The minimalist summer reading guide.

The minimalist summer reading guide.

The 2015 Summer Reading Guide is here. The guide contains 7 categories of 5 books each, but just for fun (and just like last year) I’m narrowing the choices down to 5 total. (Minimalists and decision haters, rejoice!)

These 5 titles are hugely entertaining, have broad appeal, and are perfect for the beach, pool, or backyard. (That prevented me from choosing The Royal We, a new release that I think many—but by no means all—of you are going to love, and A God in Ruins, which is the most challenging book in the guide, but is also the best book I’ve read in a while.)

This compact, user-friendly guide whittles the overwhelming array of readerly options down to 7 diverse categories of 5 titles each—because a list of 5 great books is The 2015 Summer Reading Guide. Your guide to the season's best books—because a highly curated selection is much more useful than a list of thousands. Includes 7 fun categories of 5 books each, new releases and backlist, with tips on why you should read each one. Happy reading!

My top 5 picks for your summer reading list:

Love Walked In

Love Walked In

Cornelia is a hopeless romantic, obsessed with the epic love stories portrayed in classic films, but floundering in her own life. Everything changes the day a Cary Grant look-alike walks through the door of the coffee shop she manages. Of course she falls for him, and strikes up an unlikely friendship with his 11-year-old daughter. You can’t help but cheer for these characters as they navigate the tricky waters of friendship, heartbreak, and love. De los Santos is a poet by training, and it shows in her prose. If you love this, good news: there’s a sequel. More info →
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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

In the idyllic small town of Three Pines, Quebec, where people don’t even lock their doors, a beloved local woman is found in the woods with an arrow shot through her heart. The locals believe it must be a hunting accident, but the police inspector senses something is off. The story is constructed as a classic whodunit but it feels like anything but, with its deliberate pacing, dry wit, and lyrical writing. A stunningly good first novel. Still Life is the first in a series (of 11 books to date) that keeps getting better. For fans of Jacqueline Winspear. Great on audio. More info →
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Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

This Gatsby-esque novel plunges you into the glittering, glamorous streets of Manhattan, circa 1938. Young secretary Katey Kontent and her roommate Evelyn meet handsome Tinker Gray by chance. The girls vie for his affection—until one impulsive decision changes everything. A beautifully drawn story of wealth and class, luck and fate, love and illusion. Warning: this one is hard to put down. A smashing debut. If you love this, try the follow-up novella Eve in Hollywood. More info →
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The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook

The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook

What really makes relationships work? Washington Post weddings reporter McCarthy weighs in with this wise, warm, and relatable collection of essays, based on her interviews with more than 200 couples who’ve walked down the aisle. McCarthy dishes on what she’s learned on the beat, and shares her own insights on love and marriage (and breakups, including the one she endured her first day on the job), in essays bearing titles such as “Screw Meeting Cute,” Don’t Look for Lightning,” and “Top Ten Reasons to Call It Off.” Smart, funny, hugely enjoyable—though her sociologist’s approach will make some of you crazy. More info →
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This is Nigerian novelist Adichie’s third novel, but the first I've read. The story centers around a smart, strong-willed Nigerian woman named Ifemelu. After university, she travels to America for postgraduate work, where she endures several years of near-destitution, and a horrific event that upends her world. She finds her way, winning a fellowship at Princeton, and gaining acclaim for her blog, called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." A highlight: Adichie seamlessly weaves blog posts—about race, national identity, class, poverty, and hair—into the narrative. The novel grapples with difficult issues without becoming overwrought. I would not have read this based on the flap copy, but I was hooked from page one. Haunting, moving, incredibly well done. Terrific on audio. More info →
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What books are at the top of YOUR summer reading list?

P.S. View the whole guide, and last year’s 5-book summer reading guide.

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  1. Lindsey Fisher says:

    My reading list this summer includes Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I could use some lighter recommendations to add to my list 🙂

  2. Cindy Moore says:

    I just want summer to be long enough to read all the books on the list. May there be sand between all the pages by September.

  3. Lisa H. says:

    I just discovered your website and I’m so happy to add your recommended books to my list. I just got Love Walked In from the library. I’ve also got Where’d You Go, Bernadette? and The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared on my list to read this summer. Thanks for the book ideas!

  4. Heather C says:

    I look forward to your blog each day!
    On my list:
    Finish Anna Karenina
    The Prodigal God
    Finish The Invisible Man
    With my kids:
    Finish Charlotte’s Web
    Read These Happy Golden Years
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  5. Susan Elledge says:

    I’ve gone through your list and picked quite a few that I would like to read. Most of them are available at my library which makes me happy. I’m planning on reading a lot of nonfiction to help with the high school history classes I teach.

  6. Alicia says:

    Thank you for the reading guide! I’ve been meaning to read Susan Cain’s book Quiet for the longest time, and I hope to get around to it this summer.

  7. Martha says:

    Looks like I found your wonderful blog just in time-I just learned about it today! So hopefully I still have a chance to enter this great bookworm giveaway, the best kind of giveaway I might add! I was fortunate enough to meet Marisa de los Santos at a book festival last week and not only hear her speak, but also get a copy of her latest book, ‘The Precious One’ signed!! Needless to say, she was so genuine, honest, and hilarious! So I’m super excited to see one of her books on your great list! To answer your question as to what is currently at the top of my summer reading list, here are a few of them that I’ve reserved and am anxiously awaiting for from my public library:
    – Luckiest Girl Alive (Knoll)
    -Orhan’s Inheritance (Ohanesian)
    – The Bookseller (Swanson)
    – Girl at War (Novic)
    – I Take You (Kennedy)
    – The Night Sister (McMahon)
    – The Book of Aron (Shepard)
    Just to name a few…lol 😉

  8. Stephanie says:

    That looks like a great combination of books! I’d love to have them on my bookshelves. Now to keep my 4 Littles busy long enough to finish a chapter or two….

  9. Leslie says:

    These sound great! I would love to read them!! Is there one in particular you would choose for a book club? With so much to read, I have to prioritize! 🙂

    • Anne says:

      I think Americanah is the best classic book club pick, but ALL these books are discussable. I wouldn’t prioritize Love Walked In for book club, though.

  10. Leslie says:

    I just finished Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson yesterday. It was one of the best books I’ve read this year. So far my summer reading plans include finishing reading Blavk Beauty with my daughter and reading Americanah, Ready Player One, and Outlander. But I’m easily distracted with books, so only time will tell!! 🙂

  11. Noel says:

    I’m waiting to see what my book club picks next to determine my next book. I just finished the one for this month – The Rook. It was great!

  12. Christina Joy says:

    There are several methods I use to celebrate the arrival of summer before school is officially out: excessive use of colorful straws, dining al fresco, fun toenail polish, and perusing the MMD summer reading list.

  13. Ashley says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! I like the shorter list – I’m definitely one of those people who struggles with decision fatigue.

  14. Lorri Castro says:

    I just finished Outlander so I’d love to read the second book in the series. Life is so busy for me that one book would be fabulous!

  15. mom2triplets04 says:

    I haven’t read any of those or heard of them. Adding them to my very long TBR list. Top on my list this summer are Confess by Colleen Hoover, Gone by Michael Grant, Cinder, City of Bones, and many many more.

  16. Nina Rowan says:

    I’m a bit behind but I plan to read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Cibola Burn and Nemesis Games by James S A Corey, and The Golem and the Jinn by Helene Wicker. Then, I might try out your minimalist list. I have read Louise Penny and love Inspector Gamache!

  17. Amy Carter says:

    Sounds like a wonderful reading list! I am planning to read the Anne of Green Gables books once again, because I get to go on my dream trip to PEI!

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