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.
UPDATE: view the 3rd annual summer reading guide right here.
Get Lost in a Great Series
The Time Quintet, Madeline L’Engle. (5 books)
L’Engle begins her groundbreaking science fiction-fantasy series with the famous opening line “It was a dark and stormy night,” and plunges you headlong into the world of the Murry family, who must travel through time to save the universe. The novels are interwoven, but each stands on its own.
Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling. (7 books)
Orphaned Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is until he turns 11 and receives his invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, opening up a whole world of magic and muggles, potions and spells, friends and enemies. The series is now available in ebook form–which makes it a lot easier to take a whole boxed set on vacation.
The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis. (7 books)
In this classic series, 4 british children discover that a wardrobe in their London home opens into a magical world called Narnia, where animals talk, magic is real, and the evil White Witch duels the fierce lion Aslan. The Narnia books are loved by young and old alike. Older C. S. Lewis fans should check out his Space Trilogy, which is better suited for older teens and adults.
Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery. (8 books)
Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Prince Edward Island decide to adopt an orphaned boy to help them on their farm. Their messenger mistakenly delivers a girl to Green Gables instead–an 11-year-old feisty redhead named Anne Shirley. The series follows Anne from her childhood at Green Gables until she is a mother herself; the later books are about her children’s adventures more than they are about Anne.
Ruhlman’s Chef Trilogy, Michael Ruhlman.
In The Making of a Chef, journalist Ruhlman enrolls at the Culinary Institute of America to discover how top-tier chefs are trained. In The Soul of a Chef, Ruhlman studies what makes a chef great, observing the Master Chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America and profiling successful celebrity chefs Michael Symon at Lola and Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. In The Reach of a Chef Ruhlman explores the paradox of every profession: get good enough at what you do, and soon you’ll be managing the work instead of doing it yourself.
The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins.
In the post-apocalyptic country of Panem, 12 poor districts are each forced to send two tributes to the oppressive Capitol’s annual Hunger Games: a gladitorial-style competition where the teens are forced to fight each other to the death while the district’s citizens have to watch. But rebellion is already brewing in the districts, and the Capitol gets more than it bargained for when Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place as tribute.
Lord Peter books, Dorothy Sayers.
Sayers is one of the greatest mystery writers of the 20th century, and many center around Lord Peter Wimsey–the aristocratic detective who loves expensive clothes, fine wine, and British wit. There are 11 Lord Peter novels, and several short story collections, but they need not be read in order. The first is Whose Body?, in which Lord Peter investigates a naked body found in the bath, wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez. My favorite is Gaudy Night, a psychological thriller set at Oxford that features female protagonist Harriet Vane. Sayers is a mystery writer, but she approaches her topic delicately: though many of her novels feature murder plots, they’re not at all graphic.
Starbridge Series, Susan Howatch. (6 books)
Let me begin by saying some of you will hate this series. But some of you will love it, so: the first 3 books–beginning with Glittering Images–take place in the Church of England in the early 1930s. The latter 3 take place in the 1960s. Each book stands on its own, and each is narrated by a different character. This is a gritty series, at least for Christian fiction.