Here in the US, Memorial Day weekend — which begins tomorrow — marks the unofficial start of summer: pools and water-parks open, the weather is warm, school is almost out, and the lazy days of summer are stretching out in front of us for the next three months.
Last year I published a list of books to enjoy during summer vacation, and I heard from lots of readers who appreciated the list. Here is the list for adults again, with all new books added for 2017! A list for kids and young adults will be coming soon.
IF YOU LIKE A JUICY DRAMA, TRY…
I love at the Australian author, Liane Moriarty, and her books are all deliver wild, twisting, melodramas with a great sense humor. My favorites are Big Little Lies, What Alice Forgot, and The Hypnotist’s Love Story (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-g6)
Any book by British author Jojo Moyes would be perfect for summer reading. Her books tend to be emotional, romantic dramas with characters you cannot help but fall in love with. I would highly recommend her World War I drama, The Girl You Left Behind, if you like historical fiction, but her present day books One Plus One (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-dS) and Me Before You and its sequel, After You (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-1W) are also gems.
IF YOU LIKE CURRENT BESTSELLERS, TRY…
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. The latest book by The Girl on the Train author, even better and more chilling than her first. An exploration into a river that has claimed the lives on many women over the centuries…and the secrets the nearby town holds about those deaths. http://wp.me/p6N6mT-2jB
The 12 Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti is a coming of age drama and a revenge thriller rolled into one. Really compelling and wonderfully written! http://wp.me/p6N6mT-2cW
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda about a disgraced journalist trying to solve a crime that she is suspected of being involved with. http://wp.me/p6N6mT-2oB
The Girl Before by JP Delaney about a hi-tech house of the future that controls the lives of the women who are “selected” to live there. http://wp.me/p6N6mT-2hq
IF YOU LIKE DEEP & POWERFUL DRAMAS, TRY.…
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende is a family drama the covers a decades-long secret love affair; with gorgeous discussions on love, family, racism, war, grief, marriage, and aging. http://wp.me/p6N6mT-1Gx
All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Simply put, this is one of the best books I have ever read. An amazing tale of WW2, as explored through the experiences of two young children…utterly spell-binding. This is the blog post that I am most proud of as well, http://wp.me/p6N6mT-7C
The Blue Hour by Laura Pritchett is a story of several people living on a mountain in Colorado, whose lives are at once isolated and deeply intertwined. Gorgeous! http://wp.me/p6N6mT-1XY
Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff is a unique story of a family’s legacy as the founders of a small NY town, told in a wild and experimental style that is fresh and engaging. http://wp.me/p6N6mT-Po
The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman is a heart-wrenching story of two people whose grief makes them raise a baby girl as their own. http://wp.me/p6N6mT-2ic
IF YOU LIKE BOOKS SET AT THE BEACH, TRY…
Anything by Elin Hilderbrand, whose books are all set on the island of Nantucket and never fail to deliver a great story with wonderfully written characters, a dash of drama, and lush descriptions of Nantucket and its residents. My favorites are: Barefoot, The Island, Beautiful Day, and (for a dash of magic and love) The Matchmaker.
I would be remiss if I did not add Jaws by Peter Benchley to the list, just read it by the pool not oceanside. Perfect to pair with a viewing of the classic Spielberg movie.
IF YOU LIKE A GOOD THRILLER, TRY…
I know, I know almost everyone had read this book, but just in case you missed it, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (and also her equally stunning book Sharp Objects) are spine-tingling thrillers with diabolical female characters. You will not be able to put them down, I promise.
I also loved Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins in which a wildly unreliable narrator takes readers along while she tries — with great difficulty — to solve a missing person case and to keep her own life from unraveling completely.
If you are up for supernatural horror novel that will keep you up at night, try Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-D) which matches up two wild characters with checkered pasts and cursed artifact for a terrifying ghost story. I was so scared reading this my husband had to walk me to the bathroom every night for a week!
IF YOU WANT A BOOK TO RECONNECT YOU TO NATURE, TRY…
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver is a book about our complex, convoluted, and ultimately beautiful relationship with nature; told with such restrained brilliance that I want to read every single sentence out loud to my husband while reading (and often do!) http://wp.me/p6N6mT-pZ
If you prefer a non-fiction exploration of our relationship with the natural world, pick up a copy of Michael Pollan’s Second Nature or The Botany of Desire. Although he is now known for his food writing, his books about nature are both outstanding and well worth reading for a gorgeously written, deeply researched, but totally accessible discussions about the great outdoors.
IF YOU LIKE MURDER MYSTERIES, TRY…
The Cormoran Strike books, written (under a pseudonym Robert Galbraith) by the incomparable J.K. Rowling, are three thrilling and highly literate PI murder mystery novels, with a touch of humor, page-turning story lines, and with two main characters that you can’t help but want to follow down the next dark alley. Not to be missed! (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-1l)
For those who can handle very grisly murder mysteries, I highly recommend all the books by author Karin Slaughter. Her stand alone book Pretty Girls (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-21 was so exciting that I ignored my husband for entire day on vacation to finish it, but I also adore both the Sara Linton (Book #1 http://wp.me/p6N6mT-bU ) and Will Trent ( book #1 http://wp.me/p6N6mT-hL ) series of murder mysteries by her as well.
If you prefer a mystery that has no gore whatsoever, try out the Maisie Dobbs mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear. Set between WWI and WWII in England, these wonderful written, historically accurate stories about a young, female private investigator trying to solve crimes and forward her position as a single woman in a time where women are largely kept at home. Reviews of the most recent two books in the twelve book series, here http://wp.me/p6N6mT-5n and here http://wp.me/p6N6mT-iH
IF YOU LIKE BREEZY ROMANCES, TRY…
My perennial favorite, Nora Roberts, is the queen of romance novels to read beachside. If you are in search of supernatural romance, try Three Sisters Island trilogy which follows three witches who must use their powers to stop an dark, menacing presence haunting their beloved island. I also adore her family saga The Chesapeake Bay Saga (four books) which follows four men as they build a business, a family, and four lasting marriages…wonderful!
If you like a large dose of humor with your romances, there is no better book series to pick up for your next trip to the pool than Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books. These books are so ubiquitous that you can find stacks of them at any thrift shop! Start with book one, One for the Money, and read right through to number Tricky Twenty Two (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-3x ) to laugh along with bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and her largely incompetent set of companions. Are these books silly and at times nonsensical? Sure. Are they also hysterical and a ton of fun to read? Absolutely. Last summer I re-read all of them and they were still great even though I knew who-done-it.
IF YOU WANT TO TRAVEL (FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR POOL CHAIR), TRY…
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is a travelogue and memoir that I enjoy immensely every time I re-read it.
Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods and Wild by Cheryl Strayed are totally different but equally compelling stories of hiking and self-exploration. Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There about his 1980s travels in Europe is also a great read, http://wp.me/p6N6mT-1yk
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a classic that tells the amazing story of an American family forced to emigrate from their home during the Great Depression. Upon re-reading it I found its themes of poverty, immigration, and farm workers rights, are all still deeply powerful and relevant.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem is a travelogue and a memoir, as well as a history of American feminism. Full of stories of the women and men around the country, in big cities and rural towns, and all of the amazing things they have taught her about what in really means to be an American.