14 Books for Great Summer Reading

Summertime is for reading. Okay, really, I think every season is for reading. But it’s a little easier during the summer when the days are longer and schedules are a little more relaxed.

When I told my friend Amanda that I was posting my summer reading list, she immediately asked if every book was YA. No, of course not! I replied.

But, okay, fine. A third of them are.

I still feel like it’s a pretty diverse list. On top of the young adult novels, I’ve got some spy novels, inspiring non-fiction, the ultimate book on writing and a pick from my list of classics. You might find something here to add to your summer reading list – or perhaps you have a suggestion for us! Either way, I hope you’ll share what you’re reading in the comments!

Young Adult (YA) Fiction

  • The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare: My friend Becky recommended these books, and I am solidly hooked. Granted, the story borrows heavily from other YA and paranormal series. But the teen angst! And the imaginary world! I love it and am anxiously awaiting the third book in the series right now.
  • Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough: I have to admit that this book’s cover is a little lame. But it’s YA and it’s paranormal and – most importantly – it’s written by my favorite grammar geek in the world. I love Martha Brockenbrough and everything she writes, so I’m sure this will be no exception.
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth: I have two friends named Amanda who share and encourage my love for YA books. Amanda B. recommended this series, and I am so glad! Insurgent is the second book in the series, and I can’t wait to see how the world and the characters are developed.
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore: Another series I started reading after Amanda B.’s recommendation, this is probably my favorite YA series after Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. It’s been several months since I read Graceling, the first Cashore book, and I was so excited to pick this one up at the library this week!
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green: The only non-dystopian and non-paranormal YA book on my list, I’m hoping this is as good as the other books I’ve read by John Green. I realize that coming-of-age novels about teen boys might not seem like my thing. But what can I say? Green writes darned good books!

Spy Novels, a Classic & Other Grown-Up Fiction

  • The Innocent by David Baldacci: I read this one in about two days. Maybe less. Partly because it was good. Partly because I wanted to let my dad read it before returning it to the library. But mostly because it was good. Baldacci is one of my favorite authors and while I missed the characters from his most recent books (the Camel Club books), I liked the introduction of a new guy – and I hope he’s back in the next book!
  • Map of Bones by James Rollins: I already read this one. It’s the second Sigma Force book I’ve read, and I’m just not sure it’s going to make it to my list of favorites. While the last one was reminiscent of Indiana Jones, this one was similar to the Da Vinci Code. It was certainly interesting, but I got a little tired of the details. Oh, the details! And the history! And the historical details! I realize I may simply be out of practice reading grown-up books, but this was hard for me to power through.
  • The Expats by Chris Pavone: I’ve seen this book on several must-read lists, and I’m hoping it lives up to the hype. The description of a working mom who moves overseas and somehow gets mixed up in some shady (spy?) business reminds me of the Ashley Judd TV show, Missing. The one that was awesome and then got cancelled. That one.
  • The Chase by DiAnn Mills: I love it when a meet cute involves a mystery. When the guy and the girl involved in the romantic mystery-solving are also solving a crisis of faith? I love it even more. That’s why I read everything by DiAnn Mills (and Irene Hannon – they’re very similar). This book starts a new series, and I was glad to pick it up at the library this week, too.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: This is the classic. From my list of 35 books to read before 35, remember? It’s highly unlikely that I’ll read all 35 of those books in the next year and a half. But since this one is coming out as a movie later this year, I thought I’d make sure to read it now.
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen: I feel like one of the other (in)courage writers recommended this one, but I can’t remember who. Whoever it was, thank you! This real, live grown-up book was so good. It had a little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance, a lot of friendship, and it was all so warm and inviting and satisfying. This is a very good book. You should read it, too.

Very Serious Non-Fiction

  • The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson: The church staff I just joined has been reading this book about prayer. I just got my copy and am looking forward to catching up with them. I certainly need to pray more and probably need to pray differently. I’m sure this book will be challenging.
  • 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker: Speaking of challenging, I am terrified to read this one. I’ve heard it’s life-changing, and to say that makes me nervous is an understatement. But I bought it. And I’ll read it. Eventually.
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott: Ohhhh, I have so loved reading this book. I have been putting off reading the last two chapters because I don’t want it to end. Unfortunately, the library kind of wants it back. Fortunately, I’ve already decided to buy my own copy so I can read it again and mark it all up.

Now it’s time for me to change laundry, feed the cats and head to bed – so I can read before falling asleep! All this talk of books has me itching to pick up a new one. Good thing I have such a great stack waiting for me.

What are you reading this summer?

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26 Comments 14 Books for Great Summer Reading

  1. Amanda B. June 8, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Mary- thanks for sharing your list! I just finished Bitterblue this weekend (after staying up way too late Friday and Saturday night just so I could finish it!). I am interested to see what you think about it. Did you read Fire, which is the other companion novel in the Graceling series?
    I just picked up Insurgent (the sequel to Divergent) last night at the library and was practically giddy when I left! I showed restraint and only read 172 pages last night, but now you know what I will be doing this weekend!
    I will have to add some of your books, especially Bird by Bird to my summer reading list!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Yes, I read Fire – and I just started Bitterblue this week. so far I’ve only read one chapter, though. I’m sure I’ll get through a lot more this weekend!

  2. chelleybutton June 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Have you read The Hunger Games yet? I’d like to read those, but the waiting list at the library is long, and I don’t want to buy them really, just in case I don’t like them. I have a feeling I will like them, but what if I only want to read them once? Wish I knew someone who had them and could lend them to me. :)

    1. Terri C June 12, 2012 at 8:46 am

      @ chelleybutton: The Hunger Games are awesome. My son read them years ago and when the movie came out I read them. The book is SO much better than the movie, of course, and well worth the money. I have the first 2 and went on the wait list @ library for the 3rd one. Live in the Atlanta area if you are near you can borrow :).

      1. chelleybutton June 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm

        Thanks, Terri! I’m actually in Iowa, but I do appreciate it! I am probably just going to end up buying them; I haven’t heard a single thing bad about them, so it’s probably a good investment, right? Otherwise, a coworker who lives about 30 mins away has offered to lend them to me, but she says they’re also worth the money to buy…

    2. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      YES. I’m not sure why you haven’t read them yet. I know you will love them. :)

  3. HopefulLeigh June 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Great Gatsby is one of my favorites! I want to reread it before the movie comes out. When I’m feeling stuck while writing, I often read the last paragraph or so of Bird by Bird. It helps each and every time.

    Right now I’m in the middle of and loving Leaving Church (Brown, memoir), Roger Ebert’s interesting memoir, and The Night Circus, a most magical story.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      Okay, I’m going to check out all of those books – and probably add them to my list. :)

  4. liza June 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    The Great Gatsby is one of my all-time favorite books. I am already impatient, waiting for the movie to come out!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation. I’m glad to hear it’s a classic for a reason!

  5. Adele June 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I loved 7, but yes, it will mess with you. Some other great non-fiction I’ve read recently: Bloom by Kelle Hampton, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, and have you read Rob Lowe’s memoir, Stories I only tell my friends, yet? I think you would love it.
    Fiction-wise I loved Marina Endicott’s The Little Shadows, Elizabeth Haynes’ Revenge of the Tide, Fiona Higgins’ The Mother’s Group, Kylie Ladd’s Last Summer (probably a little too much cricket to be transferrable to a non-Australian audience!) and most especially, What Remains by Denise Leith – that one will mess with you more than 7 but oh it’s so so good. I think I may have actually gone through the five stages of grief after finishing it;)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      Okay, wow, those all sound so good. But I’m really intrigued by Rob Lowe’s memoir. Really? {going to find it now…}

  6. oh amanda June 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I have now clicked on every single book you mentioned. Except for the detailed history one. I need some dystopian teenage angst.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Nothing like that teenage angst… ;)

  7. Vanderbilt Wife June 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    I don’t really make reading lists – the giant list of books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves generally suffices, plus the library. Emily Freeman recommended The Peach Keeper – cause I put it on my Pinterest board when I saw her rec. Glad to hear it’s good!

    I’d like to read a couple silly Christian fiction, a couple serious Jesus books, and some YA myself. I need to haunt the library for Anna Quindlen’s memoir and maybe actually read Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Ah yes, Emily was the one who suggested that book. It really was great!

  8. Missional Mama June 9, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Looks like some great reading! I recently read “7”, here is the review if you are interested: http://missionalmamassoul.blogspot.com/2012/05/7-by-jen-hatmaker-book-review.html
    Seems like a very popular book now, I have seen it on lots of lists!

    I am reading mostly review books: Love Jan by Jan Bonn, Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken, Illuminating the Darkness by Noel Dear, and The MBI Story by James Vincent plus I am reading A Mom Just Like You by Vickie and Jeyme Farris

    Enjoy your reading!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Those books sound great! And I’m headed over to read your review now! Thanks!

  9. Amy June 9, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I will have to check out the innocent by David balduci. I am currently reading the circle maker right now. Good list, thanks!

  10. Terri C June 12, 2012 at 8:52 am

    The Great Gatsby is on your list and a couple of your posters love the book. I have a son who is going into the 10th grade and it is on his summer reading list. The teacher told the class that they had to read the book, it was really boring but they had to read it, to just plough through it. Now that’s a great way to open their minds to a book, isn’t it? He loves to read, but he really doesn’t want to read that book.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      What on earth was that teacher thinking?! I hope your son can overcome that lame recommendation and read it anyway!

  11. Kristy Unton June 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Have you read Matched? The second book is Crossed. YA and I LOVED them! And by the way ALL of Sarah Addison Allen’s books are AMAZE, read them ALL! Thanks for sharing your list can’t wait to read some of your choices!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      I haven’t. The series is on my to-read list, though!

  12. Victoria@snailpacetransformations June 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I tend to read mostly non fiction, but there is just something about summer that screams for a good dose of escaping in a great story. I just recently finished “Hope Springs” by Kim Cash Tate, and I loved every minute of it. At the end I discovered it is part of a series, definitely want to look into the others.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion, Victoria. I’m going to look that one up!

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