Book Lists Tell Me What to Read

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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98 Comments

  • Reply blogsmalldog.com May 19, 2014 at 11:28 am

    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).

  • Reply The Andreasens May 19, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Dear mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

  • Reply ourjoyfulnest May 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    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! 🙂

  • Reply RA May 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    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.

  • Reply Janette Tanner May 19, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James is my favorite summer read!

    • Reply Betsy May 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      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!

  • Reply Dora Susyer May 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    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. =)

  • Reply Betsy May 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    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.

  • Reply Amy May 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    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.

    • Reply Audrey May 19, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      I just finished this book last night ~ I really enjoyed it too…..so sweet.

    • Reply rachel May 20, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      I love this choice too! Such a fantastic read:)

    • Reply Meredith Tuttle May 21, 2014 at 2:11 am

      Love that book!

  • Reply Carrie May 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer. Definitely a quick, engrossing read!

  • Reply Lins - Domesticated Working Woman May 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    • Reply Janssen May 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      I've read it twice, actually! Heartbreaker.

  • Reply Sherry May 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. Very long, but very good.

  • Reply Shay May 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    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.

  • Reply Laura H May 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I just finished the audio version of Calling me home by Julie Kibler. I enjoyed it

  • Reply Alison May 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. A fun mix of Jane Austen and Daddy Long Legs. 🙂

  • Reply Lizzy May 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    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!

    • Reply Beth May 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      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.

    • Reply Rachel May 19, 2014 at 9:39 pm

      I love the Betsy books!

    • Reply Meredith Tuttle May 21, 2014 at 2:12 am

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

  • Reply NGS May 19, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    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.

    • Reply Moira C May 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      This one is lovely! I'd second it 🙂

  • Reply Kristin @ Going Country May 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    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.

  • Reply Kristin @ Going Country May 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    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.

  • Reply Alyssa May 19, 2014 at 4:03 pm

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

  • Reply Lisa May 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    I really enjoyed A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken- it's a good love story. 🙂

  • Reply Angiegirl May 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm

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

  • Reply Heather May 19, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    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. 🙂

    • Reply Janssen May 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      one of my favorites too! And I always have to make that cover disclaimer too 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer Whitcomb May 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    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.

    • Reply Ash May 19, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Oh my, yes! I second this book series! I'm all caught up, and I just love flavia!

    • Reply Janssen May 22, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Yes! So fun.

  • Reply Mimsie May 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    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!

  • Reply Annie May 19, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    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.

    • Reply Deanna H May 19, 2014 at 5:31 pm

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

  • Reply JoLee May 19, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    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.

  • Reply Moira C May 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    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!

    • Reply Lady Susan May 20, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      Oh, I love this book!

    • Reply Carrie May 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Seconding Sorcery and Cecelia!

    • Reply Magdalena May 22, 2014 at 2:30 am

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

  • Reply Tyler P May 19, 2014 at 5:23 pm

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

  • Reply Beth May 19, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Recommendation based on your love of Richard Peck and Gary Schmidt, which are also some of my favorites:)
    Idea of what it's about that is way better than what I could give:
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/287315651202242602/

    • Reply Janssen May 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      I loved this series! I couldn't keep it on the shelf in my libraries!

  • Reply Lynn B May 19, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I really loved All Good Children by Catherine Austen when I read it last summer!

  • Reply Dana Weinstein May 19, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn. Fun thriller!

  • Reply Josalyn May 19, 2014 at 5:52 pm

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

    • Reply Janssen May 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm

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

  • Reply Megan Marie May 19, 2014 at 5:58 pm

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

    • Reply Janssen May 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Oh, this is one of my favorite books (and authors!)

  • Reply Ouiser May 19, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall

  • Reply Bookmark Dragon May 19, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    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!

  • Reply Rebecca Lately May 19, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

  • Reply mitchg May 19, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

    • Reply Katie May 20, 2014 at 3:02 am

      I'm currently reading this for my bookclub. I've heard a lot of good things about it.

  • Reply Brynn May 19, 2014 at 9:00 pm

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

    • Reply Lilly A June 25, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      I second this! Really different read!

  • Reply Alisha May 19, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    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.

  • Reply Emily May 19, 2014 at 9:17 pm

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

  • Reply Rachel May 19, 2014 at 9:42 pm

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

    • Reply Lady Susan May 20, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      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.

  • Reply Emily May 19, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

  • Reply Ruth Thomas May 19, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    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)

  • Reply Little Gray Pixel May 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Have you read The Age of Miracles? I can't say enough good things about it.

    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/333448667

    • Reply Janssen May 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      I listened to this last year and was totally absorbed!

  • Reply Jessica May 20, 2014 at 12:25 am

    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.)

  • Reply Jenn May 20, 2014 at 1:33 am

    Memoirs of an imaginary friend.

  • Reply Tracey May 20, 2014 at 2:03 am

    You have sisters. How about The Pretty One by Lucinda Rosenfeld? It's really quirky.

  • Reply Amy May 20, 2014 at 2:26 am

    The Things That Keep Us Here – Carla Buckley

  • Reply becomingbrown May 20, 2014 at 2:29 am

    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).

  • Reply Brooklyn Berry May 20, 2014 at 2:51 am

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

  • Reply girlseeksplace May 20, 2014 at 3:13 am

    Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan.

  • Reply Emmaco May 20, 2014 at 4:20 am

    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).

  • Reply Alysa Stewart May 20, 2014 at 5:33 am

    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. 🙂

    • Reply Alysa Stewart May 20, 2014 at 5:35 am

      p.s. I see you've reviewed The Storm in the Barn — I liked this one better!

  • Reply Curtis May 20, 2014 at 6:30 am

    The Stories Julian Tells. Ann Cameron. Read it with Ella.

    • Reply Alicia May 20, 2014 at 6:31 am

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

  • Reply Amanda W May 20, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    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.

  • Reply Lady Susan May 20, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    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…..

  • Reply Leah Koch May 21, 2014 at 1:28 am

    The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, I loved it!

    • Reply Janssen May 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Oh, I love Liane Moriarty.

  • Reply Dana May 21, 2014 at 1:35 am

    Looking for Alaska by John Green

  • Reply Misty, Handbags + Handguns May 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    New follower via Bloglovin!

    Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

  • Reply Unknown May 21, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Some Wildflower in my Heart by Jamie Langston Turner Beautifully written, wonderful story!

  • Reply the dahlia scene May 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    President Me – Adam Corrolla

  • Reply Magdalena May 22, 2014 at 2:35 am

    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.

    • Reply Janssen May 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Coolest library program ever!

  • Reply Ashley May 24, 2014 at 1:16 am

    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.

  • Reply Lauren and Eddie May 24, 2014 at 2:34 am

    The Selection by Kierra Cass (I THINK that's the author's name…).

  • Reply Katie May 26, 2014 at 4:59 am

    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!

  • Reply Nicki May 26, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    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…

  • Reply Miss E. Laneous May 30, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Little Jimmy Says,"Same is Lame", Jimmy Vee

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