5 classics (new and old) for your summer reading list (from the 2012 summer reading guide)

Since I launched the 2013 summer reading guide, I’ve had lots of requests for the archived 2012 edition. I don’t want to flood your inboxes, but I also don’t want to leave you hanging if you’re looking for good stuff to read. So for the rest of the summer, one week at a time, I’m sharing a category from the 2012 guide.

2014 UPDATE: Get this year’s free summer reading guide right here.

Classics, New and Old

5 classics for your summer reading list -- Pride and Prejudice | Modern Mrs Darcy

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen.

If you’ve never read a single Jane Austen book, summer is a good time to start. Jane Austen books are great for the pool or vacation, they’re easy to find in throwaway versions, they’re free for kindle, and the topics are fresh and fun enough for the beach. Honest.

5 classics for your summer reading list -- The Great Gatsby | Modern Mrs Darcy

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby has built a mansion on Long Island Sound for the sole purpose of wooing and winning his lost love Daisy, who married another man while Gatsby was serving overseas. This classic American novel captures the Jazz Age in all its decadence and excess, while weaving a wistful story of love and loss. (I’m re-reading this one right now.)

5 classics for your summer reading list -- MIss Pettigrew Lives for a Day | Modern Mrs Darcy

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Winifred Watson.

I’ll bet you weren’t assigned this breezy Cinderella-ish story from 1930s Britain back in English class. When a placement agency sends unemployed Miss Pettigrew to the wrong address, she spends the day of her life with a glamorous nightclub singer, extricating her hour by hour from one scrape after another. Light, charming and utterly delightful.

5 classics for your summer reading list - The Screwtape Letters | Modern Mrs Darcy

The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis.

This slim classic contains only one character: the demon Screwtape, who writes letters to his nephew Wormwood to instruct him how to best tempt humans off their course (if they are bent on good) and into the service of the enemy (“Our Father Below”). This unique book broaches the familiar concept of good vs. evil in a fresh way.

5 classics for your summer reading list -- The Poisonwood Bible | Modern Mrs Darcy

The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

Southern Baptist Missionary Nathan Price heads off to the African Congo with his wife and 4 daughters in 1959, and nothing goes as planned. Though they bring with them everything they think they will need from their home in Bethlehem, Georgia–right down to the Betty Crocker cake mixes–the Prices are woefully unprepared for their new life among the Congolese, and they all pay the price. This one will stick with you long after you turn the last page.


Leave A Comment
  1. Anna says:

    Love these suggestions! I’ve found Tender is the Night to be a good summer read too. I pick it up to read at the pool each summer and, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever read the whole thing. The French Riviera sections always feel like the perfect thing to read while sitting in the sun.

    • Anne says:

      I was just reading good things about Tender is the Night! I’ve only read it once and that was in high school, so I’ll have to revisit it after I wrap up Gatsby.

  2. Andrea says:

    I just re-read The Great Gatsby for the first time since high school. I appreciated it much more as a 35-year old than I did as a 15-year old!

  3. Tim says:

    I suppose most people’s intro to Austen is P&P, but I think Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are even better stories. Then again, I’ve read all six novels multiple times and you can’t go wrong no matter which you pick. How one person could write 6 completely different stories and each one a classic is a marvel.

    Screwtape Letters is another that I can’t recommend too highly. It was the book I had open in my hands when I became a Christian. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.


    • Tim says:

      Linda, I love the Space Trilogy. He did such a good job with the overall story arc, and to think he did it by writing three sci fi novels that each utilized a different subgenre. I think Out of the Silent Planet is straight sci fi, Perelandra is science fantasy, and That Hideous Strength is sci fi gothic. He is such a good writer and story teller!

  4. Mary says:

    I rarely re-read books. Too many unread ones to get to. Although I did re-read Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities lays year. A very different read from when I read them in high school more than 40 years ago. I listened to the audiobook version so THE POISIONWOOD BIBLE. Really, really good. Other Kingsolver books were ok. But not as good.

  5. kerry says:

    Love your suggestions. I’ve read P&P many times & just finished Emma on a recent mission trip. Now I need to add Poisonwood Bible & Mrs Pettigrew to my Shelfari list. Thanks for the suggestions

  6. Kris Martin says:

    Love your website! The Screwtape Letters and The Poisonwood Bible are on our book clubs list of future reads. Have you ever read George MacDonald? C.S. Lewis was inspired by MacDonald. If you get a chance Sir Gibbie is a masterpiece in my opinion and you will want to read the edited version by Michael Phillips.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.