As a stay-at-home mom with a baby and preschooler, summer life doesn’t look ALL that much different than my regular mom life.
But it feels different, doesn’t it?
The warm weather, longer hours of daylight, weekday trips to the pool, road trip vacations, and kids filling the library, park and neighborhood streets, all add up to a totally different routine in my mind.
And summer reading is part of that, obviously.
Whether your book is accompanying you to a park bench or a sparkling view of the ocean, here are twenty reads to put on your summer reading list.
From chick lit and parenting wisdom to memoir and stuff sure to make you laugh (#11!), there’s a little bit of something for everyone here:
- Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. If The Nightingale was your book last summer, this is your WWII book for 2016. Three women – a German doctor, a Polish teenager, and a New York socialite at the French Consulate – will all find their lives intertwined when Hilter goes marching into Paris.
- When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. This is absolutely my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. Paul is a neurosurgery resident in his final year of training when he’s diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. His memoir is touching, thoughtful, and surprisingly funny. I want to buy a copy for every person I know.
- The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. The title of this smash-hit debut refers to a Nest Egg or trust fund that four siblings have counted on receiving as the stock market has soared. But when one brother gets himself in legal trouble, thanks to a DUI, the Nest is in trouble and his sibling decide it’s time to confront him.
- Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living by Jason Gay. This fun, quick read reminded me a lot of Dave Barry, with witty, laugh-out-loud essays about the banalities of life. There’s also a lot of sweetness and good advice here too, so it’s the perfect thing to take along on your plane flight or for dipping in and out of between swim lessons.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. How could I leave off the new Harry Potter novel? I was in eighth grade when I first discovered Harry Potter and I was instantly a fan for life. My adult self is no less excited about this new release than my 13-year-old self would have been.
- Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life by Erin Gates. If summer organizing is more your thing than spring cleaning, this book will have you dying to fix up your house, and this book is one of the best home decor books I’ve ever read. It’s super accessible, inspirational, and fun – after reading it, I felt empowered, not overwhelmed.
- My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Elizabeth Strout is known for her novels that gently explore relationships, and this one looks at the relationship between a mother and daughter after Lucy undergoes what should have been a straight-forward medical procedure.
- The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. There’s nothing better than when an author you love puts out another winner. From the author of the super-popular Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, comes a romance set at the brink of World War I. If you’re mourning the ending of Downton Abbey, grab this one.
- The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures by Adrianna Adarme. Summer is a time to try new things, break out of the normal school-year routine, and tackle adventure, big and small. This book is the perfect way to do all of those things in the cozy walls of your own home.
- Too Much of a Good Thing: How Four Key Survival Traits Are Now Killing Us by Lee Goldman. Not to put a damper on your burger grilling, but this book will definitely make you rethink some of the ways you live, and in a good way. This is non-fiction at its finest, with tons of research and science combined with fascinating storytelling.
- Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. If you just need to laugh a little at how ridiculous parenting and family life can be, Jim Gaffigan is your man. Bonus points if you can get your hands on the audio version since he narrates it himself and you’ll be crying with laughter by page three.
- Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. For those who have followed Humans of New York online, you’ll love having this bound copy ready to read in one sitting. Moving, insightful, and hilarious, this is a book that makes you feel happy to be alive.
- The BFG by Roald Dahl. Read this classic aloud with your kids and then go see the movie together. You’ll probably need to buy some Frobscottle, er, soda to go with your popcorn.
- Maisie Dobbs
- Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. This is one of those books that defy description, but Bone Gap won the Printz Award and was a National Book Award Finalist, so you can trust that this YA book with a hint of the otherwordly, a taste of romance, and a lot of mystery is going to be worth your time.
- Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. This author shot to fame for her historical fictional title Between Shades of Gray (not to be confused with that other Shades of Gray novel), but I’m inclined to think this one, a YA novel about a girl in 1950s New Orleans who grew up the daughter of a brothel prostitute, is even better. Josie is desperate to leave the Big Easy behind, but then a mysterious death forces her to reassess her plans and her relationships.
- Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe. If you have a child who is always asking “why” and “how” and you can’t figure out how to explain it, Randall Munroe is to the rescue. And if you’re the person always asking those questions, all the better. This book is definitely for you.
- American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales. Whether you’re raising girls or boys, this book is a must-read that looks into what social media is doing to childhood, adolescence and a culture where communication means an electronic device, not a conversation (also check out the very excellent Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age).
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. With the movie coming out in June, now is the time to read this international bestseller if you haven’t already. You likely already know the premise – Will is confined to a wheelchair after a chance motorcycle accident, and Louisa is hired to be his caretaker for six months. Buy this one with a box of Kleenex.
- A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz. Whether or not you’re a die-hard Jane Austen fan, this is a delightful read about a graduate student who has zero interest in regency’s most famous author until he’s forced to read Emma and discovers that even he might have something to learn. He does an excellent job weaving his own experiences into those of Austen’s six novels and her own life story. Cue up Colin Firth for when you’ve finished!
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