One of my favorite summer activities as a teenager was spending long, lazy afternoons lying on a lawn chair in our backyard under the shade of our eucalyptus tree, reading Georgette Heyer novels, while boats droned along the river near our house and cicadas chirped in the bush. All through my teenage years, and well into my young adult years, I spent my summers working through a big stack of books while I lazed in the yard or by the pool, or sunbathed at the beach, toes burrowed in the sand and gulls soaring overhead. As long as I can remember, summer + reading = heaven.

Of course, as an adult, I’ve found that summers aren’t quite as carefree as they were when I was young (also, I no longer read romance novels). Having been a mother for nearly twenty-three years now, with two teenagers still at home, I’ve had my share of busy and stressful summers that have hardly allowed me time to read while I’m in the bathroom, let alone read while lazing by the pool. Last summer I think I hit my all-time summer-reading low: only TWO books completed between May and September. But I start out every summer with an optimistically tall pile of books that I am looking forward to working my way through during all that downtime I will have. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Since the school year for us ends this Friday, summer officially begins in our house this week (gulp!), and I’m ready to tackle my summer reading pile. Problem is, I still need to add some books to that pile, but I’ve been sort of out of the reading loop for a while. So far I plan on reading Margot Livesey’s The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken (am I the only one who hasn’t read it yet?), Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, and Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls (can you tell I’m a little behind the times?). I also need to read Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest, since I was recently asked to start a YW book club in our ward (incidentally, I’m hopelessly uninformed when it comes to young adult books, so I could really use some help with YA book recommendations) and we’re reading this novel for June. Since I’d like to make my summer reading pile just a little bit taller, I’d love a few more suggestions.

So, what books have you read lately? What’s on your summer reading list? Do you have any suggestions for young adult books that my young women would love to read? Is it difficult for you to find time to read during the summer? If not, what am I doing wrong? I may not be able to spend hours every afternoon lying in my backyard or by the pool lost in a book, but with your help, I can certainly try to recapture some of that summer reading bliss.

24 Comments

  1. BB

    May 22, 2012

    Left a couple replies on Twitter for this too. Got all excited to tell my list as I just got the books in the mail last week. I read & study a lot and fast – and I love it – so i had to stock up.

    Here’s my routine: I get up an hour early so I can read a chapter in Miracle of Forgiveness. For scripture study I switch off between a lesson in the Book of Mormon study guide, a section of a chapter in Preach My Gospel, and a chapter in Teachings of the Presidents (am in George Albert Smith book right now). I do one each day before bed, then do my Gospel Principles (Sunday School Chapter) and a section of the Young Women’s Progress on 2 other nights(I know I’m way too old but as a 50-yr old convert I missed all that). That’s 5 nights for study. Works out great, and I get a lot covered w/o it seeming daunting.

    I got a mix of fun, serious and intellectual reads for the morning bath – Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, The Story of the Latter Day Saints, Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, Challenged by the Book of Mormon, What is Mormonism All About, & America’s Prophet (in addition to the Miracle of Forgiveness). I’m not reading the Bible except through the references in my studies cause I just finished that a couple months ago and am focusing on the Book of Mormon now.

    Missionaries say I will be baptized w/in the month. Am SO excited to finally take the plunge (literally)…. Have been investigating for over a year.

    Do you have any suggestions for reads I would benefit from or like? I’ve read Our Heritage & Daughters in My Kingdom & have Our Sisters in the Latter Day Scriptures and most of the Teachings of the Presidents books – will get to those next fall. Also read A Heart Like His and LOVED it. I highly recommend it – it’s a quick read but inspiring. I find opportunities to “open my heart” everywhere now that I am looking for them.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. Feels good to celebrate my enthusiasm for all this with someone. Am going solo on the converting – only member of my family – ever – to do this. Have become a bit of a black sheep as a result so I can’t talk to any of them about it.

    Keep blogging, I enjoy your posts.

    ~BB

  2. kma

    May 22, 2012

    For ya, try where themountain meets the moon. Its more a middle school read but is in my top 3 books of all time. The only reading I get is in airports and after midnight.even during summer…. 🙁

  3. The One True Sue

    May 22, 2012

    I have no idea how many of these I will actually get around to reading, since summer semester starts in another week or so, but – currently on my Goodreads To Read / Currently Reading list:

    -Caleb’s Crossing
    -The Leftovers
    -Silver Sparrow
    -The Woman in White
    -The Book of Mormon Girl
    -Once Upon a River
    -This is Where I Leave You
    -Started Early, Took My Dog
    -The Prize Winner Of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids On 25 Words Or Less
    -Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House
    -Husband and Wife: A Novel
    -Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
    -We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
    -The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World

    Well. YOU ASKED.

    I just finished The Jungle (great), Room (eh), and Solar (meh). Also recently liked Peace Like a River.

  4. KR

    May 22, 2012

    I am currently reading Veronica Roth’s Insurgent (second book in the Divergent series, a YA recommendation for you!) and next on my list is Lani Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone (also YA, but can’t recommend it yet as I haven’t read it). As part of a two-person “book club” with my husband, we are reading Tim Weiner’s Enemies: A History of the FBI. I don’t have my entire summer reading list worked out, but I am excited to pick up my reading once the English class I teach is done and I can use grading time for reading time.

  5. Kristin

    May 22, 2012

    I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and am currently rereading The Ladies Auxiliary (which I read the first time because it had been suggested here). Also enjoyed Peace Like a River (thanks Michelle L.).

    Will be watching for more suggestions here.

  6. Barb

    May 22, 2012

    I like it when I get my tax refund so I can buy more books. 🙂 Here are some of the books I have read last year and this year.

    Living With Depression by Dr. Deb Serani (followed her blog for years and was touched how sweet she was to comment on a mutual online friend’s blog during her good times and bad times. I really gained some good insights from reading her book).

    Here’s Your Chance by Christina Dalpiaz I saw her interviewed on a local cable access and have been in communication with her and interviewed her. She is updating that book and writing others. I want to get all her works as she does great work with families in crisis. She also gives motivational talks including one about it never being to late to have a good childhood. More recently, I heard her interviewed on an online radio show with Michele Rosenthal’s show After Trauma where I learned even more of her remarkable story.

    I recently read OYMG by Amy Fellner Dominy as it was a group read for the Good Reads group YA Reads for Teachers(and any other adults). She was a guest author and the subject of a Jewish person going to Christian Speech Camp interested me so I bought the book so I could join in. It was a very nice read.

    I also finally purchased The Year My Son and I Were Born A Story of Motherhood and Self-Discovery by Kathryn Lynard Soper. I had seen it in Chinaberry’s catalog as I like to buy from them, but waited to long to purchase it through their supplies so I went through Amazon. I only mention Chinaberry as it is not LDS so I thought it was neat that it reaches a wider audience. Well, I’ve been reading Segullah the literary Journal since it began on and off plus the blog when it started(but was offline for a year with a crashed computer) so I was curious. What an amazing story. I don’t know how much to say here but I did review it elsewhere. It was also interesting to think of it in the timeline of Segullah and connections with Segullah. There were so many beautiful insights on so many levels. My Catholic upbringing really instilled in me the respect for all human life from conception to old age. This book spoke even more to the worth of souls and what really matters.

    One of the books I’m working my way through is Orson Scott Card’s book Characters and Viewpoint where he gives advice for writing fiction. I don’t write fiction and have never purchased any of his books. Yet, I chose this one as a way to sort of thank him over hi Sci Fi as I do love process and thought it might benefit. I am enjoying it as it deals with what interests most of all and it has added to all the other reading that I am doing at the same time. The reason I wanted to thank him(for seven years but only recently got around to buying his book) is that I have a lot of friends thanks to him sponsoring an online forum. Plus, I was able to nourish some of my other friends that I already had met at another forum that closed who went to the forum his sponsors. While I only lurk at his forum now from time to time, I am still friends with people I met there on facebook and on another forum. And they are people who have touched my life and have been good examples to me.

  7. Barb

    May 22, 2012

    Way to go BB! By the way, my first and last initial are B as well. 🙂 I need to add some LDS books and hope to buy some in the not to distant future.

  8. Heidi German

    May 22, 2012

    My dear friend in my ward, Libby, started a blog where she reviews JF and YA books, so that might be a good resource for finding YA books for you! http://libbysguide.com/

  9. Melanie

    May 22, 2012

    You should definitely read Unbroken. I read it February (I think), but I’m pretty positive that it will be one of my favorite books of the year. It seems like people have pretty divided opinions about The Night Circus, but I just loved it.

    For YA books, I recently finished Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell and thought that it’s everything a YA book should be. The writing is fun and snappy without being gimmicky. It’s a totally innocent by engaging story. And I totally identified with the main character, even though I’m twice her age. Also, I’m a fan of anything by Gary Schmidt or Jordan Sonnenblick.

    My blog (mel-bel.blogspot.com) isn’t solely devoted to book reviews, but I do review books quite frequently. You should also check out Janssen’s blog (everydayreading.blogspot.com) for tons of YA book reviews.

    BB – Congratulations on your upcoming baptism! What a great example you are of enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge. A couple of reading suggestions that you may enjoy:
    A Quiet Heart – Patricia Holland
    God Wants a Powerful People – Sheri Dew
    The Infinite Atonement – Tad R. Callister

    PS: I love these type of posts. I always get so many good suggestions!

  10. Strollerblader

    May 22, 2012

    More than a few suggestions for your YW book club: the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld; Book of a Thousand Days or Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (who happens to be LDS); Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn; Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith; Christy by Catherine Marshall; Homecoming by Cynthia Voight; Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson; The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester; Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low; Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris; Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.; The Cay by Theodore Taylor; The Giver by Lois Lowry

  11. Strollerblader

    May 22, 2012

    BB, and anyone else: I think that a Must-Read for every member of the Church is “Believing Christ” by Steven Robinson. If you haven’t read it yet, find a copy and get on it! :o)

  12. JennR

    May 22, 2012

    I really love classics, YA, and fairytale fantasy. Here’s my all-time favorite list: yourlibraryoflearning.blogspot.com.

    Right now I’m devouring Robin McKinley. I can’t believe I’ve ever read “The Blue Sword,” etc. before. I loved it!

  13. JennR

    May 22, 2012

    Sorry, here’s the real link: http://yourlibraryoflearning.blogspot.com/2010/04/book-recommendations.html 🙂

  14. Melissa Mc

    May 22, 2012

    I’ve read all of those!! Unbroken is amazing. Gemma Hardy is true Jane Eyre. Moon Over Manifest is also stellar. Starting State of Wonder for book club next week.
    For YW — May I suggest Between Shades of Gray (not to be confused with that OTHER grey book) by Ruta Sepetys. A horrific look at Stalin’s obliteration of the Baltic states during WWII — told thru the eyes of 14 yr old Lina. Here is my review: http://www.gerberadaisydiaries.com/2012/05/between-shades-of-gray-by-ruta-sepetys.html

    My reads for the summer: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan MacNeal, The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani, and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (sequel to Wolf Hall, which I loved!) And as many other as I can squeeze in!!

  15. EMILY

    May 22, 2012

    I just read The Baker’s Wife and really enjoyed it. I have been waiting a year for something to live up to The Forgotten Garden … this may have been close. I add my recommendation for Unbroken.

    BB’s comment inspired me. I have four small kids (9 mos to age 8) and have been a member all of my life … but I don’t read and study the gospel nearly enough and I certainly don’t devour it as pleasure reading. I’m going to try. Some church books I have loved are all of the books of each year’s BYU women’s conference talks; Sheri Dew’s “God Wants a Powerful People” and a MUST–“Yearning for the Living God by Elder Busche. It is fantastic, even to a girls who reaches for fiction first. 🙂

    Thanks to all for the great suggestions. Now I can start compiling a list!

  16. Ginger

    May 22, 2012

    We listened to Unbroken in the car on several long rides, and loved it! Also, I just finished (as in 5 minutes ago!) State of Wonder and I will be rating it a five out of five stars on goodreads. it was SO good!
    Another good book I recently finished was Doc, by Mary Doria Russell. It was elegantly written, and even though it is a novel, it made me want to look up any biographies of Doc Holliday that are around to see what I can separate as fact and what as fiction.

  17. Fairchild

    May 22, 2012

    JennR #12: If you like Robin McKinley then try Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel) and Sharon Shinn. I adore “The Blue Sword”!

  18. Melissa M.

    May 22, 2012

    Thank you, everyone, for all of your suggestions. I especially appreciate the suggestions for my YW book club. You’ve given me lots of great ideas.

    BB, I so admire you! Your enthusiasm and appreciation for gospel study are truly inspiring. And it’s funny that you mentioned working on Personal Progress—I am actually working through the program myself (since I serve in the Young Women program in our ward) and I am 51. I guess it’s never too late.

    As far as suggestions for Church books go, you might enjoy reading Sherri Dew (No One Can Take Your Place, No Doubt About It) or A Quiet Heart by Patricia Holland. I’ll see what other suggestions I can come up with. Congrats on your upcoming baptism—you will be very well prepared. I admire you for taking this important step, and I wish you much joy as you continue to progress in the gospel. Much love to you.

  19. KDA

    May 23, 2012

    I like historical fiction and nonfiction. I’m reading titles about aging because I’m in a master’s program in gerontology. I have a goodreads account if you have one and want to add me. I’d love to follow your reviews. (I read 71 books last year and reviewed them all.)

    http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/962663-karen

    Also, my friend Melissa blogs about YA lit., and I pick up a few titles a year from her reviews. (I’m eagerly waiting the release of the next Maureen Johnson book in the Shades of London series. Squee!) Here is Melissa’s blog:

    http://www.thebooknut.com/

    Here are the titles I expect to read this summer.

    -Enchantment (fantasy) Orson Scott Card
    -Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (YA, Chinese folklore) Grace Lin
    -Pain Chronicles (nonfiction) Melanie Thernstrom
    -Final Gifts (nonfiction) Melanie Callanan
    -Dissolution (historical fiction) C.J. Sansom
    -Nine Parts of Desire (journalism) Geraldine Brooks
    -Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (cozy mystery) Alexander McCall Smith

    Happy Summer Reading, All. Thanks for the recommendations!

  20. Cath A.

    May 23, 2012

    Melissa – I stand fairly lonesome with you in the “Unbroken Unread” camp. But it’s on my summer list too. I’m also going to re-read “Grayson” – true story of a champion swimmer who ends up saving a baby whale. Fabulous beach read. And as for YA, my good friend Brodi just launched her first book in a trilogy that was published by HarperCollins. It’s called Everneath and I bet your young women would enjoy it. Based on the Greek myth of Persephone.

  21. Rosalyn

    May 25, 2012

    I wish I could say I read more in the summer, but I’m kind of a bibliophile and read all the time (I average a book or more a week, depending on what I’m reading).

    Some YA titles I read recently that I liked:

    Tess Hilmo’s With a Name Like Love (it won the best new author award from the Whitneys and those of us who read it at Segullah all liked it).
    Ten Miles past Normal (someone already recommended it in this thread)
    True (sort of) and Ida B. by Katherine Hannigan (although technically these are both middle grade)
    Seeing Cinderella, Jenny Lundquist
    Keturah and Lord Death, Martine Leavitt
    Anything by Janette Rallison (also an LDS author)
    Lindsey Leavitt, Sean Griswold’s Head (a Whitney finalist)
    Maggie Stiefvater’s Scorpio Races
    Kristen Chandler’s Girl’s Don’t Fly or Wolves, Boys, and Other Things that Might Kill Me (both Whitney finalists)
    Kat, Incorrigible (I can’t remember the author right now)

  22. annegb

    May 25, 2012

    I was mesmerized by Unbroken. Shanghai Girls, okay. I couldn’t get into State of Wonder, to my chagrin.

    Right now I’m re-reading These is My Words after which I’m going to read the sequel The Star Garden.

    BB: I recommend Steadfast and Immoveable by Robert Millett, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, and Reaching for the Invisible God, by Phillip Yancey. I also agree with Strollerblader on Believing Christ.

    I enjoyed Enchantment. I love Cynthia Voigt—There are several books in the Homecoming series; all are wonderful.

  23. Sharon S

    May 28, 2012

    I feel the same way about summer reading.
    My book group is reading ‘The Fellowship of the Rings’, yeah, it will weed out the less than serious members, I might be one. Looking for books that are decent I found ‘Squeaky books’ a blog and seems to be for young teen girls. The blog owner has corresponded with me and would be a good source for good clean books. Another was ‘To Read or Not to Read’, another blog. I just wish books had ratings too.
    Going to the classics can also be safer than the new literature out.
    We just read ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and I was surprised that as older women they were wanting to continue on in the series. Mark Twain put his seal of approval on that one. Any of the Mark Twain books, ‘Puddin’head Wilson’ is a good one, of course his Tom Sawyer and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ tales. ‘Silas Marner’ by George Eliot.
    I have a book group blog if you want to see some of the books that we have read, mostly LDS women (not sponsored or under authority of church leadership) http://classicreadingsociety.blogspot.com/
    My blog here has those links that are listed above along with other links to book lists we use to make our selections from.
    Good luck and happy reading.

  24. Barb @ getupandplay

    May 28, 2012

    Shanghai Girls wasn’t my favorite.

    As for YA novels, Stargirl is fantastic.

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