Top Summer Reads from 20 Bloggers

Katie Sluiter
Summer is here…or well, it’s almost here. Kids will be home from school, the weather will get hot, and days will get long. It’s also time to build your summer reading pile! We asked twenty bloggers what they suggest you add to your To Read List for this summer, and they very enthusiastically responded.
1. Galit Breen’s pick: Leaving Time by Jodi Piccoult
Leaving Time is written in Piccoult’s trademark style where you’re so sure of what you think, until you flip the page to a new perspective. I love the flawed characters, the intertwined stories, and the threaded theme of elephants. Yes, elephants. The way elephants do motherhood and grief is woven throughout this story of murder, friendship, and the mother-daughter relationship brilliantly. I couldn’t put this one down and would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Galit is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online

2. Jennifer Wolfe’s pick: These is My Words (Sarah Agnes Prine #1) by Nancy E. Turner
Summers are for imagining ourselves in other places, other lives, other times. These Is My Words is the first of three novels about Sarah Prine, an independent, feisty woman living, loving and mothering in Arizona in the early 1900s. I devoured this book, and at the end couldn’t wait to continue with books 2 and 3 – the author creates such a realistic, exciting and emotional story around Sarah and her family! These Is My Words is the perfect book to sweep you away, make you laugh and cry, and leave you begging for more.

Jennifer is a mom and middle school teacher and blogs at mamawolfe.

3. Amanda Rodriguez’s pick: Driven by K. Bromberg
Because summer is for relaxing and letting go, this book (along with the others in the series) are perfect. They’re sexy, they’re full of suspense, and they’re a fast-paced fun read. Probably want to hide it from your kids and like, put a The Help book cover over it so you look like someone super smart and cultured as opposed to someone who bought advanced tickets to see Magic Mike 2. What? It might sell out.

Amanda is a former middle school teacher who hilariously blogs at DudeMom

4. Tonya Wertman’s pick: In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
Judy Blume’s “In the Unlikely Event” tells the tale of three generations of a New Jersey family, set against actual events Blume experienced in the 1950s.

“Publishers Weekly” describes “In the Unlikely Event” as, “Characteristically accessible, frequently charming, and always deeply human.”

The three traits all American teenage girls fell in love with and grew to appreciate in Blume’s young adult books. I was no exception. I read and reread my copies of “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and “Forever” so many times that the covers and binding wore off. Blume’s stories and characters are relateable and endearing.

I am very excited for this new release and I’ll be anxiously awaiting it’s automatic download to my Kindle on June 2. Shortly there after, I’ll be locking myself in the bathroom away from the kids to savor the first “must read” on my summer 2015 reading list!

Tonya is the mom to Lucas and Lola and blogs at Letters For Lucas.

5. Rebekah Kuschmider’s pick: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
This book has been within easy reach ever since I first read it in 2001. It’s one I revisit when I need a smile. This essay collection is quintessential Sedaris – family stories that are as loving as they are hilarious, observations about the world that hit on deep truths while making your sides ache with laughter, and one essay about a giant turd. It’s a perfect beach read, take in an essay then take a dip to cool yourself off from all the laughing!

Rebekah formerly worked for the government doing federal policy, now she blogs about her opinion on politics at Stay At Home Pundit

6. Jennie Goutet’s pick: The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
If you want to sink into a long summer read, this thick book is just Part One of a thrilling trilogy that I found impossible to put down. Tatiana and Alexandre meet in Leningrad right as World War II is about to break out. The pull of their love story is both powerful, and torturously slow, as family loyalty, neighboring spies, and the eventual siege of Leningrad force them to keep it quiet.

I found Alexandre’s secret, which is revealed early on in the book, to be mind-blowing – a possibility I had never dreamed of. And Tatiana’s petite frame belies a physical, moral, and emotional strength that impacted me even after I finished the books.

Paullina Simons’ grandmother lived through the siege of Leningrad, and the details she presents of what people endured during the siege are vivid and haunting. This book is truly historical fiction at its best.

Jennie is an American living in France with her French husband and children who blogs at A Lady in France.

7. Laura O’Rourke’s pick: The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
This isn’t just the book of the summer, I’m sure The Girl on the Train will be in contention for the book of the year. Released in January, this is one of those hot books that everyone is talking about. And what better time to read something hot than on a beach somewhere.

The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller that is sure to have you questioning and guessing until the end. Who committed the murder and did Rachel, the girl on the train, have anything to do with it?

Laura is the mom to three boys and blogs at Mommy Miracles.

8. Grace Sandra’s pick: The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Bruchard
After recently starting a new position and struggling through the first few months, I was gifted this book as a pick-me-up to help me remember where true, meaningful motivation comes from. I read through the into a couple of times before I was able to soak in all the deep truths packed into 8 or 9 pages. I’m only on chapter 2 honestly, but I know it’s going to be a game changer. I’m deeply thankful for authors like Brendon who take the time to produce such a deeply rich and quality book that will serve generations to come.

Grace is a mom who can be found writing about social justice, race, mental health, the church and so much more at Grace Sandra.

9. Leigh Ann Torres’ pick: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
I know I have a good book on my hands when I start casting the movie in my head. Then when I find out that there actually is a movie in the works, I feel a little psychic, but pleased that other people have appreciated this story as much as I have.

The Rosie Project was the first book in a long time that I haven’t wanted to put down. It’s not suspenseful. It’s not heartbreaking. It’s a fun, entertaining story in which you root for the characters despite their flaws. Maybe even in spite of them. In fact, Don Tillman is cringe-worthy in his social awkwardness and neuroses. But author Graeme Simsion infuses Don with a humanity that the reader can relate to and grow to love. The Rosie Project is the perfect summer page turner. And if you love it as much as I did, you can turn around and pick up its sequel, The Rosie Effect and just keep on living with these characters for a little while longer.

Leigh Ann comically chronicles her life as a mom to twin girls plus one more daughter on her blog Genie in a Blog.

10. Dawana Hug’s pick: The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Sometimes I like to read books that take me away to a completely different world… actually, I like to read books like that all of the time, who am I kidding? The Divergent series is just that.

You’ll find yourself swept away to a post-apocalyptic world where everyone in society belongs to one of five factions. If you’re like me, you’ll connect right away with the heroine and find yourself cheering for her through all three books. It was difficult for me to put the books down and I found myself reading through feverishly because I desperately wanted to know what would happen next.

I won’t give you any spoilers, but I’d be interested to know what you think of the ending.

Haven’t seen the movies? Don’t. Read the books first- it’ll make the movies that much more enjoyable.

Dawana works in education and blogs about her life as a mom and educator.

11. Miranda Wicker’s pick: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is, by now, no longer a new release. (There’s even a movie starring Ben Affleck!) The reason it qualifies as a great summer read for me is simple: I read it during the summer. Gone Girl grabbed my attention when I found it on the lending library shelf at the beach house we rented in 2013. It had been months since I’d read a book at that point, and my brain was craving a great story. I spent the first part of the week relaxing, reading, and jumping into the world of Amazing Amy and her husband.

Neither character is perfect or blameless for how their story plays out, and Gone Girl will have you rooting for and hating both of them in equal measure. You won’t be able to put it down. (Then check out Sharp Objects for more of Flynn’s style!)

Miranda is a former high school English teacher turned pop culture junkie. Her personal blog is Caffeine and Cabernet

12. Casey Carey-Brown’s pick: Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
Who doesn’t want to be happy? I’ll answer that for you. Everyone. Everyone wants to be happy and most of us have no idea how to get there. Especially as parents, we are tired, overworked, and overwhelmed. I don’t have time for meditation. I don’t even have time to make my bed. Or maybe it’s just that I forget to make my bed. Real Happiness takes mediation and happiness and every struggle I’ve ever had (and continue to have on the regular, that’s why they’re called struggles, they just keep going) and makes it all so easy. So simple. So real. Sharon Salzberg was experienced major loss in her childhood and talks about it right away. She’s not coming from a place of unicorns and rainbows. She’s coming from heartbreak and pain and tells you how she got out of it, how she continues to get out of it. This book is practical, real, and one I keep going back to. I have the audiobook on my phone so I can listen every few months and the kindle copy too so I can review highlighted sections on hard days. This book will teach you how to be better, how to be more compassionate, more patient, and happier. So much happier.

Casey is the mom to Roozle. Her life rules. She blogs about it at Life with Roozle.

13. Rachel Stafford’s pick: Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful & Live Intentionally by Patti Digh
This book came into my life when I needed direction & inspiration. I wanted to be an author, but didn’t have the confidence or belief that could get published. I wanted to spend more time living each day, rather than simply getting through each day. I wanted to see beauty in my everyday moments that had become invisible to my critical eyes. Patti Digh awakened my soul through the pages of this book. With story-telling abilities that leave you smiling, laughing, feeling, believing, and connecting, your hesitations subside and the life you yearn to live becomes possible.

Rachel is the author of the book and blog Hands Free Mama.

14. Stephanie Dulli’s pick: Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Even months after having finished Little Bee, I find myself thinking of it and of her. There is no way to really describe the story and the ride it takes you on without giving away the ending. While it’s not a “feel good summer read” it’s hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read and I recommend it to everyone. It really will make you laugh, cry and think. You’ll be changed by experiencing this story.

Stephanie is a recovering actress and comedian turned photographer and blogger at Stephanie Says.

15. Julie Gardner’s pick: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
A book set in the darkest days of World War II may seem an unusual choice for a summer read; but Anthony Doerr’s writing is so lyrical and luminous, I felt transported from the first paragraph.

Doerr’s brief chapters (beautiful one or two page nuggets flashing forward and backward in time) weave together the stories of Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig whose lives appear disparate even as their futures bend toward each other.

Doerr’s language is delicate and sensory; his interlocking plots are intricately rendered; the results are nothing short of breathtaking.

Julie is a former high school English teacher who loves Shakespeare and loathes Joyce. She is now a writer who practices her craft on her blog, By Any Other Name

16. Neil Kramer’s pick: The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Summer is a good time for laughter, and no recent book makes me laugh more than this one about a hundred year old man who escapes from his nursing home and goes on an unlikely adventure.

Neil is an iphone photographer and blogger at Citizen of the Month.

17. Kristin Shaw’s pick: The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer
I love to read books with a lot of action and intrigue, and The Inner Circle is full of both. The protagonist is a young employee of the National Archives in D.C., and he stumbles upon conspiracy, murder, and lies within the President’s inner circle, and the historical detail is fabulous. This is an easy summer read because it’s fast-paced and fascinating, perfect for lazy days with no schedule. For more fast-paced excitement, check out Vince Flynn’s work as well.

Kristin is a mother and writer. She blogs at Two Cannoli.

18. Angela Amman’s pick: Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue spins the threads of an actual unsolved mystery into the sweltering, breathless Frog Music. The novel explores the events surrounding the murder of Jenny Bonnet, a murder that took place in San Francisco, in the midst of a heat wave and smallpox outbreak in 1876.

Millionaires and paupers, discarded children and opportunists come to life on the pages of Donoghue’s novel, each of them holding pieces to the mystery and tragedy of Bonnet’s murder. Readers feel the stifling air of the city, the desperation of the characters, and the small respite they find in the simple moments — many of which are told through bits and snippets of popular songs of the late 1800s. Frog Music stays with the reader long after the end of the story, one that unfolds at a pace that doesn’t feel rushed but dares you to put down the book for longer than a few minutes.

Jenny Bonnet explains early in her friendship with Blanche Beunon, “I like stories.” Her story, told through Blanche’s eyes, weaves from a French circus to Chinatown, from San Francisco’s bordellos to shacks on the outskirts of town. Donoghue paints an unflinching portrait of the lives of immigrants trying to make their way through a society finding its ethical lines one crime at a time, but she does so with gorgeous, languid prose that feels perfect for summer reading.

Angela not only loves to read, but she writes both fiction and non. Find her at Playing with Words.

19. Greta Funk’s pick: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This is a classic murder mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end, perfect for a summer weekend.

Greta is a photographer and mother who blogs at GFunkified.

20. My pick: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I think people often too quickly dismiss the “classics” when they think of “summer reading,” but East of Eden has all the good page-turning drama of a lazy beach read. It’s a story of two families, the Hamiltons and the Trasks. It is said that the Hamilton family is loosely based on Steibeck’s maternal grandmother’s family. It is filled with family secrets and drama and has some of the most beautiful descriptions of the Salinas Valley, California I have ever read.

I began reading the novel on the beach in Myrtle Beach ten years ago and finished it up quickly after coming home. I have compared every book I have read as a “summer read” to it since then and none have come close to being as compelling.

I am a mother, teacher, and writer. I blog at Sluiter Nation.

What is on your reading list this summer? Share with us!

Top Summer Reading Picks from 20 Bloggers

This post was curated by Katie Sluiter exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.