"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, June 25, 2016

20 Great Books for Summer Reading 2016

I often see lists of books which are suggested summer reads and wonder what makes a book a good summer selection. I remember the summer I sat on the windy Oregon beach reading Olive Kitteridge huddled under a blanket. I doubt that book made too many summer reading lists that year, but I loved it and still have fond memories of reading it while waves from the Pacific Ocean crashed onto the beach nearby. Did I love the book itself or did I love the book because of the reading experience? I think it is the latter. We like books that we associate with positive experiences. I ended up as a Chris Crutcher fan because of the lazy summer spent reading his books while laying in the hammock in the backyard. I have fond memories of reading a really funky short story collection thrown into my bag right before we left for a trip to Italy, a paperback I could leave behind when finished. Italy was wonderful and  I enjoyed every one of the stories in the collection, probably because I was in Italy. Perhaps the most important aspect of a good summer book is one you want to carry with you on a trip or don't mind subjecting to the elements. Then you enjoy it because you are having fun where you are.

A few suggested books you might enjoy this summer----

Looking for something YA?

1-4. The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. The 4th and last book in the series just came out this spring. If you haven't read this marvelous series about friendship, family, and magical dreams and places, you are in for a big treat. This is my favorite series since the Hunger Games. Start with The Raven Boys. Read all four. You'll love them.

5-8. Any book by Andrew Smith. The guy writes seriously strange, out-there fiction but I guarantee who will find his books entertaining. Grasshopper Jungle about a boy and his friend who unwittingly unleash huge grasshopper things on the earth. It won a Printz honor. The Alex Crow brings together four discordant stories. Weird but amazing. Also try 100 Sideways Miles, or Winger. I should warn you though---Andrew Smith's books are full (and I mean FULL) of foul language.

Looking for something historical? Try...
9. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry set in Southern France in the 1200s in the days of Crusades and the Inquisitions. This is my favorite YA book of 2016 so far.
10. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina set in New York City in 1977 when the city was burning up from a heat wave, causing power outages, and Son-of-Sam was harassing the city with his random murders. No one was safe.

Looking for something adult?

11. West with the Night by Beryl Markham
A memoir, published in 1942, by the first person to fly from England to New York, east to west. It is also about her experiences growing up in British East Africa (Kenya.) Beautifully written
12. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
A novelized memoir of Beryl Markham's life.
McLain is an amazing writer, too.
I am obsessed with these two books right now.

Prefer nonfiction? Try-
13. The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner,
a true story of a girl raised in a polygamist's cult. She was the 39th of her father's 42 children. Riveting.
14. All the Things We Never Knew:Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton
The author recounts how she missed the signs of her husband's mental illness before he took his life.

15. This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
This graphic novel is a tremendous coming-of-age story which has recently come under the scrutiny of censors. For this reason, I am telling everyone to read this book so you can see for yourself why censorship is bad. Check out the details in The Guardian article, then go read it!

Like audiobooks? So do I. Try these---

16. The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett
This is the last book written by the author of the wonderful and funny Discworld series before he died. It is also the fifth book in the Tiffany Aching sub-series. Stephen Briggs is the voice actor who reads this book and he does a tremendous job. I laughed. I cried.
17. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.
If you haven't read this nonfiction account of the US Rowing team that won the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, this is a marvelous way to consume the book. A family favorite, it is read by Edward Herrmann, now deceased.
18. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
McCullough reads his own book about the very famous and genius Americans, Orville and Wilbur Wright. Actually everything McCullough writes is excellent in the audio format. His research is impeccable yet approachable and his voice is so easy to listen to.

Join me. I hope to read these books this summer---

19. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The 2016 Pultzer Prize winner. This is also a book club selection. I have it checked out from the library right now so I need to get to it soon!
20. Just Mercy: a Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stephenson,
My husband doesn't know this yet, but this is what I plan to listen to in the car as we drive to Whistler, B.C. tomorrow. Many blogging friends have recommended it.

Happy Reading.


  1. What a fun list! I totally agree on the Raven Boys series, I'm actually finishing up the last one right now on my vacation! I loved Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith also. You've got a few good ones on my TBR list as well. And for a fun, steamy, can't put down read, my staff recommendation at the bookstore right now is the After series by Anna Todd. Great post!

  2. Lily is almost done with the Warriors books, I'm looking for something preteen she would like....She is getting very very nerdy and exploring new genres. We might hit the library Monday.

    1. I'm pretty bad with middle grade books. She might like books by Rebecca Steadman. Ask the librarian at the library for some suggestions or they might have handouts of suggestions.

  3. Great post & great list, Anne! I agree - anything can be a great summer read! It's the environment as well as the book.

    As you know, I love Big Books for summer reading!

    I LOVED This One Summer & always rave about it - such a wonderful depiction of a coming-of-age summer. Can't believe it's being censured! That's just awful.


    2016 Big Book Summer Challenge

  4. An excellent list. I have fond memories of re-reading Middlemarch in Tunisia, and A Suitable Boy in a week in France!

  5. I'm looking forward to reading The Passion of Dolssa!


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