Enjoy previous picks from

Summer Reading Guides

Over ELEVEN years of Summer Reading Guides
have produced some great reads we think you’ll like.

History Comes Alive

Novels that mess with history in the best possible way.

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding

Historian-turned-novelist Robson sets her latest historical release in 1947, when times are grim: so many have lost so much, war rationing continues, Britain is in ruins. But in a bleak year, there’s a bright spot: Princess Elizabeth’s royal wedding captured the hearts of a nation, and was a beacon of hope to a country on its knees. Britain was on its knees, but the people insisted on a real celebration, including a beautiful gown. Robson’s story shifts among three protagonists and spans 70 years, but the common thread is Elizabeth’s gown—and specifically, the women who make it. While Robson has a fine eye for detail, and her behind-the-scenes descriptions of the fine autelier’s workroom are riveting, the heartbeat of the story comes from female friendship, secret pasts, and life after loss. A must-read for fans of The Crown, and recommended for all seeking an intimate take on the often-neglected postwar era.

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Wholly Unexpected Love Stories

Not at all what we were expecting

Field Notes on Love

Field Notes on Love

When Hugo Wilkinson’s girlfriend Margaret unexpectedly breaks up with him, he’s left with a broken heart and an extra ticket for the trip of a lifetime they’d planned to take together between high school and college. It would be a grand adventure and an opportunity for Hugo to get out of his siblings’ shadow for a bit. As one of the famed Surrey sextuplets, there’s very little he gets to do on his own. That’s why Hugo would be happy to travel alone, but there’s a catch—Margaret Campbell booked the nonrefundable, nontransferable tickets for their cross-country American rail adventure in her name, which means if the trip is going to happen, he needs to find another Margaret Campbell. What follows is a story of chance, friendship, coming out of  your shell, and into your own … while maybe finding love on the way. Part coming-of-age story, part romance, part travel adventure, and wholly absorbing.

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Families Are Complicated

Tension drives a good plot forward, and these families have plenty of it

Ask Again, Yes

Ask Again, Yes

If you love dysfunctional family novels, this is one doozy of a story—and a must-read. When two rookie cops who meet at the NYC Police Academy strike up a friendship, it sets in motion a tragic chain of events that echo through the decades, through the lives of their children and their children’s children. I found this book exceptionally difficult to read—it’s depressing and dark and triggers abound—yet I was eager to find out what would happen next to these doomed families, and the astonishing developments of the last 75 pages vaulted this to my best-of-the-year list. A poignant story of grace, forgiveness, and redemption, for fans of Atonement and Little Fires Everywhere.

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Gripping Suspense
The Current

The Current

In the opening pages, circumstance and fate bring two college women together despite their differences—and thanks to bad luck and an impulsive offer, they set out on an ill-fated road trip that will end one life and forever change the other when their car plunges into a Minnesota river. The suspicious circumstances bear an uncanny resemblance to the death of another young girl a decade ago. As the survivor struggles to come to terms with her friend’s death, she discovers the lingering sense of loss for that other girl remains strong, and her own safety—for reasons she can’t grasp—remains precarious. And the current doesn’t just refer to the force that swept her friend away, but the pull of unresolved emotions and untold secrets moving just below the surface. Not quite a thriller, not quite a crime novel, but oddly beautiful and completely mesmerizing.

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Recursion: A Novel

Recursion: A Novel

The new sci-fi thriller from Dark Matter author Crouch is already in Shonda Rhimes’s hands for development for the big and small screen. In the book’s opening, an NYPD police detective is summoned to the 41st floor of a Manhattan highrise to try and talk a woman struggling with a terrifying new condition known as False Memory Syndrome down from the edge. Meanwhile, across the country, a brilliant scientist is hard at work on her passion project, a chair that will shield Alzheimer’s and dementia patients from the worst effects of the disease by reactivating their most important memories. As the detective begins to trace the line from False Memory Syndrome to the scientist—and the sinister motivations driving the project—the stakes for not just the parties involved, but the entire world, grow ever higher. Part save-the-world thriller, part police procedural, part love story, and above all, a real brain-bender.

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The Likeness

The Likeness

In the second of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, which can be read in any order, detective Cassie Maddux is pulled off her current beat and sent to investigate a murder. When she arrives at the scene, she finds the victim looks just like her, and—even more creepy—she was using an alias that Cassie used in a previous case. The victim was a student, and her boss talks her into trying to crack the case by impersonating her, explaining to her friends that she survived the attempted murder. The victim lived with four other students in a strangely intimate, isolated setting, and as Cassie gets to know them, liking them almost in spite of herself, her boundaries—and loyalties—begin to blur. A taut psychological thriller that keeps you guessing till the end.

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Twisty Mysteries

Engrossing novels that keep you guessing till the end

The Dry

The Dry

"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.

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Hit the Road
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Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter needs a do-over, so she signs up for a notoriously tough wilderness survival course to prove that she can make it on her own. But then she finds out her kid brother’s best friend is joining her on the trip, wrecking her plans before she even gets to the mountains. Once there, Helen confronts a summer blizzard, a group of sorority girls, rutting season for the elk, and spin-the-bottle—yet she also discovers what it really means to be brave. A fun and light read that still manages to tackle some serious topics. If you love this, go back and read The Lost Husband.

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Badass Women

Stories with gutsy leading ladies

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Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

Bavarian widow moves to Sicily and rediscovers her love of living. "On her sixtieth birthday my Auntie Poldi moved to Sicily, intending to drink herself comfortably to death with a sea view." So says Poldi's nephew Michael. But life gets in the way: when Poldi's handyman goes missing, Poldi resolves to find him—with the help of the sexy police Commissario and a host of quirky Italians. Her quest brings Poldi back to life, and all she loves about it—namely prosecco, men, and gossip. Big-hearted and funny, smart and escapist: it's like taking your own Italian vacation.

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Beachy Novels

Easy-reading stories perfect for the backyard, beach, or pool

The Café by the Sea

The Café by the Sea

Author:
Series: Beach Novels

Flora was determined not to become trapped on the tiny Scottish island where she grew up, like her mother was. She fled years ago and made a life for herself in London, never looking back. Her job could be better, and she's such a cliché, hopelessly in love with her oblivious boss, but at least she got out. But then fate intervenes, and her firm's most important client needs her hometown knowledge for an important deal, so she reluctantly returns to face the family she left under terrible circumstances. A story of small town life, second chances, and family—the kind you get, and the kind you make. If you loved The Bookshop on the Corner or My Not So Perfect Life, you will LOVE this book. Publication date: June 27.

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"The SRG is my official kick off to summer-can’t wait!"

Thoughtful and Funny Memoirs
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You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

Roosevelt penned this book--part memoir, part advice manual--in 1960, when she was 76 years old. It’s striking how fresh and wise her insight seems today, over fifty years later. Roosevelt offers an interesting perspective on history, unique insights into her life (which contained a surprising amount of personal tragedy), and a good bit of wisdom you might just apply to your own life.

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Flights of Fancy

Wildly imaginative novels

The Life Intended

The Life Intended

The publisher calls this Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You: the premise is far-fetched, but it's supposed to be. Early in their marriage, Kate’s husband dies in a tragic accident. Twelve years later, Kate promises to marry a man who’s good on paper—but the night of their engagement, Kate vividly dreams about the life she would have had if her first husband had lived. The dreams keep returning, night after night. Harmel uses her strange jumping-off point to explore how suffering shapes our lives in surprising and even hopeful ways. Don't worry: it's not at all depressing, and Harmel's a great storyteller. Warmhearted and richly told.

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Get Smart

Dad books for everyone

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Rubin’s much anticipated follow-up to her happiness books is all about habits: how we make them, why we break them, and how we can improve them. That may not strike you as poolside fare, but the chatty writing, illuminating insights, and story-driven narrative make this guidebook anything but dry and boring. Packed with relatable tales from Rubin’s life, which are easy to apply to your own. If you put them into practice, this book will change your life. Practical, engaging, entertaining.

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Intense emotionally resonant

Stories that keep your pages turning and your heart pounding

Beartown

Beartown

This was a hard read because of the content but so, so good. Backman's latest 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. 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.

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Southern Fiction

Tales with southern charms and wiles

The Lost Husband

The Lost Husband

Center's novels read as easy as the fluffiest chick lit, but they run surprisingly deep, and are emotionally wise. Libby is attempting to rebuild her life, and that of her two kids, after her husband died in a car crash two years ago. But she's finally had enough of living with her crazy mother, and moves out to the Texas hill country to try out a new life on her crazy Aunt Jean's goat farm. This short and easy read has a familiar arc: girl in a mess, girl sees the light, girl finds happiness, yet its themes of family, forgiveness, and redemption make it worth your while. Recommended reading for Brené Brown fans.

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The Invention Of Wings

The Invention Of Wings

Charleston, November 1803. Sarah Grimké turns 11. Her birthday gift? A slave named Hetty ("Handful"). This sweeping novel tells the story—in alternating voices—of real-life abolitionist Sarah Grimké and the wholly imagined slave Handful through several decades and up and down the East Coast during a tumultuous time in American history. A can’t miss for fans of The Help or Monk Kidd’s first hit, The Secret Life of Bees. An engaging mix of fact and fiction.

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Evensong

Evensong

What happens when we get the thing we desire most in life—only to find that it might destroy us? That's the question Margaret faces at the opening of Evensong. This tale, set in the mountains of North Carolina, faithfully examines marriage and vocation and calling through the eyes of Margaret, a thirtysomething Episcopal priest, who is forced to finally confront matters when three unexpected and—let's face it—unwelcome guests arrive in her sleepy North Carolina mountain town of High Balsam. This book, first published in 1999, has the fingerprints of the millennium all over it. If you love it, go back and read its predecessor, Father Melancholy's Daughter.

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Foodie Memoirs

Stories of life in and around food services will leave your mouth watering

A Homemade Life

A Homemade Life

After her father died, Molly Wizenburg didn’t know what to do with herself. So she went to Paris, and later, she started a blog. No spoilers here, so let’s just say I especially loved hearing about how the internet introduced the author to new, life-changing relationships. This memoir made me laugh, cry, check airfare to Paris, and curse my low carb diet. Completely and utterly charming, accompanied by tasty recipes.

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Meet Anne

Anne Bogel is an author, podcast and book club host, and the creator of the blog Modern Mrs Darcy. Anne approaches old, familiar ideas from new and fresh angles and she is well known by readers, authors, and publishers as a tastemaker. Her podcast What Should I Read Next? Is a popular show devoted to literary matchmaking, bibliotherapy, and all things books and reading. She also helps people learn to read better, together in Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. Anne lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband, four children, and a yellow lab named Daisy.