Summer Reading List: Suggestions Wanted (it’s never too early to start!)


OK, everybody, I’ve got enough books on my what-I-want-to-read list that I’m officially open to suggestions for summer reading. I know we’re 3 months away, but considering that I’m only on page 15 of a 111-page edition of The Little Prince (which I’ve been “reading” for 2 weeks), I think that the summer is a do-able target. Plus, right now my “to read” pile is 5 books deep, so I figure that there’s almost no way I’ll get through what I’ve got already, unless I do some serious advance planning.

In a typical weekend at the beach I can blow through 3-4 books (Archie comics not included), so the more suggestions I get from you, the more time I’ll have to spend at the beach, which will really work out for me. I like fiction and non-fiction, love essay collections on just about anything, enjoy memoirs, and am always interested in international or historical topics. I’m open to classics, especially ones that I read in high school and may get a new perspective on the second time around.

I really don’t like sci-fi or fantasy unless it is very L-I-T-E; if it’s about another world or got its own language I’m probably not going to hang on for very long. I really don’t love self-help or life enrichment books, especially ones that start every chapter with an anecdote from the life of a now-disillusioned former beauty queen or a man who is married to a woman that he admires to the point of nausea (mine, not his).

I have a sweet spot for project books (like The Know-It-All, in which AJ Jacobs reflects on reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica; Driving Mr. Albert, in which journalist Michael Paterniti drives cross country with Albert Einstein’s Brain; and Sacred Sea, in which writer and radio producer Peter Thomson road trips it to Lake Baikal in Siberia and learns that if someone offers you vodka on the Trans-Siberian railway, you shouldn’t say ‘yes,’ but you really can’t say ‘no.’). I also like to rip off high school summer reading lists, because they’re way more interesting now than in my all-women’s Catholic high school days.

But enough about me, I want to hear from you.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

From Andie: All Creature Great and Small

From Meg: Reading Lolita in Tehran

From Shannon: Silent to the Bone

From Kristin: Lucky

From Luke: John Adams

From Carol: Pillars of the Earth

From Hayley: The Harry Potter Series

From me: Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers, The Grapes of Wrath (it’s been 21 years since I didn’t read that last one in high school; considering we’re in the midst of “The Great Recession,” it seems like it’s about time)

Drop me a line, and, if possible, loan me the book—I’m looking forward to your suggestions!!


  1. Sybil said,

    March 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    First of all, I wanted to thank you folks for the list of reading materials. You see, I am going on a sabbatical for a while to try to find my true identity. Rest assured that there’s a little bit of Sybil left in all of us — in fact, you might say that all of us together made up Sybil.
    Thanks again to Cheryl and all the rest.
    Very truly yours,
    Sybil Tuttle

  2. Lorraine said,

    March 17, 2009 at 8:21 am

    MMM think I might look at some of these too. I have to admit that I read lots of kids books! Am currently reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe with my Year 5s. I never tire of that book and am enjoying it as much as the kids are! When I’m reading for pure pleasure I like the “Cat Who” series by Lilian Jackson Braun and the Sister Fidelma series by Peter Tremanye. They are easy to read and my mind doesn’t really have to engage! I just enjoy!

  3. Andie said,

    March 17, 2009 at 11:41 am

    @Lorraine, I love kids’ books too!

    I also recommend Truman by David McCullough (sp?), especially for those who liked John Adams. For those who like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is great, Ranger’s Apprentice and also the Artemis Fowl Series; the Pretties series offers some well-written SF for YA and older. For a more “highbrow” read I love The Old Man and the Sea, by Hemmingway, and Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

    PS I advise skipping the grapes of wrath. Same problem as with Faulkner, his narrative descriptions are so gorgeous, but his characters seem smarmy to me. Proceed at your own risk!

  4. scheirmad said,

    March 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm


    Oh brother, say it isn’t so!

    Lorraine & Andie-

    Thanks for your suggestions. You’re on the list! Check back with me throughout the summer to see how I’m doing!!


    Also, some YA summer (or whenever) suggestions from Karen, Caroline, and Juliana: The Bronze Bow (and others by the same author), He Went with Vasco de Gama (again, with others), How to Train a Dragon series, and Call it Courage. Thanks for the great suggestions, girls–Jake’s birthday is fast approaching!

    Oh, and I forgot one more from me for me: Three Cups of Tea.

    Still open to more!
    -Scheir M.

  5. Lorraine said,

    March 18, 2009 at 5:12 am

    We bought Three Cups of Tea for a young friend of ours. We took 4 teenagers to World Youth Week in Sydney last year and were so impressed by them that we wanted to give them a token remembrance from us. So I bought No Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom) and Three Cups of Tea for the two girls and am waiting to borrow the tea book to read. (Have read the other.)

  6. scheirmad said,

    March 18, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Great minds think alike! Last summer I read 2 Young Adult Holocaust books (The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)–very heavy duty. I thought that Corrie Ten Boom was worth revisiting. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Lorraine said,

    March 19, 2009 at 4:17 am

    I love Tramp for the Lord!
    My son, Joseph, was just talking about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. We have a “Fringe Festival” just finishing up here so there has been action, action, action going on. Joseph went to see the play of Boy in .. and he was hoping for a happy ending and didn’t get it! I thought then I might have to read it.

  8. scheirmad said,

    March 19, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Oh, yeah, no happy ending there. It was worthwhile though, a really interesting non-typical perspective. Huge dose of reality; you may want to have some chick lit ready to go after you read that one.

    Thanks for the Tramp recommendation too. So many books, so little time!!!!

  9. Andie said,

    March 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Love this photo BTW…

  10. scheirmad said,

    April 30, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I just got another recommendation from Kristin: Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins. Kristin said she has 3 copies, so it’s one of those lifetime books. I’m looking forward to it. Maybe she can loan me one!


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