11 Of The Best Books For Summer

11 Of The Best Books For Summer

{Note from Rhi; this is such an apt list as I’m probably sunning myself on the beach in Croatia as you read this -don’t be jel. Thanks to Liz Furl for writing this gorgeous and inspiring post!}

As winter fades into spring and with it brings the hope of summer, there comes a time to change up your reading material. You need books befitting the season, books that can be picked up for every spring shower, every unseasonably warm day, every beautiful Sunday afternoon, and every day you feel like taking a light-hearted jaunt into your childhood.

summer books

Here are my eleven best books for Summer, each with an occasion to suit their material.

For A Gray And Rainy Day

Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

Lacey’s meandering, thoughtful prose will teach you new ways to think about how to write, but better yet, it will give you a new definition of what a novel can be. Perfect for those spring drizzles, the melancholy yet strong tone will entrance you immediately, and sprint you through to the end. Before you know it, and before the weather changes, you’ll be finished and thoroughly satisfied. Best of all, Lacey’s a young writer, a Millennial by all definitions, who gives us hope that we too can make it in publishing, no matter our youth.

Notable quote:

“I sat up and again looked at the picture of the man who owned the ocean and wished I could please become him now, pinch my nose, close my eyes, and jump into some other life.”

For An Early Beach Day

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Many of us have already read Martel’s book, or have seen the beautiful rendering on screen, but even if you have, it’s worth a reread. If you haven’t, believe me when I say that it’s perfect for a gorgeous day at the seaside. The oceanic landscape will mesh perfectly with the waves, and the storyline (a boy trapped on a life raft with a hungry tiger) will keep you enthralled. Pick up a paperback copy, and prepare to shake the sand from the pages.

Notable quote:

“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud…”

For A Sleepless Night

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Part love story, part post-apocalyptic adventure, part tale of a somewhat twisted friendship, Atwood’s famous prose won’t necessarily help put you to sleep, but it will certainly give you something to do while you wait to be tired.

Notable quote:

“After everything that’s happened, how can the world still be so beautiful? Because it is.”

For A Thunderstorm

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Wait for an intense storm before beginning this mind-bending horror. It will set the tone for a story that begins with a man obsessed, indeed utterly consumed by the story of a house whose owners discover is bigger on the outside than out. From there, the exploration of the unexplainable passageways begins – as does simultaneously hunting and avoiding the mysterious beast that lurks within. If you’re in the mood to be creeped out, Danielewski’s footnote-littered, image focused novel will absolutely deliver.

Notable quote:

“Sometimes it’s just silent…No sound at all.

‘Does that scare you?’

Chad nods.

‘Why?’ asks his father.

‘It’s like something’s waiting.”

For An Inspirational Day

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

I found this book in the midst of a major quarter-life-crisis moment. I felt I would never make it as a writer, and that my podcast and magazine would never “take off” like I wanted. In other words, I felt like the ultimate underdog. Then I discovered Gladwell.

His words taught me that being an underdog allows you to break the mold, to try things that established people would never touch, and that the right amount of adversity can ensure your success, instead of hindering your progress. If you ever feel down on your luck and need a pick-me-up, pick this up. You’ll emerge energized and ready to take on the world.

Notable quote:

“Much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of (these) one-sided conflicts. Because the act of facing overwhelming odds, produces greatness and beauty.”

For A Nostalgic Day

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

If you’re like me, you ate this series up like potato chips when you were a tween. Who couldn’t love the story of Lyra, a girl who flew in the face of conventional “lady-like” behavior to pursue adventure and righting wrongs instead? There’s a charming mix of friendship, fantasy, love, and action that never seems to let up or resolve – at least until the end of book three: The Amber Spyglass.  So maybe this is three book recommendations in one. . .#SorryNotSorry

Notable quote:

“So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in, and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky.”

For A Thoughtful Day

My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Translated from the Norwegian, Knausgaard’s novel has nothing to do with Mein Kampf, so no worries there. Instead, it catalogues a boyhood, a marriage, a difficult father-son relationship, and a meditation on death, but it never wanders into melancholy areas. Instead, the material, often focusing on the minutia of daily life, is addictive and engaging. It’s a long read, so it may take you many thoughtful days to get through, but it’s well worth the investment.

Notable quote:

“The sun rose in my life. At first, as dawn breaking on the horizon, almost as if to say, this is where you have to look. Then came the first rays of sunshine, everything became clearer, lighter, more alive, and I became happier and happier, and then it hung in the sky of my life and shone and shone and shone.”

For The First Warm Day

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

An unseasonably warm day is perfect for letting the heat of the Congo setting sink straight into your bones. This book is as much about place as it is about family, specifically a Baptist minister, his wife, and four daughters. The women in the family take turns narrating their experiences transitioning from a life in 1950’s Georgia to the depths of the African jungle, touching on cultural differences, disease, religion, connection, and growth. The exotic setting combined with five strong female voices make it a compelling read, and any hint of hot weather will only enhance the experience.

Notable quote:

“A choir of seedlings arching their necks out of rotted tree stumps, sucking life out of death. I am the forest’s conscience, but remember, the forest eats itself and lives forever.”

For A Lazy Sunday

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

Despite the title, this memoir can be remarkably funny. It chronicles the lives of Topher and Dave, two brothers who were orphaned at an early age. Dave takes on the task of raising Topher, and the book becomes about brotherly love, creative growth, love, and transcendence, all mixed with Eggers’ distinctive voice. On a lazy day with nothing else to do, it’s a fast-paced, yet literary read that’s a guaranteed joy, and – it must be said – completely worthwhile for the bit about “the maneuvers” alone.

Notable quote:

“Why did we do that to Pluto? We had it good with Pluto.”

For Reading In Pieces Over Several Days

2666 by Roberto Bolaño

Explaining this book is complicated. It’s written in five parts, each making their steady way to the fictional town of Santa Teresa (a fictionalized version of the real-life Ciudad Juárez) where countless women have gone missing. Each part focuses on a different tale: the first a story of four academics searching out a reclusive author, the second about a single father and professor who travels from Spain to Santa Teresa with his daughter, the third an American journalist who travels to the city to cover a local boxing match, the fourth which chronicles the murders of the missing women, and the fifth which brings the entire novel back to its start by telling the history of the very author the academics were searching for. It’s a long book, but beautifully told, and with the added intrigue of being the last novel Bolaño had written before he passed away. It will take time to get through, but you’ll emerge astounded by the power of literature.

Notable quote:

“Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people’s ideas, like listening to music (oh yes), like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach.”

For Any Day

Tirza by Arnon Grunberg

Those outside of Europe may not know of Grunberg, the wunderkind. He published his first book at 23, and has received baskets upon baskets of praise ever since. Tirza is his tenth novel, published only twelve years after his first—Grunberg is nothing if not prolific. The novel itself deals with a disappeared-then-reappeared wife, a father’s relationship with an estranged daughter who eventually also disappears, and his quest to find her. The prose is lively, the pages will practically turn themselves, and the twist at the end? You’ll never see it coming.

Notable quote:

“His own past seems like another life. Someone else lived it, someone else was the editor of literature in translation, someone else had gone to all those places, someone else had wanted to do away with love. He had always been in Namibia, with Kaisa.”

Those are eleven of my picks, but the libraries and bookstores teem with so many more. What are your favorites? Do leave a comment, and your recommendations. Goodness knows we could all use a good Summer read.


3 thoughts on “11 Of The Best Books For Summer

  1. I’ve wanted to read Life of Pi for a while now but never got round to it, maybe I’ll read it this summer? There’s also a couple of books on here I haven’t heard of before so I might just have to look them up 😉 I love discovering new books hehe!
    Hope you enjoy reading those books during the summer 😀


  2. Pingback: Five Minute Book Review: I Am The Messenger | chapterandcircle

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