My summer reading list.

This is my (incomplete) summer reading list, and it comes with a massive disclaimer: I haven’t read any of these titles, and I have no idea whether or not I’ll love them enough to recommend them.

A couple of things you may notice:

1. When it comes to finding good books, I rely heavily on recommendations from other readers. In my opinion, this is the best way to find the good stuff.

2. This list is heavy on nonfiction. I read a ton of novels when I was putting together the 2015 summer reading guide, and kept postponing the more serious nonfiction picks until “later.” Later is now.

This is my list; I can’t wait to hear what’s on yours.

My 2015 Summer Reading List
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania

I've never actually read anything by Erik Larson before (I know!) but my son has been obsessed with the Titanic and Lusitania for so long that his newest book made my must-read list. I'm generally a fan of narratives that read like novels, and the reviews on this one are terrific. (I especially like NPR's, which called it "thrilling, dramatic and powerful.") More info →
Being Mortal: Medicine And What Matters In The End

Being Mortal: Medicine And What Matters In The End

I've heard amazing things about this book ever since it came out last October, and can't believe I haven't gotten to it yet. The publisher says that it's about "how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending"—not exactly summer reading material, right? That was definitely my first impression, but everyone I know who has read this book gushes about it, calling it riveting, absorbing, paradigm-shifting, life-changing. I'm looking forward to it. More info →
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

This book came out on March 31, and it's sparked a great conversation (along with Monica Lewinsky's TED talk) in the public sphere about public shaming, especially as it so often happens with social media. It's been called an important read, especially for those of us who spend time online and on social media. More info →
Little Women

Little Women

This is one of those I-can't-believe-I've-never-read-this books: I never read it as a kid (though I have seen the movie a half-dozen times), and now it's been on my to-read list for more than a decade. (I even bought myself the gorgeous Puffin in Bloom edition in the fall to give myself a nudge!) This summer, it's happening: I'm already 150 pages in. Alcott fans have told me I'll want to read Little Men and Rose in Bloom after I finish her best-known classic. More info →
Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

I love a good grammar book (my favorites are On Writing Well, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, and Ex Libris), so I have to take a look at this, even though the reviews are all over the place. (I'm currently 47th on the library waiting list, so it's obviously gotten plenty of good buzz.) More info →
The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

This year it felt like every reader I knew was encouraging me to read Louise Penny's Still Life, the first book in her Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series. I loved it, so much that I included it in the minimalist summer reading guide. (I got Will hooked on the series, too, which is always high praise.) I've read the first two books in the series and I'm reading to start book 3 and see how far I can get with the rest of the series: 10 books so far, with an 11th coming on August 25. More info →
The Knockoff: A Novel

The Knockoff: A Novel

This is the fluffiest book on my list, hands down, and sounds like a mashup of The Devil Wears Prada and In Good Company. The story is heavily inspired by All About Eve (which you must watch immediately if you never have): when 42-year-old Glossy magazine editor Imogen Tate returns from a 6-month sabbatical, she finds that her fill-in, a twenty-something Harvard Business School grad, is actively trying to usurp her position—permanently. (And worse—turn the magazine into an app!) I'm hoping for a fresh and funny read: I'll let you know how it goes. More info →
Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

Series: Father's Day
Genre: Nonfiction
Tag: Quick Lit
Ann Patchett called this the best book she read in 2014, a fabulous book club pick, and a moving true story. That's enough for me, and I'm clearly in good company: I'm going to have to buy it because I'm number 300-something on the library waiting list. More info →

What’s on YOUR summer reading list?

P.S. My 2014 summer reading list, my YA summer reading list, and the summer syllabus.

My summer reading list

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. Alissa says:

    I’ll be curious to know what you think of The Knockoff. I really wanted to like it but couldn’t get into it and quit by page 60 I think. I love that there’s lots of nonfiction on this list as it’s one of my favorites genres.

  2. Veronica says:

    I have been reading a lot of YA lately, as I have to write a review of YA books that will appeal to both teens and adults. I tend to wing it in the summer, but so far have enjoyed The Game of Love and Death, Lois Lane #1 Fallout, and a couple of others. I hope to get to some of the books that have been on my list: The Boys in the Boat, Invention of Wings, Narrow Road to the Deep North, The Wright Brothers, Team of Rivals, and Go Set a Watchman.

  3. kelli says:

    I love the list! I have to read the Lusitania one for sure, because my great-grandfather’s first wife and two children were on board! My daughter and I were able to visit Ireland and see the grave, etc. And my grandmother (his daughter from his 2nd wife) can be funny when talking about the first children who died – how all the aunts would sit around talking about how tragic it was and how perfect the kids were. To a little girl, this was totally annoying, as you can imagine. How can you compete with a tragic ship going down at sea story??:) Anyway, always like seeing your lists!

  4. Jillian Kay says:

    The book about public shaming sounds great. I had no idea Lewinsky had a TED talk. I’ll have to give it a look.
    I have some re-reads on my summer reading list including Jurassic Park, The Poisonwood Bible, and The Firm. I’m really looking forward to setting up a chair in my back yard (or on the beach)and seeing if I still love them as much as I did way back when. Here’s my complete list:

    • Victoria says:

      Clicking over now!!! I use the library for a good bit of my reading material too. It makes putting lists together pretty easy because I have to fill up my queue anyway! 🙂

      • Victoria says:

        Oops…I wasn’t replying to your comment with that comment! I must have clicked over before it went through. Sorry… 🙂

        I LOVE reading outside every chance I get during this time of year!

  5. Sara K. says:

    Dead Wake is on my list to read as well. I wanted to get the audio version, but I wasn’t crazy about the narrator. I am looking forward to reading this one!

    I’m absolutely positive that you will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Little Women. I re-read it earlier this year 🙂

    Oh, and thanks to high recommendations by yourself and Mandi at Life Your Way I am on the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series 🙂

    • Victoria says:

      Clicking over now!!! I use the library for a good bit of my reading material too. It makes putting lists together pretty easy because I have to fill up my queue anyway! 🙂

  6. Elizabeth Barnhill says:

    I’ve read everything Erik Larson has written. After reading one of his books, I feel thoroughly entertained and always learn something new about our country’s history. If you love Dead Wake, I highly recommend Isaac’s Storm and The Devil in the White City (can be gruesome but so interesting)!

  7. Eagerly anticipating Elin Hilderbrand’s The Rumor as her books are my favorite summer reads! I am on my library’s hold list for The Knockoff by Plum Sykes, In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume, Happily Ever by Ali Wentworth, and some others I can’t remember! I have read the first two Louise Penny mysteries as well and am looking forward to the rest (stocked up during the recent ebook sale).

    I’m sure you’ve heard this hundreds of times, but Larsen’s Devil in the White City is so good, especially for people who have ties to Chicago.

    Happy Reading!

  8. Heather says:

    I always love seeing what is on your lists and look forward to hearing how you enjoy these titles! So many books to add to my mental “to read” list. Some of my summer reading includes A Sense of the World by Jason Roberts, Tortilla Flat by Steinbeck, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, What is the What by Dave Eggers, The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, and Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I’m also taking a history of children’s literature course that I’m excited about and will include Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles, Alice and Wonderland, and some graphic novels, among other books. I’m so excited for a summer with my nose in a book, whether it’s at the beach, a cafe, or beating the heat inside!

      • Cecilia says:

        I had never heard of Tortilla Flat by Steinbeck either. I found a copy for cheap at my local thrift store ( I find awesome books in great condition for cheap! ). I think I paid .30 but the story sounds very intriguing and is also on my list!

  9. Kayris says:

    I just finished book two of the “selection” series. It’s hunger games meets the bachelor meets Cinderella. Total fluff, but I’m anxiously awaiting my turn for the third book and the fourth in the series is coming out soon.

    Also YA, I started and stopped Marie Lu’s “The Young Elites” twice but this time I kept going and totally got sucked in and stayed up way too late last night reading it.

  10. Jennifer says:

    What a great list! I really enjoyed “The Knockoff” — it’s no “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but then again, we all need something that’s pure fun once in awhile. Speaking of TKAM, my summer reading list includes “Go Set a Watchman,” “Circling the Sun,” “Tiny Little Thing,” “Rising Strong,” and “The Woman in the Photograph”. Happy summer reading to all!

  11. Pam O'Brien says:

    I am currently reading the Hypnotist’s Love Story. I need to make a list of my “to read” books for the summer. I have recently gotten back into reading again and your blog and posts are wonderful. I also have to read Little Women.

  12. I’m currently reading (listening to) a great nonfiction book: The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown (the guy who wrote The Boys in the Boat). Though incredibly sad, it’s fascinating–great social history of the 1840s and lots of psychological perspective too. I’m about 1/3 of the way through but I really recommend it!

  13. Betsy says:

    Erik Larson’s “Isaac’s Storm” is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Can’t wait to read “Dead Wake.”

    Also, I, too, have never read “Little Women.” Maybe I’ll join you in reading it this summer!

  14. Adrienne says:


    I just added ‘Dead Wake’ to my summer reading list, which also includes ‘Prodigal Summer’ by Kingsolver, and Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’. The Louise Penny series looks interesting too.
    Thanks for sharing your list!

  15. Stephanie says:

    I’m currently reading Andy Miller’s “A Year of Reading Dangerously”, in which he embarks on reading what he refers to as “The List of Betterment”. It’s great for any book lover and has given me tons of titles to add to my own list!

      • Stephanie says:

        I’m the same, my list has gotten so huge, especially with all the great suggestions on this blog! I feel like I’ll never be able to get through them all.

  16. Jackie says:

    Just finished rereading Elizabeth Goudge’s Pilgrim Inn. Loved it again. The family dynamics are so interesting. Love her value of the family unit. She’s not unlike dear Austen in her observations of human nature.
    Have you ever read any

  17. Katie says:

    I’m curious to hear your reviews of “Little Women”. I’ve never read it either (gasp!) though lord knows I’ve tried at least three times. My grandparents bought me a gorgeous hard copy of it when I was a kid and I just couldn’t get into it…I felt so guilty! Everyone loves it…what is wrong me?! Maybe you will inspire me to *try again* 🙂

  18. Theresa says:

    Dead Wake is on my list as well as In the Garden of Beasts for my book club. The Giver (for a book I should have read in high school). I am finishing up the 4th Game of Thrones books which have been so engrossing and wonderful but a huge commitment as well. I am ready to read some shorter books. I really want to reread The Young Pioneers. I also have the Little Beach Street Bakery on my list which is a little out of my usual type of reading.

  19. Debbie says:

    Just finished Me Before You. Waiting are The Nightingale and Nanchez Burning. Recommend All the Light We Cannot See, amazing book!

  20. Susan in TX says:

    I got Deep Down Dark from the library because of Ann Patchett’s recommendation, but haven’t started it yet. Being Mortal and Dead Wake are also high on my list to read. Al Mohler puts out a summer reading list every year that is almost exclusively nonfiction and heavy on history books. He had Dead Wake at the top of his list, which is usually a good indicator. I just finished Laurie King’s Dreaming Spies and am in the middle of Jacqueline Winspear’s A Dangerous Place (had to get caught up on a couple of my favorite series before I could move on to Deep Down Dark, and of course, all my library holds came in at once!). Love your list. Happy Reading to you!

  21. I absolutely loved Deep Down Dark. I’m a counselor so I loved the psychology of 33 men “pressed” in a human situation. I’m telling everyone I know about this book.

    The other great read was Kent Haruf’s surprise book. The one he wrote just before died: Our Souls at Night.

    If you’ve ever read Haruf’s books (Plainsong or Eventide, etc) you know he captures “voice.” This latest book is sparse but every word is potent.

  22. Jennifer says:

    If you like Little Women and then Little Men then you definitely need to read Jo’s Boys, the final in that trilogy and one of the best I think. When I was waiting to find out if my first baby was a boy or a girl I re-read Little Women and Little Men quickly taking notes on great ideas to raise either. There are still ideas I am waiting for my two boys (now!) to grow into someday.

  23. M.E. Bond says:

    My summer reading list includes Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Lila, Miss Buncle’s Book, and The Poisonwood Bible. (I have a big list for the whole year… I’m not sure how many I’ll get through!)

  24. Heather says:

    Now I have to put some of these books on my reading list! I can’t believe you haven’t read anything by Erik Larson! Devil In the White City was fantastic. He’s one of my husband’s favorite authors and my husband really enjoyed Dead Wake and I still need to read it. Other books that I have planned for the summer are Far From the Tree, Better Than Before, The Bees, Everything I Never Told You, and the rest is up in the air :).

  25. Sarah M says:

    I’ll be curious to know what you think of Little Women. It’s one of my very favorites, but one I feel is best read in the Winter time, savored next to a fire and snuggled up on the couch.

    I love Erik Larson’s books. Dead Wake is one I haven’t read yet, but I just sent it to my best friend for her birthday.

    I’m going to read these this summer (among others that haven’t yet been put on hold!):
    *Wonder by R. J. Palacio
    *The Martian by Andy Weir
    *Missoula by Jon Krakauer
    *The Story of Science by Susan Wise Bauer
    *The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

    That’ll probably leave me in late July. 😉
    Sarah M

    • Bailey says:

      Currently reading The Martian! It’s very smart & scientific, but in a way that makes it a very enjoyable page-turner.

  26. liz n. says:

    “Confessions of a Comma Queen” is one of my favorite reads this year.

    Just finished “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” and am reading “Jane Eyre.” I seem to be in re-read mode! Although I love maritime fiction and non-fiction, I’ll pass on “Dead Wake,” but “Deep Down Dark” is on my list.

    • liz n. says:

      Oh, and I’ve no interest in “The Knockoff.” The moment someone describes a book in any way reminiscent of “The Devil Wears Prada,” the book goes into my Absolutely Never file. “The Devil Wears Prada” left a literary burn from which I may never recover! (Which means, yes, I still despise that book.)

      • Anne says:

        I didn’t like it either, but I did like the movie (or at least I liked it better than the book!), which is what I always picture. Maybe I should say The September Issue instead? I loved that documentary.

  27. Bev says:

    What an interesting list. The only one I’ve read (besides Little Women) is the Gamache series. Loved it. Can’t wait for book 11! Each one seemed to improve, until the last 2 especially – didn’t want them to end. Enjoy

  28. Lee Ann says:

    Yes, do read Jo’s Boys after Little Women and Little Men, and be sure to read Eight Cousins before Rose in Bloom.

    I haven’t read Jon Ronson’s new book, but I enjoyed The Men Who Stare at Goats and Them.

  29. Dana says:

    Currently reading I am Radar by Reif Larson. ( from the library) His first book, The Selected Works of T.S Spivett is one of my favorite reads ever. I am also reading Don Quixote which is slow going for me right now, so I have the Larson book to help me when I hit a wall with the ” knight errant.”

    On my Summer list:
    Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos. Her first 2 books are in my top 5 ever. I will buy this one. It came out today. Heading to the bookstore soon.
    The Buried Giant . Got this at the library today.
    The new Maisie Dobbs book A Most Dangerous Place ( also at the library today.) I have loved this series.

    From The Mixed up Files…by E.L Konigsburg. I have never read this. I know, I can’t believe it. Picked it up today as well.

    Just read Wonder, which I absolutely loved. Everyone should read that.

    The Republic of Imagination by the woman who wrote Reading Lolita in Tehran. Non-fiction about the American literary tradition as seen through 3 books Huck Finn, Babbitt and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

    The Victorian City non-fiction about the London of Charles Dickens.

    • Laura says:

      I’d love to know what you think of The Buried Giant ! i’ve picked it up several times but never ended up buting it. I read From the Mixed Up Files as a child. Absolutely love that story.

  30. Randi says:

    Dead Wake, The Knockoff, and the Louise Penny coming out in August are all on my list. As well as the 6th (and 7th, if I have time) Flavia De Luce, The Rocks by Peter Nichols, and Eating Viet Nam by Graham Holliday.

  31. On my list this summer:
    1. Ernest Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea”
    2. Lara Casey’s “Make It Happen”
    3. Sally Clarkson’s “Own Your Life”
    4. Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life” (rereading)

    At least these, and hopefully more. I’m trying to take Rea Berg’s advice to read 1 classic for every 2 modern books.

  32. Laura says:

    Definitely read Eight Cousins before Rose In Bloom. It’s the better of the two (and is the first of the two anyway). I love Eight Cousins just as much if not more than Little Women.

    • Ashley says:

      I was going to say this exact same thing! I liked Rose in Bloom better than Eight Cousins, though (basically because I shipped two characters and wanted to see if they got together). Also, I read Little Men loooooong before I read Little Women, but they’re both good. Little Men was the first book to make me cry, so keep a box of tissues nearby.

  33. Kristina M. says:

    Your list sounds fabulous!! I usually alternate between fiction and non-fiction, unless I’m into a really good series. I’m jealous that your library carries those titles. The public library I haunt mostly only gets new romance novels and murder mysteries. I was however lucky enough to snag a couple of the titles on your summer reading guide. I’m loving Mr. Penumbras 24hr bookstore right now. Please let us know your opinion of the Chilean Mine book and Confessions of a Comma Queen.

  34. Danielle says:

    Excited to find out Erik Larson has a new book out. LOVED “Devil in the White City.” Also, just picked up “Still Life” based on two recommendations by friends who have excellent taste in literature. Excited to give it a try. I don’t read crime drama very much, but loved P. D. James, so would love to find another series.

  35. Terry says:

    Thumbs way,way,way up for Being Mortal. An important book, I think, both personally and societally.

    And any of the Gamache series by Louise Penney are winners in my book.

  36. Ann Powell says:

    I have only recently found your blog but I thoroughly enjoy it. Great summer read list and I would like to add if you enjoy the story of Little Women, look into March by Geraldine Brooks. It is the story of the absent father character in Little Women and what he was going through. My book club and I enjoyed it. I am currently reading about 3 books now and always am undecided which to read at any given time because I want to read them all at once! Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh is holding my interest now. Enjoy your summer and thanks for a great blog.

  37. I finally read Little Women for the first time last year (even though I’m a big fan of the movie and watch it yearly). And I listened to an audiobook of it, I didn’t actually read it. I fell in love with the book, though, so I would like to read it this year. It always makes me think of Christmas, so maybe toward the end of the year I’ll pull it out again. I hope you enjoy it!

    That last book sounds really interesting. I’m adding it to my TBR list.

  38. Alyssa says:

    I’ve just finished reading A Life Intercepted and Water from My Heart, both are by Charles Martin and are excellent. (He’s by far my favorite fiction writer.) I have Persuasion by Jane Austen on my list and A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron (just finished The Butterfly and The Violin and enjoyed it).

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