The 2015 Summer Reading Guide

If you’re anything like me, you think summer is made for reading. But nothing is more frustrating than picking up the latest (and much-hyped) new release to find that even though it’s a bestseller, it’s not the right book for you.

How do you enjoy the hits without wasting time on the misses?

Enter the summer reading guide.

This compact, user-friendly guide whittles the overwhelming array of readerly options down to 7 diverse categories of 5 titles each—because a list of 5 great books is much more useful than a list of thousands. You’ll find new releases and backlist, all carefully selected with the tastes of MMD readers in mind.

This compact, user-friendly guide whittles the overwhelming array of readerly options down to 7 diverse categories of 5 titles each—because a list of 5 great books is The 2015 Summer Reading Guide. Your guide to the season's best books—because a highly curated selection is much more useful than a list of thousands. Includes 7 fun categories of 5 books each, new releases and backlist, with tips on why you should read each one. Happy reading!

You all know I love to read, and read a lot. You know where I’m coming from. If you like this blog—and the books I typically recommend here—you’ll find the titles here that are perfect for you.

Every book in there has earned its spot, and I’ve personally read it—often more than once. I can vouch for them, and answer any questions you have.

I read hundreds of books for the summer season; this guide contains only the best of the best. More than ever, I’m channeling my inner Kathleen Kelly, keeping her reputation for “flawless taste” in mind. I don’t presume to have flawless taste, but know this: if I don’t love a book, I won’t recommend it here—even if I suspect most readers will enjoy it.

Happy summer, and happy reading!

View the guide right here. (If you love it, share it! I appreciate it so much.)

P.S. Track your summer reading in the new, printable, customizable Modern Mrs Darcy reading journal. Sign up here to get yours.

If you like the guide, I talk about books all year long on Modern Mrs Darcy. Subscribe here for free updates: almost-daily blog posts, and/or a monthly-ish newsletter.

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  1. Rebecca says:

    I hate complaining. I mean honestly you slogged through a hundred books to find the best ones and then wrote about them and I know it took tons of time and effort. And it also annoys me I have no idea how to fix/improve it. But the format of the reading guide drives me batty. Finding the links then 7 individual posts to pull up is clunky and it’s hard to switch back and forth. And in my case hard to rmemeber which list I looked at before I got up to save the 10 month old from bodily harm.

    • Tristan says:

      I love the reading list and my to-read list is definitely longer now, and the new look of the blog is beautiful, but Anne, I have to agree with this one. The reading list is kind of frustrating for someone who just wants to read through the entire list. You might give this a try — tell yourself that you don’t care about the categorizations, you just want to read the entire list as quickly as possible. Not so easy the way it is structured now.

      My suggestion would be to just add a link somewhere at the beginning “see the entire list”, for people that don’t care how the books are categorized, and just want to see them all!

      An alternative would be to have a “next category” at the bottom of each list, in an order that eventually takes you through the entire list. The hard part about the way the categories are displayed is that it isn’t easy to see what you have looked at already and what you haven’t.

      • JoLyn says:

        Great idea, Tristan! I agree, I would love to have that option as well. Anne, I’ve been so looking forward to the reading guide this year. I’m already bookmarking which ones to start with. Thanks for your hard work. It’s so nice to have a guide by someone whose judgment I trust and who lets me know what to watch for. I just finished The Rosie Project on your recommendation and loved it. Thank you!!

      • Anne says:

        Tristan—that’s a good idea. I’ll see if I can make the one-pager happen.

        There already is a “next category” at the bottom of each page.

        • Erin says:

          Totally agree with all of the above. LOVE your recs, hate this format. I honestly could not find the “next category” button — there’s a lot happening at the bottom of the posts. I’ll keep slogging through, though, because your guides are worth it!

    • Susan says:

      I completely agree with the format concerns. LOVE the list. Excited about delving further into it…But multiple clicks and having to hit the back button made it less than ideal. A list all on one page would be most appreciated.

  2. Ginger says:

    So glad to see Mr. Penumbra on this list! I loved this book, and have recommended it to about every friend who’s asked me for a book reco this past year.

    Lots of other promising-looking titles here in your collection. Thanks so much for doing this. Now, to get reading!

    It’s officially summer!!

  3. Sara K. says:

    Oh my! Now my reading list just got a LOT longer! Thank you for taking so much time to read sooooo many books and pick out the best ones for us!

  4. Jamie says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I have been looking forward to this! Now I just need to get through the “end of the school year gauntlet” so I can get started on this great list.

  5. Christa Gregg says:

    I have been looking forward to this since you told us it was releasing today! The reading guide last year is what re-ignited my love for reading! Can’t wait to dive into this list. Thank you!

  6. Katia says:

    Anne, this is an incredible list! Thank you for all the recommendations! I am currently reading Better Than Before and enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

    On a different note, why does it not surprise me that, like me, you are a big fan of Kathleen Kelly? I have often wished that Kathleen Kelly were a real person. She is most certainly a kindred spirit. I suddenly have a hankering for watching You’ve Got Mail, for the umpteenth time.

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  8. Anne says:

    So fun to read through this morning. (It wouldn’t open on my phone, but maybe it was my phone. Just fine on laptop!) I think the Get Smart category was my fave, but I reserve the right to add to that. 😉

  9. Bonnie says:

    I cannot express how happy I am to have found your blog! Your reading preferences fit perfectly with mine, and having your guide to follow is a great relief. Thank you for the work you’ve put into this!

  10. Tracy G says:

    I am thrilled to see two of my all-time favorites on your list this year. I can’t recommend highly enough any of the books by Sarah Addison Allen. I am NOT the person to usually recommend anything with magical realism, but it’s so subtle and so unique that it is completely believable. Any of her novels are worth the time.

    Secondly, Still Life by Louise Penny and any of the subsequent books are wonderful reads. Her novels are classic whodunits but with such an emphasis on the unusual cast of characters that you can’t help but want more. And I completely agree that Penny’s novels are great for those fans of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs.

    Thanks for your recommendations. My TBR list has grown immensely. I can’t wait to get started!

  11. Krista says:

    I looked at the first oRt of the list but it just got too difficult slogging through so many pages for the list. The categories and setup aren’t mobile phone friendly at all. I wish they were because you out so much time into this list and I want to read it!

    • Becky says:

      I agree, I started to read the list this morning on my phone and quickly gave up. I came back to it later on my laptop and it was easier, but still would’ve preferred it to all be on one page. I’m excited to get started on this list now that school is winding down!

  12. Thanks for your list and all your hard work! I was excited to see that it came out today. I want to be more intentional about the books I read this summer and added a bunch from your list!

  13. Kelty says:

    Woohoo!!! It’s here! 🙂 I absolutely love your clever categories this year. Thanks for doing all the hard work (and reading the good and the bad) for us!

  14. Laura says:

    Yay! Excited to delve into these. Always appreciate your guide. Still have a couple to read from last year’s!

  15. Abby says:

    Thanks for putting this together! Excited to go through each category and make some selections! (Love the new look of the blog!)

  16. Karen says:

    As always, this is great–thank you so much! And I was so glad to see The Royal We here, because I just loved it, and was happy to see that someone with good taste also recommended it! 🙂 Will add many of these to my ever-growing list!

  17. Dana says:

    Thanks for the list Anne,

    I have read a few on the list already and I concur with your assessments of them. I look forward to reading some of the new-to-me titles.

    I read Ursula Under a few years ago and loved it. It was a book that just did not get enough attention. It is on my top 10 list of favorite novels. I may re-read it this summer.

    I also loved Garden Spells both when I read it originally when it first came out and agin when I reread it earlier this year in order to read the sequel, First Frost. Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is also really good. I have read all of her books.

    I loved Love Walked in when I read it a couple of years ago. Great story.

    I read Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore when it first came out and throughly enjoyed it because of the premise and the different style. There is a Kindle short called Ajax Penumbra which is a prequel that is equally as good.

  18. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for another great reading list, Anne: I liked the group headings and gravitated directly to the ones that seemed to be calling out to me! 🙂

  19. Kelly says:

    Thanks so much for compiling this list. I just placed holds at our local library on about half of the books you recommended and I can’t wait to start reading!

  20. Leah says:

    Yay! Love the categories (whatever font that is that you used for the titles is absolutely gorgeous!) Delighted to see some favorites included and thrilled to discover some new-to-me books!

  21. Mildly Moody says:

    Great list! I love the get smart category! I will definitely be sharing these with my friends.

    Ps- I just started a new blog. It’s called Mildly Moody and its aimed towards female entrepreneurs and career IT girls. My latest article is about 7 habits holding you back from success. Perhaps you can take a look when you get a chance?
    Now following you!
    Xoxo, Cori

  22. Ashlie says:

    This is always a highlight of my summer, and I’m so excited to load up my TBR pile! I honestly had zero problem with the format and found it kind of beautiful. I love the large pictures of the covers. I was also super pumped about the badass women category and the YA I saw popping up. The Shadow and Bone trilogy was one of my favorites this year! Thank you for taking the time to put this together, I can see how thoughtful you’ve been!

  23. Grace Furman says:

    I hadn’t made it through the whole reading guide before, and now the layout has changed. I can’t seem to find your blurbs on them anywhere. It’s just a list of the books and then the links take me to Amazon. I want to read your opinions, where did they go?

    • Anne says:

      Ack, that was a glitch! I made a printable list of titles and authors only so you could print it out and take it to the library or bookstore with you. But for a short window today the home page for the guide was directing readers to JUST that list. So sorry about that! Technology is great, except when it isn’t. The full guide is here.

  24. Anne says:

    Thank you!! I am a mother to two small children, so I read like crazy when I am nursing the baby! I’m looking for my next great read, so your list comes at a perfect time, & I love your recommendations.

  25. Shannan says:

    Just wanted to let you know that your Summer Reading Guide is fantastic. On my first of the “Books You Can’t Put Down”; The Accident is fantastic! Thanks for the recommendation of a great summer read, which to me is something engrossing, page-turning, requires little thought, and purely for fun – quite unlike my usual reading fare. It is my intention to work my way through the category over the summer, as well as read Expats. Thanks again!

  26. Karen C says:

    What a FABULOUS summer reading guide. Great idea and really well implemented! I am sure I can speak for all of your blog readers and say how grateful we are for the time that was put into this. I like a book that has it all – suspense, drama, romance, humor, and strong character development. Having said that I MUST recommend a book I recently came across called “The Friend Request” by author Charles Soto. ( This book is considered a romance novel and follows two high school sweethearts who reconnect on Facebook after years of living separate lives but there is so much more than that! It shares the point of view of the male and female character which I find to be quite refreshing and there are soooo many plot twists in this book it keeps you hooked from start to finish. I definitely recommend it to anyone who LOVES the romance genre or who doesn’t usually read it. I think it has a little something for everyone

  27. Heather says:

    ThAnk you!!!! Just read mr. Penumbras bookstore and it was great! Also my library hardback glowed in the dark. How cool?!? On to the next

  28. Kristina M. says:

    Anne – I read a lot of what you recommend, but I just finished The Life Intended and it was the best so far. I cried through practically the whole book. I haven’t had a book touch me that deeply in a LONG time. My favorite part was when Kate was telling Allie the story behind the song “Hey Jude”. That was my favorite song when my parents were going through their divorce, and I had NO idea that Paul McCartney wrote that song for John Lennon’s son when John and his wife were getting divorced. I checked this book out from the library but I think I’m going to have to buy it. Thanks for the great recommendation!

    • Anne says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know. (I also loved Harmel’s previous work The Sweetness of Forgetting, in case you need another summer read …. 🙂 )

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