Favorite Summer Reads

summer garden

My favorite summer reads aren’t exactly beach reads, maybe because I never did make it to the beach to read this summer. Each one made me think of the world in different ways. That’s usually all I look for in a book: to think beyond myself, to become a character I’d normally never be while learning something along the way.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver is such a wonderful book for all those reasons and the gorgeous writing tops it off. The sub-plot of a marriage winds its way through a larger environmental story while both can be seen as stories of denial. Flight Behavior shows that denial is something humans excel at, even in the face of repeated weather disasters, while sympathizing with the characters for living and surviving in a time and place where nothing is stable or sure. The novel also shows how far removed something like climate change can be. Priorities like family and enough money for food are too overwhelming to look beyond and see what’s happening in the larger world. But then, if those larger world problems continue to be ignored, they will become personal and this novel shows that too.

The Seneca Scourge by Carrie Rubin is a fun, fast-paced novel that puts the reader right into the hurried shoes of a physician at a hospital. The medical perspective gave me a newfound respect for all that doctors and nurses go through on a daily basis. Add to that a mysterious pandemic and a doctor who shows up along with it, and the pages really start turning. Carrie Rubin does an excellent job of showing the mystery surrounding Casper with scattered instances of strange behavior. The science fiction twist added even more excitement to the story. My mind started spinning with all the possibilities. By the end, the characters had become friends that I didn’t want to leave. Of course, Carrie Rubin’s blog (The Write Transition) is a favorite too.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Every once in a while, I’ll pick up a book based purely on the title and will try not to hear anything about it before reading it. That’s what I did with this one. If I had known it was about kids with cancer, I probably wouldn’t have read it. But I loved it. I loved the philosophical discussions about life, love, and the universe. I loved the characters, their quirkiness, and their honesty. This book will make anyone laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time), just like life.

What are some of your favorite summer reads?

32 thoughts on “Favorite Summer Reads

  1. You are so kind to sandwich me between those two wonderful books, Sheila. Thank you! What a nice surprise to find in my notification box. I’m glad you enjoyed my book, and thanks so much for your support. (Including the blog mention!)

    I have come across ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ many times, but given the subject matter, I’ve stayed away. Maybe your post is the push I need. I think I’ll head over to Goodreads and add it now. 🙂

    • Your book is wonderful too so it deserves to be sandwiched! Just don’t read The Fault in Our Stars in public – it’ll make you cry but in a good way because it’s one of those books that will leave you with an appreciation for life and beauty and love and all that good stuff.

  2. I requested Paper Towns by John Green at the library the other day and cannot wait to read. I have not read Kingslover in years and might have to get back into reading her books again. Happy Reading:)

    • Reading those made me want to read all their other ones so I’ll have to try Paper Towns too. The Lacuna is the only other Kingsolver one I’ve read so far. That was ok, but I didn’t love it as much as Flight Behavior. Happy reading to you!

    • I haven’t read any of those and will have to check them out. Since you liked Oxygen, you might like The Seneca Scourge because that’s a medical thriller written by a real-life physician and it’s a lot of fun. Thank you for adding more books to my list!

  3. I have the first two on my to-read list and Carrie’s book is coming up really soon since I now have the electronic copy and my kids got a tablet.

    By the way I’m not crazy about the term “beach reads” either for any book you read in the summer. I think it was created by people who never, ever read, except for the one week of year they vacation by the beach!

    • Yay – I’m sure you’ll love them! After writing that, I wondered what a beach read is anyway. These made me think so there seemed to be more to them than just a simple story. Hope you’re able to get some beach reading in at some point though! 🙂

      • Being in San Diego, I can go to the beach any day, so it helps. I mostly go with my kids though, and there’s no time for reading then. My favorite time to read is still just being going to bed, curled up under the covers.

      • That’s my favorite time to read too – maybe one of the reasons I didn’t get any beach reading in. It’s probably more fun to play with the kids at the beach anyway.

  4. So glad you’re back and thanks for sharing your favorites here as I’ve been looking for some suggestions. Over the summer I got into reading May Sarton’s journals…just finished her last one “At Eighty-Two.” Loved them all except for this last one…a bit repetitive, as life probably gets when you’re 82!

    • That sounds really interesting – I’ll have to look them up – thank you! I’m reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn now and that’s a little like a journal because it feels like such a personal story. I hope you had a great summer!

      • That’s an all time favorite, read that many years ago! We had a great summer, how was yours? Hope you took some breaks from writing to enjoy the beach!

      • It was a great book and summer. We didn’t get to the beach as often as we would have liked, but then we never do because that would mean we’d be there every day. 🙂

  5. I haven’t read Kingsolver’s book yet, but I loved Carrie’s Seneca Scourge and The FAult in our stars was amazing. I listened to that one in the car as I drove to and from work, and the narrator was awesome. That is a great book.

    • I can’t imagine listening to The Fault in Our Stars while driving – I’m glad you weren’t blinded by tears and didn’t drive off the road! I almost want to read it again because of those philosophical parts, but I’m not so sure I want to cry that much again either. I’ll have to try those fun ones you recommended as a way of recovering.

      • I’m not a cryer–even when I’m really sad. If tears ever come, they gush like a geyser and it isn’t pretty. It keeps me in check. Anyway, I thought the book was quite witty and charming, and it didn’t make me too sad except near the end. I loved Gus and Hazel’s dialogue. Gus made me laugh constantly.

  6. Sheila, thank you for the suggestions. My reading list is so long but I always find room for something new and there is always a stack or two of musts located where I cannot help but grab something… There is always a book in my purse (as well as a small journal). Being so close to the sea, there is a duty to frequent it and of course I can’t go anywhere without a book. 🙂
    Perhaps as much as a quarter to a third of the books that find their way into my hands come on just a feeling about the title or such. I often pass on something I’ve heard too much about as there is little to know surprise left.

    • That’s so true – it can be much more fun to read a book or watch a movie without knowing anything about them beforehand. Then we discover the characters as if we’re discovering them in real life and we can be surprised the way we’re supposed to be as the story goes along. My reading list is huge too and ever-growing. One of the greatest pleasures is deciding which book to read next, and sometimes it’s not even from my list. 🙂

  7. I read the Seneca Scourge, also, and it is a great book. I still owe poor Carrie a review–I love what you wrote about it. I have not read the other two, but Barbara Kingsolver is indeed a great author. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • I loved it too – it was so much fun getting into the lives of those characters! I didn’t want it to end. If you like Kingsolver, you’ll love Flight Behavior. 🙂

  8. I didn’t read as much over the summer as I’d hoped. Life sometimes takes some unexpected twists that steal our “me time.” The Seneca Scourge was a fun read, and I really enjoyed Kourtney Heintz’s The Six Train to Wisconsin. Imagine living in the heart of New York City and being able to hear the thoughts of everyone around you. Could you stay sane without help?

    • I know what you mean – I didn’t read as many over the summer as I wanted to either. Probably because we’re both reading our books over and over again. 🙂 I haven’t gotten to Six Train to Wisconsin yet, but it does sound like a good one for the fall.

  9. I find the term summer reads fascinating. I keep “planning” to post on the subject. Because a summer read means so many different things. Or is it just a book you read during the summer and say ‘I like that one.” ? I haven’t read The Seneca Scourge – just added to TBR.

    • It is funny how it can mean anything you read in the summer, but then some people might also think it means a light read. Now I’m looking forward to fall and winter reading by the fire. I’ll look forward to your reviews!

  10. I will pick up Flight Behavior as I haven’t read that yet. This summer I read Murakami’s trilogy 1Q84. I didn’t love it as much as his previous works, but maybe I was expecting something different. It’s always difficult when one is expecting a similar experience and the author is attempting something new: I liked the characters and the writing style but just didn’t love the plot. Having said that, I did get through the three volumes so it wasn’t that bad! Thanks for the book recommendations, Sheila – I’m always happy to learn about new books from favorite authors.

    • I’ve been wanting to read 1Q84 for a while now and will have to give it a try soon. It must be hard either way – whether an author tries something new or not – because you don’t want to give the readers the same old thing but then it’s not always a great idea to stray too far from that either. Thanks for reminding me of that one. I hope you like Flight Behavior!

  11. I ❤ John Green! Carrie's book was fantastic too. I haven't read Barbara–she's on my TBR list. 🙂 Thanks for these great reviews.

    • Yay! It sounds like our taste in books is pretty similar. 🙂 The Fault in Our Stars made me cry like crazy but I loved it. I’ll have to try his other books once I recover from that one.

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