The 2017 Summer Reading Guide is here. This year’s guide contains 6 categories of 5 books each, but just for fun (and just like in previous years) I’m narrowing the choices down to 5 total. (Minimalists and decision haters, rejoice!)
These top 5 titles are hugely entertaining and have broad appeal, even though they cover a wide variety of topics, themes, and perspectives. Despite their variety, they all have two crucial things in common: they’re really good, and are perfect for the beach, pool, or backyard.
These stories will keep you turning the pages, sure, but they also have substance. While easy to read, these titles are wonderfully thought-provoking and discussable.
If you want to read these with a book-loving community, we’ll be reading through these titles together this summer in the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. We’re about to release our Summer Syllabus, which makes now a terrific time to join.
My top 5 picks for the summer season:
This well-crafted YA release smoothly bridges the divide between present-day Tulsa, Oklahoma and the little-known race riots that occurred there during two terrifying days in 1921. During renovations of 17-year-old Rowan Chase's historic family home, a skeleton is unearthed in the backyard. The police don't care who the bones belong to, but Rowan sure does. Unbeknownst to her, this skeleton links Rowan with another teen, Will Tillman, who lived in Tulsa nearly a hundred years ago. Latham flips back and forth in time, between two teens facing their own kinds of crossroads, to give her readers a page-turning history/mystery mash-up, as her young protagonists wrestle through issues of family, friendship, identity, and belonging. I read this in an afternoon—I couldn't put it down. Publication date: February 21.More info →
Like many readers, I found My Name Is Lucy Barton a delightful surprise—I didn't expect to love it, but I absolutely did. Yet when I heard Elizabeth Strout's next novel was a short story collection set in Lucy Barton's world, involving characters from her family and hometown, I wasn't sure it was a good idea. I was wrong. If you enjoyed Lucy Barton, put this at the top of your summer list. (The books are wonderful companions but don't need to be read in order.) Publication date: April 25.More info →
Backman's new novel is set in a backwater Swedish town whose glory days are gone—except when it comes to hockey. In Beartown, hockey is everything, and the players on the boys' A-team have god-like status. But this isn't just a hockey story. One night after a huge win, the teens throw a raucous party to celebrate—and what happens there splinters the community. Imagine Missoula meets You Will Know Me, and you've got it about right. Part coming-of-age story, part community-in-crisis, completely fabulous. (And I don't care a bit about hockey, so that's saying something.) Heads up, readers: triggers abound. If you've read and enjoyed Backman in the past, you'll recognize his skillful prose, but not the tone: this novel bears none of the whimsy of his previous work. Publication date: April 25.More info →
"You lied. Luke lied. Be at the funeral." Federal Agent Aaron Falk is summoned home with these words after his best friend Luke dies in a heartbreaking murder-suicide, turning the gun on himself after killing his wife and 6-year-old son. Falk obeys—but he can't believe his best friend could have done such a thing, and so he starts digging, dragging long-buried secrets back to the surface. The setting is the drought-ravaged Australian Outback, and the brittleness and heat are almost palpable. Imagine an Australian Tana French, and you've got this stellar debut about right. (Psst—we're talking with the author in the MMD Book Club this summer.) Publication date: January 10.More info →
I can't do better than my bookstore-owning friend Holland to sum this one up: Imagine The Help meets Comic Con, and you've got this story about right. Talented graphic novelist Leia finds herself unexpectedly pregnant after a drunken one-night-stand at a comic book convention. She doesn't know the father's name, but he looked awfully cute in his Batman suit. As Leia absorbs the knowledge that she'll soon be a mother to a biracial baby, she is summoned home to Alabama to do what she can for her struggling family—her stepsister's unraveling marriage, her grandmother's worsening dementia, and a shocking secret hidden in the family attic. This is a fast-reading, big-hearted novel that tackles Serious Issues really, really well—while spinning a terrific story. Publication date: July 11.More info →