2015 Summer Reading List

2015 Summer Reading List


Have you ever needed summer more than this year?! My god, I feel like it was winter until early May (at least in the Northeast)! Well, better late than never! And, with summer comes summer reading (and not the “for school” kind!)…

My Philosophy on Summer Reading

As summer approaches, the magazines and Internet are chock full of “Beach Reading” recommendations, which are usually easy books that do not require using many brain cells. While I definitely appreciate a light book for summer, I don’t like to put my brain entirely on vacation. There are plenty of fun books that keep you engrossed and your mind working (but not too much!) – and that’s what you’ll find on my summer reading list. Finally, I will continue to update this throughout the summer.

Previous Summer Reading Lists: 2013, 2014

Latest Addition (August 13, 2015)

Days of Awe, Lauren FoxDays of Awe by Lauren Fox
Fiction (Released August 4, 2015)
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Middle school teacher Isabel (Iz) Moore tries to recover after her life falls apart in the span of a year.

My Thoughts: I have to admit, Days of Awe did not initially grab me (possibly a bit of a letdown from Bull Mountain?). But Fox kept dropping tiny hints that the situation was more complicated than it appeared at first glance, which kept me reading. Then, Fox’s snarky writing started really flowing and I was all in! Continue Reading…

 

The List

A Touch of Stardust, Kate AlcottA Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
Fiction (Released February 17, 2015)
306 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
When innocent Julie from Fort Wayne, Indiana takes a lowly job on the Selznick International lot during the filming of “Gone with the Wind”, she gets close to the glamor of the movie and its stars and looks for a chance to pursue her dream of being a screenwriter.
My Thoughts: A Touch of Stardust is the 1930’s Hollywood novel that I was hoping West of Sunset would be…complete with cameos by F. Scott Fitzgerald! It’s a light, glamorous, entertaining read with lots of behind the scenes tidbits about the filming of “Gone with the Wind” (a fraught production, to say the least), Clark Gable (and his lover, Carole Lombard), Vivien Leigh (and her lover, Laurence Olivier), and David O. Selznick. Continue Reading…

Bull Mountain, Brian PanowichBull Mountain by Brian Panowich
Southern Fiction (
Released July 7, 2015)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: North Georgia’s Bull Mountain has been run by one family of outlaws (the Burroughs) for generations, but when a federal ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) agent arrives to put a stop to the crime, Sheriff Clayton Burroughs’ family loyalty is tested.
My Thoughts: Brian Panowich’s debut novel is a jaw-dropping (yes, my jaw really did drop multiple times!) multi-generational family saga that feels like Southern “grit lit”, but reads like a thriller. It’s one of my favorite books of the summer and is a contender for my Favorite Books of 2015. Continue Reading…

Circling the Sun, Paula McClainCircling the Sun by Paula McLain
Historical Fiction (Released July 28, 2015)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: A fictionalized story of the real Beryl Markham, a British woman raised on a horse farm in 1920’s Kenya, who went on to break the glass ceiling for women in horse training and aviation.
My Thoughts: A pleasant surprise for me! Marked by McLain’s gorgeous writing and one real-life, badass lady flouting convention in all kinds of ways, Circling the Sun has lots to discuss at book club. Beryl and her fascinating upbringing, unconventional life choices, and general badass ways are what really drive this story. She grew up as a wild and adventurous tomboy on her father’s Kenyan horse farm. A Baron and Baroness living in a mud hut were her nearest neighbors, she trained to be a tribal warrior with her best childhood friend, and tangled with a friend’s pet lion. She reminded me a bit of Scout Finch in her determination, from a very young age, to hang with the boys. Continue Reading…

Dirty Chick, antonia murphyDirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer by Antonia Murphy
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released January 22, 2015)
256 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
After sailing the world for a few years, San Francisco urbanite Antonia and her husband, Peter, settle in a remote farm community in New Zealand (Purua) hoping to find a stable environment for their developmentally delayed son…and end up becoming amateur farmers.
My Thoughts: Dirty Chick is a fun, eye-opening, hilarious romp through what happens when a city girl decides to become a “lifestyle farmer” (i.e. farming for the fun of it, not as an actual occupation). It’s a quirky book and is chock full of gross animal stories (i.e. if you can’t handle reading about the bodily functions of goats, this book is not for you!). Continue Reading…

Mosquitoland, David ArnoldMosquitoland by David Arnold
Fiction – Young Adult (Released March 3, 2015)
354 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: After moving to Mississippi from Cleveland following her parents’ divorce, sixteen year old Mim Malone sets off on a road trip to find out what happened to her mother and why her father and new stepmother are trying so hard to keep them apart.
My Thoughts: Mosquitoland is a quirky, but heartwarming book starring a precocious teen who pulled at my heartstrings. Mim’s voice is distinctive in a Dawson’s Creek, “older than her age” kind of way, but she also throws in the lingo of a teenager. The story is told partly through Mim’s journal she keeps while on the road trip to Cleveland and partly through her real time experience. 

My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff, memoirs, J.D. SalingerMy Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released June, 2014)
274 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
The story of Rakoff’s experience as a young woman in the 90’s living in NYC and working at the literary agency representing reclusive legend, J.D. Salinger.
My Thoughts: Though the title mentions Salinger, he is not the main focus of My Salinger Year. Sure, he makes appearances, but this is more of a coming of age story about a young girl trying to make it in NYC and a company trying to adjust to the modern world. You do not have to be a Salinger fan to enjoy this book. Continue Reading…

My Sunshine Away, M.O. WalshMy Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
Fiction – Southern (Released February 10, 2015)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
When fifteen year old track star, Lindy Simpson, is raped on the sidewalk in front of her house in an idyllic Baton Rouge neighborhood, the dark side of suburbia begins to surface.
My Thoughts: This was the first book that “blew my mind” in 2015! My Sunshine Away is a heartfelt, honest, and beautifully written coming of age story with some suspense thrown in for good measure. Continue Reading…

Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire FullerOur Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Fiction (Released March 17, 2015)
382 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: When eight year old Peggy Hillcoat is taken to live in a remote cabin in the woods (die Hutte) by her survivalist father (James), she discovers the reason he told her they had to leave London is a lie and sets about to discover the truth.
My Thoughts: This is a gorgeously written story that starts out quietly, but takes a suspenseful turn and will leave you dying to talk to it over with someone…making it a perfect book club selectionContinue Reading…

Pretty Ugly, Kirker ButlerPretty Ugly by Kirker Butler
Fiction – Southern (Released March 31, 2015)
303 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
A satire of a dysfunctional Southern family (headed up by Miranda and Ray) whose oldest daughter (Bailey) is a regular on the child beauty pageant circuit, written by a writer of the TV show “Family Guy”.
My Thoughts: As soon as I saw this book described as a “satire about child beauty pageants”, I pounced. I should say up front that I think beauty pageants, particularly child beauty pageants, are one of the more ridiculous creations around, so my thoughts on this book come from that perspective. Pretty Ugly is essentially “Best in Show” for beauty pageants. Continue Reading…

Radiant Angel, Nelson DemilleRadiant Angel by Nelson DeMille
Fiction – Mystery/Thriller (Release Date: May 26, 2015)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: The disappearance of a member of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service posing as a U.N. diplomat (Vasily Petrov) from a Hamptons party sends John Corey (formerly of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force and now of the much quieter Diplomatic Surveillance Group) on a quest to stop a threat from a re-emerging Russia.
My Thoughts: Nelson DeMille is my go-to man on the espionage/counter-terrorism thriller front. Though Radiant Angel was an enjoyable read, it isn’t one of DeMille’s strongest books. I was interested in the spy tradecraft, the Russian terrorist mindset, the real life “what if” scenario DeMille poses (how a newly aggressive Russia could attack the U.S.), and the security weaknesses we still have in the post-9/11 age. 

Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreightReconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Fiction (Released April, 2013)
405 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
After the studious and athletic Amelia jumps to her death from the roof of her exclusive Brooklyn girls’ school, her mother (Kate) sets out to learn more about the events surrounding her daughter’s death.
My Thoughts: It’s hard not to get hooked quickly when there is a dead body in the first few chapters. The beginning of Reconstructing Amelia is basically a riff on the beginning of “Gossip Girl” (the TV show)…except with a dead body instead of a missing Serena Van Der Woodson. Continue Reading…

Reunion, Hannah Pittard, fictionReunion by Hannah Pittard
Fiction (Released October, 2014)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
As Kate faces turmoil in her own life, she is summoned to Altanta to join her somewhat estranged, extended (I don’t mean cousins and aunts…I mean ex-wives and half siblings!) family for her father’s (Stan) funeral.
My Thoughts: As soon as I saw the blurb for Hannah Pittard’s Reunion, I thought it could potentially be the next This is Where I Leave You (which I loved!). Thankfully, Reunion did feel very similar to This is Where I Leave You, but was absolutely its own book with its own style. It’s no copycat. I loved it just as much as I loved This is Where I Leave You and was one of my Best Books of 2014. Continue Reading…

Saint Mazie, Jami AttenbergSaint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
Fiction (Released June 2, 2015)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: The story of good time girl Mazie Phillips, the proprietress of the Venice Theater on New York’s Lower East Side during the 1920’s and 30’s (Jazz Age, Prohibition, and the Depression).
My Thoughts: Based on a real person, Saint Mazie is the story of one of those quintessential New York characters who is famous just for being herself. She’s a troublemaker in her youth, constantly yearning for adventure and spurning the notion of settling down, but she has a good heart.  Continue Reading…

Summerlong, Dean BakopoulosSummerlong by Dean Bakopoulos
Fiction (Released June 16, 2015)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: During one particularly hot summer in Grinnell, Iowa, Don and Claire Lowry find that their marriage isn’t as strong as they thought; their discontent and the heat driving them to act uncharacteristically.
My Thoughts: Summerlong was a surprise hit for me…it’s darker and edgier than the cover would lead you to believe. You can really feel this book…the simmering suburban discontent, everyone having an itch that’s just waiting to be scratched, the restlessness that comes with sweltering summer days. It’s like a sea of smoldering embers threatening to ignite at the slightest catalyst. Continue Reading…

The Dinner, Herman KochThe Dinner by Herman Koch
Fiction (Released February 12, 2013)
306 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner at an upscale, Amsterdam restaurant to discuss how to handle a situation involving their teenage sons.
My Thoughts: The Dinner had been on my TBR list for awhile, but I failed to pick it up because Koch’s 2014 novel, Summer House with Swimming Pool, was hit and miss for me. But, I’m glad I finally did because it ended up being one of the best books I’ve read this year! Not much happens in the beginning of the story, but I was so busy reveling in Koch’s brilliant writing and biting social commentary that I didn’t even realize that the characters had merely arrived at the restaurant and ordered food. Continue Reading…

The Girl on the train, paula hawkinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Fiction (Released January 13, 2015)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
When divorced and down on her luck Rachel sees “something shocking” at the house of “Jess and Jason”, the couple she watches out the window of her daily commuter train, she’s drawn into a mess that “changes everything”. (quotes from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: The Girl on the Train is probably the most talked about book of 2015 so far. It’s a psychological thriller that, for me, gets 5 stars for the psychological element and 3 stars for the thriller piece…averaging out to a 4-star “I really liked it” rating (on Goodreads, as I don’t use a 5 star rating system for my blog). Continue Reading…

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble, Zac BissonnetteThe Great Beanie Baby Bubble by Zac Bissonnette
Nonfiction – Business (Released March 3, 2015)
274 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: An in depth look at Ty Warner and the story of the mid-1990’s speculative bubble surrounding his Beanie Babies…and its subsequent crash.
My Thoughts: I was in college during the height of the Beanie Baby craze (1996-1998), so I was fairly unaware of exactly what “craze” meant in relation to these cuddly little creatures. I obviously knew they were popular, but did I know that adult collectors were “investing” in $5 stuffed animals as if they were stocks? Absolutely not…because that would be really weird, improbable, and somewhat creepy! The Great Beanie Baby Bubble analyzes the how and why…and the who behind it all (Ty Founder and CEO, Ty Warner). Continue Reading…

Missing Place, Sophie Littlefield, mystery, thriller, fiction, North DakotaThe Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield
Fiction (Released October, 2014)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Shay and Colleen, the mothers of two boys (Taylor and Paul) who simultaneously went missing from their jobs on an oil rig in Lawton, North Dakota, team up to find out what happened to their sons.
My Thoughts: From the moment I picked up The Missing Place, I was drawn into the story of the disappearances of Taylor and Paul and the odd way of life on an oil rig in a tiny, remote town. Continue Reading…

The Truth and Other Lies, Sascha ArangoThe Truth And Other Lies by Sascha Arango
Fiction (Released June 23, 2015)
256 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: “Dark, witty, and suspenseful, this literary crime thriller reminiscent of The Dinner and The Silent Wife follows a famous author whose wife—the brains behind his success—meets an untimely death, leaving him to deal with the consequences.” – Amazon
My Thoughts: The Truth And Other Lies is the first summer book to blow my mind (and, it’s a translated debut)! It’s a tightly packed, demented thriller that kept me guessing from page one through the end. Continue Reading…

Unimaginable, Dina SilverThe Unimaginable by Dina Silver
Fiction (Released December 1, 2014)
268 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Based on the combination of two true stories, Jessica moves from small-town Indiana to Phuket, Thailand, where she meets a dashing sailor and volunteers to crew on his boat (“Imagine”) on a sail across the Indian Ocean.
My Thoughts: The first half of this book focuses on Jessica’s time teaching at a school in Phuket and her blossoming attraction to Grant Flynn (the shy, but dashing sailor). I thought the writing and the burgeoning romance with Grant were a bit cheesy during this portion. BUT, I finished the entire second half of the book in one night. Continue Reading…

Unraveling of Mercy Louis, Keija ParssinenThe Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen
Fiction – Southern (Released March 10, 2015)
341 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: “In this intricate novel of psychological suspense, a fatal discovery near the high school ignites a witch-hunt in a Southeast Texas refinery town, unearthing communal and family secrets that threaten the lives of the town’s girls”, including Mercy Louis, the star of the local high school’s state championship contender girl’s basketball team. – quotes from Amazon
My Thoughts: The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is one of those books that is incredibly hard to categorize…which is a good thing in my view! It’s a mash-up of coming of age, suspense, sports, economic tension, Southern culture (it’s set in Texas, but feels more like Louisiana), and religion gone wrong…all gorgeously written. It completely surprised me and I loved it. Continue Reading…

Tiny Little Thing, Beatriz WilliamsTiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams
Fiction (Released June 23, 2015)
368 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: While spending the summer of 1966 at her husband’s family’s Cape Cod compound, perfect political wife Tiny Hardcastle (the oldest of the Schuyler sisters from The Secret Life of Violet Grant) begins to crumble under the pressure of maintaining appearances.
My Thoughts: If you read this blog regularly (especially around summer time!), you know that Williams’ A Hundred Summers is my favorite quintessential beach read…and she’s back with another book that’s perfect for summer! The Hardcastle family that Tiny married into is a bit Kennedy and a bit Cleary from “Wedding Crashers”. Continue Reading…

Where They Found Her, Kimberly McCreightWhere They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
Fiction (Released April 14, 2015)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: When the body of a newborn baby is found on the edge of the prestigious Ridgedale University campus, rookie journalist Molly Sanderson chases the story that will uncover the dark side of life in an upscale New Jersey college town.
My Thoughts: I loved McCreight’s last thriller, Reconstructing Amelia, so I was excited to get my hands on Where They Found Her. Though this one didn’t grab me from the first page, things picked up quickly enough and, by the last quarter, I couldn’t put it down. Continue Reading…

2014 Summer Reading List Favorites Now Out in Paperback

Some of my favorite beach reads from last year recently came out in paperback, so I’d be remiss not to mention them here! If you skipped these last summer, I highly recommend the paperback versions!

Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, fictionBittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Fiction (Released May, 2014)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
When the beautiful and wealthy Genevra (Ev) Winslow invites her very average roommate, Mabel Dagmar, to spend the summer at her family’s summer retreat, Mabel enters a world of secrets, lies, threats, and betrayal.

My Thoughts: Bittersweet was my favorite summer book of 2014! It joins We Were Liars in the category of books about “extremely wealthy families behaving badly in private vacation compounds” (yes, that seems to be a budding category these days…and an exciting one!). Continue Reading…

The Fever, Megan AbbottThe Fever by Megan Abbott
Fiction (Released June, 2014)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
When Deenie’s best friend, Lise, is struck by an unexplained fainting spell/seizure in the middle of class, Deenie’s family and entire high school community are thrown into the middle of the fear and hysteria associated with a strange and quickly spreading epidemic.

My Thoughts: The Fever was the only novel that I chose to read off the New York Times Summer Reading List and was also an Amazon Best Book of the Month for June 2014. Stacey from The Novel Life best described it as “unputdownable” and I can’t come up with a better one word description. Continue Reading…

Secret Life of Violet Grant, Beatriz WilliamsThe Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
Fiction (Released May, 2014)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
In 1964, Vivian Schuyler receives her great aunt’s (Violet Schuyler Grant) suitcase from 1914 in the mail, sending her on an investigative mission to uncover the details behind Violet’s mysterious disappearance.

My Thoughts: The Secret Life of Violet Grant was on my list of summer books I was excited about reading…mostly because I think Williams’ last book, A Hundred Summers, is the most perfect beach book I’ve ever read (yes, really!). While I didn’t love Violet Grant quite as much as I loved A Hundred Summers (that’s a tall order!), I liked it about as much as one can like something without using the word “love”. Continue Reading…

The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress, Ariel LawhonThe Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
Historical Fiction (Released January, 2014)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: 
Based on the actual 1930 disappearance of New York State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Crater, this novel tells the story of what could have happened to him from the perspectives of his wife, his mistress, and his maid.

My Thoughts: Hooray! The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress is the first book of the year that I have absolutely loved and it will definitely make an appearance on my “Best Books of 2014″ List come December (click here for previous “Best Books of the Year” Lists). The “true crime” angle reminded me of Sutton by J.R. Moehringer, while the setting of 1930 NYC is reminiscent of Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Both books that I loved! Continue Reading…


4 Responses to “2015 Summer Reading List”

  1. Friday Favorites - Running 'N' Reading

    […] What is going to keep me up at night? All the new summer releases, like this one: The Rocks, by Peter Nichols; it’s been getting lots of buzz, just released on Tuesday, and I can’t wait to dive in…literally. The novel is set along the Mediterranean Sea and I hear the descriptions are fantabulous. Also, my friend Sarah just published her annual summer must-read list; you should check it out here. […]

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