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Summer reading has been one of my favorite things in life since I was in elementary school. My mom would take my siblings and me to the library as often as we wanted during the summer, and we would always participate in the reading challenges. I have the best memories of walking in from the hot sun into the cool library, rich with the scent of books and endless opportunities to escape with stories. I loved both the required for school summer reading assignments as well as the ones we picked out just for fun. As an adult, I still love summer reading. Whether on the beach with a cold drink or inside on a rainy afternoon, it brings me great joy to work through a pile of books.
My mom and sister are also avid readers and helped me compile a list of our summer must-reads. Our biggest stipulation for a summer read is that you want to pick it up over and over again. We have a ton of fiction with some nonfiction sprinkled in. I think we included something for everyone!
- This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger: Huckleberry Finn meets The Grapes of Wrath with incredible characters and a rich storyline.
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: a hilarious and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in South Africa (heads up for lots of language)
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: a truly life-changing account of justice (and injustice) in the South.
- Camino Island by John Grisham: a fast-paced mystery with romance (heads up for some sexy scenes).
- Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist: depth and authenticity in life reflections, plus the best recipes.
- Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon: spellbinding and inspiring WWII account, based on a true story.
7. Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal: Pride and Prejudice retelling in a modern-day Pakistani family.
8. Love Does by Bob Goff: beautiful true stories and reflections of living God’s love.
9. Miracles and Other Reasonable Things by Sarah Bessey: a beautiful memoir journey of questioning and finding God plus fantastic storytelling.
10. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall: two couples figuring out life, friendship, and family challenges.
11. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: one of my all-time favorites, WWII story, pretty intense, but worth it.
12. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl: a fun and hilarious memoir of a New York City food critic; one of my all time favorite books.
13. At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider: will give you the travel bug for sure, Tsh and her family spend 9 months traveling the world.
14. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty: memory loss and family drama that keeps you on your toes.
15. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar: heartbreakingly beautiful story of the social classes in India (heads up for some intense scenes).
16. America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie: historical fiction with romance and a great story.
17. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: maybe everyone has already read this one, but it’s such a great story with mystery, romance, and gorgeous nature descriptions.
18.Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: a compelling story of a Nigerian woman’s journey to the US and back home (heads up for a lot of language).
19. Beach Read by Emily Henry: a romantic story with lots of depth about two authors struggling on their next books (heads up for an open door scene).
20. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes: historical fiction featuring strong women, set in Depression-era U.S.
21. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese: set in Ethiopia, this story explores family nuances and medicine.
22. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin: another Pride and Prejudice retelling because I love them so much, set in a modern-day Muslim family.
23: Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline Winspear: my mom’s current favorite series, mysteries set in Great Britain.
24. Water from my Heart by Charles Martin: fast-paced story of a man’s life redirection. Light romance with no open door scenes and a overall wholesome vibe.
25. Jurassic Park Series by Michael Crichton: a must read, in my opinion. Gets pretty gnarly, but so good.
26. At Home in Mitford Series by Jan Karon: a happy, mild story of a priest and his life in a small town, you’ll fall in love with the characters immediately.
27. The Underground Railroad by Coleson Whitehead: hard to swallow historical fiction with a twist, now a show on Amazon Prime
28. 11/22/63 by Stephen King: thriller but not too scary, totally engrossing, but the only book by King I’ll read.
29: Becoming Mrs. Lewis: fictional account, but based on the true story of C.S. Lewis’ wife.
30. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: happiest little rom-com.