Summer books

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s a fairly traditional beach book list from Southern Living:

The Best New Summer Books of 2017

and a more ambitious list from the Washington Post:


What are you reading this summer?


74 thoughts on “Summer books

  1. If you like crime/detective novels, try anything by Tana French (Irish). Also, Helene Tursten (Swedish).

    I’ve read a couple of books by Liane Moriarty of Big Little Lies fame and enjoyed them.

  2. Not much. I’ve been busy with work this summer. I am looking forward to book recommendations for my Fall reading! I did read Handmaiden’s Tale, which I didn’t really enjoy.

  3. My favorite book that I’ve read this year is Beartown by Fredick Bachmann. If you read A Man Called Ove or his other books, this is a little different. Darker. But I loved it.

    I also recently read Michael Lewis’ new one – The Undoing Project. I really liked it, but I think it was maybe a little more wonky than some of his others. However, I am really interested in Behavioral Economics, so it was really interesting to me.

  4. I finally read the Living Great Lakes, which has been mentioned a few times here. What I liked about it was that it was one of the few books I’ve read recently that didn’t make me cry. Before that book I read Nightingale.

  5. I really enjoyed “This Is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel.

    If you like snarky mysteries, you might enjoy Judith Flanders – the first book is called A Murder of Magpies. The protagonist is a book editor who lives in London.

    Ivy – I got part way through both Beartown and The Undoing Project. I should pick them both up again. But I’ve been in the mood for lighter reading.

    For some light-hearted total summer fluff, there’s My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith.

    And I think I’m the only person who read Atonement and didn’t like it.

  6. I have been reading Hidden Figures, and Lucky Bastard (Joe Buck’s autobiography) and Smart Baseball (really inside baseball).

  7. And two memoirs I recently enjoyed are Amy Dickinson’s Strangers Tend To Tell Me Things (Amy is an advice columnist) and Russell Baker’s Growing Up. His early years were in rural Virginia – he was born in the 20th century but his early years feel like they could have been in the 19th century. Then his family moved to New Jersey and then Baltimore during the Great Depression. Great charm and humor.

  8. I am reading a history of the Korean war written by David Halberstam

    I wanted to learn more about the Korean war because of all the current tensions. And I am – but even more, I am learning about all the tensions in the US in the immediate postwar period. It was a time of resurgent populism and isolationism, largely on the Republican side, though some Democrats bought in too. The US military was caught with its pants down because of cost cutting. Amazingly, much of the pressure to reduce the military budget came from the Republican side, especially its isolationist wing which was very strong at the time. But Truman who was a fiscal hawk himself, went right along with it. Halberstam presents the era right before the Korean War as a time when the US was trying to decide whether to go back to an isolationist, America First position, or whether to become an international superpower. So the book really speaks to our current period.

    Also, Halberstam totally and utterly hates General MacArthur, who he sees as pompous, dangerously out of touch, walled up in Tokyo away from the battlefield, and no longer mentally sharp due to his age.

    A very interesting read

  9. I’m swooping in to recommend A Gentleman in Moscow and a new book I just got called Standard Deviation. I’m only about 30 pages in but it seems to be a cross between Where’d You Go Bernadette and Big Little Lies (without the big serious issue in that book).

    I am not been able to comment or even read many of the posts recently because my DD is getting married in just over 2 weeks! Very exciting, but so much stuff to be done. Public service reminder: please rsvp when you get an invitation!!! Having to call, email or text people who don’t tell you if they are coming is extremely frustrating.

    I’ll be ready to do a post on this fun topic when it is all over!

  10. Before the book on the Korean War, I read one of the few dystopian novels I have ever liked.

    As you guys know, I am more of a nonfiction reader because I prefer the ambiguity of real life. That is what makes this book work – it is so ambiguous. Is this divided up world a good thing or bad? Who has it better, really – the elites in their charter villages , always competing and terrified they might lose, or the working class denizens of B-more, where descendents of the “New Chinese” and the original African American residents live in extended families, go to the mall, and work busily growing fish for the charter villages. And what happens to Fan in the end? I keep thinking about her.

  11. I’ll be checking comments for ideas. I’m thoroughly enjoying the Neapolitan Novels, and I’m not sure what I love about this series. It’s the first fiction I’ve read in years, but I relate closely to the characters and their experiences. The author uses an interesting run-on writing style that seems right for the story. I’m on the second book and I wish there were more than four of them. Before that I finally finished Guns of August. That was enjoyable in a different way. The writing style is magnificent and the characters are fascinating, but due to my ignorance of history and geography I had to keep checking bios and maps as I read. I will probably enjoy it even more when I re-read it.

  12. BTW, the Neapolitan Novels series books each have a section that lists all the characters with short descriptions. I find it very helpful when authors do this.

  13. @SSK – congratulations and good luck with the wedding! I put Standard Deviation on hold based on the Wash Post article linked above, and I’m glad to have your recco as well.

  14. Loving the Moriarity books but some are better than others. The audiobooks are also great.
    Reading The Warmth of Other Suns which is terrific. And Call the Midwife.

  15. Laura – I thought that was a given, along with all the other books by that author.

    I also recently read Tea Planters Wife and very much enjoyed it.

  16. @LFB – doesn’t look like that book is out yet. ;) I did just search for it at the library, and I see that we have the Polish versions of the first two books.

  17. Did I already recommend Spain in our Hearts? It’s about the Americans who idealistically went to fight in the Spanish Civil War (and got killed, for the most part) and also about the huge role Texaco played in supporting Franco.

  18. If you like snarky mysteries, you might enjoy Judith Flanders – the first book is called A Murder of Magpies. The protagonist is a book editor who lives in London.

    I am on the waiting list for the library ebook and I’m something like number forty (for one copy). It’s good to know it’ll be worth the wait!

  19. I liked “No one cares about crazy people”.
    I read the novel by our beloved novelist and liked it.
    I find it hard to get into fiction these days so I will go through the suggestions and pick out all the non fiction books.

  20. I read Mrs Saint and the Defectives. Good story and really enjoyed this book. Use Kindle first if you don’t want to wait at the library.

    I just finished the new Grisham. I liked it, but I didn’t like the ending. I don’t know why he has so much trouble with wrapping up his novels.

    I enjoyed Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Many years ago, we read some books on TOS for a book club. I think we read Lee’s first novel. This one is very different, but she is a great storyteller.

  21. I’ve been reading a lot of YA and some middle grade

    Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (I feel like I should have seen the twist but I didn’t)
    Kids of Appetite by David Arnold (he lives in Kentucky!)
    George by Alex Gino about a trans girl in 4th grade, really good book
    It’s Kind of A Funny Story , I watched the movie years ago, the book is so good

  22. I still need to read Big Little Lies, I am a fan of her other books
    I want to read Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Girl on the Train author)

  23. I read Schindler’s List and then saw the movie. Had never read the book, I wonder how I did not read it all these years.

  24. The Big Little Lies book was better than the HBO miniseries, IMO.
    Anyone tried the free BookBub service? You get daily emails listing several low-cost e-books in the genres you specified when signing up. The books are usually under $3.

  25. @LFB – Ah! Thanks. Usually I get my books from the library, but I will make an exception for this one. ;)

  26. Louise – some nonfiction for you:

    Wine & War
    White Trash. The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
    Beyond the Tiger Mom
    Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?
    The Italians
    Fed, White, and Blue
    Call the Nurse
    The Art of the Con
    Notorious RGB

  27. Some of those you’ll need to add “book” when you google to get anything but a dictionary definition.

  28. Fiction I’ve been reading:

    The Regional Office is Under Attack! – odd but fun
    The Secrets of Wishtide – not far into it, first mystery by an author we have various kids’ books and one other adult book (not a mystery) by, including one of my daughter’s favorites, Beswitched.
    Chicks and Balances – humorous fantasy short stories, a mixed bag
    At Bertram’s Hotel (Christie) – rereading
    Superfluous Women (Carola Dunn) – also reread a couple of her old ones
    A Man of Reputation – classic country house mystery mixed with some cold war spycraft
    Sufficiently Advanced Magic

  29. I had one title wrong — it’s actually A Man of Some Repute, not A Man of Reputation. That’s a problem with reading on Kindle — you don’t see the book’s cover so much!

  30. “NPCs”

    Net price calculators?

    I can see that you might be reading a bunch of them, but are they fiction?

  31. Totally off-topic, because the other alternative is doing my timesheets: thanks to the fostering, we are getting a new cat. The surprise is that it’s NOT because of DD, nor is it one of the foster kitties.

    I went today to drop foster mom off to be spayed (kittens were done and out for adoption @ 1-2 weeks ago) and noticed an adorable young cat there. So when I went back for pickup, I went to pet said adorable cat while waiting for them to get my foster for me. I was shocked to see that the poor critter had a front leg amputated — the lady told me that some worthless-scum-pretending-to-be-human had SHOT her! And she is THE sweetest cat and desperate for attention — she came right over to be petted and petted and petted, falling over at times in her exertions. How do you even let a human close to you after one, you know, SHOT you?? Much less remain completely sweet and adorable?

    And then she goes and gulps down some food, then comes back to be petted some more; petting, food, petting, food, petting, food, until the entire plate of food was gone. At which point the lady comes back and says, “oh, good, she ate — she has been refusing food.”

    Done. Game, set, match. Clearly I have been adopted.

    DH is pissed, but he has no more say in it than I did. She has spoken, we must obey. (Plus he did say before we started fostering that it would be ok if we ended up with a third cat, so no way the man gets to renege now.)

  32. Please post pictures as soon as possible. I want to see this cute, irresistible kitty.

  33. LfB – that is adorable.

    On pets – I had an amusing text exchange with my sis the other day. My kids are staying with her and she has dogs. Me: Do you think the kids will pick up dog poop. Sis: with a shovel Me: no a bag Sis: Gross. poop emoji. Sis: I have never used the poop emoji before. Thanks for that.

    My brother weighed in with a “get your kids a damn dog already”. The kids are clearly pestering everyone. DH is holding firm at No. I am wavering.

  34. Damn, Rhett, now I’m getting all teary-eyed!

    I am such a sap. :-)

  35. LfB – we are highly allergic to cats in my house… but I want to take her!!! So adorable! I wish you a long and happy foster period (or forever period… failing at fostering isn’t terrible you know).

    I’m trying to read Murder on the Orient Express in anticipation of the movie. By the time the move is on Blue Ray I’ll be done. I need to devote time to reading. Sadly it doesn’t happen. Sigh.

    P.S. about 6 months ago a lot of you sent me NOLA recommendations (and I believe I thanked you all profusely). Said list is now headed to my friend who will be in NOLA this December for a huge conference. She’s excited for all the restaurant choices.

  36. We need a pet post. I’m getting ready to cave on a dog. Which is all discussions between DH and I is referred to as a “Toyota Carolla” because we cannot risk being overheard.

  37. Tangent: I ordered $37 in school supplies from WalMart and they are shipping as 5 different packages. That can’t be cost effective for WalMart.

  38. I received several items from the Nordstrom anniversary sale in different boxes. One box that was approx 24 x 16 contained one pair of black workout leggings. that’s it! It is such a waste of money and a hassle for me to do all of the recycling break down when I received four separate boxes for small items. Most of the items except for the Uggs could have been sent in a plastic envelope instead of a box.

  39. What do you all do about pet-sitters when you travel? If I’m only gone for a few days it’s not an issue; I’ve got a lovely young woman who is a vet tech who stops by to take care of my kitty. But I’m slightly panicking about my two-week trip in Greece in October. I may have a line on someone to live in for that time. But I hate to leave a 20-year-old cat with just a daily visitor for that long.

  40. Netflix has commissioned a series based on Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra. I hope it will be good.

    I have gotten sucked into watching home country comics doing their stand up routines on Netflix. Some parts are good but the shows need to be more complelling from beginning to end.

  41. My boy cat was the runt of his litter and the foster human hovered over him. He wouldn’t let any of the rest of her family near him. I sat down on the floor at Petsmart and he crawled into my shirt. Her jaw dropped. So when a pet chooses you like that, you dare not turn away.

    Rocky, you can pay someone for twice a day visits, which are needed for some cats on medication. Try the potential sitter out on your next trip to Santa Cruz. Your kind neighbor can be the emergency contact with the extra key.

  42. LfB, that’s wonderful!

    Rocky, our cat is 15 and we just have someone stop over every day.

  43. Google Newstand was mentioned in a comment yesterday. From what I can tell this app consolidates all my newspapers so I could access them all from one app instead of having one app for each publication. Is that the main benefit?

  44. We adopted a puppy yesterday for my oldest’s 10th birthday. We finally caved after four years of pleading.

    I like Liane Moriarty books a lot but I actually abandoned Truly, Madly, Guilty half way through. I finally read “The Goldfinch” on vacation and liked it well enough but not totally getting everyone’s raving about it. I also read AnneTyler’s Vinegar Girl which was her retelling of Taming of the Shrew. Apparently a bunch of authors did modern retellings of Shakespeare plays over the last few years (Hogarth Shakespeare series) and that was her contribution.

    Eleanor and Park is really charming and I’ve been reading some books with my oldest DD – the Betsy-Tacy series is fantastic for young girls (I really enjoyed it as an adult).

  45. What do you all do about pet-sitters when you travel?

    We hire my daughter’s entrepreneurial friend. In the past when my kids (and their friends ) were younger, we hired my friend’s daughter. But it doesn’t sound like “responsible neighborhood teen” is what you’re looking for.

  46. But it doesn’t sound like “responsible neighborhood teen” is what you’re looking for.

    Yeah. I suppose I’m being neurotic. But she’s so old. I have a line on a friend of a friend who might be willing to stay at the house for two weeks, so I’m crossing my fingers.

  47. Did you guys see this one? The hell with buying experiences — buy yourself some free time.
    A college friend tagged me on FB with this one, saying “You always said you were a true liberal — see a problem, throw money at it.” Sometimes it works!

  48. So, thanks for the “Murder of Magpies” recommendation — picked it up at the library yesterday and am enjoying it. The only problem is that I can’t help seeing Rocky as the main character. :-)

  49. The only problem is that I can’t help seeing Rocky as the main character. :-)

    !! Now I have to look into it.

  50. I’ll have to look into that book that reminds LfB of RMS.

    I have been reading the suggestions HM posted. I loved Wine and War.
    I am reading Beyond the Tiger Mom.
    My DD glanced over and saw that I was at the “Asian kids and Math” section. She recoiled in horror.

  51. I just finished Mountains Beyond Mountains. Wow, do I feel like an inadequate, spoiled slacker. Really good read.

  52. “My DD glanced over and saw that I was at the “Asian kids and Math” section. She recoiled in horror.”


  53. Ivy – the book will reveal the secret of the high scores kids in Singapore get on the international Math tests :-).

  54. I just finished Mountains Beyond Mountains. Wow, do I feel like an inadequate, spoiled slacker.

    Right? That book is amazing. Farmer is kind of superhuman.

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