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. This year we once again sent out a survey to ask both what you’ve already read, and what you wanted to read. Today I’m sharing those results.
It’s no surprise that the titles in the 2019 Minimalist Summer Reading Guide top the list. (Check those out right here.) But of course I was curious to see what else caught your eye in this year’s guide.
The 7 most-read Summer Reading Guide books (so far)
At this point I think it's fair to call this Shapiro's breakthrough book. This is her story about how at age 54, she discovered a life-changing, identity-threatening secret about her family, and how Shapiro chooses to move forward. At the moment of discovery, Shapiro has no idea what to do. "I couldn't imagine what might come next,” she writes. “It turns out that it is possible to live an entire life — even an examined life, to the degree that I had relentlessly examined mine — and still not know the truth of oneself." If you have any inclination to pick this up, I recommend you avoid the spoiler-laden reviews (that specify what that family secret is) and dive right in. Inheritance reads like a twisty mystery, full of false starts and dead ends, but with a lot of help, some from unlikely places, she solves her case in the end. More info →
I've been recommending this title nonstop; it just might be the best book I’ve read this year, and in a year as good as this one for new books, that’s saying something. When two college friends plan a long canoeing trip in northern Canada, they anticipate a peaceful yet memorable summer escape filled with whitewater paddling, fly fishing, and campfire cooking. The first hint of danger is a whiff of smoke, from an encroaching forest fire. The next comes from a man, seemingly in shock, who reports his wife disappeared in the woods. If these boys didn’t feel compelled to do the right thing and go look for her, they’d be fine, but instead they step in to help—and are soon running for their lives, from disasters both natural and man-made. A tightly-written wilderness adventure, a lyrical mystery, and a heartrending story of friendship, rolled into one. Pair with Sebastian Junger’s Fire for a next-level reading experience. More info →
I knew I wanted to include a sweeping family saga in the minimalist guide, and Conklin's—which covers nearly a hundred years in the life of the Skinner siblings—was my choice. The story begins in the year 2079, when Fiona, now a 102-year old poet, is asked a deeply personal question at a reading—the question she's always declined to answer because the truth is too painful. But at her age, what does she have to lose? The simple question launches her into a flashback beginning in 1981, when their father died and their mother plunged into a deep depression, leaving her four children, ages 4 to 11, to effectively raise each other for a time. This years-long period—dubbed "the Pause" by the children—forged a strong bond between them, but it also broke them in ways that don’t become apparent for many years, when another unfolding tragedy makes them question everything they know about their family. Highly recommend it for fans of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth. More info →
This book has gotten lots of love from lots of bookish authorities this year, so it's no surprise to see it on this most-read list. I was a little skeptical when I first picked this up: I mean, a tell-all "documentary" about a fictional 1970s band? It took Taylor Jenkins Reid about three pages to win me over, with her fast-moving storyline and characters so convincing I had to google again to make sure the band wasn't really real. The plot revolves around Billy Dunne, the tortured, talented lead singer for the Six, and Daisy Jones, the beautiful, soulful girl with a troubled past who catapults the Six to fame when she begins singing—and writing—their songs. Daisy and Billy's chemistry is electric, and fans can't get enough of it. We know from the beginning that the story is about why the band broke up, and the reasons are both expected and hold a big surprise, unfurled in an engrossing story of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. More info →
I'm not surprised to see this on the list: we read Garlic and Sapphires as one of three summer picks for the MMD Book Club, and Plums was an unofficial flight pick. The story begins in 1999, when Reichl is offered (another) dream job: to take the helm at Gourmet, with free reign to make the staid publication relevant to today's cooks. Reichl dishes like a gossipy friend, sharing the behind-the-scenes scoop on the big picture, like livening up Gourmet’s stuffy culture, and the specific, like what was going through her head when she published David Foster Wallace's notorious piece "Consider the Lobster." Gourmet’s rise—and fall—is intimately connected with the publishing trends of the aughts, and as a reader and writer I found her take on her company's troubles captivating. Pure delight from start to finish. More info →
We read this book in the MMD Book Club (and had SUCH a good talk with author Jennifer Robson!). 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. The people insisted on a real celebration, including a beautiful gown. While Robson has a fine eye for detail, and her behind-the-scenes descriptions of the fine atelier's workroom are riveting, the heartbeat of the story comes from female friendship, secret pasts, and life after loss. 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. A must-read for fans of The Crown, and recommended for all seeking an intimate take on the often neglected postwar era. More info →
This book was such a fun surprise for me: I was thrilled to recommend it in one of our very first Patreon-only bonus episodes of One Great Book. In the ten years she's known her, Lucy has never felt her mother-in-law Diana approved of her—an especial disappointment because she'd hoped Diana would finally be the mother she’d never had. Yet she’s distraught when the police show up to announce that Diana has died by apparent suicide—and even more so when they reveal that the evidence points to possible murder. As we get to know the family members, we discover each of them had a motive to harm Diana, and stood to benefit from her death. The story is told alternately from Lucy and Diana’s points of view, so we get to understand what's going on in their minds, and how badly they misunderstand each other through the years. But is it badly enough to lead to murder? A wholly satisfying domestic mystery, perfect for Liane Moriarty fans, that kept me guessing till the end. I devoured this on audio. More info →
The 7 books you most want to read in the Summer Reading Guide
The release dates in this year’s Summer Reading Guide span December 2018 to July 2019. That means that it’s much more likely for readers to have had those earlier releases, as opposed to the ones that just came out two weeks ago. That’s why we also asked you which titles you wanted to read in this year’s guide.
The Alice Network author Quinn takes on WWII's aftermath in her latest historical release. Inspired by a true story she stumbled upon in the historical archives (which would totally spoil the big reveal—you're going to have to read the Author's Note to learn all!), Quinn weaves together three perspectives to tell a gripping story: Jordan is a Boston teenager who works in her father's Boston antiques store, Ian is a British journalist determined to bring his brother's killer—known as "the Huntress"—to justice, and Nina is a Russian fighter pilot and the only woman alive who can identify the Huntress. There's no weak link in the story; each thread is fascinating—and when they began to come together I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. A mesmerizing tale of war crimes, coming of age, love and fidelity, and the pursuit of justice, with stirring implications for today. The audio version is fantastic. More info →
I JUST did an event with Joshilyn last night here in Louisville and it was SO FUN. Her latest Southern story feels both exactly like the books her long-time readers know and love and like a total departure. Her new domestic thriller (yes, really!) begins at a book club meeting in a quiet suburban neighborhood. These women live quiet lives revolving around family and sometimes work; they know each other well, and everything unfolds as usual … until a new guest arrives, one who has a score to settle based on long-buried secrets, and who won’t rest until she makes the woman pay for her crimes. But what happened back then, and why does it matter now? I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough in my quest to discover the truth for myself. An absorbing, rewarding mystery that will delight her loyal readers and entice new fans. Publication date: July 30. More info →
I'm excited that you're excited about this book. Annie Cassidy is a Nora Ephron-obsessed writer who dreams of both writing a rom com and finding a Tom Hanks of her own to love. Those dreams begin to come true when a Hollywood film crew invades her Columbus neighborhood to shoot a new romantic comedy featuring the handsome Drew Danforth … who Annie believes to be an overgrown manchild who cares more about on-set pranks than acting the part of a serious film star. But as Annie gets to know the people on set better, her life starts to take on an eerie resemblance to some of her favorite movies. This familiar story feels fresh and fun in Winfrey's hands, and absolutely oozes charm. (In this closed-door romance, the sexy stuff is present, but happens offscreen.) Bonus: you'll come away with a long list of rom coms to watch. More info →
This fun debut novel from Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes just came out the last week of June. A grieving widow and a disgraced Major League pitcher start over after each suffers their own kind of tragedy. Because Evvie needs the income a boarder would bring, and Dean needs a refuge, a mutual friend connects the two. Evvie's husband dies in a car accident, but the truth surrounding his death is painful for reasons her small town community can never know. Dean's career took a nosedive when he inexplicably developed "the yips"—he's unable to pitch for reasons that might be all in his head, but nobody can figure it out. Out of mutual kindness and witty banter, a friendship develops, and then something more … but starting over as a grown-up is complicated. A warm, witty, and satisfying summer read. More info →
This was a last-minute addition to the Summer Reading Guide: I read it right before our deadline and just HAD to squeeze it in. I'm happy you're finding it—and loving it. In her compelling new book, psychotherapist Gottlieb gets to the heart of what matters in life: how do we grow, how do we change, how do we connect with each other—and how can we do it all more effectively? She explores human nature through the lens of psychotherapy, employing an unusual two-pronged approach to show us how therapy really works. First, Gottlieb introduces us to four of her patients, taking us inside the room to show us what happens in their sessions. But Gottlieb is also in therapy herself, thanks to a sudden breakup, and through her eyes, we get the patient's perspective as well. I so enjoyed getting to know the people in these pages, session by session, and rooted hard for them as they worked through the process. Part memoir, part educational glimpse into the profession: if you like to learn something from the books you read, and you enjoy a good story, well told, add this to your list. More info →