My Summer Reads

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I love, love, love to read.  Seriously, I read a lot. There is almost nothing else I'd rather do than read. This summer I have been reading about a book every 2 days since there is nothing good on TV at night.  I even read during the boring parts of the Olympics.  Some have been really light summer books and some have been more substantial.  I got a lot of my books from the library so unfortunately I cannot remember them all.   I feel certain that I am forgetting some that I really loved!

I try not to tell you too much about the books below because I kind of like to be surprised in a book but I want to give you my opinion.  However, you can click on the little book images to read more reviews and summaries of each book.


Gone Girl {Gillian Flynn} - this started a tad slow for me but then it was SO good that I could not put it down.  A well written and cleverly crafted page turner.  4.5/5  A nook book.

The Art of Fielding {Chad Harbach}  This book is about baseball and it is one of my book club reads. I will admit, I was not looking forward to it BUT it was really good!  It is more literary than some of these lighter summer reads but it is very good.  It is a long one but a good one.  You really get to know the characters. 4/5

Where we Belong {Emily Giffin}  This was really good.   I read it in a day and half.  There is an adoption theme that really made me think about and read the book differently because of our adoption. 4/5

666 Park Avenue {Gabriella Pierce}-I read this at the beach.  It was good.  There is a witch element in it (that might bother some).  Looks like they are making a TV series of it this Fall. 4/5

Summer House {Nancy Thayer}  This would be a great beach read.  It is light and entertaining.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I really connected with the characters and missed them when the book ended. 4/5

Home Front {Kristin Hannah}  Another easy read.  It was really good.  It deals with a Mother serving in the military and made me ponder things that I had not considered before.  4/5

A Visit from the Goon Squad {Jennifer Egan}  I wanted to like this book.  It gets pretty good reviews  and it came recommended to me but I really did not connect with it at all. 2/5

The Irresistible Henry House {Lisa Grunwald}  I really liked this book a lot.  It is about a boy who is raised in a "practice house."  The practice houses in the 1940's used real babies for home economics.  This book was fascinating.  It is fiction but I did some research and this really did happen at that time.  I highly recommend this book! 4/5

Divergent and Insurgent {Veronica Roth}  This book/series is a little bit like the Hunger Games series so if you liked those, you'll like these.  I actually liked this series better.  As with all these series, the first book is the best.  These are page turners.  I think I read both in a matter of a weekend.  And if there is a 3rd (which I am pretty sure there will be, I will read it). 4/5

The American Heiress {Daisy Goodwin}  I really enjoyed this book a lot.  It was a nice long read.  I connected with the characters and could not wait to read more.  I hated to see it end.  4/5

The Fault in Our Stars {John Green}  I mentioned this one before but I must mention it again because it has been my favorite book of the year.  The writing is flawless and the dialogue very witty.  I LOVED this book.  I laughed and cried and not many boos do that to me. 5/5


Unbroken {Laura Hillenbrand}  One of the best books and stories I have ever read.  This is non-fiction but it reads like fiction.  I will admit that the first 100 pages were a little slow for me.  But then, I could not put it down.  I highly recommend this book.  It is well written and a truly amazing story.  Men love it too. 5/5

Bringing up Bebe {Pamela Druckerman}--being a parenting coach, I try to read all the new parenting type books.  I find this one fascinating as she compares the French method of "educating" their children to the American way of "disciplining."  I have not finished this book yet (I waited all summer for it from the library wait list) but I really think it is very good so far.  I totally agree with her assessment of the over-involved American parents.  Amazon gives it 4.5 stars.

7: An Experimental mutiny against excess {Jen Hatamker}--I think this book is a MUST READ!!!  It had a profound effect on me and I could do a whole series of posts on it.  The author looks at seven areas of excess and greed in her life and tries to make changes small and large in each area for one month.  I will admit that some months got a little boring to read (food) but the overall impact this book made on me was HUGE.  Dave is reading it now and Will is going to read it too.  This is a Christian based book (which I loved) but my non-Christian friends might not appreciate it. 5/5

Okay, now PLEASE share a book or two that you would recommend for me. I am always looking for new books.  (I am currently reading Paris Wife and Before I go to Sleep for my book clubs so no need to recommend them)

And just in case you were going to suggest 50 Shades of Grey.... I have NO desire to ever read those books.  I am not judging those who have read them but there are just so many other wonderful, well written books to read that are more my style.

Mary Ann, I hope you enjoy some of these;)  Okay, I am off to stick my nose back in a book!


  1. Great list. I LOVED Bringing up Bebe!!

  2. Yea! I get so excited when the non-book blogs I follow talk about books. Collision of two worlds...

    Since my blog IS a book blog, feel free to take a look around: You seem to be an eclectic reader, and I am too, so you might find something that interests you.

    Since you like nonfiction that reads like fiction, you'd probably really enjoy Erik Larsen, but the best nonfic I've read this year is Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard. WOW. It's about Garfield's assassination, and you will be amazed at the character of this man.

    If you liked Gone Girl, you'd probably also enjoy Broken Harbor. It's by Tana French, and it's the best crime fiction I've read so far this year.

    I could talk books all day, so I'll stop rambling...

  3. Yay! I have so been waiting for you to post this. I have loved all the books you have recommended before. The Fault In Our Stars is one of my all time faves

  4. I love to read too and I added some of your books to my "to read" list.
    Good books I read this summer:

    How to be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
    In the Woods and The Likeness by Tana French
    The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
    A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff
    Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (this was one of my favorites by her)
    Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
    All of Kate Morton's books

    I'm currently reading a YA book called Matched by Ally Condie which is along the lines of The Hunger Games and Divergent. It's more of a love story but I'm really liking it.

    I guess I'd better stop there. :)

  5. Oh my gosh - I felt the same way about American Heiress too. How is she doing now? Is the other woman totally gone from the picture? How is her child? I really have so many questions and that's how you know it's a good read.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I really appreciate you taking the time to write this because I'm off to get some books tomorrow!

  6. Did my comment go through? I had to log-in again. THANKS so much for your suggestions - I'm getting some new books tomorrow!!!

  7. I told you that the new giffin book was amazing! Thought of you right after I read it!

    1. Yes...thank you for the recommendation. A few parts were emotionally tough for me given our circumstances. I kept wondering about Kate's birth parents and what they went through. I also know that she will never get to meet them and I had so much much compassion for the birth parents and the adoptive parents in this book. I could feel all their pain.

    2. Totally. I don't know if I ever shared with you that my father is adopted. The topic of adoption would come up maybe twice a year (if that...). My grandparents were my grandparents (if Dan and I have a son, he will be named after both my father and grandffather) and they were his parents. He never had the desire to look for his bio parents. I believe my grandmother shared with my mother her name, etc. It was never an option though to meet them.
      There are definite times where I wonder if I have cousins, etc, or genetically prone to diseases (breast cancer, etc). But I have to say, the wonderful father and husband and friend my father is, is a direct correlation to how my grandparents raised him. I know that my dad feels grateful to his birthparents for being selfless enough to give him up for adoption so he would have the best life possible.

      I have a dear friend who has adopted a little boy and she was saying that when people say how lucky Evan is...she always replies with "we are the lucky ones..."

    3. People always tell me that Kate is lucky as well and I always say the same thing. We are the lucky ones. She blesses us every single day!!!!!!!!

  8. I keep meaning to pick up Divergent for my teen son. I've heard great things about it. Thanks, I just put it on hold at my library. I also held The Fault in Our Stars for me. =) I read Goon Squad at the recommendation of my best friend. I really did not like that book. She loved it. It brought her to tears. I kept thinking maybe we read different books because I don't get how that book can make anyone cry.

    My recommendation to you would be Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It only takes a day or two to read but it is absolutely wonderful.

  9. Oh, I love, love, to read also. Lately I've been taking pictures of books from the bookstore, to then see if I can find them at the library (or to return to buy later once I've finished my current books!)

    A memoir (I am really into these) that I enjoyed recently was Bloom by Kelle Hampton. She also has a blog; I don't know if you are familiar with it. Happy reading!

  10. Dearest Kim,

    You have no~idea how much I am *loving* this list! I wholeheartedly appreciate how much work you put into getting this up. I'm going right over to Amazon this minute and filling up my Kindle. This morning I will go to the library and see what I can find...because there is nothing like a "real" book to hold, feel, and smell!

    You are a doll, Kim. Your blog is the best! Love from a friend all the way up in Middlebury, Vermont, Mary Ann

  11. Thanks for listing these - will def check some out. Love to read, but haven't been doing much of it . . . unless you count reading Diary of A Wimpy Kid - Dog Days -- that Maddy and I have been reading together! Thoroughly enjoying it too! :)

  12. Thanks for the book ideas!

    I LOVED Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. Here's the Amazon review: Amazon Best of the Month, February 2008: On the very morning Willie Upton slinks home to Templeton, New York (after a calamitous affair with her archeology professor), the 50-foot-long body of a monster floats from the depths of the town's lake. This unsettling coincidence sets the stage for one of the most original debut novels since The Time Traveler’s Wife. With a clue to the mysterious identity of her father in hand, Willie turns her research skills to unearthing the secrets of the town in letters and pictures (which, "reproduced" in the book along with increasingly complete family trees, lend an air of historical authenticity). Lauren Groff's endearingly feisty characters imbue the story with enough intrigue to keep readers up long past bedtime, and reading groups will find much to discuss in its themes of "monsters," both in our towns and our families. --Mari Malcolm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    Don't be scared off by the "monster" stuff. It's a very small part of the book and the rest is fascinating.

    Another favorite is An Innocent, A Broad by Ann Leary. (Actor Denis Leary's wife)
    It's the true story of the premature birth of their son when they were visiting England. This happens before his career takes off, so they're this broke couple stuck in England as little Jack can't travel for months. It's funny and touching and she's very self-deprecating. She never makes herself out to be a hero. Such a talented writer.

    1. I think I read An Innocent years ago and really loved it. I will for sure look up the other one. Thank you!

  13. Unbroken was just amazing.

    Have you read The Book Thief? A little heavy and actually a young adult book, but one of my recent faves. Also Girl in Translation and The Kitchen House.

    Did you get to Pillars of the Earth? Being Catholic I thought it was a very interesting...

    1. Yes, I did read the book Thief and I really liked it too. Will read it also. I have the Kitchen house but have not gotten to it yet.

      I have read Pillars of the Earth and the next one too (World without end?) They are good reads. Some parts are a bit too much for me but overall, I think he develops the characters very well.

      Hope you are enjoying your new job.

  14. Thanks for this list - I'm going to come back to it later on so I can write down all the recos! I love to read, but have been in a slump lately... My book club is reading For Whom the Bell Tolls this month (in an effort to cover the classics as well), and I disliked it now as much as I did in high school :(
    Have you read Sarah's Key, Bel Canto, The Shadow of the Wind or anything by Isabel Allende (House of Spirits and Eva Luna are very good)? Also, I'm a big fan of Jodi Picoult for light reading. Happy reading!

  15. Hi Kim,

    A good quick book I read this summer was THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC. It's more of a novella than a novel, and has an interesting Greek chorus of voices, more than one single narrator. It's about Japanese "picture brides" coming to California and settling in the pre-WWII years. I would give it 4/5 stars.

    Have you tried FAITH, by Jennifer Haigh? She was raised Catholic (so am I), and I saw her speak about the book, which is about a Catholic family in Boston with an oldest brother priest who is accused of abusing a child. It's not a perfect book but it's a really interesting, human story.

    (Good for you for saying no to Fifty Shades of Grey--as a writer I am so frustrated when books like that become bestsellers!)

    Caroline Woods

  16. dan & i both loved unbroken.

    i want to read 7.
    i don't want to read 7.

    kristin hannah & nancy thayer are always great easy relaxing reads.


    1. I hear ya on 7 Paige!!! Once you read it, you are changed and it is hard to live the same way.

  17. Great suggestions! LOVED American Heiress

  18. Huge reader here too. Love the list...I need some new material. I have recently fallen in love with Tana Frensch's books. Crime fiction. She has 4 books total.


  19. Did you read Nie's book, "Heaven is Here"?

    I'm writing these down!! I love to read too! It's my escape :). Thanks for the list!!

  20. Loved 7 and Bringing Up Bebe.

    I recommend Bloom by blogger Kelle Hampton (non-fiction about her coming to accept and love an unexpected change in life.

    And please read Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholics consider things that really matter. Editted by Hallie Lord. Some chapters resonnated more with me... but across the board, I grew in my faith and understanding of the kind of mom and wife I want to be as a modern Catholic woman.

  21. "How to be an American Housewife" is one I picked up when visiting this summer...didn't get to finish, but want to buy it.
    Gone Girl was a summer favorite.
    Otherwise I'm in a slump. Can't wait to download some new ones tonight!

  22. OK - I am going to admit I am relieved that "50 Shades of Gray" is not on your list...

    I am just sitting here impressed that you had time to read this many books!!!! Someday for me right? :)


  23. I am jealous of all your reading! I am often too exhausted to read at night!! Zone out and watch my Housewives! That being said I did like Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham is amazing. On my shelf are a ton of books waiting for me but I am adding yours to my list!!!

  24. Thanks for the recommendations Kim! I went to the library today and picked up 'Bringing up Bebe' and 'The Irresistible Henry House'. I was sneaking pages while my daughter was eating her dinner!

  25. Thanks so much for posting this, Kim! I have read many of these books too (just finished Gone Girl). My book reading list is on my blog, if you want any suggestions!

  26. I'm so impressed with your selections. Thanks for sharing! I set a goal each year to read 100 books or more and keep track of every book I read. I love going back over the lists which I've kept since 1997. One book I read this summer that I would recommend is "When We Were The Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine" by Monica Wood. She revisits life in smalltown, 1960s-era Maine and the untimely death of her father. I also enjoyed, "Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts" by Julia Gelardi, the story of five royal granddaughters of Queen Victoria, who reigned over the end of their empires.

  27. Thanks for sharing, I'm always looking for some good reads! I agree about Fifty Shades of Gray, don't care how popular it is, not for me. I've been reading Stephen R Coveys books since he passed away recently. Motivating and well written.

  28. Thanks for sharing, I'm always looking for some good reads! I agree about Fifty Shades of Gray, don't care how popular it is, not for me. I've been reading Stephen R Coveys books since he passed away recently. Motivating and well written.

  29. Thanks for the suggestions! You have probably heard about this book I am in the middle of it and love it....Home is a Roof Over a Pig: An American Family's Journey in China. (When all-American Aminta Arrington moves from suburban Georgia to a small town in China, she doesn't go alone. Her army husband and three young children, including an adopted Chinese daughter, uproot themselves too. Aminta hopes to understand the country with its long civilization, ancient philosophy, and complex language. She is also determined that her daughter Grace, born in China, regain some of the culture she lost when the Arringtons brought her to America as a baby.)
    I also enjoy Kate Morton's books.

  30. Just wanted to say that I agree with you on "A Visit from the Goon Squad." It won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Yet, I didn't understand what it was about or why it was suppose to be so good. Very frustrating!

  31. Love your list and comments,too! The memoir lets pretend this never happened is hysterical. Read in one day. Molokai and swamplandia were other books I enjoyed this summer. Maine is next on my list. Are you in a book club? Love mine. Best of luck to the 3 peanuts back to school and prayers for Evie.

  32. Oooh, somehow I missed this post!! I'll have to come back when I have more time, thanks for listing these out Kim! I've only read a few of these so there are several that I need to look into!!

  33. Thank you for sharing your book recommendations! I have read and enjoyed some of your choices. . here are a couple more . . . The Second Time We Met (adoption theme also) and books by Adriana Trigiani. A recent parenting book I enjoyed was "The Price of Priviledge". Happy reading!

  34. Have you checked out Excellent way to keep track of all the books you've read and find new ones.
    Marian Keyes is an absolute favorite, her books about the Irish Walsh sisters are so funny.
    Warm regards from Iceland!

  35. have you read Forgotten Garden or The House at Riverton by Kate Morton? Both are long reads... can be a little confusing in the beginning as she often switches between time periods. However, once you get through the first 3 chapters they are wonderful reads. The author is so talented and weaves such a great story. Highly suggest them both!

  36. I love your list and noted several to add to my "to read" list. Thanks for the suggestions. The best books I've read recently are Northwest Corner (Schwartz) and Where'd You Go Bernadette (Semple).

  37. Thanks to the birth of Lillie, then Dear Lillie and then Lola I have only read one book in teh last 3 and a half years when I used to read a couple of books a day - oh how I miss that! I just sent my sister this link though - she's going to be so excited at all of these new suggestions! And someday I will read again... =)

  38. Thank you for sharing your list, I am always looking for a good book! Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda has been a favourite of mine since coming back from China 3 years ago. I read part of it on a plane and cried and cried! Beautiful story!



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