The 2016 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, have broad appeal, 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 at the first-ever (!!!) Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Club.
My top 5 picks for the summer season:
I NEVER would have read this if a trusted bookseller hadn't pressed it into my hands and said READ IT: the plot summary would have made me put it right down. But it's one of my favorites of the year. I went into this novel knowing nothing and I liked it that way, so I'll just say Wood explores themes of love, loss, and identity through a quirky 11-year-old boy who loves making lists, a wily 104-year-old woman, an absentee father, a Boy Scout project, and the Guiness Book of World Records. Perfect for fans of The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and A Man Called Ove.More info →
This is that rare bird: a literary page-turner. In this wonderfully written, multi-layered, fast-moving novel, Sweeney tells the story of the dysfunctional Plumb family. When the eldest blows their collective inheritance (by crashing someone else's Porsche, while drunk and high, direly injuring the 19-year-old waitress who was not his wife), the four Plumb siblings are forced to actually communicate for the first time in ages. They're also forced to grow up, and watching that painful process unfold on the page is highly entertaining (and a little cringe-worthy). I loved this for its depth, complexity, and supremely satisfying ending, but if you need characters you can root for, this isn't the book for you. Strongly reminiscent of Rules of Civility. For what it's worth, Amy Poehler and Ellie Kemper loved it. Heads up for language and racy content: I'd like to give this novel an 8-line edit. Published March 22 2016.More info →
Because Cleave tackles heavy-hitting subjects, this is the first of his novels I've had the guts to try. I knew I had to read this when my husband (who beat me to it) couldn't stop sharing Cleave's well-turned sentences aloud. There have been so many WWII novels of late; this tale of four young, warm, wise-cracking friends in wartime England is a standout in the genre. Through their characters, Cleave throws issues of wartime morality, race, and class into sharp relief. This is for you if you love a great story and admire a beautifully-rendered, wry turn of phrase. Think of this as the witty but no less devastating companion to All the Light We Cannot See. Publication date May 3 2016.More info →
Janie knows her 4-year-old son Noah is not like other children. He's terrified of water. He asks for his "other mother." And he always, always wants to go home—even when he's in his very own bed. But one night, thanks to a late-night bourbon-fueled internet session, Janie stumbles upon the work of an eccentric scientist, and begins to confront the possibility that her precious son not only lived a previous life, he'd been murdered in it. The plot resists simplistic solutions and easy answers which keeps you glued to the page. If you have a friend or loved one obsessed with reincarnation, this book is obviously for you—but you don't have to buy the premise to find this a satisfying read. Published February 2 2016.More info →
I loved this book, which was nothing at all what I expected. The novel tracks three generations of Indian women and their fraught relationships. The title comes from a chance encounter one of these women has with a stranger, which is fitting because my favorite parts of the story deal with the small moments that change the course of a person's life, and the unlikely friendships that do the same. This is a wonderful, beautiful, and sad book, and I've been recommending it like crazy. Published April 19 2016.More info →