The most popular books on the blog this summer

The most popular books on the blog this summer

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 venture some guesses as to how each book earned its spot. Summer Reading Guide picks were likely suspects for this list, as was any great book that was available at a big discount over the course of the summer and shared via the great kindle deals page/email.

Without further adieu, these are the top 9 books on the blog this summer, in order, first to last.

How many of these 9 did you read? What were your favorite books of the summer? 

Series: The Most Popular Books on the Blog This Summer
The One-in-a-Million Boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy

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 Guiness Book of World Records. Perfect for fans of The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and A Man Called Ove. More info →
You Learn by Living

You Learn by Living

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 →
Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

This is the first installment of Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series, which I just love. I included this in the Summer Reading Guide as a totally addictive series, since a new installment was published this summer. (I inhaled it.) These mysteries are crowd-pleasers, and a great kindle sale didn't hurt this book's popularity. These mysteries are unlike anything I'd ever read: the whodunit plot lines are just an excuse to explore human nature, granting them a depth and psychological astuteness I never expected from this genre. (Note: if I thought Three Pines was a real place, I'd move there in a heartbeat.) More info →
Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

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 Let You Go

I Let You Go

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 →
Before We Visit the Goddess

Before We Visit the Goddess

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 →


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 →
The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility

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 →
The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden

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 →

The Most Popular Books on the Blog this Summer

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  1. Tracie Haddock says:

    I agree with you on Kate Morton–The Secret Keeper was my favorite, and The Forgotten Garden was ok, but not quite as good. The other book that kept me very occupied this summer was nonfiction, and belongs on your list of books for new routines and fresh starts–titled The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It is FANTASTIC–super insightful, almost revelatory, and very thought provoking. I have bought and given away copies to family and friends, and I am planning to pay my children to read it!

  2. J. A. Hall says:

    Prior to browsing your Summer Reading Guide, I’d read a stellar review about Flight of Dreams. The review was written by a local author who lives about a block away from me. (we’re only waving at one another neighbors) Subsequently, when I spied the title on your Summer Reading Guide, I was inspired enough to pick it up. The characters in the book were quite intriguing on their own, but I found Lawhon’s way of illustrating her characters through words beautiful and memorable. Ever since I learned about the Hindenburg disaster in junior high, stories written and told about the Hindenburg have always held a fascination for me. I enjoyed her read so much, I was anxious to get to The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress which I thoroughly enjoyed. I would be hard pressed to choose the better of the two. I had read Daphne many years ago, but seeing it on your guide made me think it was probably a good time for a re-read. I loved it all over again.

  3. Heather says:

    From this list I have read five of the books and I am currently reading two more. The other two I bought as a Kindle deal and are just waiting to be read :).

  4. Sea says:

    I’ve read One in a Million Boy, Still Life, Everyone Brave is Forgiven and I’ve started A Fatal Grace(Loise Penny). Loved them all!
    Just for fun I reread Anne of Green Gables.
    Thanks for all the suggestions.

  5. Jenny Keene says:

    I’ve only read two of these…Still Life and the Forgotten Garden and neither of them was this summer. However, just last night I finished the last available book In the Chief Gamache series. It’s safe to say I love them! I really like reading series…now I’m on the hunt for a new one to start.

  6. tricia culp says:

    Am LOVING One-In-A-Million Boy right now, and really enjoyed Before We Visit (thanks to your rec, I got in the front of the line for the library :)) Bought the E Rosevelt, but haven’t read it. I did not love The Forgotten Garden – are the titles of hers you like better enough of a step up that I should try again? Forgotten Garden was average to me…
    Thanks for helping our summer reading be great! (My other favorite read of the summer was Harold FRy, which I finally got to…)

  7. Krista Long says:

    I really loved The Sea of Tranquility, and The Forgotten Garden is my favorite by Morton. You Learn by Living and Rebecca are waiting on my shelf. When I purchase a book, I know it’s there, but rentals are due back and I’m obsessed with my I read Still Life, but started the second one too soon. I’ll wait awhile and try again, I do love the characters.

    I highly recommend the last two books I read. First Jamie Langston Turner’s Some Wildflower in my Heart (I think you’ll love this Anne) I just finished All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker in two days.(Reese Witherspoon is making the movie with Warner Bros.) I’m still catching up on laundry and housework…it was one of those.

  8. Jennifer N. says:

    I’ve read Everyone Brave is Forgiven (I loved it!) and am currently reading One-in-a-Million boy, and I am really enjoying it. I happened to grab the Kindle deal for that one, too, which was nice. I just bought I Let You Go and that will probably be my next read.

  9. Helena says:

    I binge read Louise Penny on my Kindle by the beach this summer. I feel like she has a familiar voice, maybe Agatha Christie, whom I love, is similar, just great story telling throughout.

    I didn’t read any others on this list, I was getting into the Neapolitan novels (on book 3 at the moment), it seemed wholly appropriate seeing as we spent the summer in Italy.

    I have added Rebecca and Before We Visit the Goddess onto my fall reading list, ready to be read once the rainy skies commence once again here in England.

  10. Mary Claire Miller says:

    My summer reads did not include any of the above. The ones I did read that I particularly enjoyed included Neil Schusterman’s Unwind and a couple books from Orca Publishing Secrets series. Neil Schusterman wrote a young adults novel that scares the dickens out of me in the fact that someone even came up with the concept of ‘unwind’ and that it would be good to do that to a person. I am waiting to get enough courage to read the second in the series. It only took me 2 days to read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The Seven series is another young adult series created by Orca Publishing and it is seven books about seven girls whose stories all start with their orphanage burning down and they set out into the world to discover who they are. What adds to this series is that each book is written by a different Canadian Author, thus allowing for totally different character development and stories to grow from the same story beginning. I have read The Unquiet Past by Kelly Armstrong and A Big Dose of Lucky by Marthe Jocelyn. Currently I am reading Kathy Kacer’s Stones on a Grave and very reluctant to put it down when I have to.

  11. Lisa says:

    I’m so curious about I Let You Go. Really want to read it because of your description but I read the first few pages from a kindle sample and stopped as soon as they eluded to the accident. Don’t know if I can get past that – trigger for sure.

  12. Betsy says:

    Kate Morton is always such a terrific read! I haven’t read The Secret Keeper yet–obviously, I must fix that. The Forgotten Garden was my intro to her work, too. I finally read All the Light You Cannot See this summer and really enjoyed it. I felt like I was catching up to the rest of the world!

  13. Laura Schwartz says:

    “One in a Million boy”, “Still Life”, “I Let you Go” and “Rebecca” are on my TBR!

    I read “The Sea of Tranquility” and thought it had a certain beauty to it that elevates it from your average YA (which I do read a lot of).

    And Kate Morton’s “The Secret Garden” was great! Gave me this sense of wanting to find a mystery, adventure, a certain nostalgia I can’t quite understand, but it was all wonderful feelings while reading.

  14. Jamie says:

    I tried – I really tried! – to give One in A Million Boy a chance but it hit some pretty big triggers for me right away (being a mom of a six year old, perfectly healthy boy…yup, triggers going off everywhere!). Maybe I’ll attempt it again in a few years.

    Please also tell me you’re a Brian Regan fan and thought of his ‘Me Monster’ bit when you saw the title of ‘Sea of Tranquility’? If not, look it up on Youtube. Hilarious! Definitely quote-worthy in our household.

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