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great summer reads

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Got a sweet summer vacation planned? Or maybe some lazy afternoons with the kids by the pool? Then read on, my friends, because this list is for you.

Here are my favorite books of late. The subject matter varies, but they all have one thing in common: they’ll keep you highly entertained until the very last page.

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1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is a quirky, anxiety-ridden Seattle mom who was once a famous architect. Her teenage daughter Bee ignores her, her Microsoft exec husband doesn’t know what to do with her, and her virtual assistant in India performs nearly every basic task for her. She’s slipping through the cracks of sanity. And then, she disappears.

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2. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

Jenny’s life story–“a mostly true memoir”–recounts her days growing up with a hippie mother and taxidermist father. Did your father ever “surprise” you with a squirrel carcass popping out of your morning cereal? Didn’t think so. One of the funniest books I have ever read. You might also know Ms. Lawson as The Bloggess.

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3. The Beautiful Creatures series, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stone

If you know anything about me, you know I lean toward young adult fiction (I’ve published my own YA novel, next on this list!). But it has to be smart, well-written, and inventive. This series fits my high standards, and it was recently translated to film.

On the surface, Gatlin County in the deep, deep south, is as boring and predictable as a clock. But even Gatlin has its secrets, and Ethan Wate is about to find them out.

He’s dreamt about a beautiful girl he’s never met since he was young, and one day she appears in the flesh. Turns out she’s the niece of the town pariah, but there’s a whole lot more keeping them apart than that. Ethan and Lena share a past as mysterious and murky as Gatlin itself, and they’ll do anything they can to uncover it.

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4. Asylum, by me! Jenny E. Miller

Here’s the oh-so-official blurb:

After being found guilty of first-degree murder, sixteen-year-old June Foster is sentenced to life at Washington Pines Sanitarium.

June remains convinced that she was right to kill a man she knew was evil, but as time goes on in the asylum, she begins to question everything she knows. Or thought she knew.

As the events leading up to her incarceration are recounted, she begins to understand that the web she finds herself in is far bigger and stickier than she ever imagined. The warden of the facility, both violent and vindictive, is intent on making June’s life a living hell. 

June’s previous boyfriend, beautiful turquoise-eyed Frank, is the only one she can trust. Or is he?

Caught in the middle of child experimentation with untested drugs, arson, and murders, June Foster is reduced to two options—accept the fact that she has gone crazy, or hatch an escape plan from the asylum to get her life back.

Set in America during the 1950s, Asylum is a book you will not be able to put down. The author pulls you along relentlessly in a page-turning thriller that leaves you wanting more with each sentence—to a mind-blowing and unexpected conclusion you will not believe.

Intrigued? You can pick it up in paperback or on kindle!

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5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

The definitive coming-of-age story. Charlie starts high school as a wallflower, then falls into a quirky group of friends who embrace him for exactly who he is. You’ll wish you could go back and re-do high school as Charlie, surrounded by Patrick, Sam, Mary Elizabeth, Mr. Anderson and all the rest. One of my favorite books of all-time, I try to read it once a year.

The film, by the way, did an excellent job of portraying the book and was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky himself.

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6. What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman

In 1970, two sisters disappear after a trip to the mall. Thirty years later, a confused, disoriented woman appears, claiming to be one of the lost sisters, accusing an esteemed cop of their kidnapping. Is it really her? Or is it a scam?

A real page-turner, as are other books by Laura Lippman including I’d Know You Anywhere.

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7. The Divergent series, by Veronica Roth

Yeah, yeah. The covers look a little Hunger Games-ish. But it isn’t a copycat: this YA series is outstanding for its own unique merits.

Dystopian Chicago is divided into five factions according to virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. When Beatrice Prior turns 16, she must choose which faction she will devote her life to. Will she stay in the safe, peaceful faction of her birth or follow her heart and become Dauntless? The choice she makes surprises even herself.

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8. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

I don’t normally select World War 2 anything, but my book club chose this to read and I was smitten.

Louis Zamperini’s WWII bomber crashes into the Pacific, leaving nothing but debris and one leaking life raft. Through it all–sharks, dehydration, hallucinations, starvation, enemy fire, and loss of hope–he survives, only to be…well, I can’t give too much away. It’s not as much a war story as it is a tale of one man’s incredible will to survive. The pages turn themselves in this fast-paced read.

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9. The Slammed series, by Colleen Hoover

Do you remember the heart-fluttering, stomach-flipping excitement of your first love? You’ll relive it these unforgettable books.

Layken moves to a new town with her mom and younger brother after her father’s death. A rock for them both, she holds the whole family together, not easily distracted by boys, clothes or other frivolities. But then she meets her next door neighbor Will, three years her senior, and the butterflies flip her upside down. Fate has other plans for Layken and Will, as real life gets in the way of their budding romance.

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10. 11/22/63, by Stephen King

No, this isn’t a monsters-in-the-closet Stephen King book. He’s a versatile, incredible author, and his latest book is (in my opinion) one of his best.

What if you could go back in time and change the future? Jake Epping discovers he can do exactly that when his friend Al, a diner owner, enlists him on a mission that’s engrossed his entire life. Jake steps through the diner’s storeroom and right into 1963. His mission? Stop Lee Harvey Oswald. Keep JFK alive. But it won’t be easy. 1963 doesn’t want Jake Epping there. Not one bit.

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11. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

If you haven’t read Gone Girl yet, you’ve been living under a rock. So come on outta there, pick up a copy, and start reading one of the most thrilling, page-turning mysteries to ever grace the shelves of a bookstore.

Nick and Amy look like the perfect couple from the outside, married for five happy years. But then Amy goes missing. The cops look straight to Nick, who isn’t doing himself any favors with his less-than-stellar attitude. Amy’s diary paints her as the perfect wife, and Nick as an abusive husband. It should be an open and shut case, right? Right?

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12. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Oh, John Green. This is one of those books that, upon finishing, I clutched to my chest in a big bear hug and cried for a good five minutes. And then I flipped back to page 1 and began again.

Hazel’s Cancer Kid Support Group just got a whole lot more interesting. Augustus Waters is funny, handsome, and seems very un-sick for being a cancer kid. Hazel’s pessimistic, I’m-gonna-die attitude is about to change. She’s about to fall in love. Hard. And so is Augustus.

Funny, quirky, beautiful, and the most unique book I’ve read in a very, very long time. A must-read.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve read #1, #11, and am currently reading #4 (natch), and I think I’ll try one of the Laura Lippman books next.

  2. Theresa says:

    Thanks for posting these! Now I know what I want to read this summer. Have your read The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I think you’d enjoy it based on the other novels you have listed.

  3. I am so excited for this list especially since I have read and loved many of them! I would like to suggest to you my newest favorite book. I have gifted it to my daughters and friends. “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I still think about it many months later.

  4. Rachel Manford says:

    Thank you for this post. A near perfect list, I’ve read several of those. Top of my list at the moment would be Max Zimmer’s Journey (If Where You’re Going Isn’t Home). This story follows a teenage boy in late 50’s, early 60’s America as he pursues his passion and dream of playing jazz trumpet while rooted in a strictly Mormon family. His coming of age journey of discovery is fascinating and the details of Mormon life in America at the time is insightful. http://maxzimmer.com/the-trilogy/

  5. Read Gone Girl and am looking forward to the Bernadette book. Not a Stephen King fan!

  6. Read 11/22/63. Never have read a Stephen King book before. This book was so good. Recommend to everyone. Purchase Gone Girl but haven’t read yet. Anxious to start but made it my mission to read every Nicholas Sparks book this summer. Started a bit late with this author but half done with list.

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