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The 2015 Summer Reading Guide

I’m on vacation this week in Charleston soaking up some beach time, savoring these moments with the Mr. before the baby comes, and eating ALL THE HUSHPUPPIES. In my mind the perfect vacation involves two things: good food and good reads. If the weather’s bad, the hotel kind of sucks, and the beach is crowded, I can still have a great vacation if I’ve got those two things.

Over the past few years I have found so many fantastic books and authors from the recommendations of friends, so I finally decided it was time to share a few of my own. I hope you enjoy this Summer Reading Guide, and I really, really hope you’ll take some time to share your own favorites in the comments section!

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Easy, Breezy Beach Reads

These books are of the can’t put it down, breeze through it in an afternoon variety. They’re perfect for a day at the beach, when you can afford to spend an entire day glued to your beach chair.

What Alice Forgot– This book was my first introduction to author Liane Moriarty and it absolutely hooked me. Her books are all page turners and are often laugh out loud funny, but they’re also surprisingly deep. In this one, a 40 year old woman wakes up from a head injury to discover a lot has happened in the last 10 years…and she doesn’t remember any of it. Moriarty builds characters you identify with deeply. I read this book in about 2 days, but it stayed with me for months.

Attachments– Is it possible to fall in love with someone only by reading their email? That’s the question this book by Rainbow Rowell seeks to answer. It’s heartfelt, charming, funny, and has a great ending. What more could you want out of a beach read?

Where’d You Go Bernadette?– If you like snark and a little bit of mystery, this is the book for you.

Gone Girl– While not exactly light hearted, this book had me plastered to the couch for 3 days straight. There were moments in this book that actually left me breathless. Prepare to love and hate the ending. You’ve been warned.

Hunger Games– This might not be the most original pick, but I can’t pretend these books didn’t suck me in from start to finish. In my mind, they’re perfect beach reading. You can probably get through the whole series in a few blissful vacation days.

The Language of Flowers– I read this book a few years ago on vacation, and I fear I may have completely ignored the Mr. for two straight days because of it. The story revolves around Victoria, a young woman recently emancipated from the foster care system and plagued by a painful past. This is a really interesting story, beautifully told. Just read it.

These Books Will Wreck You in the Best Kind of Way

Like the books above, these books are page turners, but they also happen to be tear duct triggers. Grab the tissues, you’ll need them. 

Eleanor and Park– This book about the budding relationship of two unlikely teenagers is tender, beautiful, and emotionally deep. It was one of my favorites from last year.

The Art of Racing in the Rain– This book, told from the perspective of the family dog, is sweet, funny, heart breaking, and hopeful. The Mr. and I made the mistake of listening to it on audio book while we were driving to vacation, leaving our own beloved pup at home. Don’t make the same mistake we did, or you’ll be sniffing all the way to Cape Cod.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng- This book starts at the end of the story, with the tragic death of a young girl. The rest of the book unravels the mystery behind her death and examines the grief, tangled relationships, and misunderstandings of the family she leaves behind. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to grab your family, hold them tight, and whisper I’m sorry and I love you all in one breath.

Me Before You– Sigh. This book. I loved it. I hated it. And you probably will too. Ultimately this book is about life and what makes it worth living. You’ll feel ALL THE FEELS with this one, and you’ll be thinking about it for weeks after it’s over.

The Book Thief– There’s a reason this book is required reading in many high schools. I picked this one up on a vacation several years ago and devoured it. Set during WW2 and narrated by Death, this story about unlikely friendships in a brutal time in history will move you to tears.  I Am the Messenger, also by Zusak, is another worthy vacation read.

Christian Fiction

These are a few of my favorite picks by Christian authors. I couldn’t drag myself away from any of them. 

The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers- I was captivated by this series about a young slave girl set in ancient Rome.

Embrace Me by Lisa Samson- This is one of the quirkiest Christian novels I’ve read and I absolutely loved it. It follows an unusual cast of traveling freak show performers, a dread locked monk, and a corrupt lobbyist. Samson tackles subjects not often found in Christian fiction, and I love her for it.

Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs- This book is the first of a series which retells the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel in the setting of 16th century Scotland. They’ll make you look at the story in a whole new light, and shed more than a few tears along the way.

Black, Red, and White by Ted Dekker- Fans of science fiction will love this three part series about a man trapped between two realities. Full of twists and turns, this one kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time.

Non Fiction

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist- This book feels like talking to an old friend. It’s honest and relatable, funny and very human. Plus, it’s peppered with recipes. How could I not love this?

Bossy Pants– Do yourself a favor and pick this one up in audio book form. Tina Fey reading her own stories is the absolute best.

Food by Jim Gaffigan- I am a huge Jim Gaffigan fan, so when he came out with a book that was about my favorite subject- FOOD – you can only imagine how excited I was. I also recommend getting this one in audio book form. You’ll be laughing and super hungry in no time.

Jesus Feminist– Sarah Bessey’s writing is so tender, thoughtful, and genuine. She tackles a really difficult, controversial subject in this book and she does it with grace and intelligence. I am so thankful for this book, and I consider it a must read for anyone interested in exploring the role of women in the church.

If that’s not enough to keep you occupied all summer long, pick up a classic! I know I’m planning to reread The Giver this year, and I’m always game for another visit to the Anne of Green Gables series. What’s on your summer reading list year? What would you recommend?

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  • Alison May 15, 2015, 4:51 PM

    Thanks so much for recommendations! I am an avid reader and will definitely be checking these out!

  • Michelle May 15, 2015, 8:00 PM

    Same thoughts on Me Before You. I just finished it a few weeks ago. I loved it until all of a sudden I hated it. Sigh.

    The Thorn In My Heart series is SO GOOD!! I read it in high school? Maybe college? I don’t know, but I remember loving it. I want to reread it. I just love Liz Curtis Higgs.

    I just finished Jim Gaffigan’s book the other day. Hysterical.

    • Courtney @ Neighborfood May 19, 2015, 10:19 AM

      It’s been a long time since I’ve read Thorn in My Heart, but it’s one series that has stayed with me. In fact, I think it’s about time for a reread. Time to get my heart clutch sob on.

  • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons May 25, 2015, 8:18 PM

    I had the same exact reaction to Me Before You. I read it about 4 months ago (on vacation) and I’m STILL not sure whether I loved it or hated it. I have “Everything I Never Told You” on the docket next. Great list, Courtney!

  • Leslie Hoff June 3, 2015, 10:25 AM

    I like a summer reading book that has it all – suspense, drama, romance,
    humor, and strong characters. Having said that I MUST recommend a
    book I recently came across called “The Friend Request” by author
    Charles Soto. (http://authorcharlessoto.com/) This book is considered a romance
    novel and follows two high school sweethearts who reconnect on Facebook after
    years of living separate lives but there is so much more than that! It shares
    the point of view of the male and female character which I find to be quite
    refreshing and there are soooo many plot twists in this book it keeps you
    hooked from start to finish. I definitely recommend it to anyone who LOVES the
    romance genre or who doesn’t usually read it. I think it has a little something
    for everyone

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