2017 Summer Reading Guide: Reader Favorites

We’re halfway through the summer season, which means we have collectively already read A TON of books this summer!

One of the best parts after publishing the annual Summer Reading Guide is seeing which books YOU actually read and enjoy. My favorite ways to stay in touch are in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and on Instagram.

On Instagram, you can check out #summerstooshort to see community photos and reactions to this year’s Summer Reading Guide.

To start: the titles in the 2017 Minimalist Summer Reading Guide top the list. Check those out right here.

Based on your online chatter, shares, and MMD Book Club forum posts, it’s been fun to see which titles are rising to the top of your lists. Today I’m sharing the top 7.

This collection of favorite titles is unscientific, and of course it’s weighted towards books that are already released. (Several fantastic summer titles in the Summer Reading Guide just hit shelves yesterday! Those are The Almost Sisters, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, and Hello, Sunshine!)

That all being said, these are the titles you all are loving the most so far this summer.

Some links (including all Amazon links) are affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, you support what we do here on Modern Mrs Darcy. More details here.

2017 Summer Favorites
The Lost Book of the Grail

The Lost Book of the Grail

I love a good literary mystery, and it turns out I have plenty of company. This is the newest from the author of The Bookman's Tale and First Impressions. Arthur is a staid and steady—perhaps a trifle boring?—old-school Brit; Bethany is a techie American who's come to his English library to digitize his beloved ancient manuscripts. Arthur's smitten, yet quite concerned—will she interfere with his personal quest for the Grail? Books, romance, and literary high jinx—what's not to love? More info →
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Mr. Rochester

Mr. Rochester

Many of you said you were skeptical of anyone messing with the classics ... but found this really well done. In this work of historical fiction, Shoemaker imagines a backstory for Brontë's timeless hero, and it is not what I expected. She begins in his youth, with his education and increasingly complicated family history, then moves onto his troubled coming of age in Jamaica, his father's shady business dealings, and how he became entangled with Bertha Mason. This feels a little like Brontë, but even more like Dickens. More info →
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The Alice Network

The Alice Network

You'll probably be seeing this one everywhere now that Reese Witherspoon gave it a big thumbs-up. It's 1947, and society girl Charlie St. Clair is desperate to find her beloved cousin Rose, who mysteriously vanished during the war. Her inquiries lead her to Eve, a cranky old woman, who Charlie soon discovers has intimate ties to the first female spy network, and who may have personal and professional reasons for tracking down Rose—and getting revenge in the process. A little bit The Nightingale, a little bit Girl in Disguise. More info →
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He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said

I loved this one, and have been thrilled to see you all giving it so much love, especially because it just came out on June 27. Kit and Laura first came together because of a common obsession: they're eclipse chasers, who travel the world to experience solar eclipses firsthand. The story opens when the two are married, expecting their first children (twins!), and taking pains to keep any trace of their existence off the internet. We soon learn this is because of an event they witnessed at an eclipse festival in 1999, which, along with the subsequent trial, had devastating consequences for all involved, consequences that still endanger them today—and we're about to find out just how much. A fabulous psychological thriller. More info →
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The Jane Austen Project

The Jane Austen Project

I'm not the only one who found this Jane Austen time travel novel a pleasant surprise. Producers, are you paying attention? Readers are clamoring for this to become a good Netflix series. At some unspecified point in the future, the earth's atmosphere has been destroyed, food can no longer be grown, and wormholes to the past are in constant use. So when Rachel is asked to go back in time and retrieve the finished (yes, really!) manuscript of The Watsons, she jumps at the chance. But things do not go as planned... Gentle readers, this does not read like an Austen novel, and Janeite purists will need their smelling salts. But if you love Jane Austen AND Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, give this one a try. More info →
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The Good Widow

The Good Widow

Talk about a great pool-side read: this is exactly the kind of book many of you think of when you think "summer reading." Liz and Lisa's first thriller will suck you in and have you flying through the pages. Jacks's marriage had grown lukewarm, but it was stable—at least she thought so. Her husband was on a business trip to Kansas—or so she thought— when the cops show up to deliver the blow: her husband was killed in a car wreck. In Hawaii. And so was the young blonde with him. Soon Jacks is on a plane to Hawaii for answers, and the more she discovers, the less she understands. More info →
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Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

I'm so glad many of you took a chance on this not-quite-traditional summer reading selection. This is still easily one of the best books I've read this year. I wouldn't have "gotten" this at 22 but adored it in my 30s. Time, memory, marriage—things many of us relate to, or can at least imagine—but Shapiro writes about them with such freshness the concepts seem brand new. My favorite line of exploration: the nature of mistakes, near-misses, and time: "The stumbles and falls; the lapses in judgment; the near misses; the could-haves. I’ve become convinced that our lives are shaped less by the mistakes we make than when we make them." If I were to judge my books by how many passages require book darts, this one wins everything. More info →
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How’s your summer reading going? What are the best books YOU have read so far this summer?



Leave A Comment
  1. Kelsey says:

    One of my favorite books I’ve read this summer isn’t on your summer reading guide, but I did find it through your blog! “This Is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel is what I read for this month’s book club meeting, and I can’t wait to get together with my girls to discuss it!

  2. Sara Kilpatrick says:

    I’m so glad to see The Alice Network taking off! I’ve been singing its praises since I read it earlier this year!

  3. Great list! I’ve had fun returning to some classics this summer. Currently reading Dracula. I just reviewed Spartina on my blog – not exactly a classic but not a new release, either. Always appreciate your recommendations and my TBR list is longer than ever! 🙂

  4. Carol Barnett says:

    I have not read any of these yet, but do plan to read the Alice Network with my book club early next year (not sure I can wait that long!). My favorite books so far this summer were Beartown (Backman) from your minimalist list, The Mothers (Bennett) and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Honeyman). Not really a fan of Anything is Possible (Strout), but I did like it more than her other novels, so thanks for that recommendation, too. Happy reading! Love the podcast and your blog!

    • Cathy McGeowan says:

      Although many of these are on my “to read” list, I haven’t read any of them 🙁 However, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is, by far, my favorite summer read so far. Highly recommend!

  5. The only one that I have read off this list was “He Said/She Said,” and it was the most meh book from my summer reading(not the worst, that was saved for a book in which nothing bad happens to the main character). I think the writer established the voice of the two characters well, and I would definitely read another book by this author. But the ending felt too neat and too gimmicky for my tastes. In fairness, my reaction could be that I read some amazing books this summer(Rabbit Cake, Lincoln in the Bardo, and The Sound and the Fury), and this one just did not measure up.

    • Melanie says:

      I was also underwhelmed by He Said/She Said. I agree with you about the ending, plus, once everything is explained I found that I didn’t really like any of the characters.

      The one thriller I’ve read this summer that I did really enjoy was The Dry. I also really, really loved Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil.

  6. laura aka mom2triplets04 says:

    Been in a reading slump but I’m currently reading “A man called ove” and listening to “Behind Closed doors” Both books I’m really liking so far.

  7. Tracy says:

    Loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Beach House. Enjoyed The Dry, The Distant Hours and Small Great Things.

  8. Ivy Hendrix says:

    This past week I read most of the Truman Award nominees for this year. It is an award given to YA novels in Missouri voted on by students. There were quite a few good ones, but I especially liked the first in a dystopian series by Pintip Dunn, Forget Tomorrow. The whole list has great recommendations this year for middle schoolers!
    From the list, I also liked The Austen Project, and I’m excited to start The Alice Network!

  9. Jennifer O. says:

    I just finished The Alice Network – it was so stressful in a good way. And I’m reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine now because it needs to go back to the library, but The Jane Austen Project and The Lost Book of the Grail are coming up soon.

  10. Kitty Balay says:

    Beartown & Dream Land Burning have been my favorites off the list so far. Currently reading Never Split the Difference & The Girl Who Drank the Moon and LOVING both of them!

  11. Jennifer N. says:

    I’ve read Every Wild Heart, so far. It’s not the best book ever, but it was a really sweet read that wrapped up exactly how you wish real life would go. Several of the summer reading books are definitely on my TBR. Maybe I’ll get to them before the end of summer :-). The Alice Network is definitely one I’m itching to buy.

    • Lisa Z says:

      I have Every Wild Heart currently from the library and have read 1/3 to 1/2 and just can’t get into it. Does it get more interesting as it goes along? I just am not relating to the characters, I think.

      • Jennifer N. says:

        Hah, I related more to the daughter than the mother in most cases! I wouldn’t say it gets more interesting. I think if I had borrowed it from the library, I might not have stressed myself out to finish it if I had other things coming due, as well. I paid money for my copy; I was reading all of it!

  12. kelly says:

    How is The Dry not on this list? So glad you recommended it in your guide. I normally don’t like suspense novels like that, but it was so much more. I have several of these on my hold list at the library as well as Allison Pataki’s new book.

  13. Kimi says:

    I loved The Lost Book of the Grail. It had a great blend of mystery and characters while still being light.
    I also was really looking forward to The Confusion of Languages and your recommendations didn’t disappoint. It was a beautiful with rich characters that left me thinking about relationships.
    I hated This is How it Always Is. I picked it up the day your list came out and had to abandon it after about 100 pages. The writing was great, the characters were interesting, but honestly the whole thing read like it was written by a whiny millennial who has never had kids but wants to tell you how to raise them. I had a hard time with this and the preachy-ness of the story.
    I’m looking forward to to Mr Rochester next for my list.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Totally agree with you on This is How it Always is, and I feel like a black sheep because so many are loving that book. I read the whole thing and never did come around to it.

  14. Jamie says:

    I was obsessed with Beartown, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about The Identicals since I read it. Here’s my list so far…

    5 stars:
    – This Is How It Always Is
    – Beartown
    – The Identicals

    4 stars:
    – The Alice Network
    – The Hate U Give
    – The Stars Are Fire
    – Mr. Rochester
    – The Fall of Lisa Bellow

    3 stars:
    – I See You
    – The Dry
    – Do Not Become Alarmed
    – Anything Is Possible

  15. Janet says:

    Beartown made me cry. I love his writing. I stop and re-read so many sentences because they are so true.
    Also, The Stranger in the Woods, I Liked My Life, The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb and Answered Prayers.

    Big stack from the library waiting for me!

  16. Susan says:

    I haven’t read many this year because either the library doesn’t have them or I’m number 18 on the hold list. I think my summer reading list might be turning into a fall reading list.

  17. Mary Noel says:

    Although it’s very long (over 500 pages), The Weight of Ink is well worth the read. Also loved The Female of the Species. Currently reading Hello, Sunshine.

  18. Anne says:

    How interesting to see this recap, because out of the 7 I’ve already read from the summer reading guide, I’ve read only one of the ones on this list! Did love it though – The Jane Austen Project was right up my alley and an excellent beach read.

  19. Janell says:

    My favorite summer reads so far have been:

    A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
    Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

    From your guide (I think!) I am most interested in getting to The Dry and Beartown.

  20. Cori says:

    Has anyone used Audible for Hourglass or any other books listed here? I’m also hesitant to buy an audiobook without recommendation…

  21. Sarah says:

    So far I’ve only been able to get my hands on The Stars are Fire and When Dimple Met Rishi. Overall I enjoyed both of them, but I didn’t LOVE them. (Although TSAF definitely kept me turning pages late into the night!!) Now I’m waiting for my library to get some more new releases while I read Lab Girl and one of Ann Cleeves’ Shetland novels.

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Sarah,
      I LOVE the BBC series Shetland, which I know is based on the Ann Cleeves novels. I would love to hear what you think of them –especially if you have watched the series too. I love the setting and the characters, but also the moodiness of the atmosphere. I’m wondering if that is something the series did well in capturing from her novels or if that is their own interpretation.I have always debated picking up one of her novels, but with so many on the TBR stack and such a fantastic TV series going already I have had a hard time actually committing to one.

      • Sarah says:

        Hi, Lauren! I actually started reading the novels because my husband and I had finished the TV show on Netflix, and I was going through withdrawal! I’m currently on the fourth novel; they’re not the best books I’ve ever read, but I’m enjoying them. Ann Cleeves puts a big emphasis on the mood and the atmosphere, and the setting often feels like an extra character. Similar to the show, her novels aren’t fast-paced page turners. She really delves into the lives of the characters and their lives on this unique group of islands; her books are definitely more character-driven than plot-driven. (She loves to flesh out even her most minor characters.) The show is different enough from the novels that I think you could enjoy both independently. The BBC made a lot of changes (for instance, in the books there’s no Tosh, Sandy is bumbling and incompetent, Perez MEETS Fran and Cassie early in the first novel, the cases turn out differently, etc.), but they did maintain the feel of the novels. I hope that helps!

        • Lisa Z says:

          Thanks for this review of the books! I also love the show and the moodiness of the setting. It sounds like I would enjoy the books as I love character-driven stories. I’ll have to put these on my list.

        • Lauren says:

          That’s really interesting! I can’t picture Sandy as bumbling, he’s such an important part of the show (so is Tosh!)!
          Maybe I will give the books a try. I really like moody, atmospheric books with great character development, who doesn’t, right? The TV series does such a good job of foreshadowing the crimes as especially sinister and I find myself really drawn in. The Shetland Islands are on my bucket list too 🙂
          Thank you for your great review!

  22. Melanie says:

    Thanks to several loooong flights, I’ve gotten a lot of reading in this summer. My favorites have been:
    Crossing to Safety (a re-read for me)
    Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil
    The Willoughbys
    My Lady Jane (so much fun!)
    Dreamland Burning
    The Kitchen House
    This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live

  23. Suanne Witt says:

    Awesome “who done it” book is The Kept Woman by Karen Slaughter who is a great Georgia author. Can’t put the book down!

  24. Jo says:

    I loved The Lost Book of the Grail. I loved how the author blended the backstory from different historical eras during the Middle Ages with the current story of Arthur, Bethany, their friends, and their efforts to save an ancient library; and the continuity of our literary and cultural heritage from ancient times to today. Another book I surprisingly loved was The Secret Life of Souls, some of which was horrifying, but there was a really smart brave dog named Caity.

    • Anne says:

      My husband is reading that right now! (You may also like Dreamland Burning from the Summer Reading Guide—there’s a nice overlap of content between the two books.)

  25. Alison says:

    My favourite by far was Beartown. That being said I loved the Alice Network and the Jane Austen Project also. Halfway done Do Not Become Alarmed and love it so far. Next up is Dreamland Burning and the Lost Book of the Grail. I am intrigued by both the Good Widow and Mr. Rochester (slowly reading Jane Eyre before I dig in to this one)…. sigh, I wish I could read faster!

  26. Frankie Lynch says:

    My favorite, so far, this summer has been Beach House For Rent by Mary Alice Monroe. She is one of my favorite authors. I am anxious to read The Jane Austin Report….sounds interesting.

  27. Lisa Z says:

    You wrote about Mr. Rochester: “This feels a little bit like Bronte but even more like Dickens.” Yes! Exactly! I felt like I was reading David Copperfield for about 2/3 of the book, and loved it so much. Then it got so Bronte as he slowly went a bit nuts and I didn’t like it so much, but continued on to see what happened. Funny, because I love both the Brontes and Dickens, but I really, really preferred the more Dickensian story of Mr. Rochester’s growing up years, to the truly crazy latter parts. Still, it ended well. 🙂

  28. Jenny Wells says:

    Just confirming that “The Good Widow” wasn’t on the list this year? My bullet journal list is feeling all cattywampus and weird being reread and rechecked. 🙂

  29. Sue says:

    Just finished He Said/She Said last night, and lukewarm about it. It wasn’t as bad as Into The Water, that book was a major disappointment. I’m so happy I checked them out at the library. I did enjoy The Dry, Do Not Become Alarmed, I Found You, I See You, and my favorite so far is probably My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier.

    • Rebekah in Redlands says:

      I just finished He Said/She Said last night. It was too dark and slightly disturbing. It also seemed like the twist in the story happened just because the author fed me bad information early on. Meh. Maybe I’m not the type who should be reading thrillers?

      I did loved The Dry.

  30. Phaedra says:

    My favorite this year? Beartown and The Dry. Loved them. Beartown just went to some heartbreaking places but I never felt that it went ‘after school special’ on me. I also enjoyed He Said/She Said. A nice new perspective and topic to move the plot along- refreshing. Just picked up The Weight of Lies and I’m so digging it. It’s got that gothic feel that I love. Crumbling old hotel, secrets, that sense of foreboding.. it’s super readable.

  31. Donna says:

    My summer reading has been almost nonexistent thanks to school and work. But my favourite read so far is Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson. I devoured Henson’s memoir in 24 hours a few Sundays ago. Henson is 100% real, raw, and apologetic! Her story is inspiring on so many levels. I can’t recommend it enough!
    I am currently reading and loving Elin
    Hilderbrand’s latest, The Identicals. Thanks for the recommendation! Also, started reading The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor and I am fascinated!
    I’ve been hearing good things about Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips. It’s got 125 holds, but I lucked out and found a copy on the ‘Best Bets’ shelf at the library today. I can’t wait to dive in!

  32. Leslie Dupont says:

    Well, I have only read 1 of the top 7, but I have read about 1/3 of the books on the summer reading guide. I was happy to get my new shiny library card today since moving to northern VA just a few weeks ago. I was even happier to see The Stars Are Fire and Lincoln in the Bardo (not on the summer reading guide, but one I’ve been desperate to read!) on the shelves and immediately available! Thus far, my faves have been I Found You, The Jane Austen Project, and The Perfect Stranger. I’m a sucker for suspense! I didn’t care for Anything is Possible. I am simultaneously reading The Hate U Give and The Stars Are Fire. I’ll let you know my end thoughts!

    • Donna says:

      Hey Leslie,

      I am curious about The Perfect Stranger! I will definitely give it a try. I am a sucker for suspense as well! Have you ever read any of Heather Gudenkauf’s novels? Sooooo good! Highly recommended.?

      • Leslie Dupont says:

        No, I have not read her, but now I’m immediately going to Amazon to check her out!! The Perfect Stranger was an easy read for sure. I finished in a couple days, but it had me going. I kinda guessed who it was about half way through, but I had no idea how it was going to turn out. I liked the main character, but I LOVED the police officer in the book. Just something about him made him desirable! Lol! Thanks for the recommendation:)

  33. Kristen says:

    Beartown, Allie & Bea, Before the Rain Falls & Close Enough to Touch have been my top books of the summer. I cannot say enough how much I love Close Enough to Touch. I didn’t want it to end. I had to pace myself so I didn’t rush though it.

    • Amber says:

      My Cousin Rachel is my favorite fiction read of the summer so far! And I loved Tsh’s book as well!
      I also really enjoyed The Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson!

  34. Melyssa says:

    I’ve got several more of the summer reading selections on my TBR but so far my favorites have been When Dimple Met Rishi, The Hate You Give, and Beartown. I never would’ve read Beartown if it hadn’t been on this guide, and I loved it. It was a tough topic, but I’m really glad to have read it. Before this summer I also read The Dry, which was great.

    A nonfiction book I enjoyed this summer was Radium Girls, about women in the 1920s who worked in a factory using Radium paint and were made very sick by it. It was very readable, and the women’s story was inspiring.

  35. Darlene says:

    I have read The Jane Austen Project which was great! Jane Austen and time travel – loved it!! I did not want The Fall of Marigolds to end. I loved it so much I read Secrets of a Charmed Life which was un-putdownable. A Man Called Ove made me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress was so good; I did not see the ending coming. Currently I’m reading The Identicals.

  36. Christine says:

    I have read Beartown, which I loved! I have also read The Dry, which I thought was “meh.” I got the Jane Austen Project from the library, but I was liking it so much that I bought my own copy!
    I am reading The Alice Network now and really enjoying it too.
    I have a bunch more coming from the library, and I can’t wait! My vacation starts in two weeks, and I will be ready.

  37. Andrea says:

    I love this post! I have the summer reading guide printed, on my nightstand, and have read and thoroughly enjoyed The Alice Network, The Dry, and Beartown. But then I started The Luminaries which is awesome, 830 pages, and not on the list! Summer is flying by, I am only on page 380 of The Luminaries, and I want to read more from the MMD Summer Reading List. Now I know where to start!

  38. Dana says:

    I have only read the Good Widow and Dreamland Burning so far! I am surprised Dreamland Burning isn’t here! Such a great book! Happy you recommended it!

  39. angie says:

    My summer favorites have been: The Hate U Give, Beartown, Behold the Dreamers, and Crossing to Safety (not new, but a recommendation I heard on the podcast). My very favorite of my favorites was Behold the Dreamers.

  40. Sherry D says:

    I LOVED THE JANE AUSTEN PROJECT! I was always surprised at the directions it took and how well Ms. Flynn wrote the part where the 2 time travelers first meet Jane Austen. She really managed to build the suspense that you’d feel about actually meeting someone famous from the past whose life is something of a mystery.

    I also read HE SAID SHE SAID and thought Laura made so many stupid mistakes that put her in danger. It makes readers almost wish something bad would happen to idiots who won’t do the right thing to protect themselves when they KNOW who they are in danger from. I don’t like these kinds of contrived ‘Women in Jeopardy’ stories. It makes me want to strangle people that I should feel sympathy for.

  41. Molly says:

    My favorite summer read this year (so far) has been Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. Sadly hilarious is the only way I can describe it.

  42. Shirli mc laughlin says:

    Beartown is now on my all-time favorite list,right after “all the light we cannot see” ‼️ Have you all read one of his .other books…..”Britt Marie was here” She is the female version of ” Ove” ? Also,nobody has mentioned “Faithful” by Alice Hoffman. Super good . This is my first visit to this lovely site, so forgive me if I’m going on too long….. just one more title. ” The 12 lives of Samuel Hawley “. Have you the site “amazing librarians ?

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