reading, lounge chair, ocean viewWhat’s the difference between a summer read and a winter read? A “beach book” and a “book to snuggle up during a snowstorm”?


A good read is just as good a read while sitting on your comfy chair in front of the fireplace as on your sandy lounge chair in front of the ocean.

But I thought I’d share what books have kept me company during this too-short summer season while I’ve squeezed myself in a steel tube flying from one coast to another; while I’ve been surrounded by boxes of packed kitchenware and towels during a move; when I sat on a rusty ancient beach chair with the Atlantic Ocean waves soothing my sunburned skin; and while resting in bed, lights turned low, muscles going limp after a hard day’s night.

STATE OF WONDER, by Ann Patchettbugs, insect, State of Wonder, Amazon

Every Patchett book delights me in its authenticity, range of characters, and thought-provoking scenes. Despite slapping myself constantly because of (unseen but well-imagined) mysterious enormous insects (you’ll understand by page 100), I loved every inch of this amazing Amazonian book.

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness, good readA DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, by Deborah Harkness

I ignored several good reviews of this book because one of the characters is a vampire, and I am tired of vampires invading the bookseller’s list. Enough already. But my daughter (who’s prone to read scientific non-fiction tomes) gave me her copy and suggested this is more than a vampire story. I got sucked in immediately (whoops, couldn’t help myself). As the reviewer for PhiloBiblos remarks, “Pure literary brain candy, but … it’s very well written and chock-full of fascinating bits from Harness’s research.” Now I can’t wait to read the sequel.

THE WEIRD SISTERS, by Eleanor BrownConcord, bookstore, books, Concord Bookshop

A friend’s friend’s mother recommended this book so highly that I bought the paperback less than 24 hours later at one of my favorite independent bookstores – the Concord Bookshop in Concord, MA. Three grown-up sisters discover themselves, and each other, when moving back home with their aging parents. Many wonderful Shakespearean references abound (after all, in Shakespeare’s time, to be weird was to be prophetic). Author Brown explains, “The fact that (the sisters) were named after … famous Shakespearean heroines contributes to their feelings of failure. They are never going to be as glamorous and romantic and well-spoken as the women after whom they are named, but their problems are very much their own.”

The Last Time I Saw You, Elizabeth Berg, bookTHE LAST TIME I SAW YOU, by Elizabeth Berg

I’ve never read an Elizabeth Berg book I didn’t like (and she’s written a dozen). Berg delves into a woman’s soul like a woman delves into a deep dish of ice cream: passionately and to the last drop. In this Berg book, longtime friends attend their 40th high school reunion. Harsh, painful, funny, eye-opening: these words describe the book, as well as the reunion. I think the Seattle Times reviewer got it right: “Maybe Freud didn’t know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does.”

A TRICKLE OF LIGHT, by Louise PennyWhite Birch Books, books, New Hampshire bookstore

Several years ago my man and I stumbled upon an amazing independent bookstore in North Conway, NH, called White Birch Books. Even though I live on the other side of the country now, I still read this bookstore’s monthly e-newsletter because the staff has been so good at introducing me to new authors, like Canadian Louise Penny. I began with her first mystery, Still Life, set in a fictitious Canadian village south of Montreal, and I’ve been hooked ever since. A Trick of the Light is Penny’s latest, in which the A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny, mystery, bookwise and wonderful Chief Inspector Gamache (a truth-seeker in more ways than one) searches for clues after an art-inspired murder in the deceivingly sweet town of Three Twins. I agree with the Booklist comment: “Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie [but] it sells her short. Her characters are too rich, her grasp of nuance and human psychology too firm….”

I could continue with more good reads, but now it’s your turn.

What Summer Read do YOU recommend?


17 thoughts on “GOOD SUMMER READS

  1. Oh my goodness, Pam, totally agree with this list. Anything by Ann Patchett is riveting – loved State of Wonder and just finished The Magician’s Assistant and Run before that. And I just got The Weird Sisters from Amazon. Will definitely check out the White Birch Books newsletter. Am reading the Language of Flowers right now and In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner.


  2. So many great suggestions to add to my list. I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Berg! After visiting her home in the Berkshires this summer, I’ve been on an Edith Wharton kick. I re-read Ethan Frome and then went on to finish The Age of Innocence, Summer, and The House of Mirth. While I’ve loved them all, be forewarned that none of her stories end happily. Just bought a new book edited by Irene Goldman-Price titled My Dear Governess. It’s a collection of letters written by Edith Wharton to her governess. Can’t wait to start it this weekend!


    • Oh, yes, I visited Edith Wharton’s home a couple of years ago. Fascinating. And her books are on my ‘favorites’ list also, despite their sad endings. (Ethan Fromme is the most depressing one, don’t you think?) She was a woman ahead of her time, for sure. Thanks for the suggestion of My Dear Governess…


  3. The first one that came to mind was The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, Jan-Philipp Sendker. You just might start listening for her spirit in her heartbeat after you read this. I believe it’s possible, anyway, you’ll wish you could!


    • Thanks for the link to Morsi’s web site – her ‘about me’ section is fascinating, so I put The Lovesick Cure on my ‘wish list,’ (since it’s not available until August 23). Looks like a very fun read.


    • Der Kommissar sagt zum Komplicen des Mf6rders: Wenn Sienicht le4nger mit dem Namen des Te4ters hinterm Berg hletan, bokommen Sievom Richter eine mildere Strafe. The police inspector says to the accomplice of the murderer, If you don’t keep the name of the person responsible to yourself anymore, you will receive a lenient sentence from the judge.’


    • Thank you. I’ve heard several recommendations for Gone Girl, and it’s on my top list. I’ve never heard of White Teeth (shows my ignorance) but have now ordered it on my Kindle. The description of the book and its characters is remarkable.


  4. Ooh –I’m totally going to ge the Discovery of Witches now. I’d read a few blah reviews and decided to pass it up, but now you’ve convinced me to give it a go! 🙂


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