Tell Me What to Read: Summer 2014 Edition

Last year, I asked for book recommendations for summer reading (in the spirit of my old series, Tell Me What to Read), and I picked three of them and read one a month throughout the summer.

It was fantastic.

Which means, of course, that I want to do it again this year. I would LOVE your recommendations.

Suggest something fun (although that doesn’t have to mean chick-lit – I’m up for fascinating non-fiction, memoirs, YA, middle grade, AND chick-lit), and I’ll pick three from the comments to read over the next three months of summer.

Terrific book recommendations for summer reading

In review:

  1. Comment with the title of one fun book you think I should read. One title only, please, lest my brain explode. 
  2. I’ll choose three from the list and announce them next week.
    I’ll read one a month – June, July, and August. Feel free to read along. 
  3. I’ll write a review of each one here. 
  4. Even if I hate the book, I will not hate you. 

And . . . go!

Pretend to be as excited as I am.

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  1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, unputdownable. I whipped through it in less than two days. It's such an interesting story and the narration is done in such a unique way that it's hard to explain, but just trust me, excellent novel (plus, I really want to hear your thoughts on it).

  2. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (Or Garden Spells by her if you have already read Lost Lake…) Both are perfect summer reads. – Did I break the one book rule? It's the same author! 🙂

  3. I read Molly Wizenberg's Delancey in almost 1 sitting last week, and I really loved it. It's a great dip-in-dip-out book for summer.

    1. Hi Janette,
      I loved that book, too! I also loved her "The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen." I should check out her other books. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Weight by Jeanette Winterson.
    I recently found your blog and started following you, so I don't know if this book will be your "thing". It is a very short story, I read it in a couple of hours, but it's not typical summer read. =)

  5. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. I really, really enjoyed this book.

    This comes with a back story….while at the library one day, I noticed that our crafty librarians had made a book display called "Save Me." Our library's policy is to remove from circulation any book that hasn't been checked out in one year and to send it to its used book store*. The librarian tried to talk me into saving "Remarkable Creatures." I was game, as it was by Tracy Chevalier, who wrote "Girl With a Pearl Earring," which I enjoyed.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It's historical fiction, and the two main characters were real people. The 'remarkable creatures' are dinosaur fossils. It was a fascinating, quirky, enjoyable story.

    *This isn't as harsh as it might seem. Our library is a teeny, tiny branch of a gigantic library system. It doesn't have room to shelve many books, so if a book isn't of interest, it gets shipped to the used book store (a library fundraiser). We can still get a copy of the book through the larger library system.

  6. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan
    I don't think you've read this book yet? It's one of my very favorite memoirs.

  7. The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson. Super quick read but pretty interesting. It is fantasy…not sure if that is your thing, but I loved it.

  8. Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace. Cute novel about a high school girl in small town Minnesota in early 1900s. If you haven't read it, it's a must!

    1. One of my favorites! It's actually a series of ten books (following Betsy 6 years old – marriage) but Heaven to Betsy is her start of high school and would be a good one to start with.

    2. The Betsy (/Betsy Tacy) books are all so great! (The Betsy Tacy Tib books are cute too!)

  9. I love this because it turns into me adding lots and lots of books to my summer list and that makes me happy. Please read 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. It is absolutely charming. I loved it.

  10. Anything by Barbara Michaels (she wrote most of her books in the 70s and 80s) is what I read when I want an entertaining story and don't want to have to expend too much brain power. Which lately is . . . all the time. Good thing I own almost all her books.

    It's hard to pick a favorite, but "Here I Stay" is a good one. Romantic suspense.

  11. Oh, and that reminds me . . . I meant to mention to you that Barbara Michaels also wrote some books in the pure Gothic tradition. Some are actually modern Gothics (meaning Gothic story elements, but modern characters and setting) but a few are actually set at the same time period as the Brontes and so forth. I thought you might like these because of your appreciation of "Edenbrooke" (which, okay, is Regency romance, but somehow the two seem related to me). One of my favorites is "Sons of the Wolf."

    I know that's more than one title. I didn't mean to make your brain explode–so messy–but this was something I thought of mentioning awhile ago and I knew if I didn't do it now, I would forget.

  12. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a fun and unique series! The third (and last) in this series just came out. It's engrossing. 🙂

  13. Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell. Middle grade historical that my kids and I found too charming for words.

  14. Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier — one of my all-time favorites. Watch out for the deceptive cover (on the mass market paperback version) that makes it kind of look like a harlequin romance novel. 🙂

  15. you said FUN, right?
    Have you read the Flavia de Luce books?
    Start with Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
    Eleven year old aspiring chemist/detective Flavia is clever, wicked and VERY witty.
    Who can't love a girl who names her bicycle?
    Who isn't drawn to a plot that involves the dying words of a man in the cucumber patch?
    LOVED this fun book–read it a few summers ago.

  16. Well, if you are going to Spain, you MUST read a novel set in that beautiful country. I recommend The Perfume Garden, by Kate Lord Brown. You will love it!

  17. The middle grade novel A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. It's the perfect book for word lovers. I reread it to savor the language.

    1. This is my vote too. One of the best written children's books I have read in a couple of years. Love her writing!!!

  18. Okay. After a bit of thought (and checking goodreads to see if you had already read this book), I'm going to suggest A Song for the Summer by Eva Ibbotson. I'm suggesting it because it is my favorite Eva Ibbotson book and because (duh) it has summer in the title.

  19. I just started Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer and I can't put it down! It's a fun YA epistolary novel following two cousins in an alternate Georgian England where magic is part of everyday life. It's a little bit Georgette Heyer and a little bit Harry Potter!

    1. There are three books in that series, and they're all a lot of fun! Or, really, anything by Patricia C. Wrede.

  20. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman – very engrossing and thought-provoking; wonderful writing!

  21. Have you read The Night Circus yet? by Erin Morgenstern. Such a fun, whimsical read. I loved it.

    1. Yes! I listened to it last fall (and then I happened to meet the author's sister at a random event!)

  22. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was a really fun read. It was quick and pretty entertaining!

  23. I definitely recommend Ghostbread by Sonja Livingston. It's a short and captivating literary nonfiction that will keep you completely absorbed while reading and keep you thinking long after you've finished the last page. I wish more people knew about this book, it really is fascinating. To finish my pitch, I'll leave you with my favorite quote from the book: "Ideals and opportunities and social theorizing are just fine, but if you must understand only one thing, it is this: a warm hand and words whispered into the ear are what we want. Paths that can be seen and followed and walked upon are what we most need. …And in the end, the thing that feeds us, no matter how tenuous, is what we will reach for." I highly recommend it!

  24. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is one of the best, most thought-provoking books I have read in a long time. I LOVED it!!!

  25. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read 3-5 books a week, so it's impressive when something stands out to me.

  26. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and A Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall.

  27. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. Regency like Edenbrooke, but with better writing and characters.

    1. I agree with Georgette Heyer if you have discovered a love of Regency Romance. She is the master! So well done and with definite humor.

  28. 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. Brilliant Edinburgh author. This book is a light hearted easy read about the lives of the inhabitants of this address (I particularly love six year old Bertie)

  29. Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler. Probably one of the most well-written memoirs I've ever read.

    (Also, I have the Kindle version and it's loan-able if you'd like to borrow it.)

  30. I really liked Libriomancer, by Jim C. Hines. If I haven't recommended them to you yet, I also ADORED his Princess series: The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaid's Madness, Red Hood's Revenge, and The Snow Queen's Shadow. His Princesses are awesome, they all take on their own stories and basically are their own heroes in them. I really liked the way the princesses are in charge of the story and do a lot of the running around and fighting. (it's fun! And it's not dystopian for once).

  31. I just read a book called Love Letters To The Dead. It was a quick and interesting read.

  32. I found out about this book from your blog, but don't think you had read it: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. A very funny and interesting popular science book about sciences related to space travel (and living on Mars).

  33. accidentally commented from my husband's account above, whoops!

    I notice graphic novels weren't on the list of books you were up for… but I can't resist recommending Matt Phelan's Around the World. Awesome, and a great first graphic novel. I had my church ladies read it for book club and their reviews were solid. Graphic novels require a different kind of brainpower to read than novels though, be warned!

    Around the World by Matt Phelan <–quick visual reference. 🙂

    1. Urg, that was not Curtis, that was me, Alicia! Silly. Funny that I did that right after Alysa above :).

  34. Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple; For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund; Texas Gothic, by Rosemary Clement Moore; Firecracker, by David Isserson.

  35. There are very few books that I read that you have not which makes this task rather challenging. However, it appears that you have not read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. You should remedy this. The book was just so……lovely. You should know that it is more character driven than plot driven, but those tend to be my favorites so…..

  36. Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley, which is a retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast. A beautiful story that really fleshes out the characters of Beauty, her father, two older sisters, and the Beast. My library winter reading program had an "Element of Surprise" theme with a display of library books wrapped in brown paper, so you selected your book based on shape and size, not title/author. I picked out this one, and loved it.

  37. The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
    I've read this a few times. It's definitely a book that grows with you and your life experiences.

  38. Have you read "The Rent Collector" by Camron Wright or "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls? Both provide an outlook into lifestyles that are so different than what we see or experience on a daily basis. I really enjoyed both of these books.

    Do you have a Goodreads account? I'd love to see what books you've read!

  39. Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd. I read this as a first-year grad student, and maybe it was something about the change and transition I was going through myself, but it still remains one of the books I remember reading most clearly. It was thoughtful and calming, and I loved it. I just picked up Lexicon for my first summer read…

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