What’s on Your Summer Reading List?

Summer is a great time to shake up your reading routine.

I read a lot, and I choose a lot of heavy material–when the days are short.  But I love to shake things up in the summer.  This is when I love a good story, something lightweight and breezy.  Summer is the time when I want a good pageturner–a book I just can’t put down.  I am terrible about not turning out the light and reading “just one more chapter” of a really good book.  But it’s summer, at least I can sleep in a little!

Am I alone, or does your reading list shift when the days get long?  If you need help with your own summer reading list, here are some of my favorites:


I’m a fan of The Happiness Project, but before I read the blog, I read the book:  The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunTHP is great summer reading because while it’s not difficult reading, it’s thought-provoking, and a lot of fun.  And very easy to read in short chunks (by the pool, on the deck, in the coffee shop).

If you’d rather have your happiness in novel form, I recommend Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, a Cinderella-ish story set in the 1930s.  (Yes, the great movie was based off this book.)


Summer is a great time for a good cops-and-robbers story.  Last summer I loved Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures, written by the agent who founded the Art Crimes Team at the FBI.  His descriptions of how he goes undercover to track down stolen masterpieces and bust art thieves depict a seedy world that’s quite different from the polite cat-and-mouse games of The Thomas Crown Affair.

I nearly skipped Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts, because I thought the cover was ugly.  I nearly missed out on a really fun read.  Don’t make that mistake!

Good Stories

I love reading fiction in the summertime.  For vacation reading, I love nothing more than an engaging plot line in the hands of a skilled author.  The Secret Life of Bees delivers with its tale of 14-year-old Lily Owens coming of age in 1964 South Carolina.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is another coming-of-age story, this time set in the Pacific Northwest.  Henry Lee is a 12-year-old Chinese boy who falls in love with his Japanese classmate in 1940s Seattle. The novel shifts back and forth between the 1940s and 1984, allowing Henry a different perspective on wartime events and the love of his youth.

(I know everybody and their sister is recommending The Help, but I wasn’t crazy about it.  The plot line was great, but the telling was awkward.)


I never read mysteries–until a friend introduced me to Dorothy Sayers.  Critics have argued that The Nine Tailors–set in 1934 England–is the greatest detective novel ever written.  I’m not the judge of that, but I do know that Sayers’s mystery novels keep me turning the page until way past my bedtime.  The Nine Tailors is one of the 11 Lord Peter novels–start here, and then read the rest.

If you’d like a modern-day mystery, try Strange Piece of Paradise: A Return to the American West to Investigate My Attempted Murder–and Solve the Mystery of Myself, a real-life whodunit story. Author Terri Jentz was brutally attacked by an axe-wielding cowboy while camping at an Oregon state park during a college cross-country bike trip.  15 years later, she returns to the scene of the (still-unsolved) crime to pursue closure–and justice.  It’s not a pretty story, but it’s a captivating read for crime drama fans.


I had the pleasure of meeting a Modern Mrs Darcy reader in real-life yesterday.  It was fun to connect in person instead of across the blogosphere–but I had to laugh when she felt compelled to confess that she’d never read Pride and Prejudice.  Don’t worry, Dear Louisville Reader–I’m not the Jane Austen Police!

But to all you readers who’ve never cracked the cover of Pride and Prejudice:  Don’t be intimidated because it’s a “classic.”  Yes, Jane Austen is required reading in academia.  But that doesn’t make her stodgy and boring.  Jane Austen is smart, witty, and funny, and you should head over to Amazon to download your free Kindle edition immediately so you can see what I’m talking about.  Jane Austen is summer reading. Go get yourself a copy, and get reading!

Time to Get Reading!

What kind of books do you like to read in the summertime?  What’s on your summer reading list?

more posts you might enjoy

10 comments | Comment


Leave A Comment
  1. Jamie says:

    I usually read non-fiction, but in the hot days of summer sometimes I slip back into the sci-fi/ fantasy favorites I read in high school. Chrome Circle by Mercedes Lackey and Stranger at the Wedding by Barbara Hambly get my imagination spinning every time!

  2. Bobbi says:

    I love character-driven fiction in any genre, and last summer I discovered the Miles Vorkosigan series (sci-fi) by Lois McMaster Bujold. Miles is an absolutely compelling character and there is humor, adventure and even some food for thought. I tore through it and have re-read most of the books over the last year. Love them! I also love Megan Whalen Turner’s YA books, The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia.

  3. Lacey says:

    Ooooh, thank you for the suggestions! I do adore reading.

    If you are any kind of a fan of YA lit, I’d recommend The Hunger Games (as is everyone, I know, but they’re great).

    I also have The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on my Kindle at the moment and it is fascinating. And I wrote about Bossypants by Tina Fey a while back on the blog, but if you haven’t read it, it is well worth a look (some foul language, though).

  4. sarah beals says:

    I love your book recommendations. I am in the middle of “A Chance to Die,” and have “Growing Strong Daughters” coming through the library and as of last week, I want to read the book you talked about by Elenore Roosevelt! 🙂 That should take me through the fall. 🙂

  5. Katrina says:

    I love reading historical biographies in the summer. I recently re-read one of my faves on the last Empress of Russia, and I’m about 1/3 the way through one on Franz Joseph 1 of Austria.
    I’m loosely reading Machiavelli, which is currently under the couch, and am reading “Anne of Avonlea” at night. I, too, am a big fan, and love the Sullivan shows as well as the books! I guess finishing these books is on my summer list.

  6. Katie says:

    I decided to re-read the Little House on the Prairie books this summer. I loved them so much as a girl. The other topic I have been reading about is pregnancy and other baby theme books as I am expecting my first baby this fall. I am about reading to re-read Jane Austen and LM Montgomery too though.

  7. Anne says:

    I’m reading a bunch of YOUR suggestions 🙂 Just finished Garlic and Sapphires, doing Julia Child now and then Eleanor Roosevelt if I can find it! 🙂

  8. Clare says:

    I spent the first part of the summer re-reading old girlish favorites such as L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott, and generally try to enjoy some sweet ‘relaxed’ books during vacation months. Now that I’m a week away from the busy part of summer, though, I’m getting started on the homework assignment for the coming school year: “Don Quixote”, which I might as well be reading for pleasure, it’s so much fun. 🙂

    Katie, aaaah! I forgot that I wanted to read the Little House books for the FIRST time this summer (better late than never, right?). I guess there are still a few weeks left, so I’m sure I can squeeze them in. Thanks for reminding me!

    • Katie says:

      I found the Little House books to be a very fast read as an adult. It was enjoyable and easy to pick back up on the story line even if you have to put it down and walk away. I hope you love them like I do. I cannot wait to read them to my daughter (still a bun in the oven) when she is older.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *