One more data-driven post, and then we’re back to our regular programming. Honest.
I’m a data junkie, and as such, I’ve been watching the summer reading numbers all summer. I only have the skills to track so much information, but I can definitely tell which books readers are clicking on and which books readers are buying. I thought you might also be interested in hearing which books were the most popular summer reading picks this summer.
As far as reading guide categories were concerned, it was no contest:breezy novels and gripping novels left the rest of the pack in the dust. (If you love to root for the underdog, foodie memoirs should have been your summer pick.)
Today I’m sharing the most popular books on the blog this summer, measured by outbound clicks. Are you surprised? I sure was. Although it doesn’t make me a teeny bit sad to think of all of you reading all of these books.
In the second of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, which can be read in any order, detective Cassie Maddux is pulled off her current beat and sent to investigate a murder. When she arrives at the scene, she finds the victim looks just like her, and—even more creepy—she was using an alias that Cassie used in a previous case. The victim was a student, and her boss talks her into trying to crack the case by impersonating her, explaining to her friends that she survived the attempted murder. The victim lived with four other students in a strangely intimate, isolated setting, and as Cassie gets to know them, liking them almost in spite of herself, her boundaries—and loyalties—begin to blur. A taut psychological thriller that keeps you guessing till the end.
Alice is 29, expecting her first child, and crazy in love with her husband—or at least she thinks she is, but then she bumps her head and wakes up on the gym floor, to find that she’s actually a 39-year-old mother of 3 who’s in the middle of divorcing the man she’s come to hate. She doesn’t know what’s happened to her these past 10 years, or who she’s become. She’s about to find out. Interesting, readable, and surprisingly thought-provoking. I inhaled this like it was chick lit, but found myself mulling it over for weeks after I finished. More info →
Fashion, romance, and … espionage. If you loved Casablanca, try this novel set during the Spanish civil war. Sira Quiroga works her way from dressmaker’s assistant to a premier couturier, putting her in contact with the wealthy and powerful. When the British government asks her to spy for them as World War II gears up, she agrees, stitching secret messages into the hems of dresses. Translated from the Spanish, and the dialogue is a little bumpy in places, but the story is worth it. Is it perfect? No way. But engrossing? Definitely. More info →
Some might try to categorize this as “religious fiction,” but that wouldn’t be quite right—unless your religious fiction typically comes with lots of romance, psychoanalysis, and sex. Glittering Images is the first book in the Starbridge series, set in the Church of England in the 1930s, and later, the 1960s. That may not sound like your idea of a page turner, but the characters are rich and engaging and the stories suck you in. Each of the series’ six books is self-contained, but is told from the perspective of a different character: taken together, they make a magnificent composite. Recommended by the likes of Anna Quindlen and Jacqueline Winspear. Now that’s high praise. More info →
I’ve loved (almost) all of Morton’s novels, but The Secret Keeper is her finest. When she was 16, Laurel witnessed a violent crime involving her mother, Dorothy. The family hushed it up, and Laurel hasn’t spoken of it since. Now, fifty years later, Dorothy is dying, and Laurel is determined to unravel the secret while there’s still time. As Laurel pursues her clues, the story flips back and forth in time between today and the years before and during World War II, including the London Blitz, which Morton recreates so vividly you can almost hear the bombs dropping. Filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the end. More info →
THE MOST POPULAR NON-SUMMER READING GUIDE PICKS ON THE BLOG THIS SUMMER
This novel from my YA summer reading list is one of the best books I’ve read in 2014. 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.) If you loved Eleanor and Park, you’ll love this one. More info →
This Gatsby-esque novel surprises with shocking plot twists, including the unforgettable ending. A dazzling debut, with a literary feel, and a glittering, glamorous depiction of New York circa 1938 and characters whose lives turn on one impulsive decision. This was the most popular book on the blog this summer. More info →
I’ll bet you weren’t assigned this breezy Cinderella-ish story set in 1930s Britain back in English class. When a placement agency sends unemployed Miss Pettigrew to the wrong address, she spends the best day of her life with a glamorous nightclub singer, extricating her hour by hour from one scrape after another. Light, charming and utterly delightful. More info →
I can see why this 1940s classic makes so many people’s desert island book lists. 17-year-old Cassandra is a remarkable narrator, who captures her eccentric family’s daily life—in their ramshackle old English castle—in her diary. Replete with love, magic, writer’s block, and bear costumes. More info →
I finished this one on a weekday afternoon when I was supposed to be working, because all I wanted to do was finish this book. It’s a novel about teenagers, in love, but I suspect it’s more for the adults who survived the teen years than the teenagers living through them. The framing makes all the difference to this one: pay attention to the way Rowell cites Romeo & Juliet. It matters. More info →
What were your favorite books of the summer? Please share in comments.