Summer reads can mean different things to different people. Some folks think of lying on the beach in the sun, devouring a light, entertaining book. For some, it may bring back memories of school’s summer reading list and spending the last days of August trying to power through the final chapters of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. (Is that too specific?)
We compiled our list of favorite summer books to enjoy on a lazy August afternoon or any time of year.
We’re sharing content around the theme of ten all year, as we promised you in our Anniversary Blog post.
I love a good celebrity autobiography! I’ve read quite a few good ones this year, but my recommendation goes to The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. It’s well-written, engaging, funny, touching, and surprising.
The Sister Fidelma mysteries by Peter Berresford Ellis. Each entry is one part pulpy Sherlock Holmes knockoff to one part illuminating socio-political case study. The series follows a nun and her companion monk, but the stories are more political than religious — Fidelma has a second job as an agent of the courts. They examine social transitions within the British Isles of the 7th century when Celtic laws and traditions faced change coming from Rome and Saxony. It is a world where women are equal, and justice is restorative, but Ireland is grappling with the seeds of patriarchy and punishment we now assume were always present. Fidelma is the hero of harrowing adventures to thwart murderous coups and save defenseless communities. Each story pays off with a demonstration of Celtic law, which is far more humane than the resolution to modern crime novels. The first book, Absolution By Murder (1994), is when Sister Fidelma meets Brother Eadulf (both fictional) at the synod of Whitby (an actual event). The audiobooks feature lovely pronunciations of names.
I’m a fan of comics, and a dear friend got me a copy of Penny by Karl Stevens for my birthday, so I’m looking forward to reading that. A book I can’t recommend enough is In Waves by AJ Dungo. It tackles love, grief, loss, and connection through surfing while splashing in some of the sport’s rich history.
On my reading list for this summer, I have A Heart that Works by Rob Delaney. It’s a personal memoir about love, family, and loss. Maybe it’s not a light summer beach romp, but all reviews for it have been amazing, and I’m eager to read it. I may wish for something lighter afterward, though, and if so, I’ll likely turn to the comforts of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, one of my all-time favorites.
The Anomaly by Michael Rutger. This adventure thriller tells the story of a Grand Canyon expedition gone wrong in the most fantastical way. The twists and turns make it very difficult to put down, and it was an instant re-read.
World War Z by Max Brooks. Forget the movie by the same title, which hit theaters in June 2013. The book is where the actual story takes place. This zombie-apocalyptic horror novel features multiple “accounts” about people’s experiences as the world became overrun by a zombie plague. Each narrative adds a little more detail to the story. What would happen to the people in Antarctica and outer space? How do social, political, religious, and economic factors impact the spread of disease? Brooks seemingly thought of it all and created one of the most engaging works of fiction I’ve ever read as a result. Reading the physical book is one way to venture into this fictional zombie plague, but I personally recommend the audiobook, which literally features a unique voice for each character in the book. No book-reading experience has compared to that audiobook for me!
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I have recommended or lent out/given this book more than any other. An irreverent romp through the apocalypse, this book gives you a bit of mystery, a lot of comedy, and loveable characters. And after you’ve read the book, you can check out the entertaining Amazon and BBC production on Amazon Prime Video.
Trout Fishing in America, by Richard Brautigan. An early (technically, the first) novella of Brautigan’s, it’s a fun read and a product of its time and place. The manner of storytelling and the subject matter give a very human insight into the west coast of the late 50s and early 60s.
Atomic Habits by James Clear. At first glance, it looks like every other self-help book out there, but it’s many steps above the rest. This book is a trove of practical insights, emphasizing how small, consistent changes in your daily routine can yield significant results over time. It lays out a simple roadmap for forming good habits and breaking the bad. Trust me. It’s a book you’ll keep returning to.
Anything by fantasy author Charlie Holmberg. Her well-written books explore the world of magic, mystery, and romance. Perfect for summer reading, in my opinion. Start with the Paper Magician series.
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