You know what you read this summer, but what did everyone else read?
I love to see what books other readers are borrowing, buying, and reading, whether it’s in my local library, at the bookstore, or here on the blog. In years past, I’ve tabulated results at the end of the summer, figuring out which books you were most interested in based on clicks and amazon sales. (I didn’t do the math last year, but I distinctly remember that Rules of Civility blew everything else away in 2014, which I attributed to one tiny mention in the Summer Reading Guide, tied to a book that has since mysteriously disappeared from circulation.)
My calculations here aren’t perfect: I can’t tell what you check out of the library, or borrow from a friend, or pick up at the bookstore. I can tell what pages get clicked on and which ones don’t, and what you buy from Amazon through this site (a million thanks for that, because as an affiliate Amazon shares a small portion of those purchase prices with me when you buy through MMD links). I can’t tell who buys what, but I can tell what’s selling.
As it so often goes with lists of the most popular anything, some of these are surprising to me, some not at all. Based on this list, I can unreservedly say you have great taste.
I LOVE this book and am so excited to see that you do, too! It's well-written and un-put-down-able, and I just love the story (which I think reveals some of my own personal prejudices—I'm a sucker for young love). While not technically YA if you hate that genre it's not the title for you. A kindle sale (first time it's been discounted in years) and lots of shares of my (old) YA Summer Reading List post landed this one on the list. More info →
This 1930s Gothic classic is an un-put-down-able, curl-up-by-the-fire mystery. A great kindle sale combined with enthusiastic recommendations—mine and yours—landed it on the list. Don't be put off by its age: this thrilling novel feels surprisingly current. Suspenseful but not scary, and it holds its tension on a re-reading: a sure sign of a well-crafted thriller. More info →
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. I adore this book, which I've called the best book you've never heard of on living well, and was thrilled to see it go on sale for kindle this summer for the first time since I first read it in 2011. The lesson here: a great sale draws deserved attention to a fabulous old title. More info →
In the idyllic small town of Three Pines, Quebec, where people don’t even lock their doors, a beloved local woman is found in the woods with an arrow shot through her heart. The locals believe it must be a hunting accident, but the police inspector senses something is off. The story is constructed as a classic whodunit but it feels like anything but, with its deliberate pacing, dry wit, and lyrical writing. A stunningly good first novel. Still Life is the first in a series that keeps getting better. Great on audio.
Kate Morton is an author worth binge reading if ever there was one. She got a lot of love on the podcast this summer—from me and from my guests—which helped put her on the list. This isn't my favorite of her books (that would be The Secret Keeper, followed by The Lake House) but this is the one that went on sale for kindle this summer. This sprawling family saga gets a little unwieldy at times, but I can't say I minded much. History, fairy tale, family drama, and Gothic mystery rolled into one. More info →
This new novel is one of my very favorites from 2016, so I'm delighted to see it sitting atop YOUR list of favorites. It was a Summer Reading Guide pick and we read it in the MMD Book Club, and that combined with a killer kindle sale vaulted it to the top. (Fun fact: 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.) 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 Guinness Book of World Records. Perfect for fans of The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and A Man Called Ove. More info →
Summer Reading Guide pick + great kindle sale (still in progress!) secures this thriller's place on the list. In a season where every suspense novel is expected to have a "shocking plot twist!" this tightly-crafted novel makes your jaw drop time and again, without feeling gimmicky or manipulative. I was stunned as I slowly came to see that the story wasn't about what I thought it was about at all. On a dark, rainy night, a mother lets go of her son's hand for just an instant. The devastating accident sets the plot in motion. Part police procedural, part domestic suspense, with the ring of authenticity, no doubt thanks to Mackintosh's own 12 years as a police officer. This is an emotional roller coaster of a book. (Sensitive themes ahead, so mind your triggers.) More info →
Another of my 2016 favorites: it's SO GOOD, and it makes me so happy that you love it, too. 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. We got to chat with Cleave this summer for Book Club and hearing him discuss his own work made me love the novel even more: he shared stories about his grandparents' love letters, why he used the n-word, how he put himself on war rations while writing, and the sequel in progress. 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. We just chatted with the author for the Book Club and that only heightened my appreciation for the story. More info →