It’s almost officially summer – June 21 – and if you haven’t taken the plunge already, it’s time to dive into your summer reading list. It’s a great time to get lost in smut, tackle a book that’s been on your list, or get to know an author well by tackling a series, or multiple books by the same author. And don’t forget Audibles for a hand’s free reading experience! Also if you haven’t checked out the Libby app, which ties in with local libraries for digital and audible loans, you are missing out! Here are our Fab5 Summer Read favorites.
- Pat Conroy. A few summers ago I re-read The Prince of Tides and then devoured all of Conroy’s other books. I had forgotten how much I liked his writing, his sense of humor, and his honesty. Other Conroy greats include The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Water is Wide, The Losing Season, and South of Broad. Dive in and have fun!
- Jan Karon: The Mitford novels. Enter the world of Mitford and you won’t want to leave. A series of 14 novels that are centered on the life of Father Tim, a long suffering rector, and set in Mitford, a fictional town in North Carolina. Start at the beginning with At Home in Mitford and enjoy the ride.
- Janet Evanovich: The Plum Series. Very easy reads with laugh out loud outrageous characters and happenings. Stephanie Plum’s life has hit a dead end. She lost her job and car, and now she’s flat broke. And while she has no idea what she’s doing, she decides to become a bounty hunter—come what may. Start with One for the Money.
- Michael Connelly: Harry Bosch Series. For mystery, I like Michael Connelly and his Harry Bosch series. Harry is a veteran police homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. He is a man on a singular mission – to get justice for those who’ve been wronged – and he pursues every case as if his very life depended upon it. Each book can be read independently, but his character develops throughout so I recommend starting at the beginning with The Black Echo.
- For something more current, take a look at Colleen Hoover (CoHo). In 2022, Hoover held six of the top ten spots on the New York Times paperback fiction best seller list. Our family listened to Verity on a long road-trip and were enthralled. She is best known for It Ends with Us.
For me a summer read is a bit lighter, a bit more fun and something I can spend a lazy afternoon on. I have to admit that I have not been a big fan of a few popular new summer reads – I don’t know if I’m not in the mood for them right now or if I’ve raised my bar on what a beach read if for me. For instance, I didn’t love the recent Emily Henry book Happy Place which underwhelmed me but is on every summer beach read 2023 list. I also wasn’t wowed like others by Pineapple Street (by Jenny Jackson) as I just found it to be about the unmeaningful ‘problems’ of a rich family and I kept waiting for something to happen. And I tend to only read an Elin Hilderbrand (the ‘queen of beach reads’) book occassionally. She always has a book on the ‘Books of Summer’ lists that’s set in Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard and this year her soon to be bestseller is The Five Star Weekend, so be sure to check it out if you are into her books. Something like Lessons in Chemistry is more my idea of a good summer read (watch a great interview with the author here about how she wrote/had it published in her 60s after 98 rejections), where it may be a bit lighter but is so well written and tells a great story while also being fun. Ok, given that admission, here we go with my recs:
- The Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman. This series (three out so far and one more due this summer) follows a group of 4 septuagenarian friends in a British retirement community who, through meeting weekly to discuss unsolved crimes, become involved in the investigation of local murders. Fun reads, and Steve Spielberg is making them into a movie with a supposedly dynamite British cast.
- Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld. For a more traditional ‘girl meets boy beach read’, this is my choice. It follows a writer for an SNL-like show who falls for one of the guest hosts. Yes it’s predictable but I found that even though I knew where the book was potentially going, the journey getting there was fun due to the writing and the witty dialogue.
- The Maid by Ninta Prosen (not to be confused with the other popular non-fiction book Maid whichis also great and became a tv show). This book just charmed me. The main character Molly is a 25 year old hotel maid who has trouble reading social cues and loves order, process and cleanliness. After her Gran dies she needs to find out how to navigate life on her own and she’s put to the test when there is a murder at the hotel where she works. Her character is so wonderful you can’t help cheering her on in this terrific book.
- Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. The premise may seem odd in this one given that much of the book is ‘told’ by an octopus, but don’t let is scare you off as it’s a terrific book about friendship and connection! The book follows Tova Sullivan who’s been working afterhours as a cleaner at a Pacific Northwest aquarium since the death of her husband. She grapples with the disappearance of her son thirty years prior and is surprised to find that she strikes up a connection with the aquarium’s giant octopus Marcellus. Much of the book is told from Marcellus’ perspective. How Tova’s life interacts with Marcellus’ and others at the aquarium in this small town is a beautifully told story with rich characters. It’s a joy to read.
- These books are recently out and are on my own summer reading list. All sound amazing in different ways, and although I can’t yet personally recommend them I think they all will be terrific: The Guest by Emma Cline, Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See, Yellowface by R.F. Kuang, Banyan Moon by Thao Thai, and The Wind Knows My Name by Isabel Allende. I’ll let you know how they are! Or if you just want one long book for the summer be sure to pick up the recent The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese which I finally finished, and I think it’s an instant classic.