3 More Books That Are Perfect for Summer Reading: Beartown, Standard Deviation, Since We Fell

When I originally posted my 2017 Summer Reading Guide, I said I’d be adding more books that are perfect for summer reading to that list throughout the summer. Well, here’s the first installment of add-ons! And, they are GOOD.

BeartownBeartown by Fredrik Backman by Fredrick Backman
Fiction – Sports (
Released April 25, 2017)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Simon & Schuster)

Plot Summary: While small, down and out Beartown goes crazy over its youth ice hockey team’s run in the Swedish national tournament, something explosive happens to throw the town’s and team’s hopes into jeopardy.

My Thoughts: I was hesitant to read Beartown because I abandoned Backman’s smash hit, A Man Called Ove, pretty early on. But, Beartown is an entirely different story and is one of my favorite books of the year so far! Beartown has been compared to Friday Night Lights, which is accurate in that this is a story of a town who’s hopes are declining every day and whose youth sports team is really the only thing it’s residents have to be proud of. Backman makes you feel the core emotions of sports…what makes something that can seem frivolous mean so much to some people.

It’s only a game. It only resolves tiny, insignificant things. Such as who gets validation. Who gets listened to. It allocates power and draws boundaries and turns some people into stars and others into spectators. That’s all.

Like Friday Night LightsBeartown is far more than just sports fiction. It’s about high school, marriage, intense pressure on young children, bullying, class, and violence. The first paragraph smacked me in the face and I was fully engrossed until the very end. It’s a book you can fly through…I couldn’t stop turning the pages even though I easily guessed the what and who of what happened (thanks to a super spoiler-y comparison a major book blogger made to another book…GRR). Beartown would make a fantastic summer reading book and is jam packed with discussion material for book clubs.

Since We Fell by Dennis LehaneSince We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Fiction – Thriller (
Released May 9, 2017)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Ecco)

Plot Summary: After a traumatic experience as a broadcast journalist covering the earthquake in Haiti, Rachel becomes a recluse despite her happy marriage…until she begins to question everything about her life and is sucked into something far bigger than she ever imagined.

My Thoughts: Since We Fell is the first psychological thriller I’ve enjoyed in ages! Maybe that’s because it reads more like character-driven fiction, especially in the first half. The twists do hit like an avalanche eventually…there’s just a solid set-up to make you care about the characters first. And, those twists all surprised me, yet made sense with the story, which is the number one criteria that a thriller must have for me to enjoy it…and where most thrillers fall apart for me. Since We Fell is a thriller for people who have been frustrated with psychological thrillers lately…and, if this isn’t enough, check out this first line:

On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-fifth year, Rachel shot her husband dead. He stumbled backward with an odd look of confirmation on his face, as if some part of him had always known she’d do it.

Standard Deviation by Katherine HeinyStandard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
Fiction (
Released May 23, 2017)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Knopf)

Plot Summary: When Graham and his bubbly second wife (Audra) become friends with Graham’s introverted first wife (Elspeth), Graham begins to ponder the state of his marriage and his family (including a ten year old son with Asberger’s).

My Thoughts: Standard Deviation is one of those novels where not a ton happens, but the “yes, that’s exactly how it is” writing and spot-on commentary about marriage, introverts and extraverts, and parenting carry the story. It’s an honest rumination on a not perfect, but not completely dysfunctional marriage. Though Graham and Audra certainly have their issues, there is a clear love for each other that was a nice change of pace from my usual fare of stratospherically dysfunctional marriages/families. I loved Graham’s (who narrated the book) salty, dry sense of humor and the way he honestly addressed the aspects of marriage and parenting that it’s socially expected of people to always portray as unicorns and rainbows.

Graham didn’t admit this to anyone, even Audra, but part of him was secretly pleased that Matthew had been caught looking at porn on a school computer. Wasn’t that—wasn’t that something normal kids did?

Audra is a massive chatterbox and someone who I don’t think I could be friends with in real life, but her total lack of filter made her amusing to read about. The collision between Audra’s extraversion (she constantly invites random people over for dinner and to stay as houseguests in their NY apartment) and Graham’s introversion, as well as Matthew’s Asberger’s, added a bit more intrigue to the story. My only complaint was an overly abrupt ending that will probably irritate some people. If you like straight talk about marriage, this book is for you!

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  1. I really like the way you keep adding to your summer reading list. Both Standard Deviation and Since We Fell are on my TBR list. I’m feeling like it might be time for a psychological thriller, so I might pick up Since We Fell soon. It’s funny that you have Beartown today, too! I never watched Friday Night Lights, but am feeling more and more like that was a mistake. Perhaps some binge watching!

    Posted 6.22.17 Reply
  2. Angela wrote:

    I love stories about marriage, so Standard Deviation has been on my TBR for a couple months. Glad to hear it’s highly recommended!

    Posted 6.22.17 Reply
  3. Thanks for the recommendations! Beartown is on my TBR list. I’ll have to check out Since We Fell because it’s been a long time since I read a good thriller.

    Posted 6.22.17 Reply
  4. I need to get to Beartown.

    Posted 6.22.17 Reply
  5. Beartown is already on my TBR, but I’ll add Since We Fell. I’ve been in the mood for crime fiction and thrillers lately, and this one sounds promising.

    Posted 6.22.17 Reply
  6. Renee wrote:

    With all the amazing reviews of this one lately I had added it to my tbr but in the back of my head I keep wondering if I’ll really like it because I also abandoned A Man Called Ove and I absolutely hated My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. However, you totally had me hooked with the Friday Night Lights comparison…one of the best shows EVER. I think I may have to buy this one, my library wait list is super long:)

    Posted 6.22.17 Reply
  7. Michelle wrote:

    Since I agree with two out of three, I guess that means I need to read that third one (Standard Deviation)!

    Posted 6.22.17 Reply
  8. Allison wrote:

    Fredrik Backman seems to be everywhere these days! I haven’t read anything by him yet, but I finally picked up A Man Called Ove after seeing all the raves. I guess we’ll see what I think, but it’s good to know you liked Beartown even if you didn’t like Ove–I loved Friday Night Lights and this sounds great. All three of them do, actually!

    Posted 6.22.17 Reply
    • Sharon wrote:

      Personally I’m shocked to see anyone say they didn’t like A Man Called Ove….I adored that book, and only slightly less so than My Grandmother Adked
      Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Both just sweet, lovely, wbeautifully written books (also just finished Britt Marie Was Here, also good). I hope you enjoy his writing.

      Posted 7.11.17 Reply
      • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

        To be fair, I bailed on Ove about 20% in…and I heard it got better after that. His character just grated on my nerves.

        But, one of the wonderful things about books is everyone has different tastes, which makes for great discussion!

        Posted 7.13.17 Reply
  9. I will put Standard Deviation on my to-read list! I do love me a good thriller.

    Posted 6.23.17 Reply
  10. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Beartown, but the description doesn’t really “get” me. Since We Fell looks good. I’m in the mood for mysteries and thrillers this summer.

    Posted 6.23.17 Reply
  11. Monika Bridgforth wrote:

    I read Beartown last month and I enjoyed it, but I LOVED A Man Called Ove. Beartown had a huge cast of characters, which was a little confusing at first, but I did get to care about a number of them a lot. Am looking forward to reading your other two recommendations!

    Posted 6.24.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thanks, Monica! I know so many people loved Ove…I wonder if I should have pushed through longer than I did. Ove just kind of annoyed me, so I gave up I think around 20% or so.

      I can’t remember if we’ve talked about this…did y’all ever get into Friday Night Lights (the TV show…not movie or book)? Think you’d love it if not!

      Posted 6.25.17 Reply
  12. Oo, Standard Deviation sounds good! Thanks for these awesome recs!

    Posted 6.25.17 Reply
  13. Heather Hicks wrote:

    I loved Since We Fell. Right now I am reading a thriller called Exodus 95, it’s by Kfir Luzzatto and it’s so good. One of my fav reads this summer so far!

    Posted 6.25.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yay! I’ve had so much trouble with thrillers in general the past few years, but Since We Fell hit the spot.

      Posted 6.28.17 Reply
  14. I’m actually a little nervous to hear that Beartown is so different from A Man Called Ove, because I really loved that one! I’ll definitely be picking Beartown up at some point though. Standard Deviation sounds super cute and I can’t say no to math-y title.

    Posted 6.27.17 Reply
  15. Sara F wrote:

    Comparing Ove and Bear Town is like comparing apples and oranges. They are SO different and Bear Town was HEAVY. However, I did like both for different reasons. My actual point on commenting at all 🙂 is that I much preferred Us Against Them (the Bear Town sequel) over Bear Town as it honed In on fewer, more complex characters. So maybe add that one to your Fall reading list 😉

    Posted 6.15.19 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I agree – Ove and Beartown so diff! Which is probably why I felt really different about them. And I really liked Us Against Them as well…it was on my Summer Reading Guide for last year!

      Posted 6.17.19 Reply

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