2024 Summer Reading Guide

2024 Summer Reading Guide List


Summer reading means something a bit different to everyone, but I’ve got you covered in my 2024 Summer Reading Guide. Some of you like to put their brains completely on vacation with fun, easy reads. Some of you like an action-packed page turner. Some of you want something with a bit more substance. And some of you might like to head off the beaten path.

Personally, I like books you can fly through, books you don’t have to work too hard on, and books you can get easily immersed in. This doesn’t mean I avoid hard topics in my summer reading, I just typically avoid books that require lots of concentration.

I’ve read every book that appears on this list and, as always, will add a new mini-crop of selections around mid-July. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s episode of the Sarah’s Bookshelves Live Podcast…where Susie from Novel Visits and I talk about books that missed last year’s Summer Reading Guide, short summer picks (about 300 pages or less), and our #1 2024 summer picks!

As usual, we have a Printable Cheatsheet for this year’s Guide:

  • Available to anyone who signs up for a 7-Day FREE TRIAL of our $7/mo Superstars Patreon Community (sign up here).
  • The Summer Reading Guide in quick recommendations in PDF format for easy printing (great for taking to the bookstore or library!).
    • NEW Bonus Cheatsheet sections for this year: 
      • Summer Reading recommendations from our Sarah’s Bookshelves Live team (Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books, Susie from Novel Visits, and Chrissie Whitley from @chrissiewhitley).
      • Summer Reading recommendations from my Top Recommendation Sources from last year (all of whom happen to be patrons of the podcast).
    • Access to the Summer Reading Guide Cheatsheet and sign-ups for our 7-Day Free Trial of our Superstars Patreon Community will close on Friday, May 24 (right before Memorial Day weekend).
    • When you sign up for the 7-Day Free Trial, you’ll receive a Welcome Letter from Patreon with a link to the Summer Reading Guide Cheatsheet (and a Starter Roadmap of bonus Patreon content to make sure you try during your Trial window).
    • As a participant in our 7-Day Free Trial, you’ll also get access to our entire back catalog of bonus podcast episodes and my Rock Your Reading Tracker.
Get the Cheatsheet here!


Previous Summer Reading Guides: 2013201420152016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

This post contains affiliate links through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

2024 Summer Reading Guide

Something Light / Fun

My #1 Pick

The HusbandsThe Husbandsby Holly Gramazio
Brain Candy (Released April 2, 2024)
352 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Lauren is single, living in London, and is coming home from a night out with her girlfriends when she finds a strange man in her flat acting like he’s her husband. She confirms via pictures on her phone and around her flat that they’ve been married for years. When this “husband” goes up to their attic to change a lightbulb, a different “husband” returns in his place. And, this continues to happen. 

My Thoughts: I almost skipped this debut novel because it has a magical realism premise, which I often have trouble with. But, The Husbands turned out to be fun (and the rare Brain Candy book that’s not a romance or a popcorn thriller)! Reminiscent of The Measure by Nikki Erlick and The One by John Marrs, Gramazio changes one thing about her fictional world and then plays out lots of different scenarios that make you think about what you would do in that situation. On a deeper level, it makes you think about what you would be willing to tolerate in a marriage and what your true non-negotiables are. And, this one is highly discussable!

Colton Gentry's Third ActColton Gentry’s Third Act by Jeff Zentner 
Romance (Released April 30, 2024)
320 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Colton Gentry is a disgraced country music star who returns to his tiny hometown in Kentucky when his career and marriage implode. There, he encounters his high school girlfriend and first love, who he hasn’t spoken to in decades. And, they get a second chance at love.

My Thoughts: This Southern romance featuring a washed up country music star stood out from the pack for me! Like other romances that have worked for me, this one deals with heavier themes in a light package. Zentner covers grief, friendship, addiction, and loneliness, which made me care about the characters more than I usually do in a romance. I also loved all the settings that this story takes place in: country music, food / restaurants, high school football, and the world of fame (which we know is a romance Micro Genre for me). And, a lot of this story is about redemption and rebuilding your life after things go sideways.

Other People's HousesOther People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman
Romance (Released April 3, 2018)
352 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Other People’s Houses is essentially Desperate Housewives with snarky writing and social commentary. I went into this knowing nothing except that it was a neighborhood domestic drama. A big plot driver is in the publisher’s blurb, but I didn’t know that going in and liked being surprised (so I recommend skipping the publisher’s blurb).

My Thoughts: This is the type of book that has the potential to annoy me (domestic / neighborhood drama, Mommy politics), but Abbi Waxman’s wry, snarky voice and social commentary made this one a winner! As you would expect in a book like this, all is not as it appears in each neighbor’s house. Everyone is hiding or wrestling with something. There’s an inciting incident in the neighborhood and the story explores the fallout from this. The ending is a bit tidy and precious, but it gave me the feeling that, despite all breakdowns between the characters, these people do love each other. Excellent Brain Candy that’s not a romance or a thriller!

PigletPiglet by Lottie Hazell
Romance (Released February 27, 2024)
320 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Piglet (a childhood nickname that’s followed her into adulthood) is a cookbook editor in Oxford, about to marry her upper class fiance, Kit. Just 2 weeks before the wedding, Kit confesses he’s betrayed Piglet, causing her to re-evaluate what she wants out of her life.

My Thoughts: This debut novel was uncomfortable to read…like watching cars on a highway that you know are going to crash. But, I couldn’t look away. Hazell is so good at generating emotions with her writing. I could feel Piglet’s embarrassment about how provincial her family is, her horror at Kit’s betrayal yet the way she still clings to the things he brings to her life, and the heart-racing suspense of constructing a French croquembouche. Piglet covers themes of living your life for yourself or others, appearances vs. reality, staying connected to your family when you’ve grown far apart from them, female friendship, and unhealthy relationships with food. One caveat: the exact nature of Kit’s betrayal is never named, but it’s obvious enough.

Summer RomanceSummer Romance by Annabel Monaghan
Romance (Release Date: June 4, 2024)
368 Pages
Buy from:
Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Ali Morris, a mom of 3 kids living in Beechwood, NY (a fictional town set on the Long Island Sound), lost her mom two years prior and, one year after losing her mom, her husband told her he wanted a divorce. After a period where she completely falls apart, Ali finally ventures out without her wedding ring…to the dog park. Her dog pees on the foot of a good looking guy and things take off from there. He’s only visiting, so this is meant to be a fun summer romance.

My Thoughts: After now reading all 3 of Monaghan’s romance novels, I’ve realized I really like her writing style. It seems slightly more elevated than your average romance writing. And, not overly banter-y like Emily Henry. I think Monaghan is becoming my Emily Henry. Beyond the romance, this story is about a woman who lost herself in her marriage figuring out who she is and what she wants again. And, learning how to use her voice. I also loved the lessons about grief and loss and risking those things to put yourself in a position for happiness. The ending surprisingly got to me, leaving me with a super warm and emotional feeling.

Art of ScandalThe Art of Scandal by Regina Black
Romance (Released August 1, 2023)
304 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Rachel gets a text from her husband with a picture of his penis during his birthday party. She quickly realizes it wasn’t meant for her. Her husband is a prominent Mayor and has ambitions for higher office, so he strikes a deal with her to play the perfect political trophy wife until the election. Of course, things aren’t that simple.

My Thoughts: This debut novel is more than just a romance…it’s a bit genre defying (there’s a heavy political drama element) and the romance is a tool in service of something greater (reclaiming yourself), which I loved. The story centers on Rachel’s story of finding herself and reclaiming her true identity more than the romance. It’s also about being in an interracial relationship, marriage, the role art can play in discovering yourself, and appearances vs. reality (through putting on a facade for political reasons). 

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for MurderersVera Wong’s Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Fiction – Mystery (Released March 14, 2023)
352 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Vera Wong is a 60 year old Chinese woman living in San Francisco who owns a failing tea shop and spends a lot of time pestering her grown son. Until…a dead man is found in her tea shop and, when the “incompetent police” rule the death an accident, Vera decides to take the investigation into her own hands.

My Thoughts: Somehow Jesse Sutanto manages to write fairly ridiculous plots in a way that is endearing, funny, and makes you ignore the ridiculousness. She gets away with it because of her well-developed characters and Vera is one of my most memorable characters of 2023. While this book is technically a murder mystery, it serves as background to a story about found family. It’s delightful, heart-warming, uplifting, and sweet – all words that usually make me nervous in my reading. But, it’s also sharply and sarcastically funny and fun, which made it work for me.

Welcome to The O.C.Welcome to the OC: The Oral History by Alan Sepinwall, Stephanie Savage, and Josh Schwartz 
Nonfiction (Released November 28, 2023)
368 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The co-creators of the television hit The O.C. go behind the scenes of the show in oral history format. We hear from the cast, crew, producers, Fox executives, members of the media and more.

My Thoughts: I listened to Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke’s Welcome to the OC, Bitches! Podcast and recognized some of the stories in this book from the podcast, but the book goes much deeper and has a more macro view than the podcast, which went episode by episode. Some of my favorite topics they covered are: the dynamics between Josh Schwartz, the creator of the show, and the kids in the cast because they were basically the same age and all hung out together, how they made their casting choices and who “almost” got the roles, storylines they considered and ended up discarding, what the producers expected out of particular storylines versus how the audience received them, and how the Fox management impacted storylines, especially when the show started going off the rails. This is excellent on audio, which can sometimes be tough for an oral history. 

Something Intense / Fast-Paced

My #1 Pick

What Happened to NinaWhat Happened to Nina? by Dervla McTiernan
Crime Fiction (Released March 5, 2024)
328 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Simon and Nina are a golden couple in a small town in Vermont who have been together since high school (they’re now college age). When they spend a week alone at Simon’s parents’ vacation house in Stowe, only Simon returns. And, his story isn’t adding up.

My Thoughts: Australian McTeirnan is becoming a new go-to crime fiction author for me (I also really liked her last book, The Murder Rule). This story is structured in a way that I love: the reader actually knows what happened to Nina pretty early on and readers get to watch the police and Nina’s and Simon’s families try to figure it out. This is also a story of class and privilege and how they influence the various characters’ responses to Nina’s disappearance. It’s also about how the media can be manipulated when a crime is getting a lot of attention and the damage this can do to those involved. Recommended for those who enjoy well done crime fiction…and, maybe thriller readers who are frustrated with outlandish popcorn thrillers.

All Her FaultAll Her Fault by Andrea Mara
Thriller (Released February 3, 2022)
416 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: If disappearing kids is a trigger for you, stay away from this one. Marissa arrives to pick up her son, Milo, from a playdate at the address provided to her via text by the other mom. Only, when she arrives, a strange woman answers the door…and she’s never heard of Milo or the family who Milo was supposed to be visiting.

My Thoughts: Throughout the first 3/4 of this brilliantly plotted Irish thriller (recommended by Elizabeth Barnhill), I thought this was going to be yet another “OK, but nothing more” thriller. Then, Mara started her grand finale and it was a doozy. I suspected almost everyone in the book at one time or another. Every time I thought the twists were over, she delivered one more. I also loved how Mara highlighted mom shame and society’s tendency to always blame the mother or the female babysitter throughout this story.

Blood SugarBlood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild
Thriller (Released April 19, 2022)
336 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: I was told to go in blind to this character-driven thriller with a feminist lean and I’m so glad I did! So, I’ll only give you a vague plot summary: the story opens with our main character, Ruby, who’s a psychologist. And, she’s sitting in a police interrogation room. 

My Thoughts: Unsurprisingly, there is a LOT of psychology in this story…and I loved that. Our main character is smart, introspective, and asks interesting questions about human behavior and, in particular, guilt. There’s also a bit of a love story and a friendship story. I highly recommend this one if: you love a juicy psychological story, you like a slow burn, you’re interested in human behavior, you love a vibrant setting (Miami, FL), or you’re looking for suspense that feels different.

Kill ShowKill Show by Daniel Sweren-Becker
Crime Fiction (Released October 3, 2023)
240 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Kill Show is a novel that reads like true crime told in the oral history format. A 16 year old girl named Sara goes missing and her disappearance captivates the country. Soon after Sara disappeared, the case got on the national radar and an LA producer pitched a show that would follow the family of the missing child through the search and investigation. She would imbed her crew with the family, then edit the episodes immediately to get them on air very quickly. So, viewers are getting to watch the story as it’s developing. 10 years after these events, the parties involved with the investigation and the documentary are speaking out.

My Thoughts: I love an oral history whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. The author brilliantly uses this set-up to explore the public’s fascination with true crime and tragedy, how the media and national fervor surrounding a case can actually influence an investigation, and how the media can help an investigation by getting millions of eyeballs looking for a missing child. This story is incredibly fast-paced and went in a direction I didn’t expect, though it does require some suspension of disbelief.

NorthwoodsNorthwoods by Amy Pease
Police Procedural (Released January 9, 2024)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Absolutely avoid the publisher’s blurb as it gives away way too much of the story. Our story kicks off when a body is found in a small boat that’s docked at a resort in a lakeside Wisconsin resort town. Our main law enforcement characters are Eli, an Afghanistan veteran who is struggling with PTSD and substance abuse, and his mother, Marge, who is the local Sheriff and gave Eli his job.

My Thoughts: This debut literary police procedural is being compared to Long Bright River by Liz Moore (one of my favorite books of 2020) and it definitely has similar vibes, but I’d say it’s Long Bright River Lite. In addition to the case that’s central to the story, Pease explores the opioid epidemic and PTSD. There’s also a sweet mother / son story between Eli and Marge. I could sort of figure out where this was all headed, but I didn’t really care. This wasn’t about the surprise for me. It was about the characters and this town. Both of which were really well developed and vivid. 

Hunter's DaughterThe Hunter’s Daughter by Nicola Solvinic
Thriller (Released May 14, 2024)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Anna is a Sheriff’s Lieutenant in a rural county in Ohio…but, she’s also the daughter of a notorious serial killer called the Forest Strangler and she’s now living under an assumed identity. Nobody in her current life or on the police force knows who she is. Bodies begin to turn up that closely resemble the Forest Strangler’s MO and Anna is thrust into the case and back into her childhood memories.

My Thoughts: I love mysteries and thrillers that are heavy on the psychological angle and delve into how a killer’s brain works. And, The Hunter’s Daughter does this. This book is super dark and the author has a master’s in Criminology and years of experience working in criminal justice, so these parts of the book feel highly authentic. This story explores potential genetic markers for serial killers and the feelings that come along with being a child of a really bad person. There’s a slightly dreamy / hallucinatory / supernatural element of the story related to the woods (based on Slavic mythology).

Slow-Burn Suspense

My #1 Pick

God of the WoodsThe God of the Woods by Liz Moore
Family Drama / Crime Fiction (Release Date: July 2, 2024)
496 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The story is set in the mid-1970’s at an outdoors-focused summer camp in the Adirondack mountains of New York that’s owned by the wealthy Van Laar family. The story opens when Barbara Van Laar, the daughter of the camp owners who is at Camp Emerson as a camper, disappears from her bunk in the middle of the night. And, over a decade earlier, her younger brother (Bear) had gone missing from the estate and never returned.

My Thoughts: This literary slow burn suspense from former podcast guest and the author of Long Bright River is one of my favorite books of the year so far! This book is perfectly balanced between plot, character and style. You’ve got the mystery of what happened to Barbara (and her brother years ago), but, this is really a story about the Van Laar family (there’s definitely some demons there), Camp Emerson, and the people who run and attend the camp. The family ties run deep here and there’s a wealthy interlopers vs. the locals vibe running through the story. I was totally immersed in this almost 500 page book from start to finish. 5 stars!

All the Sinners BleedAll the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby
Mystery (Released June 6, 2023)
341 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Titus Crown is the first Black Sheriff in a small Virginia town (Charon County). When the book opens, a Black teenager kills a beloved white teacher in a school shooting…and then police kill the shooter. This incident unearths the town’s darkest secrets, including a serial killer, causing deep rooted sparks to erupt in the community.

My Thoughts: My main issue with Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears (Cosby’s previous two books) was the sheer volume of fight scenes, which I find boring. With each successive book, Cosby is leaning more into relationships and characters in his stories and that focus is why All the Sinners Bleed worked for me. It’s very much a Literary Mystery with a strong sense of the community it takes place in, a Southern town with deep racial issues and characters who fan the racial flames. We get a sense of what it’s like to be a Black person in a role that’s often not trusted by the Black community. Great for fans of Attica Locke!

Bright Young WomenBright Young Women by Jessica Knoll
Historical Crime Fiction (Released September 19, 2023)
384 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: A fictionalized take on Ted Bundy’s Florida State University sorority house murders.

My Thoughts: This is the best entry to the growing Micro Genre of fiction about serial killers that centers the (usually female) victims. Rather than ignoring or making the killer a cardboard cut-out (as these books often do), Knoll demeaned and defanged him. She debunked the media’s portrayal of him as brilliant, a cunning lawyer, incredibly good-looking, etc. And, apparently, her portrayal is based on fact. This story deals with memory and highlights how men in power often discount what women say. Knoll cleverly tackles serious gender issues in an unputdownable package. 5 stars!

Happiness FallsHappiness Falls by Angie Kim
Family Drama / Mystery (Release Date: August 29, 2023)
400 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: A father and his son go for a walk in the woods, but only the son returns home. The son is Eugene, who is autistic and has Angelman’s Syndrome…and as a result, he’s nonverbal. We follow this Korean – American family, which also includes a set of teenage boy/girl twins, as they navigate their father’s disappearance and try to figure out how to communicate with Eugene.

My Thoughts: I adored Angie Kim’s debut, Miracle Creek, and Happiness Falls was my #1 book of 2023. Angie is establishing her lane: literary mysteries involving kids with disabilities or illnesses and her books are highly inspired by her own family’s experiences. If you’re going into this for a fast-paced mystery, that’s not what this is. It’s an intricately layered family story with a mystery. This book has serious heft. It deals with race and being in an interracial relationship, what it’s like to have a special needs sibling, brain / social science and psychology, and the impact of communication. This is the smartest book I read last year!

Lying in WaitLying in Wait by Liz Nugent
Fiction – Contemporary (Release Date: June 12, 2018)
320 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: When I interviewed Liz on the podcast, I told her that I wished her publisher would allow her blurbs to simply be the first lines of her books since they’re SO compelling. So, all I’m going to do for my plot summary here is share her opening line: “My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.”

My Thoughts: Nugent is known for her dark, twisted stories, but Lying in Wait is even more twisted than Strange Sally Diamond. At its heart, this is a mother / son story and Nugent does a great job building each character’s backstory, so you can see their motivations behind their actions, regardless of whether you’re sympathetic to them. I had no idea where this story was going for quite awhile, but Nugent completely surprised me with where she took things. She made it even more twisted than the direction I thought it was going. And, to balance out the darkness, Nugent writes with her characteristic morbid humor.

NightwatchingNightwatching by Tracy Sierra
Crime Fiction (Released February 1, 2024)
368 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Set in an old New England farmhouse during a winter blizzard, the story opens with a mother who is out of her bed in the middle of the night and hears an intruder coming up her stairs. She manages to grab her 2 young kids from their beds and hide in a secret room behind the fireplace. She stays there while she can hear the intruder searching all over her house for them. The house in the book, including the secret room behind the fireplace, is based on Tracy Sierra’s real house, which was built in 1732.

My Thoughts: This is the most terrifying book I’ve read in a long time! This thriller is much more real life scary than a crazy plot twister. Not much is actually happening in the first part of the book, but Sierra creates tension, terror, and an emotional roller coaster ride with her writing style, so I never felt bored. The second half is more fast moving from a plot perspective. I also cared deeply about the main character (rare in thrillers), which made me invested in what was happening to her. Note: all the characters in this book are referred to by their roles only (i.e. the husband, the baby cop, etc).

Strange Sally DiamondStrange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent
Fiction – Contemporary (Release Date: July 18, 2023)
384 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The story opens with Sally’s father telling her: “when I die, put me out with the trash. I’ll be dead, so I won’t know any different.” When Sally follows her father’s instructions, it sets off a torrent of unwanted attention for Sally and we start to learn about her past…and how it drives the personality that makes her “strange” in the eyes of others.

My Thoughts: Strange Sally Diamond is dark, but also hopeful and incredibly intricately layered. Despite the marketing, this is NOT a thriller. It’s character-driven and leans heavily into psychology and trauma. Though Sally is incredibly damaged, Nugent portrays her with empathy and nuance. Nugent makes you think about how we might judge someone who acts differently and asks us to look past that to the why. 

Something with a Bit More Substance

I couldn’t decide between my top two books with substance, so I have two #1 picks! One is quirky and endearing and the other is a unique family drama.

My #1 Picks

Margo's Got Money TroublesMargo’s Got Money Troubles by Rufi Thorpe
Literary Fiction (Released: June 11, 2024)
304 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Margo is the daughter of a former Hooters waitress and a pro wrestler who has been largely absent from her life. While attending junior college, she has an affair with her professor and winds up pregnant. Margo now has to figure out how to support herself and her baby, so she begins to experiment with OnlyFans.

My Thoughts: Rufi Thorpe is an author whose voice and style are just the right combination of quirky, weird, and endearing. While her style is singular, the best comparison I can make is a cross between Kevin Wilson and Annie Hartnett (Unlikely Animals and Rabbit Cake). But, she is truly uniquely herself. Her touch with that combination is what makes this random sounding premise work so well. There is SO MUCH in this book (loneliness, motherhood, untraditional family dynamics, money, and art), but it works because Thorpe relentlessly leads with her characters and these characters are easy to root for. A 5 star read from one of my auto-buy authors!

Real AmericansReal Americansby Rachel Khong
Literary Fiction (Release Date: April 30, 2024)
416 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Real Americans is a sprawling, multi-generational family story which begins with Lily Chen around the time of Y2K. Lily is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who left China during the Cultural Revolution. Lily meets Matthew at a company party in New York and their relationship forms the center of this story, which also features their son and Lily’s parents.

My Thoughts: This 5 star sophomore novel will likely be one of my favorite books of 2024)! Though this novel is big and covers a lot of ground, I flew through it in just a few days. In her Author’s Note, Khong says this story is about fortune, but it’s also about what it means to be an American, genetics, class, immigration, race, love, and family. And, this doesn’t feel overwhelming because, first and foremost, Real Americans is just about Lily and Matthew and their family. The structure is really interesting – each time period is covered from the perspective of a different family member and, through this, you learn the motivations for actions that have taken place earlier in the book. 

AdelaideAdelaide by Genevieve Wheeler
Literary Fiction (Released April 18, 2023)
304 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Our couple in this story is Adelaide and Rory, who are in their late 20’s and living in London. Rory is the first guy Adelaide has felt this strongly for in awhile, while Rory is highly inconsistent.

My Thoughts: Adelaide is another fantastic book that falls in one of my favorite Micro Genres: Intense Love Stories That Aren’t Romances. This story is highly relatable for women who’ve dated in a big city in their 20’s, you’ve either been in a situation like this or seen a friend in one. This familiarity made it deeply uncomfortable at times to read at times because the unhealthiness of the situation is obvious from afar. Consequently, this is a book I wish I’d read in my 20’s and I want my daughter to read when she’s old enough. The story goes in a direction I totally didn’t expect, exploring something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a book before. 

Dixon DescendingDixon, Descending by Karen Outen
Literary Fiction (Released February 6, 2024)
336 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Dixon, Descending is a debut novel partially set on Mt. Everest, but it’s not what you expect! After missing the Olympic team in Track & Field, Dixon settled into a job as a school psychologist and stayed far away from attempting any lofty achievements. Amid this much more settled life, Dixon and his brother (Nate) decide to attempt to become the first Black Americans to summit Everest.

My Thoughts: It took me a minute to get into this one…but, I eventually got REALLY into it and it ended up deeply affecting me. I think readers expect a Mt. Everest book to be a page turner, but this book was so much sadder than I expected. It’s emotional and devotes a lot of focus on the aftermath of the climb. It also explores the psychological impacts of the climb and things Dixon and Nate are dealing with in their lives back home (including confronting the truth, forgiving yourself, and sibling dynamics). And, Outen’s research into what it’s like to climb Mt. Everest and why an average citizen would attempt it is fascinating and top notch. A unique and deeper than usual take on the Mt. Everest novel.

MercuryMercury by Amy Jo Burns
Literary Fiction (Release Date: January 2, 2024)
336 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Mercury is the story of a family of roofers (the Josephs): parents Mick and Elise and their 3 sons, Baylor, Waylan, and Shay. When 17 year old Marley moves to Mercury, a small industrial town in PA, she becomes enmeshed with the Joseph family…changing her life and theirs.

My Thoughts: I loved Amy Jo Burns’ 2020 debut novel, Shiner, but I loved her sophomore novel even more (5 stars). Burns is from Mercury and grew up in a family of roofers, which gives the context for this story authenticity. Burns’ writing is gorgeous with lots of life observations. This family is messy, maddening, lovable, and relatable. These characters will worm their way into your heart. This is also a story about how women prop up men at the expense of themselves. This story takes some very interesting “character turns,” but be patient because you first settle into the story before things start twisting.

River East River WestRiver East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure
Literary Fiction (Released January 9, 2024)
352 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The story is told in dual timelines: Shanghai (2007) starring a 14 year old girl Alva who is being raised by her American expat single mother and longs to move to America and Qingdao (1985) starring Lu Dang (the landlord Alva’s mother gets engaged to) re-evaluating his future as a young newlywed amid China’s Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward.

My Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised by how good this debut part coming of age, part untraditional family drama, and part social drama was AND the topics it covered. Lescure paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to go to a local Chinese high school. And, you get a picture of what an American International school catering to expats looks like in China. The story of Sloan (Alva’s mom) and Lu Dang is much more interesting than it appears on the surface and the book overall is more fast-paced than I expected. Note: there are some very steamy sex scenes in here.

Something WildSomething Wild by Hanna Halperin
Literary Fiction (Released June 29, 2021)
320 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Lorraine and her second husband, Jesse, have been married for 8 years when her 2 grown daughters, Tanya and Nessa, come to town to help their Mom pack up their childhood home in preparation for a move to a lowkey town with Jesse. While Tanya and Nessa are in town, they discover that their Mom is in an abusive relationship.

My Thoughts: I loved Halperin’s sophomore novel, I Could Live Here Forever, so I had to go back and read her debut. Something Wild is the story of a violent relationship, but it’s a broader family story than I Could Live Here Forever. The way Halperin writes draws me deeply into her character’s lives and I find her character-driven stories unputdownable. In this story, she explores what it’s like for adult daughters to handle their mother being in an abusive relationship. This is also a story about sisters…and the complicated turns this relationship can take. Hanna Halperin is an underrated author to keep your eye on!

Berry PickersThe Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
Literary Fiction (Released October 31, 2023)
320 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: In the 1960’s, a Mi’kmaq (a First Nations people indigenous to North Atlantic areas of Canada) family from Nova Scotia spent every summer working as berry pickers on a farm in Maine. Their four year-old daughter, Ruthie, disappears after her brother Joe is the last to see her. The story is partially told from Joe’s perspective and partially from a second perspective.

My Thoughts: This surprise hit debut novel (it was a Barnes & Noble’s 2023 Discover pick) somehow manages to be sad and heart-warming at the same time. The Prologue tells us how the story ends, so the details of how we get there are what propels the story. It has a melancholy tone and is about living with regret and anger. But, it’s also about learning how to forgive yourself. It’s a quiet family story with gorgeous writing that wormed its way into my heart without having to get flashy. 

Connellys of County DownThe Connellys of County Downby Tracey Lange
Literary Fiction (Released August 1, 2023)
288 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The story centers around Tara Connelly, who at 30 years old, is released from an 18 month stint in prison for a drug charge. She returns to her family home to live with her older sister, Geraldine and brother, Eddie. In this setting, Tara needs to stay out of trouble and rebuild her life.

My Thoughts: Tracey Lange’s sophomore novel is a unique spin on the family drama. It deals with how hard it is to get on your feet after getting out of prison and the complicated and conflicting parole systems a parolee has to keep up with. It’s also a story about adult siblings and how family dynamics that become very entrenched in childhood still carry over into adulthood. And, one about overcoming shame. There’s a touch of romance that adds an intriguing and complicated element to this tangled web of a mess the Connelly family finds themselves in. 

The HopThe Hop by Diana Clarke
Contemporary Fiction (Release Date: June 7, 2022)
528 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The Hop is one of only a few legal brothels in the U.S. Kate Burns grew up poor in New Zealand as the daughter of a single mom who was convinced Kate was destined to be a star. Eventually, Kate makes her way to The Hop as the newest “bunny” (i.e. sex worker). She finds that the bunnies at The Hop are a sisterhood and her arrival throws The Hop off its equilibrium.

My Thoughts: On the surface, The Hop is the story of a legal brothel, but it’s really a story of female friendship, support and women’s rights for control of their bodies. The Hop is fresh and subversive in a feminist way – and it’s totally unique even though subversive feminism has been done so many ways recently. It reads fast for its 500 pages partially because of its structure – a hybrid between multiple POV’s and a fictional oral history (love this!). Clarke takes you behind the curtain of the sex industry through characters I loved so much. We learn why these women decided to become sex workers, the very real dangers of being a sex worker, and arguments for legalization of sex work in some fashion. And, NOT in a preachy way. This is a voice-y novel and I highlighted so many life wisdom lines. 5 stars! 

Sicilian InheritanceThe Sicilian Inheritance by Jo Piazza
Historical Fiction (Released April 2, 2024)
384 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Inspired by the real story of author Jo Piazza’s great great grandmother, who was murdered in Sicily a century ago right before she was supposed to join her husband in America (he’d immigrated there to work and send money back to his family). Piazza heard this story over and over at various family gatherings over the years before deciding to write about it, including many of the rumors she’d heard about the story along the way. In present day, Sara Marsala inherits a plane ticket to Sicily, the deed to a plot of land there, and the instructions to take this journey to figure out what’s going on with the land and her own life from her Aunt Rosie. In Sicily in the early 1900’s, we follow Serafina (the character based on Piazza’s great great grandmother) as she tries to break out of the mold of the traditional Sicilian wife while her husband is in America, which eventually puts her in danger.

My Thoughts: This dual timeline historical novel is a crowd pleaser!  The mystery in this multigenerational family story (what happened to Serafina) keeps the pages turning, but the real star for me was the world of Sicily in the 1920’s. A large chunk of the working aged men went to the United States to work in factories or mines and the women were left to run the town (the only working age men left in Sicily were mafia), which made for interesting dynamics in this VERY patriarchal society. The Sicilian setting was incredibly lush and felt like summer!

VictimVictim by Andrew Boryga
Literary Fiction (Released March 12, 2024)
288 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Our main character, Javi, grew up in the Bronx in a single mother household (his Dad was a drug dealer who was murdered) with a best friend who fell in with the wrong crowd. Javi discovers at a young age that he can take advantage of his disadvantaged background to get ahead…both in his education and in his writing career after college. So, he does just that by exaggerating and outright lying in his work to disastrous results.

My Thoughts: Fans of Yellowface, this 5 star debut novel is your next read! It’s juicy, discussable, and Boryga’s writing pulls you right in. Boryga, himself from the Bronx, says this is a story about the commoditization of people from marginalized backgrounds, but it’s also about tokenism and the giant chasm between online life and real life. I loved the combination of satirical humor, biting social commentary, and heart, which softened the somewhat dislikable protagonist. And, this is a fun book to read!

Something Different

I also couldn’t decide between my top two different books, so I have two #1 picks! One is a WWII financial thriller and the other is a military wife memoir.

My #1 Pick

Wealth of ShadowsThe Wealth of Shadowsby Graham Moore
Historical Fiction (Release Date: May 21, 2024)
384 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The Wealth of Shadows is based on a true story and the book uses real names. In 1939, Ansel Luxford is offered an opportunity to move to DC to work on a secret Treasury Department mission to take out the Nazis using economic warfare while still enabling the U.S. to appear “neutral” in WWII.

My Thoughts: This is not your average WWII novel (which I’ve basically stopped reading over the past few years) and that’s why I loved it! I never realized all the financial machinations that played a role in WWII. I had never read about this before and it blew my mind. The financial side of WWII is HIGHLY entertaining and this book reads like a thriller. There’s alliances, double crosses, negotiation, and salesmanship. It’s like Succession in the Treasury Department. This story covers John Maynard Keynes, the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the summit at Bretton Woods where nations came together to plan for a post WWII future. Do not skip the Author’s Note at the end!

The WivesThe Wivesby Simone Gorrindo
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released April 9, 2024)
416 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Simone reluctantly moves with her new husband from New York City to Columbus, GA when he joins an elite Army unit. In GA, Simone struggles with life alone while her husband is deployed, but meeting a group of “Army wives” changes things for her.

My Thoughts: This debut memoir about what it’s like to be the wife of someone in the Army, in this case Special Operations, is a high quality memoir with depth and nuance…and it took me by surprise. Simone goes through a tumultuous emotional journey with her feelings about the military and her husband becoming a “trained killer.” She shares the brutality of not just the physical distance the military creates between married spouses, but also the emotional distance, and the personality changes someone in the military goes through. But, The Wives is ultimately a celebration of the bond and support network she’s a part of with the other wives who are in her same boat. Simone’s writing is gorgeous and I was totally immersed in her story (despite having no particular interest in or experience with the military).

Everest IncEverest, Inc.: The Renegades and Rogues Who Built an Industry at the Top of the World by Will Cockrell
Nonfiction – Investigative Journalism (Released April 16, 2024)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Amazon | Bookshop.org Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Everest, Inc. tells the story of how, starting in the 1980’s, the first independent entrepreneurs created the planned expedition style of climbing Everest that proliferates today. Today, 90% of Everest climbers are “clients or employees of guided expeditions.”

My Thoughts: I have no interest in mountaineering or climbing Mount Everest, but the industry of that mountain fascinates me. And, I flew through this nonfiction book about it in just a few days! I loved learning about the cultural differences between the “clients” and the “true alpinists” and going behind the scenes of the evolution of an industry (particularly the shift from early domination by Western guiding companies to the current proliferation of Asian, and particularly Nepalese, guiding companies). Cockrell also explores the impact of Jon Krakauer’s book, Into Thin Air, and the guiding industry’s reaction to it. Everest, Inc. is meticulously researched, but also highly readable.

Exit InterviewExit Interview: The Life and Death of My Ambitious Career by Kristi Coulter
Nonfiction – Workplace Memoir (Released September 12, 2023)
320 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Kristi Coulter worked at Amazon for over a decade, experiencing brutal hours, constant change, and a toxic work environment (particularly for women). When she finally left the company following yet another year of not being promoted, she wasn’t given an exit interview. This memoir is her exit interview.

My Thoughts: I felt anxiety within the first 90 seconds of listening to this book and I felt relieved that I no longer work in the world of big corporations. Coulter also explores gender dynamics in the workplace in general and what it’s like to be hated for where you work. I flew through this audiobook!

Freezing OrderFreezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath by Bill Browder
Nonfiction – Politics (Release Date: April 12, 2022)
336 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: In 2015, Bill Browder wrote Red Notice to make himself so well known that Vladimir Putin couldn’t have him killed (Browder angered Putin when he exposed financial corruption in Russia while he was an early investor there following the collapse of the Soviet Union). Freezing Order is the continuation of Browder’s terrifying battle with Putin. This time, Browder has further angered Putin with his work in getting the Magnitsky Act passed in the US, which prohibits certain designated Russian officials from entering the US or using the US banking system (resulting from the arrest and death of Sergei Magnitsky, one of Browder’s Russia-based employees).

My Thoughts: This is a financial and legal story, but it also involves money laundering, spies, cloak and dagger type encounters, and a trail of dead bodies. And, this book reads like a thriller even though it’s nonfiction. 

GenerationsGenerations: The Real Differences Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silents – And What They Mean for America’s Future by Jean Twenge
Nonfiction – Social Science (Release Date: April 1, 2023)
560 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The subtitle of this book says it all.

My Thoughts: Generations gives so much insight into so many topics: politics, parenting, mental health, social media, etc. I feel like it sort of explains today’s general world and the people that live in it. And, I was fascinated! It explains a lot of the current political climate and, if political strategists were smart, they would be reading this book. Twenge also had really interesting things to say about generational differences in views on freedom of speech and cancel culture, particularly relevant in today’s world. A note about the audio: there are lots of charts, lists, etc in this book, but I didn’t feel like I was missing out by listening to the audio (there is an accompanying PDF, but I didn’t even use it). This is also a book that you can read easily in snippets. Thank you to Elizabeth Barnhill (@wacoreads) for putting this on my radar!

In Light of All DarknessIn Light of All Darkness: Inside the Polly Klaas Kidnapping and the Search for America’s Child by Kim Cross
Nonfiction – True Crime (Release Date: October 3, 2023)
464 Pages
Affiliate Link: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The definitive account of the 1993 Polly Klaas kidnapping and murder is the first super high quality true crime book I’ve read in awhile (5 stars!). The author is the daughter-in-law of one of the case’s top FBI investigators, so she got unprecedented access to people and files.

My Thoughts: This case is known for changing the way the FBI solves crimes in some big ways including the widespread expansion of FBI Emergency Response Teams, the formation of the Polly Klaas Foundation (which helps recover missing children), and the creation of the Three Strikes Law and the Amber Alert system. This book goes deep into criminal investigative procedures and illuminates how maddeningly close the police came to capturing Polly’s murderer before he killed Polly. Though this book is long, short chapters help it move quickly.

No Two PersonsNo Two Personsby Erica Bauermeister
Literary Fiction (Released May 2, 2023)
320 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The story of a book told through the eyes of multiple people it touches, including the author, the Assistant at the literary agency, the audiobook narrator, and multiple regular readers.

My Thoughts: This book turned out to be really different than I expected and I really liked it! Going in, I thought this story was told solely from the perspectives of different people this book touches within the publishing industry…from start to finish in the publication process. Kind of like behind the scenes of the making of a book. We did get some of that, but on the balance, it’s more heavily towards readers this book touches than people involved in making the book. It’s an illustration of how the same book hits different readers in different ways. It delves deep into the backstories of each reader and I was able to get engrossed in each one. Given this structure, it does read like interconnected short stories – with side appearances by main characters from previous chapters appearing in later chapters. A fresh book that stood out from the sameness of many of the books this year.

Only Say Good ThingsOnly Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself by Crystal Hefner
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released January 23, 2024)
240 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Crystal was a Playboy bunny and Hugh Hefner’s Girlfriend #1 for a time before finally becoming Hef’s wife. She was married to him when he died and, after his death, was put in charge of his foundation. She was also unofficially in charge of making sure his narrative was positive after his death. So, she didn’t tell her full story with all the gory details for a long time, but she’s telling it now.

My Thoughts: I was surprised how much I loved this a celebrity memoir that I honestly probably wouldn’t have read without the involvement of former podcast guest, Lara Love Hardin (author of The Many Lives of Mama Love), who co-wrote this book. In the vein of Open Book by Jessica Simpson, this memoir is much deeper, more reflective, and surprisingly good than you’d expect. I could see Lara Love Hardin’s hand in the writing and she knows how to tell a story in an extremely compelling way with lots of excellent turns of phrase. She talks about how Hefner got women to become his bunnies and stay in the mansion and about how empty this life she’d always wanted turned out to be. It’s a hopeful story as Crystal begins to find her own agency and recover from this experience. Highly recommend on audio narrated beautifully by the author.

SearchSearch by Michelle Huneven
Literary Fiction (Released April 26, 2022)
400 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Plot Summary: A fictional memoir by Dana, a writer, restaurant critic, and lapsed church-goer, who is called back to the church by some old friends to serve on the search committee for the new minister.

My Thoughts: On the surface, a novel about a church’s search committee tasked with finding a new minister absolutely does not appeal to me. I’m not super religious and I’m basically allergic to the word “committee.” But, this story worked for me despite the unappealing premise because it’s essentially about group dynamics…and, I love those! It’s an interesting look at building consensus, generational divides, intrinsic bias, what religion even is, the role of the church in society, and what it means to be a leader. I loved Dana’s voice – she’s self-reflective, relatable, funny, and sometimes loses her cool. Plus, there’s great drama at the end!

Shark HeartShark Heart by Emily Habeck
Literary Fiction (Released August 8, 2023)
416 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: The premise of this debut novel is completely ridiculous, but it worked so well! Lewis and Wren are newly married when Lewis slowly begins turning into a great white shark (yep, you read that right) and he’s given 9 months before his transformation will be “complete.” Lewis and Wren must work through this tragic turn in their marriage.

My Thoughts: Though the premise is completely absurd, it didn’t FEEL that weird when I was reading it. I would equate the level of weirdness to the kids catching on fire in Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here. I expected the story to focus on Lewis since he’s the one turning into the shark, but I actually think it’s more Wren’s story and it turned out to be a bit of a multi-generational family story (particularly related to Wren). It’s kind of sad, but also incredibly touching and makes you have faith in love and marriage. The 400+ page length is a bit misleading – there’s a lot of white space on the pages and the chapters are very short (some only a single paragraph). A highly creative and unexpectedly touching story! 

SociopathSociopathby Patric Gagne
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released April 2, 2024)
368 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: There’ve been many nonfiction books about sociopaths, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a nonfiction book written about sociopaths by a diagnosed sociopath…and Gagne also has her PHD in Clinical Psychology.

My Thoughts: The Prologue is jarring and super compelling. The entire book is deeply uncomfortable and I could not look away. Gagne helps readers understand what it’s like to actually be a sociopath and she enabled me to have some empathy for these types of people. They are aware that they don’t feel and they want to feel, but they just can’t. She also talks about the lack of research into and treatments for sociopathy and she say that she hopes this book will help sociopaths feel less alone. Raw, uncomfortable, and honest!

Longest RaceThe Longest Race: Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike’s Elite Running Team by Kara Goucher
Nonfiction – Sports Memoir (Release Date: March 14, 2023)
288 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Kara is an elite long distance runner, a 2 time Olympian on the track and in the marathon. She trained for years with Alberto Salazar at The Nike Project, alongside Galen Rupp, and she goes behind the scenes of the abusive and illegal practices there in this whistleblower story.

My Thoughts: Kara talks about the atmosphere of fear, isolation, abuse, doping, and lack of fair treatment in contract negotiations at The Nike Project and shares her story of finally speaking out against Salazar and Nike. She shines a light on how terribly whistleblowers are treated…by the powerful people and entities they speak out against and social media. Lauren Fleshman’s Good for a Girl explored how elite running is built around men and is damaging for women in many ways from a macro perspective. The Longest Race goes deep into one very famous and problematic example of this, making these two books an excellent pairing. I couldn’t stop listening to this audiobook, narrated by the author. 5 stars!

Many Lives of Mama LoveThe Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released August 1, 2023)
320 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: Lara kicks her story off by talking about her first ever addiction, which was reading. Then, beautifully segues into her more dangerous addictions later in life. ⁠She shares the story of how she went from overwhelmed suburban mom to opioid addict to serving jail time for 32 felonies. Then, how she rebuilt her life and family relationships, becoming a co-writer on bestselling books including The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton.⁠

My Thoughts: I couldn’t put this 5 star memoir down and, had it been published earlier last summer, it would’ve been one of my #1 picks in last year’s Summer Reading Guide (and, it was recently chosen as an Oprah Book Club pick)! Lara’s writing style is highly engaging. Her story is sad and inspirational. She explores the debilitating effects of shame, problems in the parole and Child Protection Services systems, and co-writing for such luminaries as Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.⁠ And, check out podcast Ep. 147 (August 9, 2023) for my interview with Lara!⁠

Spy and the TraitorThe Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre
Nonfiction – Espionage (Released September 18, 2018)
368 Pages
Buy from: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audio)

Plot Summary: This is the story of a senior KGB officer who spied for MI6 for 10 years, delivering a mountain of valuable intelligence. He was the spy who did the most damage to the KGB during the Cold War.

My Thoughts: This is nonfiction, but it reads like a thriller. This is a fascinating look at not only spy craft, but also the mentality of the KGB. I always viewed the KGB as a scary and razor-sharp organization, but this book defangs them (politics, laziness, and saving face at the expense of good work). It also reveals the crucial role intelligence played in the thawing of East / West relations. And, the second half will have you on the edge of your seat. 

Happy Summer Reading!

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2024 Summer Reading Guide List


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  1. Kim wrote:

    I think completing this list is going to be my summer project! I’ve probably read about 25% of these, already knew I wanted to read about 25%, and the other half are brand new to me and all sound interesting.

    Posted 5.14.24 Reply
  2. Barbara wrote:

    Leave it to Sarah to blow up my TBR! Looking forward to reading so many of these!

    Posted 5.14.24 Reply
  3. Adrienne wrote:

    Love your summer list.

    I finished Colton Gentry’s Third Act last weekend. What a great book. It’s also about reinventing yourself when things don’t work out. We all have second, third, or more acts in our lives. It’s what keeps it interesting.

    I can highly recommend the audiobook.

    Posted 5.14.24 Reply

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