For the purposes of this list I am measuring summer, not in its official capacity, but in its popular capacity from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Here are the books I read, in the order in which I read them. With the exception of Reached by Ally Condie (the third book in the “Matched” series) & The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George, I enjoyed every single one.
1. The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
2. The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt
3. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
5. In the Woods by Tana French
6. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
If you want to read my comments on these six books, I gave them in a post earlier this summer titled “Because of the Heat”.
7. Headhunters by Jo Nesbo – I know this author because of his young readers books (The Fart Powder series, in case you are interested. Ben loved them.) and so when I saw his name associated with murder mysteries, I was intrigued. Also, he’s Swedish, and they tend to turn out pretty good mystery writers in that corner of the world, for some reason. This is not a book in a series – not one of his Harry Hole mysteries – but it is fantastic. Short, concise and gripping. I recommend not starting it late in the evening unless you have nothing to do the next day and can sleep in.
8. Reached by Ally Condie – As I mentioned before, this is the third book in the “Matched” series, a YA fiction story that is part Uglies, part Hunger Games and way too forcedly philosophical, at least in book three. Skip this series and go straight to Divergent by Veronica Roth. Now THAT is dystopian fiction at its finest.
9. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – This book suffers from a poor synopsis. I put off reading it for ages because every synopsis says something like “Girl steals books in Nazi Germany” or “Young girl steals books from the Nazi’s, even though she can barely read.” Yawn. But then two friends of mine told me how much they loved it, so I pulled it off the shelf. And here’s a little tidbit they should tell you in the synopsis – the story is told in its entirety by the grim reaper. Yep. Death. And death has quite the sense of humor! And empathy. In short, this book is about a lot more than a girl who steals books from the Nazi’s…. And it is great.
10. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson – Non fiction. A journalist goes in search of a mysterious letter writer and winds up finding out more about psychopathy than he ever thought he wanted to know. Including the fact that even the sanest of us sometimes exhibit psychopathic traits. But if we question our own sanity? Not a psychopath. Funny, well-written and very informative (if you really want to know).
11. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – Set in New Orleans in the 1950′s this story follows the daughter of a prostitute in her struggle to find a life apart from her mother and the world she inhabits. Great. Great. Great.
12. I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak: Zusak scored two books on my summer reading list, and if anything, I liked this one even more than The Book Thief. Ally Condie take note: this is how philosophical, thought-provoking and inspiring stories are written. Note: Messenger is not dystopian fiction, by any means. The lead character is a nineteen year old cab driver, who foils a bank robbery and then has his life turned upside down for reasons he cannot fathom. If you’re choosing a Zusak book, choose this one first.
13. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: No other author could tell a story about loving ghosts raising a live boy whose family is murdered and whose life is constantly in danger the way Gaiman does. In fact, no one else could tell this story, period. I also love that it is illustrated – so few books that aren’t “picture books” are these days.
14. This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer – The only issue I have with this book, which is number 3 in the “Life as We Knew It” quartet, is that like its two predecessors it is eerily imaginable. My kids love dystopian fiction and gore, but these books make them nervous. They are too real. I love them because they are well written, not too long and they make me think. As in, what would I do in the same situation? Book 2 is set in New York City and so comes across as even more prescient. I recommend them all. (And the 4th book just hit stores last week. I haven’t read it yet.)
That’s it. Not bad for a summer’s worth of reading. What were your favorite books of the summer?