Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Reading

One of my favorite things about summer is diving into a huge stack of books. Truth be told, though, summer is now one of my busiest times. I run a summer program for college students, so my summers are more "work 70 hour weeks and then rush home to mow the overgrown lawn before dark" than "laze by the pool drinking cocktails," but the one summer tradition that I simply cannot give up is summer reading.

For me, reading anything and everything that strikes your fancy during the warm and (in theory) lazy months is the ultimate symbol of freedom. As a kid, it meant no more homework; no more "must read" textbooks. It meant time to oneself and a lazier pace at which to savor the stories you hand picked. It meant no guilt for reading Nancy Drew (or, later, Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts). It meant a vacation, even if you weren't going anywhere.

My summer reading list is always huge, and many of these books are ones that have adorned my list for more than one year. I don't pretend that I'll get through all of them, but I like to have choices at the ready for whatever mood may strike. That's kind of the point, isn't it?  Without further ado, my summer reading list for 2012:


  • Maine by J. Courtney SullivanWhat could put you in a more summery mood that a novel set in a beach house on the Maine coast? I aspire to one day spend a summer in Maine, so this is a must-read for me. Plus it has the most beautiful cover of any book on this list. I'm totally a visual person, and covers are important to me. One of the many reasons I can't do the Kindle thing...

  • Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster ~ Because Jen Lancaster is my BFF. Not really, but that's how I feel. My female soulmate. My idol. I've been waiting for this one with such anticipation, people...I don't know if I can control myself. She's not for everyone, but if you "click" with her sense of humor, she'll literally make you snort out loud. I recommend starting with her first book, Bitter is the New Black, and working your way through them chronologically.

  • The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek ~ This one's also from last year's list, and I vow to get to it this summer. Because it's about summer...and an inherited beach cottage...and two sisters, one of whom is apparently obsessed with all things vintage. Add in a bit of sisterly drama and a house-related mystery, and I'm sure I'll be hooked. Besides...it has "Gatsby" in the title. How could I resist?

  • Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents by Elisabeth Eaves ~  The author's account of her globe-trotting days as a young woman and the people and cultures she encountered along the way. A way for those of us who walked a similar path to vicariously relive our younger, more free-spirited days. {How quickly they pass!}

  • Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness ~ This one won't be available until mid-July, but I'll be first in line to buy it!  It's the sequel to last summer's bestseller A Discovery of Witches, the almost 600-page thriller full of the supernatural and academia and history that I devoured in less than a week. Seriously...witches, vampires, romance, and libraries...could it get any better?

  • The Expats by Chris Pavone ~ A novel set in Luxembourg about an American who is trying to untangle a web of lies and intrigue surrounding her family and marriage. Sounds like a page turner with a glamourous international setting - classic summer thriller.

  • A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff ~ A woman opens a vintage clothing store in London and in the process uncovers history and secrets related to the vintage items in her shop. The reasons for my attraction to this one are pretty obvious, n'est-ce pas?  

  • Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews ~ If you're looking for fun, frothy beach reading, you can't do better than Mary Kay Andrews. Her books are light, romantic, funny, and always set in delicious southern locations full of quirky people and charming houses. This one's about a group of five people at a crossroads who meet up at a summer beach cottage. I can't wait to dive in.


  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain ~ I'm pretty obsessed with Ernest Hemingway and his contemporaries--have been since I was about 14. This book about his life with first wife Hadley in Jazz Age Paris is right up my alley. It's told from the perspective of Hadley and her struggles living with a volatile genius.  Sure to be fraught with romance and drama.

Quite an ambitious reading list for someone with virtually no free time in the summer, huh?  One of my goals for this season to is make the time - to carve out some opportunities for quality time with my deck chair, a glass of sweet tea, and a book. 

How about you? Any juicy summer reads on your list this year?

19 comments:

  1. I was a big Nancy Drew fan as a kid too. And summer reading brings back great memories. I love your list! I too love to read about oceans, beaches, beach houses and cottages in the summer. As a Canadian, I humbly suggest hanging out in Nova Scotia for a summer too! We go there every couple of summers and we adore it! Great people, amazing views!

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  2. Novia Scotia is on my list, too! I have a colleague who summers in Maine and visits Nova Scotia every year, and it sounds amazing. SIGH. Someday! :)

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    1. We drive there to keep the costs down. About 20 hours of driving with two kids. Not exactly fun. I keep hoping next time will be easier! ;)

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  3. Yes, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books were my summer reads(along with anything Enid Blyton - that was me trying to keep up with my English cousins) Oh! That Summer Rental was a satisfying light book. Haven't tried Deborah Harkness but that may be a good fit for me this year. Thanks for the nudge!

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    1. Jackie, glad to hear that you liked Summer Rental! I'm looking forward to it. If you end up reading the Harkness book, let me know how you like it.

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    2. PS: I was quite the Trixie Belden fan, too! ;)

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    3. Me too! Sometimes I consider reading them now!

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  4. Oh, these look fun. "The Paris Wife" is on my list as I loved "Loving Frank" and I've seen comparisons. Even if you have no interest in Frank Lloyd Wright, the storyline is riveting - I couldn't put it down.

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    1. I've read Loving Frank....it was fantastic!

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  5. I love this post because I am a book whore myself...thanks for making this list that I will pull from.

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    1. LOL...glad I'm not the only one. Have a great weekend!

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  6. What a great list. I think I will tackle A Vintage Affair first because of the tempting subject matter. Cute idea for a book!

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  7. A Vintage Affair is also on my list. I'll add The Summer We Read Gatsby- looks interesting! Happy reading!

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  8. Summer reading is the best! I just finished The Paris Wife. Now I'm going to check out some of your other picks!

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    1. The Paris Wife seems to be popular this summer...hope you enjoyed it. I may start it next!

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  9. And I totally agree about being drawn to covers! A good cover sells the book. And there is nothing like holding a good book in you hands!

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    1. I so agree! I don't think I'll ever get over that feeling.

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