Summer Reading List

I have two big trips coming up and I always like to have a couple of new books on hand before heading to the airport (which is exactly how you get an unruly book collection that looks like this). I will always end up buying my favorites, but I’ve started e-reading lately and I’m so happy with how convenient it is!

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Have you heard of Oyster? It’s like Netflix for eBooks! For $9.95 a month you have access to unlimited books from their library of over 500,000 titles! Which means you can give up or put aside a book that’s not quite right for you or for your mood and easily move on to another book. You can read on your iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook HD and computer.

They are offering a free 30-day trial subscription here and I started mine last week. I LOVE it. I’m totally hooked!

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Also, it’s so silly how much I care about this sort of thing, but I really love that they give you a ton of different page and font options. I like the Penguin-style page above for day reading and the black background for easy-on-the-eyes night reading.
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One of my upcoming trips is to New York for work. I’ll be staying in Brooklyn for most of the trip, which means some long subway rides. The great thing about Oyster is they let me keep TEN FULL BOOKS in my reader library at once – so no wifi, no problem! Can you tell I’m geeking out? 

We’re all a bunch of book nerds over here, so I asked Kate and Heather to give me their summer reading lists to share too. Most of these are books we haven’t read yet and we’d love your feedback if you have! 

Here’s my list:

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Beautiful Ruins – This one looks like a fun, light read. One complaint I’ve heard is there are too many characters and setting shifts, but I think that might make it an easy book to pop in and out of, in between sessions with my historical floor plans and Eggers (see below).

The Alchemist – Supposedly a very quick, sweet and simple read that leaves you thinking and inspired. I can get behind a book like that.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – I read, and loved, Dave Eggers’ What is the What, but held off on this one because I’ve heard mixed reviews from friends – they either loved it or hated it. I think I’m ready to tackle it now though. Have you read this book?
Paris Mansions and Apartments, 1893 – I had heard this book was a good one and I flipped through it once in a book store and it looked amazing. Seems like a must for any one who gets a kick out of architecture, history and Paris. 
The Midwife of Venice – I was sick last winter and watched an episode of Call the Midwife on Netflix, desperate for distraction. I ended up watching two season’s worth of episodes! Ha! I have no idea what this book is about, but it has good reviews and it’s a period piece about a midwife, so I think my chances are good.
Once A Runner – I’ve heard this one described as the Bible of serious running. I am not a hardcore runner now, but I once was, and I truly loved it. Sometimes I read Marathon training books just for fun, so I think this one could be a winner for me.
Heather’s List:
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The Cost of Lunch, Etc. – I have a weakness for short stories, and I find myself being pulled to stories about women who are trying to wrestle with their inner demons. These stories look like they’re going to deliver.

The Sisters Brothers – Confession, while I have been seeing this book in several bookstores and the reviews seem very positive, the thing that makes me most curious to read it is that the author’s last name is DeWitt. We’re almost certainly not related, but I’m excited to see if it lives up to the family name ;) 

Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon is, without a doubt, in the top tier of my favorite authors. I’ve read a few of his other books, so I’ve excited to read this one. I’m pretty confident that I’ll like it. 

It Chooses You – Miranda July is one of the most brilliant artists of today! I love her movies, and I’ve read one or two of her short stories before, so I’m very excited to get more of her.

The Girl with the Golden Eyes – I’ve heard many great things about Balzac. I’m really looking forward to reading this book! 

Kate’s List:
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Little Bee – A few years ago it seemed like every book club was reading this, yet somehow I missed it. I started to read reviews and they are surprisingly vague because of a supposed pivotal plot twist and the reviewers “don’t want to give too much away”. I’m interested!

The Light Between Oceans – I cannot wait to read this book (it’s next on my list!) I read a quick excerpt before putting it on my read list and it was so beautifully written that I’m finding myself rushing through my current book so I can start this one! 

The Collected Stories of Heinrich Boll – “These diverse, psychologically rich, and morally profound stories explore the consequences of war on individuals and on an entire culture.” This book jumped out at me and immediately went to my reading list, I’m a sucker for powerful short stories. 

The Geography of Thought – I read this book back in a college psych class and it’s interesting revelations have stayed with me for years so when I saw it on the list I knew I wanted to read it again. It’s essentially a look into the differences between eastern and western culture- perception of time, healing, social interactions, medicine, and relationships.

The House of Mirth – My sister has been telling me to read this book for years, turn of the century in New York and high society life, I’m wondering what took me so long. 

My Antonia – This is the first book I recommend to people. It will forever remain a favorite of mine. Willa Cather writes so beautifully about the simplicity of friendship, and so strikingly about the potential of life. 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – I read this book a few years ago and it’s still one I think about often. Set around the heartbreak of 9/11, the narrator, a 9 year old, self-proclaimed pacifist, is a quirky, tambourine playing wise guy. This book is powerful, poignant, and emotional. 

The Man Who Would Be King – A collection on my reading list, short stories written by the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. So I mean, it’s gotta be good. 

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Alright friends, dish! What’s on your summer reading list? Also, have you tried Oyster? Here’s a list of their most popular titles.

This post was brought to you by Oyster Books. Don’t forget to sign up for your free 30-day trial!! Thank you for supporting LGN sponsors!

  1. Alexis

    I loved a Heartbreaking Work of Incredible Genius (I think that's the titleā€¦it's hard to keep such a long one straight!), but wasn't so fond of What is the What. I think judging by others you've chosen, you'll like this one a great deal. Have you read the Goldfinch yet? Game. Changer.

  2. I'm tearing through What Alice Forgot, and up next are Notes from a Blue Bike and One Lavender Ribbon. The book I recommend to absolutely everyone is Kisses from Katie. Talk about a perspective shift. That book rocked my brain and my world.

  3. Little Bee and The Sisters Brothers were both GREAT! If you like short stories I think you would love anything by Alice Monroe, she is incredible.
    Your blog is delightful!

  4. Never heard of Oyster but I am so excited to check it out. I am always reading and it can get expensive!! Just finished Guests on Earth by Lee Smith and LOVED it!! Also loved The Invention of Wings. Happy reading!!

  5. I use Overdrive which lets you check out ebooks for free through your local public library.

  6. smash

    I just started Little Bee too! I also bought Doll-Baby which I'm dying to start.

  7. I use my public library's FREE downloadable books through Overdrive.

  8. mumto4

    I just started The Alchemist, what a beautiful cover design. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is truly one of my favorite books of all time. Just seeing the book cover makes me emotional, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

  9. Megan

    The Light Between Oceans is so lovely, there is prose in there and metaphors with the sea that are a stunning. AND it's a fun read unlike some books with beautiful writing that are a chore to get through- enjoy!

  10. iris

    I really like Calibre for eBook management. It's free, and it will convert between different kind of ebook formats. So, for instance, "Little House on the Prairie" is out of copyright (i.e., free), but you can usually only find it as a PDF. Calibre will convert from PDF to Kindle format (or whatever format you need).

    Suuuuper handy.

  11. Little Bee is one of the most over-hyped books. If My Antonia (AMAZING) is one of your favorites, you will HATE little Bee. So contrived, pandering, unbelievable and LAME!

  12. Oh I love summer reading lists! My favorite! I definitely recommend A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It's very fun and made me laugh many times. The Alchemist is a classic. It's required reading. My fav's this summer so far have been The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (sweeping and very summery), Delicious by Ruth Reichl (food with a little mystery), and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (pure, unadulterated fun). I'm going to have to try The Geography of Thought. With a Chinese American husband, we often have very different thinking patterns, maybe this will help clear them up. Thanks!

  13. I too have an unruly book collection and I like to read multiple books at once, especially while on vacation or traveling for which e reading is absolutely the best. I'm excited to try out oyster. Thanks for the book recommendations too. Here are some of mine: I adore David Mitchell–especially Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green. I also like to recommend Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It. Recently I've enjoyed Scott Hutchins' A Working Theory of Love and Ian McEwan's Sweet Tooth. I'm about to start Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita because I hear it's excellent. Happy traveling and reading!

  14. One of the books I read this summer and enjoyed very much was "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin.

  15. I thought "Heartbreaking Work…" was hilarious; my friends who didn't like it seemed to read it too straight-faced, if that makes sense. Also suggest "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri, "Gone Girl" (before the movie comes out), "This is Where I Leave You" by Jonathan Tropper (ditto), "Tell the Wolves I'm Home" by Carol Rifka Brunt, and "The Vacationers" by Emma Straub.

  16. Could not get through 'A Heartbreaking Work….'. Started off strong and then it was the same thing over and over, like the guy was on speed and couldn't stop with the verbal nonsense. I highly recommend 'The Goldfinch' if you haven't read it yet.

  17. jill

    If you like Dave Eggers, read his novel The Circle — it's about social media and privacy and very topical.

    I also loved:
    The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
    The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan
    Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

    Have a great trip!!!

  18. I loved A Heartbreaking Work, but it's not for everyone. Try it. I just finished This is Where I Leave You, and loved it. Anything by Kate Morton is good if you like historical fiction. I also recommend Gone Girl, The Book Thief and anything by Malcolm Gladwell.

  19. Loved Beautiful Ruins and the Alchemist, nearly hated Little Bee. I found it really disturbing. But maybe I'm a wimp. :)

  20. The Sisters Brothers is so great! And Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close made me bawl. Not just cry, but tears streaming kind of uncontrollable crying. But I loved it. I'm currently trying to read the new Margret Atwood book Madd Addam but I'm really not into it. Not my kind of summer reading, might have to come back. Check out Three Day Road if you want beautifully written, important fiction.

  21. A must add – The Invention of Wings – loosely based on a true story about two Southern woman from Savannah who fight slavery. Soooo good!

  22. Emily

    This sounds great if you don't use Overdrive. I love overdrive though, and using it allows me to support our local public library.

  23. I read Little Bee – an easy book to read. probably a good choice for traveling. I bought the Eggars book a few years ago and it sits beside my bed somewhere because I didn't find it particularly staggering or particularly genius.

  24. Lots of good ones there! I found Little Bee is very, very intense & The Midwife of Venice very light & fast paced.

    But the best thing I've read in the last year is The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I loved it so much I just read it again. Enjoy!

  25. FYI: If you have a local library card and a password set up, Phoenix has a great system for e-books. It is called the Greater Phoenix Digital Library. I think you can have 10 books out at a time. You can reserve books as well. The app is called OverDrive and they have books, magazines, movies, music, etc. on the site. They don't have everything, but they have a lot and it is free. I used to use my Nook, but now just read on my tablet or phone. Really a great benefit of our library system.

  26. The Light Between Oceans was my favorite book of last year. Just, so good.

  27. I've yet to set down my paper turning pages for for ebooks but with the trial at oyster i may just have to give it a try and join the future with the rest of the world! – a few of my all time favs are The Pillars of the Earth, a historical novel, characters are intense and will leave you with a love and appreciation for architecture and Catholic cathedrals, a large book that took nearly a solid week of my life as I wasn't able to set it down – Mark of the Lion Series about a Hebrew slave girl set during a time just after Christ's resurrection, character's are captivating, get through the first several chapters as it can be a little hard understanding at first but once I did I could not set down! – and These Is My Words about a strong woman and her family who traveled in the Pioneer days to Arizona. You will fall in love with her, a perfect airport traveling book – All books I have read and re-read! Safe travels! Thanks for the book recommendations!

  28. I'm excited for so many great book recommendations from you and your readers. One book I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet is The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I just finished it. Fun, funny, sweet, quick. A few oldies that I always recommend are Catch 22, The Book Thief, and The Samurai's Garden.

  29. Morgan

    I loved Midwife of Venice. Read it in a single sitting.

  30. Beautiful ruins quickly vaulted to my favorite books of all time list. It is very unique and beautifully written, it seems like a light read at first, but it will get under your skin with very real and deep emotions. Kind of a sucker punch, but in a great way. Also I got a chance to meet the author, Jess Walter, and he is an incredibly charming and warm person with a wonderfully self-effacing sense of humor. If he ever appears at a bookstore in your area you must go!

    Also, my top recommendation all year long has been A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. This one also involves multiple narrators, as the story alternates between two very different worlds. My highly personal opinion is: skip the Goldfinch! Read this instead!

  31. This post is super awesome. Never heard of this app, or many of these books.. and I'm a serious bookworm. Thanks for sharing!

    Chels // {heartnatured.com}

  32. My local library (and many, many libraries) offer FREE e-books – much more thrifty if I do say so myself.
    Beats $100+/year, right?

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