similar-type books. (Kind of like the bar on Amazon that says “people who bought these books, also bought xyz.”)

  27. I just picked up a copy of “Coop” from the library. The tagline is : “A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting.” I don’t know that I’m recommending it because I haven’t yet read a word, but I’ll admit I’m pretty darn excited about it.

  28. If you like historical fiction, there is a series written by Diana Gabaldon. There are 7 or 8 books in the series and it takes place in Scotland during the war with England and ends up in revolutionary America. The characters are put into true historical events and I have found them all very good reads. The first one is titled “Outlander”. While you could read them out of order, I think you get a better picture reading them in order.

  29. Obviously I am impatient too because instead of reading the kinds of books you actually like, I just skipped to the comments and left my suggestion. Of course I am also a huge fan of heavy, deep, stay with you forever kind of books. That leaves me with no good suggestions for you.

    Oh – I grew up in Vermont and spend many a summer vacationing in Maine.

  30. I am taking notes on this post/comments section! I echo the commenter who recommended Francine Rivers’s books. Anything I have read of hers I have enjoyed. Some other Christian fiction that I absolutely love is the Sisterchicks series by Robin Jones Gunn. You can read them again and again. I love those books. Thanks for the other suggestions! 🙂

  31. I commmented all along the way cause I like to butt in like that. I LOVED “Water for Elephants” and “Time Traveler’s Wife” as well. I am actually surprised no one recommended “The Book Thief.” I thought it was one of the best books I had read in a really long time. Very, very, very good.

  32. I have a feeling you would absolutely LOVE Animal Vegetable Miracle, and I think we’ve talked about that before. I’m also here to recommend Outlander (and the subsequent books in the series) by Diana Gabaldon. This is my all time favorite book, and since you loved Philippa Gregory’s books, I’m guessing you might enjoy this historical fiction as well. I can’t say enough good things about it. I’ve got a review if you’re interested.

    I’m looking for some new fiction that will live up to Outlander. I’m going to check out some of these recommendations, too!

    Happy Summer Reading!

  33. I read “Gap Creek: The Story of a Marriage” many years ago, and although I don’t remember every bit of it, I do remember it was about early Appalachian life and how hard things were and I was amazed at how they did life, cooking and cleaning, and the tragedies this young couple faced. I’ve said before I was going to read it again, and I’m going to see if they have it at the library today!

    Also, I agree Same Kind of Different As Me is a wonderful book!

    I’m scanning all the comments looking for new reads as I love to read and I would love to get a Kindle one day!!

  34. The Kindle sounds awesome – I think I’d love the convenience, not to mention the fact that they make bookmarks obsolete and I wouldn’t be “losing my place” all of the time.

    It looks like you have a pretty hefty list there, but – if you want two more suggestions – I highly recommend “Too Small to Ignore” by Wess Stafford and “The Dream Manager” by Matthew Kelly.

  35. Squeeeee, my Kindle arrived Friday! I downloaded the latest Janet Evonavich book (16) and The Help (thanks to your readers for that one! Looks great!!)

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