What’s on MY summer reading list

What's on MY summer reading list | Modern Mrs Darcy

Ever since my summer reading fail, I’m careful to recommend only books I’ve actually read in my reading guides.

But I’m just like you—I open many, many books, not having any idea whether or not they’ll be any good, though I’m fervently hoping they’ll be worth my time.

So here’s my massive disclaimer: I haven’t read these yet! I have no idea if they’re any good or not, but I’m hopeful. And I’m (futilely) hopeful I’ll get to them all this summer, because this adds up to a lot of pages. I’ve never calculated my daily page rate, but I think this might be pushing it.

(I’m already halfway through the first two books on this list!)

My incomplete summer reading list:

The Expats: A Novel

The Expats: A Novel

Its description in the book-a-day calendar Quarterly sent me captured my imagination. More info →
One Plus One

One Plus One

Coming this July. Because: Jojo Moyes. More info →
The Martian: A Novel

The Martian: A Novel

Cast Away. In outer space. YES. More info →
11/22/63: A Novel

11/22/63: A Novel

This has been on my reading list for ages. Or at least since I ate up On Writing. More info →
The Tender Bar: A Memoir
Leonardo’s Lost Princess: One Man’s Quest to Authenticate an Unknown Portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci
I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)

Loved and recommended by an astonishing variety of readers in my circles. More info →
Ten Years in the Tub

Ten Years in the Tub

Also spotted at my local indie bookstore. Take a look at the description and you’ll see why this made my list. More info →
Everyone Is Beautiful

Everyone Is Beautiful

Center excels at writing books that feel like fluffy chick lit—and then you find yourself thinking about them for days, because her themes run much deeper than you realized on the first pass. This is her latest. More info →
I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle

Because it was recommended in the literary matchmaking comments as a “desert island” book, and I’m pretty sure my mom read it and loved it years ago. More info →
Dear Mr. Knightley

Dear Mr. Knightley

Fanfiction stinks, but reliable sources say this is the exception. More info →
Delicious!: A Novel

Delicious!: A Novel

It’s one of the new releases I’m dying to read. More info →
Astonish Me

Astonish Me

Heard about this on one of my favorite podcasts, then saw it on display at my library. Done. More info →
The Song Remains the Same

The Song Remains the Same

Spotted at my local indie bookstore, and you can’t beat the premise. More info →

What’s on YOUR summer reading list? 

P. S. Get your copy of the 2014 summer reading guide here.

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  1. I love that I don’t know any of these books…yet, but as you read them I’ll get to know them until they end up on my reading list! Like how I’ve finally added Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day & Eleanor & Park to my summer list, after loving your suggestions for Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and the Rosie Project were so awesome. I’m also tackling the Golden Compass along with my long term project to read all the Newbery Award Winners (starting in 1922). Thanks for sharing your great literary taste Anne!

    • Anne says:

      That makes me want to skip The Tender Bar! I love memoirs—do you love the genre and find yourself really picky within it, or are you iffy on the whole category?

      Now I want a list of your favorite memoirs! Because if they pass the KWP test, they’ve gotta be good. 🙂

  2. Jenn says:

    I’ll be reading what my 9 yo reads this summer. She needs a little push out of her comfort zone and I figured if we read the same books we could talk about them together. But I’m bookmarking this post to come back to later. Thanks

      • Jenn says:

        Some of the ones we have are the Anne of Green Gables series, Nancy Drew, Harry Potter book 2 & 3, and A Little Princess. I’m thinking some classics like Treasure Island, or Robinson Crusoe as well. It would be fun to make up a list together!

        • Gina says:

          We haven’t done Anne of Green Gables yet, so we might try that! She currently is all about fantasy: Harry Potter (as many as I’ll let her read), Lord of the Rings, that kind of thing. I actually should make a list for the summer…

          • Try Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga. The fourth book in the series will be released next month. My 9 year old is loving the first one and my nieces and nephews and adored the series thus far.

  3. Stacey says:

    I think you will love Astonish Me- my favorite of the year thus far! I haven’t created my list yet- my girls don’t get out of school till June 24th so it doesn’t feel like summer yet- but I know that 11/22/63 will be on my list. You are now the second person whose opinions I trust to have listed it!

  4. 11-22-63 is on my list too since I got it at our bookstore for $5! Except that my husband stole it off my nightstand and is now reading it and can’t put it down, so I may not get to it for awhile 😉 I’ve got Rules of Civility and Attachments checked out from the library now.

  5. Molly says:

    My goodreads list has at least 40 books on it, and I know there are other books I’ll come across I will want to read. I just added Dear Mr. Knightly to my list. My goal is to read five books between May and August when I have to report back to school: at least one classic, one history (non-fiction), and one other non-fiction. I’m starting a new position and will likely be doing a ton of research-type reading in preparation for it.

  6. Jillian Kay says:

    This looks like a good list. I’m going to add Dear Mr. Knightly to mine. I picked 10 books yesterday — quite a few from your summer reading guide. I also want to read To Rise Again At A Decent Hour, The Everything Store, and do a re-read of Circle of Friends. Summer reading is the best!

  7. Alison says:

    11/22/63 is so great. Definitely one of my favorites books I’ve read this year! I read I Capture the Castle, but it didn’t do anything for me. Excited to explore these new ones. You’re always meticulous about your choices–which I love!

  8. Scott says:

    My reading list this summer is to finish what I’ve been trying to do so for a while (my time has been sucked away by directing a play lately), so I’ve got to finish Catching Fire and All Hallows Eve (by Charles Williams, it’s old school, definitely). Then, I bought Divergent to start that series and I need to finish the Hunger Games series. We go to a big used book sale every year at the local library, so I’ve always got something I need to read from that pile.

  9. I Capture The Castle was lovely. Vaguely reminded me of Mary Stewart novels.

    Dear Mr. Knightley is my favorite of 2014 so far. I hope you got it while it was $1.99 for Kindle this past week!

  10. Kori says:

    Dear Mr. Knightly intrigued me so I gave it a click and read the description and I’m wondering……….it sounds a LOT like the classic book, Dear Daddy Long-legs by Jean Webster (and then memorialized in the movies by Fred Astaire). Have you read it? I’d be interested in hearing what you think if you read both. [and if it’s not clear – run, don’t walk to get a copy of Dear Daddy Long-legs if you haven’t already!!! That book makes me SWOON]

    • Lee Ann Roberts says:

      It is Daddy Long-Legs, but with a Christian spin. I got Dear Mr. Knightley for free for my Kindle a couple of months ago; it was all right, but I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. Daddy Long-Legs is much better.

      • Kori says:

        Disappointing. Oh well, the best thing is that it has made me want to read Daddy Long Legs again and I am very much enjoying it. FREE on Kindle, btw! (but splurge and get the 99 cent version with illustrations – otherwise you won’t enjoy the book half as much!)

  11. Heather says:

    Loved 11/22/63 and if I were you I would put that at the top of my to read list :]. Some of these books sound really great to read, but I think that I have too many on my plate (mostly from your past suggestions] to read anymore for the summer!

  12. You are in for a treat! I CAPTURE THE CASTLE is an utter delight.

    If you like THE TENDER BAR (which I found to be wonderful), a great comparison journalist memoir is ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’. I heard Rick Bragg speak a few years ago. He’s an amazing man.

  13. sarah k says:

    I was excited to read 11/22/63 and I loved it for a while…but then it got too scary for me. I don’t do scary…and I know it’s Stephen King but my impression was that it wouldn’t frighten me. Wrong! I’m a weakling. 🙂 Even side plots involving child murders=too much for me. But I really want to finish it so I keep trying to gather my courage… 🙂

    I’ll be checking out some of these others for my reading list too!

    • Audrey says:

      I did not think 11/22/63 was scary! It was a great book and not typical Stephen King. I thought of it as a love story. It was one of my favorite books.

      • sarah k says:

        Like I said: I’m a wimp. 🙂 The nameless evil in that town was bad enough…but when I realized he was going to have to go back and witness the murders of those children, I chickened out…

        • Audrey says:

          Oh yeah, I agree, Sarah K. I sort of read quickly over those parts. I looked at him as a kind of hero and the end is soooo good. Keep reading!

          • sarah k says:

            I’ve been considering skimming the scarier parts so I can finish the book (difficult for my perfectionist bent which insists I must read ALL THE WORDS). Maybe I will give it a shot!

        • Jillian Kay says:

          I think the nameless evil town you’re talking about is a throwback to one of his earlier (and super scary IMO) books It, and doesn’t have very much to do with the actual story — you’d be safe to skip it I think.

  14. Jennifer says:

    I think you will really enjoy I Capture the Castle. The movie isn’t great though sadly, I waited for years to buy/see it and have never watched it again though I re-read the book from time to time.

  15. Tim says:

    I clicked on the link to the Allison Winn Scotch book thinking it was going to be about Led Zeppelin. It wasn’t.

    Oh well,

  16. Stacy says:

    My sister is an enormous I Capture the Castle Fan, and 11/22/63 is one of my top 5 favorite Stephen King books, right up there with The Stand, The Shining, On Writing and Skeleton Crew. Enjoy!

  17. Amy says:

    I just heard about Dear Mr. Knightly somewhere else… The Motherhood & Jane Austen book club on FB, maybe? Anyway, it’s on my list, which is exploding. I think I’m at 90+ to be read total, so I need to go through it and decide what I want to knock out over the summer… Geez.

  18. Kara says:

    To be honest, I would have turned my nose up at Dear Mr. Knightley, too, but my mom insisted that I borrow it. It was a unique and delightful story. It’s been years since I read I Capture the Castle, but I still remember being completely enthralled by it. 🙂 Enjoy!

  19. Audrey says:

    I am so excited to find your book lists! I typically get suggestions for sappy spineless books that do not interest me at all. These may not all be my cup of tea but I can’t wait to head to the library (or Amazon) and sign some of these out!!

  20. Anne says:

    I’ve had Dear Mr. Knightley recommended to me, too. My friend, Nancy, said I might like it if I liked Daddy Long Legs, which I had to read in an adolescent lit class in school. I liked DDL, but then, the professor squashed my pleasant memories of the read. Tell us if/when you read it, Anne!

    Otherwise, I haven’t heard of any of these books besides the Ruth Reichl one you’ve talked about.

    Here’s hoping you get to finish your list! 🙂

  21. SoCalLynn says:

    I hope you love I Capture the Castle. I first read it out loud to my then-7th grade daughter, and we both loved it. She loved it so much she’s since read it 2 more times. She never re-reads books! I’m looking forward to reading Ruth Reichl’s book. I’ve loved her memoirs.

  22. Leigh Kramer says:

    I finished Delicious the other night. We’ll have to talk when you’re done. I’m not saying a word until then! (Although, I did update my Goodreads review so avoid that.) I didn’t realize Center had a new one! I’ll definitely be tracking that down.

  23. MelissaJoy says:

    The Rosie Project is my literal beach book and I convinced my mom and sister to join me for reading on the beach and discussing on the boardwalk later 🙂 This year I have a Kindle so I may be able to *pack* more into my carry-on for other beach reading.

    In other summer books, memoirs are my typical read before turning out the lights and I am looking forward to Notes From a Blue Bike (Oxenreider) & Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me (Kaling) after I finish Bread and Wine (Niequist). Jayber Crow (Berry), My Own Country (Verghese), Critical Reaction (Johnson) and random Newberry Award winners will fill in the rest of summer reading. That was all before your guide came out. 🙂

    • MelissaJoy,
      (My middle name is also Joy:-) Have you read Cutting for Stone by Verghese? One of my top ten I think. I’m reading Americanah now and it reminds me so much of Verghese in Cutting for Stone. Happy reading!

      • MelissaJoy says:

        Love the Joy connection! Cutting for Stone is on my list to read and it’s your kind of response that makes me excited to get into it. My Own Country is slow going but beautifully written. I feel as if I am with Verghese and need time to process the patient before moving into the next “appointment”. God’s Hotel by Sweet opened me up to a new favorite genre of medical/science memoir and now I am hooked.

  24. Becca says:

    11/22/63 is a treat. I’ve never connected to anything else by Stephen King, but this book was a delight. I’m already planning out my late summer reading list… Tana French has a new book coming out on August 28th!

  25. Alissa says:

    hated the “ex-pats” because it was too much thinking, not enough action. I wanted to like “The Song Remains the Same” more – her other books are better. I think “What Alice Forgot” is a better done amnesia story. I really liked “Everyone is Beautiful” by Katherine Center – a good finding yourself type story.

    Also you need to add to your list “We Are Called to Rise” by Laura McBride. It comes out June 3. Difficult to describe but incredibly powerful and moving and thought provoking. A debut novel I’m recommending to everyone at the library.

    happy reading!

  26. I Capture the Castle is one of my favorites. I love Cassandra so much. I also enjoyed Dear Mr. Knightley – but yes, do read Daddy-Long-Legs first. (So fun!)

    I’m curious about The Tender Bar and Astonish Me. I really enjoyed The Expats, and Delicious! was full of mouthwatering descriptions.

    I’m enjoying the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman, and my summer reading list is LONG. (As always.)

  27. I am so happy you are going to read I Capture the Castle! It’s a charmer.

    I totally agree with what was said about the movie — not half as good as the book. It’s one of those novels that creates such vivid images in your mind; no movie can come close.

  28. I Capture the Castle is on my TBR list. I’ve heard great things about it! I’ve loved Reichl’s other books so I’m curious to see how she does with fiction. I watched the documentary on the Da Vinci painting and it was really interesting. I imagine it’d be even better in book form. Great list! There’s a few I haven’t heard of and a few I’ve been wanting to read! Look forward to your reviews!

  29. Sarah says:

    I’m not usually a fan of fan-fiction. I was skeptical of Dear Mr. Knightley. Wasn’t even sure I’d like it during the first couple chapters, but it got better and in the end I loved it. It was really good. There’s more than meets the (initial) eye.

  30. Kiernan says:

    As always, your lists are inspiring. And summer is a great time for teachers to read!

    I didn’t love To Capture the Castle, though. It had been billed to me as a sort of Jane Austen-esque tale, but it didn’t satisfy. Or perhaps I just had too high of expectations. 🙂

    Happy reading!

  31. Mimi says:

    You have two of my favorites listed from last year – 11/22/63 is wonderful. I don’t like scary either but Stephen King is an amazing writer. I agree that this is a love story above all plus being historical fiction, my favorite. I Capture the Castle was also delightful – not what I expected. On my list this summer The Rosie Project, We Are Called to Rise and Middlemarch, which I’ve never read.

  32. I was just working on my summer reading list and looking up several of these. I read the description of Dear Mr. Knightly on amazon–sounds EXACTLY like Daddy Long Legs. Have you read that?

  33. Rinda says:

    I really liked 11/22/63, as did my whole book group. I was so-so on The Tender Bar.
    I just finished and would highly recommend The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy.

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for the recommendation! (And as I continue to get feedback I’m thinking of dropping The Tender Bar. Only because so many books, so little time…)

  34. I really enjoyed “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.”

    It’s a quirky satire that I first heard about from an aquisitions editor at a large publishing house.

    “Bernadette Fox is notorious. To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she’s his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she’s a menace. To design experts, she’s a revolutionary architect. And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum. Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her. WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is a compulsively readable, irresistibly written, deeply touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s place in the world.”

    Another book I loved was, “The End of Your Life Bookclub.” A true story about a grown man whose mother is dying. It’s not as sad as you’d imagine. They share the last year of her life reading and discussing their favorite books.

  35. Colleen says:

    I just read March by Geraldine Brooks. It’s about the dad in Little Women. It won a Pulitzer and is the exception to fanfiction. It is so well written and interesting.

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