My Summer Reading List


One of my favorite parts of summer is reading. Oh, who am I kidding? Reading is one of my favorite parts of life! Last year, I wrote about my love of reading and how it all started with a criminal act in kindergarten HERE.

For some reason, I give myself permission to read more during the summer, or maybe I loosen the grip on all my should reads and settle into the pages I really want to read.

Usually, my desire to read is much stronger than what I can actually finish.

This year, I’m changing the way I approach selecting my personal summer reading books. My goal is to read five books. If I read more, it’s icing on the cake. Since I’m a serious frosting girl, I bet I’ll consume more than five books. Yum!

I’m also changing the way I select my books:

  1. I’m picking some that have been sitting on my shelves for months (and might have been in my overzealous 2018 summer reading pile).

  2. I’m getting feedback about my list from reading kindred spirits.

  3. I’m open to getting distracted by any sparkly books that cross my path because it’s still all reading, and I’m a firm believer that books come into our lives at just the right moments.

For 2019, I decided to sort my list of unread, but very promising books into three lists:

  • Maybe

  • Not the Right Time

  • For Sure! Yippee!

And here’s how all my books landed:


1. The Brutal Telling - Louise Penny (Mysteries are great for summer. However, I love reading these on ski trips since there is usually snow involved in the settings.)

2. Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny (See comment above.)

3. Harry's Trees - Jon Cohen (Listened to author on a podcast. Lots of folks love this book. Might be too sentimental for me right now?)

4. Save Me The Plums (I just saw Ruth Reichl speak - she is sooooo LOVELY --this is her new one, but I already have one of her books in my top 5 for summer. However, I have a feeling this will be the one I reach for when I finish my FOR SURES.)  

5. Circe - Madeline Miller (This is tied with Save Me The Plums if I finish all five of my top choices. So many people LOVE this book. It was on a lot of 2018 favorite reads lists.)


1. My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout (No particular reason, just have no energy to open it.)

2. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel (Several people said, “I started it and just couldn’t get into it.” That happened to me, too. It’s been sitting on my unread shelf for over a year. My daughter wants to read this one over the summer so all is not lost.)

3. Persuasion - Austin (Totally want to read this, but not a summer vibe for me.)

4. Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo (The title is so lyrical!)

5. Future Home of the Living God - Louise Erdrich (Not a big dystopian fan so putting this on hold, but I LOVE Erdrich!)


1. A Highland Lady - Elizabeth Grant

Reading this with my mom. We’re having our own mini book club of two. Heard a podcast about this book and had to read it. The print is small and it’s a brick so this is formidable, but it’s evidently “the most famous set of memoirs ever written” about a woman’s life in Scotland during the early 19th century. We both read No Time on our Hands and loved it (it was my favorite book of 2018). That’s a memoir of American pioneer life so thought this might be a good companion book.

2. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

Everyone I know LOVES this book and doesn’t want it to end! My friend Lisa said that the setting is like a character. That is a reading sweet spot for me. I bet this will be my first read of the summer!

3. The Last Bus to Wisdom - Ivan Doag

I love everything written by Doag. My friend Dana raved about this book that made her laugh. I love the title, but when I found out it was written by an author who already feels like an old friend, I was sold!

4. Tender at the Bone - Ruth Reichl

I love all things Ruth Reichl and I hear this is her best one yet. I have a real live signed copy!

5. My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante

This is Book One of the Neapolitan Novels. Everyone raves about these, and my #1 reading kindred spirit for many decades, Lesley Tibbits, says I must read it. What Lesley says goes.

6. The River - Peter Heller

I’m cheating already! I just heard about this book today and I must read it! Let me make my case for going beyond just five picks. It’s an outdoor adventure on a river. That’s a sweet spot for me. It’s a page-turner so I bet I can read it fast. It’s a new book and most of my books are older so my list needs some balancing and and and I just couldn’t part with my other five and and and I’m the boss of me and and and summer reading lists are meant to be flexible and fluid.

What are you reading this summer? Planning the list is almost as fun as actually reading the books so get to yours quick!

If you need more suggestions for reading, Ann Bogel, of Modern Mrs. Darcy and the What Should I Read Next Podcast, put out her Summer Reading Guide on May 16th. Her list is filled with current books that she’s already read and loved. I blame her for making me put my sixth pick, The River, on my list.

I’ll end with what I’m reading now. It’s Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser. This was on my MAYBE list for summer, but I felt compelled to open it now. It’s nonfiction about the real story of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I grew up with Little House on the Prairie and that era is a favorite of mine, so the pull for this book was too strong to resist. Even though I have now seen pictures of the real Charles Ingalls, I’m still only seeing Michael Landon in my head - definitely a romanticized version of the real deal which is a major theme of the whole book!

Good luck creating your personal summer reading list.

Happy reading. Happy almost summer.

Always writing and hoping to read a lot this summer,


P.S. If you also want this to the be summer of writing more, check out my awesome summer challenge called SumoWriMo. It’s going to be epic! It starts June 10th.