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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.