What is the first thing I did with my days off, when spring semester ended? READ. Read read read. I can’t say why, but more than any other year, it felt so good to spend full days reading as summer started this year.
I highly recommend both of them and am excited for the successes both books have seen.
But now it’s time to get excited about the latest must-reads — it’s time for My Summer Reading List 2014! Please do share your own reading recommendations or must-reads in the comments. We all love to learn about great new titles.
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- Michael Cunningham, The Snow Queen (2014). This made my radar after watching Cunningham give a reading (online) at Bart College. I first fell in love with his writing when I stumbled on a short story in the defunct DoubleTake Magazine — before The Hours — which had me guessing he’d become a notable writer. Snow Queen releases this summer.
- Aminatta Forna, The Hired Man (2013). I’ve heard this described as a “taut and suspenseful” tale of the relationship between villagers of a small Croat town and outsiders, after Croatia’s War of Independence. The title has appeared on several recommended reading lists. I’m intrigued.
- Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (May 2014). This novel set in World War II has been surfacing in every reading forum, with rave reviews. I’ve read short stories by Doerr before that were full of beauty and nuanced insight.
- Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed (2013). This is the novel I just started reading. Hosseini’s prior novels – The Kite Runner (2004) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2008) — were stunning. Read this New York Times review.
- Erin Morgenstern, Night Circus (2011). This one made my reading radar before, but finally made it into the stack that came home with me from a recent book-buying trip. This novel had a lot of buzz among my lit friends on Twitter last summer ago. I actually finished reading it just prior to posting this and can tell you that Erin has created a magically unique world, justifying the buzz.
- Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (2014). This was added to my reading list on sheer faith of this tweet from Anthony Marra, whose Constellation has gotten so much praise from me lately:
— Anthony Marra (@anthonyfmarra) June 2, 2014
Carryovers from Winter
- Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch (October 2013).
- Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (October 2013).
- Alice McDermott, Someone (September 2013).
Middle Grade or Young Adult Fiction
You may know that, from my own interests, from reading along with my sons and from teaching middle grade lit, I am an avid reader of middle grade and young adult fiction. These make my summer list:
- Gae Polisner, The Summer of Letting Go (March 2014). I’m excited to read this new release by a writer I came to know as one of the hosts of the annual TeachersWrite forum. Early reviews have been great! I’ve come to know her as frank, intelligent, and witty, and am interested to see how her voice plays out in the novel.
- E. Lockhart, We Were Liars (May 2014). Here’s another new release showing up on nearly every recommended reading list. The cover alone has that summer-mystique from childhood to pull me in.
- John Greene, An Abundance of Katherines (2008). One of my Best Reads of 2014 never made it onto one of my readings lists, and that is The Fault in Our Stars. Forget that it’s a movie this summer; you have to read the book. It will be a classic (and yes, you’ll cry through much of it). Credit to John Greene for being example of why adults read young adult fiction: Fault is one smart and passionate novel. So read that, if you haven’t. I, in the meantime, will be reading Katherines (recommended by a friend) or one of Greene’s others: Paper Towns or Looking for Alaska).
- Carl Hiaasen’s Scat, and Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. I’ll be buddy reading these along with my son, a rising 5th grader — they are part of his summer reading. If you have a child 4th-6th grade, these are great reads.
- Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012). Boo’s reporting of the “bewildering age of global change and inequality” through the inner stories of families in Mumbai was winner of the National Book Award, the PEN/John Galbraith Award, Los Angeles Times Book Prize… should I go on?
- Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure (January 2014). While it’s possible I’ll end up buying something else by Shteyngart (novels: Super Sad True Love Story or Russian Debutante’s Handbook) when I’m actually in the store, this memoir has been on my target list for some time.
- Elizabeth Berg, Escaping Into the Open (2012). This book made my reading list, sight unseen, as it is the book being shared by my Wordsmith Studios friends as a summer reading group. Smile at the thought of this great group.
- Colm Toibin, Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border (2001). I look forward to reading this account from one of my favorite Irish authors about the time and place where much of my current novel-in-progress is set. (More about my novel’s Irish connection here.)
Want more reading recommendations?
- Ron Slate shares: 30 Writers List Some Titles
- Like TED Talks? From the TED Blog: Summer Reading Lists 2014 from TED speakers
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What Are You Reading?
I’d love to hear your own reading suggestions in the comments. Let us know the favorite books you’ve read this year or ones on your must-reads list. If this inspires you to blog your own list, share link to your post so we can come read with you.
Where do the book links take you?
For convenience, you can click book titles for their link on Amazon — or find them at your favorite indie bookseller through indiebound.org:
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More on Books and Reading:
- My Reading List Winter 2014
- Reading: Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
- My Summer Reading List 2013
- March Reading Challenge: The Books You Always Meant to Read
- My Reading List: Winter 2013
- 2012: Year of the Book
Is Novel Revision your summer goal?