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APW 2014 Summer Reading List


From our bookshelves to yours

APW 2014 Summer Reading List | A Practical Wedding

It’s that time of year again: the APW staff is sharing what’s on their Kindles/Nooks/bookshelves. After the success of 2013’s summer reading list (not to mention last week’s honeymoon reads list), we decided to make it an annual affair. Do we read books year-round? Yes. Is there still something sort of magical about summer reading? Totally. So read our picks and then share yours in the open thread!

Meg Keene (Editor-in-Chief)

Currently Reading:
New York Magazine, and all the periodicals (says my night stand). Also, Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest. Work related? Yes. Fun? Also yes. I swear if this toddler stops waking up at 4:30 AM, I’ll pick up a real book.

Recently Read and Recommend:
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior, #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Maddie Eisenhart (Managing Editor)

Currently Reading:
I drive a lot, so my book of choice is usually the recorded kind. Right now I’m listening to #GIRLBOSS, and just finished Divergent (wouldn’t recommend) and trying to get through Gone Girl: A Novel (it’s slow going).

Recently read and recommend:
At Meg’s insistent suggestion, I finally read 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and it was everything she promised.

excited to read next:
I finally convinced Michael that we’re never going to make it through the Storm Front (Dresden Files) together, so I’ve been cut loose and have eight hours of James Marsters’ sweet voice to look forward to.

Lucy Bennett (Deputy Editor)

Currently Reading:
Agh, so many things! #GIRLBOSS, Dog Songs by Mary Oliver (poems about dogs will make you cry all the tears, btw), and On Beauty by Zadie Smith to name a few.

Excited to Read Next:
The Long War (Long Earth) by Terry Pratchett and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie.

Recently Read and Recommend:
Outlander I finally read the first one and now I need to devour the rest of the series ASAP. Also A Thousand Mornings: Poems, another book of poems by Mary Oliver.

Elisabeth Snell (Contributing Editor)

Currently Reading:
For the longest time I pretended I only was into reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, because what I am actually reading is just. So. Bad. But now life is too short to be bored by books or to pretend my tastes are more lofty than they are, so I read what I want, making me the only lesbian you know who splits her time between cooking murder mysteries and time-traveling Scottish romances featuring hunky red-haired Highlanders. On that note: I am currently reading Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon. Plop yourself on the beach with Outlander, the first of this eight-book series and wear 100+ SPF, because they are so good (and historical, REALLY, I swear, I learned a ton about the Scottish AND American revolutions) that you’ll want to read them all.

Excited to Read Next:
The third and final book in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life. This is not your average bodice-ripper, although I definitely wouldn’t turn those down either. They are awesome, historical, interesting books about witches and vampires. Maybe I should just stop now.

Recently Read and Recommend:
I will redeem myself! The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency by James Tobin. A super interesting look at public health practices and herd immunity in the teens and twenties,the dynamics between the Roosevelts as FDR recovered from polio, and how he turned his disability into a political advantage.

Emily Threlkeld (Contributor)

Currently reading:
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. (The first two chapters are available online for free, and they’re great.)

Excited to Read Next:
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (which I bought LAST MAY and still haven’t started, but is signed in the most hilarious fashion ever) and I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman.

Recently Read and Recommend:
Self-promotion: I was part of an amazing anthology of women writers that my college press released in April. The seventy-five percent of the book that isn’t me is really great.

Also, this isn’t a book, but everyone has read Questlove’s six-part series on hip-hop, yes?

Lauren Fitzpatrick (Writing Intern)

Recently Read and Recommend:
In One Person by John Irving (a bisexual coming-of-age), The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (US woman running a courtesan house in early twentieth-century Shanghai) and The Humans by Matt Haig (alien comes to earth and poses as a human—way more interesting than I make it sound).

Books I Keep ReReading:
Beach Music by Pat Conroy (Southern dysfunctional family dynamics) and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (hostages at a dinner party in South America become friends with their captors).

Hayley Cotter (Writing Intern)

We recently ditched TV (errr, our TV ditched us and we haven’t been able to find anyone to fix it…) so I’ve been on a reading binge and I’m pretty psyched to add all your recommendations to my Amazon cart!

Currently Reading:
What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael Sandel (which sounds really boring but is actually fascinating), The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office by David Blumenthal and James Monroe (ditto), and I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris.

Excited to Read Next
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (on pre-order, not out till August) and One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson. I also want to read Looking for Alaska by John Green, but feel like I need to emotionally recover from The Fault in Our Stars first.

Recently Read and Recommend:
Rockabye: From Wild to Child by Rebecca Woolf (which I actually bought for my sister, who just had a baby, and then I wound up reading the entire thing before I got around to wrapping it), You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations by Michael Ian Black, and The Longest Date: Life as a Wife by Cindy Chupack.

Kelsey Hopson, Writing Intern

Currently Reading:
Alright…I like to read as an escape so I don’t usually give book recommendations because everyone mocks my trashy books. For you, I will take the risk! I’m rereading Lisa Scottoline’s mystery series about an all-woman law firm, because it makes me happy. I also love Stephen White’s Alan Gregory series because I think the characters are interesting and it’s set in the Denver-Boulder area and I love books where I’m familiar with the setting in real life.

Excited to Read:
I have The Fault in Our Stars on hold at the library, but I just don’t know if I want all the feelings…

Recently Read and Recommend:
Recipes for a Sacred Life by Rivvy Neshema. (This book was a gift, hence why it wasn’t trashy, yet I still read it.) I liked the format, and some of the stories were very good and thought provoking. I’m also throwing in Christopher Moore’s Fluke, because I love it forever.

Breck Winokur, Business Intern

Currently Reading:
Urgh, very little reading going on my corner of the world, unfortunately. I’m part-way through both Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America and The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work, both of which are excellent. Also, now that I have a permanent address, I’m starting up my magazine subscriptions—any suggestions?

But this is really about you. What are you reading, and what should we read next?

More in Open Thread Recent Posts Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Anon

    Excellent recommendations! Marking several down now. So glad to see Beach Music (one of my all-time favorites) on the list. Just finished Outlander, and halfway through The Book of Life now. I’m with Maddie re: her feelings on Divergent and Gone Girl (I feel like the only one of my friends that just couldn’t get behind the unlikable characters). Happy reading, everyone :)

  • scw

    currently reading:
    Karen Joy Fowler’s “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” (on the longlist for the Booker prize)

    excited to read next:
    “Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America”

    recently read and recommend:
    Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” and Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank”

    • Emily

      I can’t tell if I want to read Freedom or if I want to WANT to read it.

      I love Nathan Englander, though. Thank goodness for The Moth for introducing him to me! His story about living in Jerusalem is amazing.

  • Kat91314

    All Souls Trilogy fan here too!! I’m actually in the process of re-reading the entire trilogy again, since I devoured Book of Life the day it came out. Love it :-)

    • Elisabeth S.

      Yes. I made myself re-read the first two before cracking open the third. I actually found the third one a little disappointing, but that’s probably because I was so riveted by #1 that nothing else could compare!

      • Kat91314

        I got sucked into 1 and 3, couldn’t really get as excited about #2. It was my least favorite out of the three, for some reason….

      • http://rebeccaharmon.blogspot.com/ Rebecca Petersen

        I completely agree with you Elisabeth! I’ve already read the first book three times. I pre-ordered the third book and finished it the day it arrives, and I was just disappointed. Definitely a let down!

      • Anon

        I should have had the discipline to reread #1 and #2 before starting #3. I’m halfway through and frequently stopping to look back at summaries of the first two books to jog my memory.

      • http://TxtingMrDarcy.wordpress.com/ Brooke

        I have to be the minority and vote Shadow of Night as my favorite. Becuase I’m such a HUGE Elizabethan/Tudor history nerd, I loved every second of it. I also agree with the feeling of letdown of the third one. Though it wrapped things up, I didn’t quite feel it as much as the other two. Me + Gallowglass 4 EVA

        • Elisabeth S.

          Gallowglass is a total hunk. There must be a fourth book coming in some way, don’t you think? His story didn’t end neatly!

    • Celesta Torok

      OMFG yes. I just finished The Book of Life. I could read those books over and over. And over.

  • anon

    I keep seeing girl boss around, pretty curious and interested in picking it up… anyone who’s read it care to share your thoughts?

  • Rose

    Especially for a lesbian who’s enjoying romances with vampires and witches, I have to recommend one of my summer reads, which was Iron and Velvet by Alexis Hall. It’s an extremely genre-savvy supernatural noir mystery (with a lesbian romance), and I just loved it and its sequel. Pure fun, no history to be learned, but really enjoyable.

    • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

      sounds perfect. i’m wanting a “fun” book just for the beach/trips etc. nothing i have to think too much about. i need a break. thanks!

  • Erin

    I am going to re-plug a book that came up a few times in the honeymoon reads list: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. You will smile from cover to cover.

    • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

      I just finished this book and I really wish I could read something like it next. I loved it.

  • Sarah E

    Recently read a couple non-fiction books, which is outside my norm, but I definitely recommend:

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
    Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

    Also, if you’re into YA:

    Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce.

    Wish I had the time this morning to wax poetic over all the great suggestions :-)

    • Kate

      I’m making my fiance listen the the Alanna series with me as we do all of our driving this summer. We’re on The Woman Who Rides Like a Man and he’s SO INTO IT. Considering I first got into these books when I was about 9, it’s delightful. Anything Tamora Pierce is definitely my go-to comfort re-read, and I’ve needed that this summer.

      • Caroline

        My go-to comfort rereads also. I love her books. I think she’s grown so much as a writer too, so while Alanna will always own a big chunk of my heart, I think the Trickster’s Choise/Trikster’s Queen books and The Will of the Empress are better written books. (But Alanna will always be one of my best friends)

        • Elisabeth S.

          ALANNA. When K and I got together she reverently presented me with her dog-eared, much beloved Alanna books and instructed me to read them. They were awesome, and I wish I’d read them when I was 11. Adding the other Tamora Pierce ones to my summer reading list!

          • Kate

            It was the Daine books that grabbed me first, because I was all about animals as a kid. But my fav heorine is probably Kel.

      • Kayjayoh

        I’ve been completely loving Mark Oshiro go through the Tortall books on Mark Reads. Adorable and funny.

    • Alyssa M

      I really just love tricksters choice and tricksters queen. I always wished she made it a trilogy.

    • macaroni

      God, Zeitoun was so good. I read it for book club a while back, and one of our members was living in New Orleans during Katrina and rode out the storm in town. Her stories were awful.

  • Lian

    Some books that are so close to my heart I wish I could just carry them around with me every day (note: I apparently only really love YA books):
    – Stardust by Neil Gaiman (I can just read this book every day)
    – Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (every teen should read this)
    – Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers (great coming of age book, two timelines – one in WWII, one current time)
    – De Brief voor de Koning by Tonke Dragt (translated as The Letter for the King, I guess? Medieval type world, a letter that needs to travel across countries, and two boys who do the best they can with it)
    – Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Female fighter pilot / spies in WWII. Heartbreaking. Seriously. Read this.)

    And some non-fiction books that were really interesting and/or funny:
    – Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss ((processed) food)
    – Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner ((processed) food)
    – Bossypants by Tina Fey (autobiography)
    – Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar (book about modern womanhood)
    – Stranger Here by Jen Larsen (autobiography about weight loss surgery)
    – To the End of June by Cris Beam (book about fostering/adoption)

    Ahum. There are more. But this is probably enough for now :P

    • Carrie

      Code Name Verity! I’m almost crying just thinking about it…

    • Amy A.

      I was coming here specifically to recommend Code Name Verity! Gripping and oh-so-heartbreaking. I know it’s officially categorized as YA but due to the discussions of/references to torture, it’s definitely on the older end of the YA spectrum (so if you aren’t a regular YA reader, don’t let that scare you off). If you like history, adventure stories, or stories with strong female heroines (not just protagonists, straight-up heroines), READ THAT BOOK. But maybe not in public due to the potential for gasping and/or crying.

    • Caroline

      Code Name Verity is so good!!!

    • LifeSheWrote

      Loved To the End of June! Such a good read. If you’d like a fiction read on similar topics, White Orleander by Janet Fitch is gripping.

      • Lian

        Oh yes, that one is definitely also a great one!

        That reminds me of another book with the same theme that I also really loved: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

        • LifeSheWrote

          Thanks for the recommendation, @Lian! I can’t wait to check that one out!

  • kayla

    Ready Player One (genius computer scientist wills his virtual reality empire to whoever can solve his puzzles+80s nostalgia.) by Ernest Cline

    YA books:
    We were Liars (deep dark secret and Traumatic Brain Injury) by E. Lockhart
    The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (budding feminist, boarding school, secret societies) by E. Lockhart

    The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Krisitin Levine-pre-teen interracial friendship in 1918.

    • kayla

      P.s. Anything by Rainbow Rowell, but especially Fangirl and Eleanor and Park.

  • Kate

    Any good sci-fi/fantasy suggestions? It’s vacation time next week and I’m stocking up at the library today. I’ve read ASoIaF and I’ve read the first Mistborn book, but I’m looking for some suggestions with well rounded characters. Or POC who aren’t there just for Diversity! reasons. I swear, that’ll be the reason I finally finish my novel – because like many children, I pictured all of my favorite heroines looking like me and they never actually did.

    • Lian

      Wolf Brother (and the rest in the series) by Michelle Paver is great. Is set in Europe some several thousand years ago, so not very diverse.

      Tamir Trilogy by Lynn Flewelling, I really love this series. Not top of the list in terms of diversity either though, unfortunately.

      You might find some good stuff here though: http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/

    • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

      Zoo City by Lauren Beukes is a REALLY fascinating read—gritty modern fantasy, with some sci-fi leanings. Main character (and most of the secondary characters if I remember correctly) are POC.

      • Amanda Michele Rhaesa

        I second this one. This was such a smart thought provoking book and I couldn’t put it down!

    • Maggie

      Yes! Read NK Jemisin’s Inheritance Triology, starting with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms! The main characters in the first and second books are an awesome WOC (and so are several supporting characters). The first one follows a young woman who essentially gets pulled up from more outer lands to potentially inherit the kingdom, which is run by her somewhat corrupt/inbred estranged relatives who have enslaved a few gods to do their dirty work. The next two follow different humans, but in the same world (and many characters overlap between the books). The worldbuilding is fantastic and clear, the story itself is really great and cohesive: in fact, the members of my family all have a different favorite book, so I can say that they’re all worth reading!

      • Maggie

        Also, American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Shadow is explicitly mixed race), for a less-YA/more “literary” fantasy.

        • Kate

          I read it right when I moved to WI, and the one of the first trips I made was to House on the Rock. Had to!

          • Maggie

            But of course! :)

    • Moira Katson

      Yes! I just finished “Ancillary Justice” and it’s amazing for about a thousand reasons, just one of which is that the language the protagonist speaks has no gendered pronouns and so everyone in the book is “she” and gender is generally not specified. Also, world-building. Also, philosophy. It won this year’s Nebula and has a good shot at the Hugo.
      Other recommendations: if you’ve never read Mary Doria Russell’s “The Sparrow,” I recommend that. It will tear your heart out, though, fair warning. On the long-and-dreamy side, there’s “River of Stars” by Guy Gavriel Kay. “Cyteen” by C.J. Cherryh is a favorite. I second the recommendation above of Tamora Pierce’s books, particularly the Lioness Quartet, and another in the same vein would be
      “The Assassin’s Curse” by Cassandra Rose Clarke. On the short and funnier side (although with serious themes), I cannot recommend “Bridge of Birds” enough.

      • moonlitfractal

        Seconding Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart! I’d also suggest checking out more of Brandon Sanderson’s stuff, specifically the Stormlight Archives. Have you read LeGuin’s Earthsea books?

    • Caroline

      I’ve only this summer realized quiet how white my reading list has been, and am starting to make a point to rectify it, so my list is not as diverse as it could/should be. These are some books I liked with well rounded characters though. I like John Scalzi’s work for well rounded characters. The Honor Harrington books, He She and It, The Diamond Age and Snowcrash, and I loved Metatropolis.

    • Mezza

      Definitely, definitely read Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora trilogy for well-rounded characters including POC, women, etc. The first book is a little dude-heavy, but still multicultural, and there are amazing female characters later on. And the world-building is fabulous and so creative, plus really snappy dialogue and fast-paced plot. Can’t recommend it enough.

      • Jessica

        Just finished it! I liked it overall, though the world building did get a little much sometimes. Can’t wait to get to the 2nd one!

    • Kayjayoh

      The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison was my most recent read. I couldn’t put it down. On the sci-fi end of things, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice was amazing.

  • Cbrown

    Just finished the Storms of War, a novel about a German family living in the UK during the Great War and Expo 58 about a British civil servant put in charge of the UK’s exhibition in Brussels.

  • Shelly B

    I recently read and LOVED: Landline omigod the most realistic portrayal of marriage I’ve read in a long while. I also loved loved attachments by the same author (RR). Do yourself a huge favor and read/laugh “everything’s perfect when you’re a liar.” I also read The Elephant whisperer and really enjoyed it– it’s about life in Africa and elephants but it’s really about pursuing your dreams. Quite suspenseful too

    • Teresa

      I LOVE Rainbow Rowell!! So much! Her two YA books are also fabulous, especially Eleanor & Park! They just optioned it for a movie and I’m terrified that they will mess it up!

      Also YA (and awesome and totally weird) that I just read was Grasshopper Jungle–it was so awesome and bizarre! I’m a high school librarian, so I read loads of YA and post my reading list on Instagram @mlk_library if you’re on Instagram!

  • lady brett

    maddie – storm front is hilarious and fun! i really ought to read more of the dresden files. i may be biased, because reading that basically qualifies as getting to hang out with my brother…not that he’s a professional wizard, just that those are the books he would have written if he were to write books (then again, jim butcher would be a reasonable pen name…hmm).

    • JT

      Another “yes!” to Storm Front and an encouragement. The books actually do get better!

      • Jessica

        I almost feel like going back to re-read the series because it would be like reading about a beloved character’s childhood again. It’s all so different now!

  • June

    Ahhhh, Hayley, I just finished Looking for Alaska by John. Green, and for a YA novel, it was pretty heavy in all the right ways. I didn’t have to lay I my bed and cry all afternoon when I finished like I did with The Fault in Our Stars, but it really stuck with me.

    My book club just read Fun Home by Allison Bechdel, which is a graphic novel memoir of Bechdel’s relationship with her father and her own process of coming out. It was a great read and it lead to a really intense book group discussion about the father and understanding, but not excusing, someone’s damaging choices.

    I also read Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, which was so beautiful.

    I’m currently reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (I dont usually read so much YA, but I teach 10th grade and a lot of these are our summer reading books). So far, so good (and creeeeeeepppyyyyyyyy)

    Up next, I’ve got A Wrinkle in Time and….Suze Orman’s Women and Money. :)

    • Whitney S.

      I felt a little ridiculous reading TFIOS. Like, “OK. This is kind of cheesy and predictable. OMG it’s got me! Annnnnnnnd now I’m a puddle of tears.” :) Then you gotta go hug your person and maybe the furkids, too.

    • Hayley

      Oh, good to know! I will definitely read “Looking for Alaska” now that I know it won’t destroy me :)

      • Mezza

        YMMV. Looking for Alaska affected me waaaaay more than TFIOS. I actually liked it quite a bit better, but it definitely got to me emotionally.

  • Lawyerette510

    Just finished The Goldfinch and loved it. It was beautiful and heart wrenching and did not feel 770 pages long.

    • http://rebeccaharmon.blogspot.com/ Rebecca Petersen

      The Goldfinch was very good! I read it on my honeymoon (although I don’t think it’s really honeymoon material). The writing was so vibrant. I couldn’t put it down!

    • Whitney S.

      Man. That book has a sucking downward spiral and just sits in the middle of your chest. Frantic energy. I loved it, but not a light read. Did you guys read about how pissed the fancy critics are that its doing well and winning awards? Adds a whole new layer to the book.

  • macrain

    If you are craving a Hunger Games type trilogy, skip Divergent and pick up Patrick Ness’s “Chaos Walking” Trilogy. I have NO idea why these books are not more of a thing, because they are so, so good. Another awesome dystopian trilogy- Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies.” (The three books in the trilogy are Uglies, Pretties, and Specials.) These are a complete blast to read and you will fly through them.
    If you love nonfiction, my favorite book, probably that I’ve ever read: “Random Family” by Adrienne Nicole Leblanc. It’s nonfiction that reads like a novel, and is completely absorbing and fascinating.
    Some of my favorite memoirs- anything by Mary Karr and “Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl who Couldn’t Stop Praying,” by Abby Kerr is fascinating.

    • Jessica

      Seconding the “Uglies” series. So quick and entertaining! I’ll have to check out the Chaos Walking series.

    • Ali

      Oh my god, Random Family. I read that like 5 years ago and still think about it all the time. An amazing read!

      • macrain

        I have heard that Adrian Nicole Leblanc is doing a book about stand up comedians, which I am dying to read! But of course she follows her subjects for years and years, so who knows when it will come out.

    • Laura C

      Going to check out Chaos Walking, but also want to recommend Dan Wells’ Partials trilogy, which I started reading at the same time I read Divergent. Loved the former, couldn’t finish the second book of the latter.

    • River

      Personally, I enjoyed Divergent, but I will second the recommendation for “Uglies.” When I worked at a children’s bookstore that was a go-to next read for kids who enjoyed The Hunger Games.

  • Jessica

    I’m waiting on the 2nd in the Outlander series from the library right now, and I’m finding it difficult to get into other books because I just want some hot Scottish/Sassenach scenes.

    I’ve just finished the Maze Runner trilogy–it was ok.

    A super cheesy but wonderful and short read is the “Just One Day” series by Gayle Foreman. So romantic and cute. Some problematic moments, but honestly it’s great for a summer read.

    The Call the Midwife memoirs were really REALLY great. I highly suggest them, even if you’re squirmy about childbirth (I am).

    I read “Life After Life” a while back and it was fairly entertaining–people really enjoyed it at my book club.

    • Teresa

      If you liked Just One Day, read Just One Year! And, before the movie comes out in a month, If I Stay!

      • Jessica

        Oh, I devoured all of Gayle Foreman’s novels in about 2 weeks, but Just One Day is definitely the suggestion to start with for folks who haven’t read her.

        Also, don’t read “If I Stay” if you are in a public place. It’s tear jerker city.

  • Ali

    Nerd alert, but: I’m working through Robert Caro’s multivolume biography of Lyndon Johnson and it.is.so.good. An unexpectedly page-turning read, and a great way to learn about US history post-WWII (because most of our history classes never make it past the 1940s).

  • Fiona

    I’m currently reading #GirlBoss based on an APW recommendation, and I highly recommend it! It’s interesting and very well written, and I’m reading it slower than I’ve read anything in my life because I have so much to think about!

    • Meg Keene

      I sort of wish they hadn’t had her add the motivational “Hey, #girlboss!” sentences, to make it a good gift for grads. But then again, I’m going to give it to some grads, so… fair enough.

      All the stuff they had me add to my book so it would sell better people love and I find really annoying, so I guess that’s how it goes :)

      • Fiona

        I find that part totally not adding to my reading experience…but it may have contributed to my buying the book in the first place, so annoying or not, it was probably a good editing decision.

        • Meg Keene

          Yeah, it’s a great title. It’s… a sales tactic in the book.

  • Kirstin

    I’ve been reading a ton lately too!

    Currently reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog…struggling to get into this one.

    Next up: Anything set in London or Ireland, since that’s where we are headed for our honeymoon!

    Just finished and highly recommend: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling), and the second book in the Call the Midwife Series

    • MC

      I loved The Signature of All Things!!! Even though it’s huge I blazed through it because I could not put it down. And now I have such a huge appreciation for moss!

      • Kirstin

        Yes! I kept reading and loved the ending so much!

    • June

      The Elegance of the Hedgehog is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s so beautiful.

      • Kirstin

        Good to hear!

        • Cbrown

          Mine too! I don’t normally reread but I might for my paris trip.

    • Ally

      how’d you like Silkworm? I’m working my way through Cuckoo’s Calling now.

      • Kirstin

        I liked it! Maybe better than Cuckoo’s Calling, but just because the characters were familiar now.

  • Laura

    Recently read and enjoyed:
    Mink River and The Plover, both by Brian Doyle
    Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, if you’re in to the Vietnam War
    I, Claudius by Robert Graves
    Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

    I’m planning on going back to my Neal Stephenson favorites, Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle trilogy. Oh, and I haven’t gotten to Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam yet….which makes me think that maybe I should reread the first two in that trilogy as well…

    • Laura

      Oh, and I can’t be the only Outlander fan in the house looking forward to the Starz series premiering on August 9th.

      • Alyssa M

        Man, I came down here before even finishing the post just to squeeee about Outlander after the second mention! I’ve been reading Gabaldon books for ten years and now suddenly I see them everywhere and it’s so exciting!

        • http://rebeccaharmon.blogspot.com/ Rebecca Petersen

          YES!! I love the Gabaldon books! I’ve read all of them multiple times.

      • Elisabeth S.

        I NEED TO FIND SOMEONE WITH CABLE, befriend them in the next nine days, and then live at their house to watch the series. I am excited — but worried that it won’t hold up — but excited!

        • Laura

          I got a friend to read Outlander last month solely so that I would have someone to swoon over Jamie/Claire amazingness with. But I don’t have tv, and she has cable but not Starz, and I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

          • Jessica

            Not that I would EVER suggest doing something illegal, but googling the phrase “free tv” does wonders…

    • macrain

      I’m attempting to save the third Maddaddam for my honeymoon! I loved the first two.

    • Maggie

      Oh, the MaddAddam triology is all so good!

  • Amanda Michele Rhaesa

    I’m a big scifi fantasy fan. I can definitely recommend anything written by Brandon Sanderson. The Mistborn Trilogy, Elantris, and War Breaker are all fantastic. If you are not opposed to starting a series that’s not finished, the Stormlight Archives by him are also really good, if only he would write them faster…

    • Caroline

      Have you read anything by Alastair Reynolds? I love his stuff. He was a physicist who started writing sci-fi.

  • Amy A.

    Recently read and loved- Code Name Verity (I seconded someone’s recommendation elsewhere in the thread- basically, just read it.) and an anthology of the Jeeves and Wooster stories by P.G. Wodehouse. If you like British humor, P.G. Wodehouse is fantastic, and summer always seems to put me in the mood to read funny stories. Looking forward to starting Dream of the Red Chamber, though I can’t remember who the translator of my version is. Adding lots of recommendations here to my “To Read” list!

    • Caroline

      Yes, Code Name Verity is AMAZING, I loved it!! I read it from the library first and then went out and bought my own copy.

  • Alyssa M

    Oh good, a giant list of books to add to my reading list! As if I have any time to read lately. That all souls trilogy sounds right up my alley though. I’ve been really eyeing that California book that Stephen Colbert “bumped.” Anybody read it and care you review?

    • Jessica

      California is currently the Tumblr Reblog Book Club pick, so if you want some insight you can go look up the blog and check out the tags (they generally only reblog positive notes, probably because the author is involved in the discussion).

  • Misti

    So, I wanted to make a pitch for “trashy” books, which the editors seem slightly embarrassed to share – go for it! And go proud. I read the most trashy books of my life during graduate school, because, well, books had always been a good place for me and the massive amount I had to read for school just couldn’t be considered fun. I needed a safe spot for my mind to just be, and although I did plenty of zoning in front of the TV I also wanted to maintain a fun relationship with books. That being said, I was sympathetic to my roommates who thought there just wasn’t time for trash, but I also realized at some point that many with that opinion were reading maybe ten to a dozen “fun” books a year, so maybe with that limited space there wasn’t time. It seems like many of us here are the kind who don’t actually know how many books we go through, but we’d more accurately count books per week rather than per month or per year. I’m not suggesting all of that should be bad genre fiction (unless that’s what you like!), but really enjoying the indulgence? Especially if it’s your favorite thing? Dude, we fought for that. Take it and run.

    • MC

      My fiance’s grandpa hilariously LOVES Jodi Picoult books, and a couple years ago he lent me My Sister’s Keeper and I could not stop reading it! So whenever I want some easy reading, I follow his lead and pick up a Jodi Picoult. Her books are all pretty similar but they hook me in and really make me zone out on my own life! So yes, even as a former used bookstore employee and book snob, I can definitely get down on a trashy book every once in awhile.

      • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

        Jodi Picoullllltttttttt <3 oh my gosh, she was my whole youth.

      • Anon

        The Pact by Jodi Picoult was one of those books for me.

      • laddibugg

        Just finished reading “The Storyteller” and it was surprisingly good.

    • macrain

      Nope, nothing wrong with some trashy goodness. “Motherland” by Amy Sohn is straight up filthy. I have never read a chick lit that has the balls to be so raunchy. Going by reviews, not everyone loved this so much, but I gobbled it up. Sometimes it’s awesome to read something you feel just the slightest bit guilty for enjoying.

    • Jen

      I totally agree about embracing whatever you enjoy and want to read. I’m a librarian, and people are so often embarrassed or make excuses when they check out “trashy” novels, though I do this as well.

    • M.

      I will cop to having I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella in my current rotation (mostly for the subway). When I don’t want to read any of the “not trashy” books I have lined up, I figure it’s just good to be reading SOMETHING rather taking than another spin through the first two seasons of New Girl or playing games on my phone. So, I check out something fun from the library. No shame!

      • KitBee

        I liked I’ve Got Your Number! Sophie Kinsella can be hit-or-miss for me, but that was a fun one.

    • Anon

      I am a sucker for Elin Hilderbrand in the summer.

    • Jenn

      One of my profs when I was doing my MA in English Lit gave me four historical mysteries to take home with me at Christmas. Her advice: “read these, they are amazing”. And I wholeheartedly agree. That said, I took Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda with me on my honeymoon to Hawaii. And loved it. But man it was heavy.

      • Sara P

        I just read Boyden’s Three Day Road because they were talking about The Orenda on the radio. He’s so good!

        ETA: it was super heavy, but his writing is really fantastic.

  • Maggie

    I’ve recently totally loved Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: I know that it came out the other year, but I just finally got to it. It’s not quite scifi, though it edges towards it in some places as the characters wonder if something has a mundane or supernatural explanation (but I’d recommend it to my mom, who really doesn’t like scifi). Honestly, I raced through it and haven’t had that much fun reading a book in awhile.

    I’ve also been on a China Mieville kick lately, especially with The City & The City (crime noir set in interdigitated but mutually ignored cities: it’s also scifi/fantasy adjacent, probably over the line enough that I wouldn’t recommend it to my mom, but it’s mostly a crime novel) and Un Lun Dun (fantasy YA; if you like The Phantom Tollbooth, this should be *right* up your alley. Plus, smart female protagonist!).

    • Misti

      Yay for Mr Penumbra! I felt like I was falling into a magical world of puzzles and mysteries. The second half of the book didn’t quite do it for me in the same way (that would have been difficult, I admit), but it was so worth it for that dreamlike quality of the opening.

      • Maggie

        Yeah, I’ve read books with better final denouements (for example, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl), but I so enjoyed everything else about it that it still came out super positively for me :)
        And I loved the modern literary adventure feel/tone of it: racing around the country trying to put the pieces together! Assembling a (not quite rag-tag) team of friends/colleagues/neighbors who all have unexpected but useful skills! Puzzles within puzzles that were just so imaginative and neat! All a win in my book.

    • LifeSheWrote

      The City & The City was quite the trip. I’ll second your recommendation there!

    • Kirstin

      I have Mr. Penumbra’s sitting on my shelf. Perhaps I’ll pick up next!

    • Cbrown

      The short story about how Mr Penumbra ended up there was quite good as well.

  • River

    MY SERIOUS RECOMMENDATION:
    The best book I have ever read was made into the worst movie I have ever seen this year…It’s “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin. Epic romance, magical realism, moral discourse, JUSTICE, time travel, brilliant wordplay…This novel has everything, including a flying horse – and it still manages to be laugh-out-loud funny AND make-you-cry-in-public heartbreaking. Published in 1983, it takes place in New York City in the 1910s and 1999, and revolves around the love between a dying heiress, Beverly Penn, and a thief named Peter Lake who has a hideout in the just-built-ceiling of Grand Central Terminal (this is why my fiance proposed there, BTW)…READ IT – on those nights when it is far too hot and you’re dreaming of winter….

    On a less serious note, scampering off to download “The Book of Life” – I hadn’t realized it was out already!!!!

    If you like YA books, try Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Untold” and “Unspoken” – the final book comes out next month and I can’t wait to read it! This “Lynburn Legacy” Trilogy revolves around a witty would-be reporter, Kami, who lives in a sleepy English village called Sorry-in-vale. Kami has an imaginary friend – or does she? There’s magic and romance, and her best friend might be hiding a big secret too. It’s like a mash-up between Veronica Mars and one of the darker Diana Wynne Jones series. Enjoy!!

    • macrain

      OMG, just the trailer for Winter’s Tale was so awful! I hate when books are ruined by terrible movies.

      • River

        Indeed. I’d be okay if it was a bad adaptation but a good movie. But no, it is both a TERRIBLE adaption and the WORST movie. Ugh. Just…read the book, please?

        • ART

          oh my god, I was so worried about that. especially with the casting of beverly (was not crazy about her from Downton Abbey. actually could have gone without seeing D.A. not relevant here though).

          thank you for the warnings, all. i will skip the movie and re-read the amazing book.

          • River

            Yeah she was exactly as disappointing as I thought she’d be. She just looks like a healthy farmer’s daughter, not like a pampered pianist dying of consumption. (and if they were going to give Beverly auburn hair, I mean…they could’ve just cast me! ;-) hah I guess that joke works better if you can see me…)

            Happy to find another Winter’s Tale lover!!! :-)

          • Hayley

            Ahhh!! I had read something saying the book was good, did not get around to reading it, and talked my husband into renting the movie last weekend. It. Was. Horrible. Worst movie I have seen in years, possibly. My DVD-selecting privileges have been revoked, possibly forever :) Glad to know the book actually IS good – I will read it soon, and try to block the movie from my memory. (Though, I do love that girl from Downton Abbey.)

          • River

            OH NO :-( that’s the worst feeling when you pick the movie and it’s bad, haha. The book is EPIC, and wordy (but in a playful way).

            I love that girl from Downton Abbey, too – but only on Downton Abbey ;-)

            Can’t wait to hear what you think of the book!!

  • macaroni

    *Furiously updates Goodreads*

    So many great suggestions! I actually just finished “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood” and am now almost finished with “The Book of Life” – I highly recommend both series!

    ETA: I’ve also been reading “Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking” for a bit. I haven’t finished it mainly bc I haven’t been in a nonfiction mood lately, which is weird for me. But it’s super interesting, particularly if you’re introverted (me!).

    Next on my list are “Bad Feminist”, “Scandals of Classic Hollywood” by the awesome Anne Helen Peterson, and “Landline” by Rainbow Rowell. If you haven’t read “Eleanor and Park” – get yourself to a bookstore/on Amazon/a library and get it!!! So very good.

    • macrain

      Yay introverts! I loved Quiet, it made me feel awesome! Also a good tool for those who want to understand introverts more.

      • macaroni

        YES! I actually want my fiance to read it whenever I finish it. He’s highly extroverted, and it took us some time to find a balance in our relationship with regards to socializing & “me” time.

    • Allie Moore

      I also LOVE Eleanor and Park, and since Landline hasn’t come in at the library yet I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell this week. Not as good as E&P but still an enjoyable read!

      • macaroni

        I read Fangirl earlier this summer! You’re right, it’s not E&P level wonderful, but it was fun!

  • Becca

    Hmm. My summer reads are for my very informal bookclub, and we’re grappling with the theme of “feminist retellings.” We’re reading Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox, an almost contemporary of Cervantes. So, subversive feminism from two eras.

    My informal bookclub partner’s area of study is 18th century literature, and mine is/was postmodern literature, so we’re sharing :)

    • Emily

      Your bookclub sounds intense. I love it.

  • Gina

    I love you guys I love you guys I love you guys.

    Going on vacation next week. Going to read all the books.

  • Caroline

    Recent great reads: I’ve been reading everything by John Scalzi. It’s great sci-fi. I am currently rereading The Human Division, and Metatropolis is great. My boss gave me Mario Livio’s “The Equation That couldn’t be solved which is about math and groups and sets. Ariel Shavit’s My Promised Land is on my shelf for when I have a little more bandwidth for deeper reading after the wedding.

    Also, I’ve been reading the shorter works of fiction nominated for the Hugos. My faves are Six-Gun Snow White, and The Lady Astronaut, and The Waiting Stars which will blow your mind. And Wakula Springs is pretty great too. (I have to go to work soon and am on my phone, I can look up the authors and add them later if needed, but they should be listed on the Hugos website.)

  • Lauren from NH

    Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness was very good. Got me caught up on transgender issues, which prior to I was not well informed of.

  • Ally

    Just read Gone Girl on vacation. Could not put it down. Def not recommended for honeymoon reading but highly recommended otherwise!

    • Ally

      Also read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and it was so sweet – read it right before Gone Girl which was so twisted so that was an interesting emotional journey…

      I’d recommend it for fellow newlyweds.

  • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    This is so great! I have been needing summer reading for the beach :)

  • Kats

    Dog Songs really is fantastic: “And now you’ll be telling stories of my coming back and they won’t be false, and they won’t be true but they’ll be real.” There’s a nice self-made trilogy for the animal lover out there by combining: Dog Songs, Farley Mowat’s “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be,” and Jon Katz’s “The Dogs of Bedlam Farm.”

    Other books I’m loving/re-reading right now: James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks. It’s everything you want a fairy tale to be, with better words. Read it and the updated written version of Reiner’s “The Princess Bride” on any day the world seems particularly azure, and you’ll find the sunshine again.

    Reynolds Price: great Southern writer. While less known than some of his, I think the best place to start is with Tongues of Angels, which is sweet, mystical, brilliantly written without being wordy, and touching. Only book I read start to finish, set down, picked up, and read start to finish again. Follow it up with T.R. Pearson’s “A Short History of a Small Place” which is gut-bustingly funny in the way that only a story of a small town in the middle of nowhere can be.

  • Whitney S.

    I’m interested to hear why folk didn’t care for the Divergent series. Nothing stood out to me as annoying, so I was curious if I missed something.

    • macrain

      I actually didn’t hate Divergent, but I didn’t think there was anything extraordinary about it. (I read the first one, then gave up halfway through the second one.) There are so many awesome YA dystopian books out there, I don’t think it’s worth the time.

      • Whitney S.

        I feel you on that. I guess after you’ve slogged through the Twilight series, anything is manageable ;) Which YA dystopians do you love? I just re-read The Giver in anticipation of the movie, which is one of my favorite books of alllllll time.

        • Alyssa M

          I love The Giver so much! I was really dissapointed by the giver “quartet” though. Gathering Blue was good, Messenger just OK, but Son kind of ruined it all for me.

          • Jessica

            Should one even bother with “Son?” I’ve been waiting for it to be available at the library, but if it’s terrible I’m fine with not reading it.

          • Caroline

            I basically agree. I love The Giver and I also really enjoyed Gathering Blue. It wasn’t until I read Messenger that I realized they went together! I thought messenger was enjoyable, but not nearly as good. I haven’t read Son, mostly because Messenger was not as good as the other two.

    • moonlitfractal

      I liked the story but the prose style bugged me. Just a matter of personal taste, I guess. In the third book it was very hard to tell the PoV characters apart.

    • Maggie

      I enjoyed the first one (implausible but interesting world, I can get behind that! YA heroine, yes! good pacing, storyline felt earned, interesting bad guy, alright!), but I thought the third was just not good. I felt like I got what the author was going for, but she just really wasn’t a good enough writer to pull it off and make it justified and earned within the story.

      –SPOILER AND STRONG OPINION ALERT–
      So VRoth is someone who feels like the best resolution to Harry Potter would have been Harry dying (permanently). And that’s cool: I get that argument story-wise, and I see how it would have worked (even if I don’t completely agree). I think that position has influenced her writing and story arc creation (again, totally ok! that’s not my criticism!), but I don’t think it worked here. Critically, she tries to set up Tris’ presenting herself for sacrifice in Insurgent as bad, but the sacrifice in Allegiant as ok, and I really do not buy enough of a difference between the two, or see why the latter should be justified (yes, Tris is not ok in the 2nd book and is in a better place in the 3rd, but the greater-world situation for which she would sacrifice herself is really pretty similar).
      Also: All the characters seemed to be making terrible and out-of-character decisions. Tris complains about Tobias going with the first available plan without thinking about it, then makes everyone take the first plan she comes up with as the only solution? All the serums act as a deus ex machinas. There are so many unresolved character arcs (some I can be ok with, but there are just so many). Tobias’ mother’s sudden turnaround was completely unearned, and seemed really unbelievable.
      And finally, the two different POVs were not nearly different enough to work: Tobias and Tris should have very different internal monologues, but it was so easy to mix up from which perspective a chapter was coming.

      • Whitney S.

        Very interesting…

        I think I actually agree with you on a lot of what bugged you, but maybe it didn’t get under my skin as much. I’m with you one the whole POV and “deus ex machinas” (I totally googled it first, though :) ) I think my POV might have colored my annoyance at her own “christian worldview” heavily influencing her story. I personally come from an evangelical christian background who is not currently affiliated with any religion, so I get a real kick out of seeing how an author’s personal religious convictions influence their writing. I like the thought experiments of old me and new me. I got a really kick out of Tris’s final scene. I mean, of course she is the special snowflake savior ;)

        I’m with you on the lack of skill in differentiating b/t our narrators. I was less bothered by the bickering/lack of insight between Tris and Four b/c I felt it was believable though not a healthy way of relating :) The switch-a-roo with Evelyn was kind of ridiculous. But don’t we all wish that our not-so-awesome parent will some day wake up and do something radically out of character? ;)

        I still enjoyed it for what it was, and it sounds like you probably did too. I think it tells us a lot about our author, and I would be curious to see if she has the skill to really speak from another voice or POV.

        • Kate

          The PoVs drove me crazy. I constantly had to flip back to see which PoV I was getting, and they had been delightfully distinct characters in the first book.

          Honestly, the third book just felt like she phoned it in. The writing quality (which was never stellar to begin with) just plummeted. She was anxious to get to her pre-planned ending, and the rest of the book was sacrificed more than Tris was.

    • enfp

      I enjoyed the first book, though it seemed like Hunger Games redux, nothing too original about it, but enjoyable. The series got less compelling as it went on, with the third book being the weakest. I didn’t at all buy the ending. I agree with the comments below that she phoned it in for the third book, in terms of the plot, writing and characterization.

  • Lily

    I just finished Americanah and I highly highly recommend it. It was that perfect combination of really compelling, page-turning story and also super smart and thought-provoking. Plus beautiful, captivating writing.

    • Cbrown

      Americanah was amazing, I read it earlier in the year and loved it.

  • moonlitfractal

    I am re-reading The Mists of Avalon for the first time in about 10 years. I used to read it every summer when I was a teenager. It’s very different to read as an adult (who is, btw, almost at the end of a very, very difficult pregnancy).

    • ART

      Wow, I read it probably three times in high school as well, and haven’t since. That would be kind of a trip!

    • Erynn

      I have done the same thing with this book! I am now about 1/2-way through it after a decade-long hiatus of nearly annual readings, and am astounded at how different it is now…and how compelling. It has also prompted me to do a bit of research on the modern and historical geography of story, and that is really elevating the read for me, too. (look up the Tor on Wikki, even, that’s a great place to start!)
      It may not be another 10 years before I read it again, but I’m so thoroughly enjoying it.

    • Catherine McK

      Good luck with this last stage! I didn’t even have a difficult pregnancy but I was so so excited to not be pregnant any more. (And for my awesome kid, of course)

  • MC

    OMG YES. Adding so many books to my to-read list right now.

    Everyone who likes Orange is the New Back NEEDS to read Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name that the show is based on. Heck, even if you don’t like the show, read the book. It’s quite different than the show (WAY less drama in Piper’s personal life, thank god) but it makes up for it in her fascinating, heartbreaking analysis of our prison system & culture and also has some super touching moments in it. I found it really interesting to learn what the differences were between her experience and the show.

    In a similar vein, The New Jim Crow is on my list, but it seems like something I’ll want to take my time with.

    Some of my other recent faves:
    Paddle Your Own Canoe – Nick Offerman (AKA Ron Swanson)
    The Round House – Louise Erdrich
    Cooked – Michael Pollan (a book all about cooking that, WARNING, will make you super hungry)
    The Book Thief – Markus Zuzak
    After Visiting Friends – Michael Hainey (memoir of a journalist as he tracks down details about his dad’s mysterious death)
    Lost Cat – Caroline Paul (short, sad, hilarious memoir about cats, with illustrations!)

    • lady brett

      the new jim crow is really a must-read. and, actually, it’s writing style and information would be a really easy/quick read…but it took me 2 months because everything in it is so infuriating i had to read it in tiny bits.

      also, didn’t know about that michael pollon book…i’ll have to add that to my list, with all the other non-fiction recommended above.

    • Laura

      Seconding Lady Brett re: The New Jim Crow. Fascinating and a swift read in writing style, but definitely something you’ll be mulling over (and seething about) for a long time to come.

    • macrain

      I love The Book Thief so much I can’t even talk about it.

      • Mezza

        Me too. It made me cry on public transit, but l love it anyway.

        • macaroni

          It was one of those books that I stayed up until 2am multiple nights reading, and I remember having to bury my face in a pillow so I wouldn’t wake up my fiance with my sobs.

    • nikki

      I just finished reading, “Orange is the New Black.” So good! I have not watched the show (no netflix), but a friend who recommended the book said she did not like the show because of all the “creative licenses” it takes with Piper’s relationships.

      • Hayley

        So, so, so good. Could not put it down. The show definitely adds a lot of plot lines, especially with the relationships, but I was pleasantly surprised how much of the book actually made it into the show (for season 1, anyway – haven’t gotten season 2 yet)

  • Elisabeth S.

    Oh gosh, we didn’t even talk about Room by Emma Donoghue. Who’s read it?? Gripping.

    • M.

      SO GRIPPING. Like, whoa. Weird at first, and I was skeptical, and then it swallowed me up.

    • macrain

      Yes! One of those suspenseful thrillers that’s hard to put down. And also just fascinating on so many levels.

    • Caroline

      It’s such an intense book, very gripping.

  • M.

    Three (million!) cheers for Jen Kirkman! Her book was super fun, and I love her comedy and especially her podcast. Girl knows her feminism and LOVES to talk about it. Super interesting stuff about women in comedy, and also just life as a woman and a person. I think a lot of APWers would dig her.

    I just received Falling Upwards: How We Took To The Air as a gift. Amazon tells me it “follows the pioneer generation of balloon aeronauts.” YES PLEASE.

    I’m also a few pages in to Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art. The writing itself leaves much to be desired (cliche city!) but it’s INTERESTING, and I’m reading it after many great anecdotes from my husband after he read it.

    • Emily

      Jen Kirkman is basically my favorite. :)

      • M.

        Yes, this, a thousand times. Fave.

  • ART

    If you’re a kindle or other e-reader user and want some free public domain reads, I HIGHLY recommend Vanity Fair, which I’m reading now. Also, anything by Mark Twain is going to be a great summer read. Try “Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion.” The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is also great – for whatever reason Agnes Grey is always the Anne Bronte novel that winds up in Bronte sisters sets, but Wildfell is waaay more interesting. People throw chairs instead of…read sermons or whatever they do in Agnes Grey (I did read it but, zzzzzz).

    • ART

      oh, and Dracula! holy crap that was fun to read.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Philosophy book group: Plotinus, Enneads
    Completed: Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, by Wollstonecraft (early feminist fiction set in an insane asylum)
    Next up: Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice, by Mark Haverland
    Just for today: Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

    But! not all my reading is serious! We also subscribe to:
    Redbook
    Vogue
    Elle
    Marie Claire
    Atlantic
    First Things
    New York Review of Books
    Women’s Health

    Especially before we had internet at home, magazines were such cheap, easy entertainment. $1.25/month for a couple hours’ entertainment – way cheaper than a movie ticket, or even Netflix.

    • Laura

      Celebrating the Feast of St. Ignatius today, eh? I’m Jesuit-educated, so my Facebook feed has been afire with St. Ignatius mentions today :)

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Actually, I got an idea to look up the Spiritual Exercises before I looked at my Ordo, but when I saw my Ordo, I was even more interested.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      More magazines:

      National Geographic Traveler
      Architectural Digest

    • Elisabeth S.

      I LOVE MAGAZINES SO MUCH. What do you do with them afterwards? I am forever tearing out pages and hiding them in various drawers which doesn’t help me implement anything I’ve learned or things to do or read.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Most get recycled entire. I will tear out recipes. So far, it’s mostly so few I can just attach them to the fridge with magnets. I also tear out product reviews if it’s something I aspire to buy. So far, we’re talking less than 20 pages, and they just sit on my desk at home, or I’m starting a file box for such papers (and, you know, legal and tax paperwork, etc.).

        In a better world, they’d probably be scanned in color and stored in the cloud. Or, since most of that stuff is available online, I’d bookmark the online version.

        Oh, and if it’s an exercise I want to try, I put it in my gym bag or near where I stretch at home.

      • Emily

        I keep a stack to use for making collages. If they are in good shape but I don’t want to keep them, my library will take them.

  • LifeSheWrote

    I have to make another plug for all books Kingsolver. I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer on our honeymoon and I want everyone to have that experience (honeymoon optional). Loved the vivid characters wound together through three seemingly disparate stories that intersect perfectly by the end. Love the idea that we’re all a part of this bigger picture, a web where individuals come and go but together we make up LIFE. It was just the right amount of funny, sad, and sweet to make a worthwhile and enjoyable read (and the great love stories, one pretty steamy, didn’t hurt either!).

    I’m also a big fan of Tana French (especially The Likeness) and just got into the All Souls Trilogy this summer (swoon).

    • Allie

      I love Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve been debating which of her books I want to read next. I think you just helped me decide!

    • macaroni

      I’ll always have a special place in my heart for The Poisonwood Bible because I read it in high school, but as an adult I think I love Prodigal Summer more. Her nature imagery is fantastic.

  • http://www.rachellerawlingsphotography.com/ Rachelle

    Great timing! I just finished The Interestings and The Fault in Our Stars on a weeklong vacation so I’m looking for something else to dive into.

  • Elizabeth

    I recently moved to New York from a small-ish city and found myself reading “Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs which is a book about city planning. Seriously. I’m not normally the kind of person to read academic books for fun, but Jane Jacobs throws some serious shade at conventional city planners and it is VERY amusing and accessible. I’m learning so much about what makes a street safe, a neighborhood good or bad, and why some streets have failing businesses and others are able to regenerate themselves. All of this knowledge is helping me see the city with informed eyes and I’m so excited about it.

    I also just finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy and it was everything I wanted it to be.

    • Emily

      That DOES sound interesting!

      • Elizabeth

        It is absolutely fascinating and shockingly easy to understand. It’s nowhere near as dry as one would expect.

  • Hope

    Finished The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and loved it as I do all her work.
    Almost finished The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and I’ve enjoyed that too. She gives a great sense of time, place, nature and God which Kingsolver also does.
    About to read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes purely because a friend lent it to me.

    • Caroline

      I love all Barbara Kingsolver’s other stuff I’ve read and I just could not get into The Lacuna. I tried and tried and got maybe 1/3 before I gave up.

      • Hope

        It was very different to her other books- historical period, different country, but I found it worth persevering. It helps that I love art so the Kahlo/Rivera storyline held my interest. The later story of the character in post-war USA was riveting.

  • Emily

    Magazine subscription suggestion: The Sun Magazine. Beautiful photos, great writing, no advertisements! http://thesunmagazine.org

    • enfp

      Great recommendation, I love the Sun!

  • KitBee

    I’ve been enjoying some lovely re-reads lately — The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, Sylvester by Georgette Heyer. Next month I’m looking forward to the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, and I’ll also be reading Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson for the centennial of World War 1.
    Also, for history lovers, I highly recommend Ben Macintyre’s books about British espionage during World War 2. Operation Mincemeat and Double Cross are both excellent!

    • Sara P

      Seconding The Blue Sword! I loved that book in high school, I should totally go re-read it.

      • KitBee

        It holds up! Robin McKinley is so good.

  • http://www.therewm.com/ Rachel W. Miller

    I know I’ve mentioned this on APW before, but if you haven’t read “The New Jim Crow” yet…please do. As someone else said in that thread, reading this book is your civic duty!

    For something a little lighter, I love Mary Roach books as summer reads! I need to read “Gulp” and “Bonk” still! I’ve loved all her others, and now Eric and I have been listening to the audiobook version of “Packing for Mars.”

    • Emily

      I keep meaning to pick up a Mary Roach book! Everyone raves about her.

    • Hayley

      How do you like “Packing for Mars”? I love Mary Roach – “Stiff” was one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read, and I’m reading “Bonk” at the moment!

      • http://www.therewm.com/ Rachel W. Miller

        I like it better than Spook but nothing will ever top Stiff. :) Overall, it’s just packed with cool stories and great, classic Mary Roach jokes. If you like her books, I’m sure you’ll like it!

  • Celesta Torok

    Outlander FTW! They’re starting a series on Starz next week too. I am so freaking excited about this!

  • Allie

    Recently read, and recommend: “Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver, and “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer

    Currently reading, and enjoying: “We Are Water” by Wally Lamb

    Next up: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing” by Mira Jacob, and I’m 105th in line at the library for “The Fault in our Stars” (so that probably won’t be a summer read).

  • Sara P

    Currently reading:
    Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest – Wade Davis (I have a sort-of-weird love of reading about big mountain expeditions. I’ve just started this one and it’s mostly about WWI so far, but I’m on kind of a WWI kick. Non-fiction)

    Recently read and recommend:
    Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden (fiction, heavy, WWI again, so so good)

    Good Omens and American Gods – Gaiman (other people have said it, but they’re both great, I laughed all the way through Good Omens, and it was great fun trying to guess which town he modeled Lakeside after in American Gods)

    A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth (fiction, fantastic, very long)

    Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke – Amitav Ghosh (fiction, parts of a trilogy, still waiting on the third. I’m learning all sorts of things about the lead-up to the Opium wars, and the writing is so amazing)

    Against the Day – Thomas Pynchon (I have mixed feelings about parts of this book, and I actually really hated some scenes, but it was such an interesting reading experience, and he was having so much fun with language, that I want to recommend it anyway. Fiction. It’s incredibly long – not a great library candidate.)

    Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (related to Jane Eyre, super good, really sad).

    Echoing others to say anything by Barbara Kingsolver or Tamora Pierce. For poetry I love Kay Ryan’s stuff, she was the poet laureate a few years ago and her stuff is really spare and just amazing. I subscribe to The Economist (it’s a specific angle (not really economics), but it’s one of the best for getting real international news).

    Love reading everybody’s recommendations!!

  • Ilora

    For quick easy reads I always recommend Sherlock Holmes as I’m constantly surprised at how few people have actually read the books (especially with the popularity of the show and movies). In YA the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass). So good on audiobook! They actually have voice actors for all the characters rather than just a narrator. My favourite fantasy series’ are The Belgariad and The Mallorean, both are 5 books long and about the same protagonist, the author David Eddings finished the first 5 and realized there was more story to tell, so he wrote 5 more, then 3 companion books! Have reread so many time!

    • ART

      OHH I loved loved loved all four Sherlock Holmes novels and have read many but not all of the short stories! And you can get them for free on kindle/etc, on amazon or at http://www.gutenberg.org/

      I saw the movie The Golden Compass and thought the ending was really weird and unsatisfying. PERHAPS because the book is the first in a trilogy? that makes so. much. sense.

      • Caroline

        Yeah, honestly, I feel like His Dark Materials is, to a certain extent, more of one book in three volumes than three books. They don’t really stand on their own very well, I think, which makes having just one movie a little weird.

    • macaroni

      Oh man, I LOVE the His Dark Materials trilogy. It made me genuinely sad that daemons don’t exist. I mean, how absolutely amazing would THAT be?!?

      • http://www.lateralmovements.com/ Lauren Fitzpatrick

        YES. After I read the trilogy I frequently spent time trying to figure out what my daemon would be, and it troubles me that I have yet to make a decision.

  • ImprovisedBride

    YAY for this thread! I just put my name on the list for “The New Jim Crow” at the library.

    I second the recommendation earlier for Louise Erdrich’s “The Round House”; I just finished it and really enjoyed it. I’ve loved almost all her books. This one I read in bits on my phone on the train, which I don’t recommend; there were some moments of both intense sadness and intense rage that weren’t great to experience in public.

    Also, I’ve finally chucked the embarrassment about my genre-loving ways. Mysteries FTW! I’d love to see what other APWers are reading here. I’ve been re-reading PD James: she is just.so.good. I’m a sucker for a police procedural featuring an almost-unbelievably empathetic and thoughtful detective, apparently, because Donna Leon and Louise Penny are also among my favorites. Why was Eleanor Taylor Bland not better known? Her Marti McAllister is so beautifully written. For the beach-read moments, Janet Evanovich and Elmore Leonard are hard to beat. If you want kinda quirky, not-really-about-the-mystery books, I love Jan Willem Van de Wetering’s Grijpstra and de Gier series. Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Karen Kijewski, JM Redman (lesbian sleuth; set in New Orleans; the first several books in the Micky Knight series were really strong but I only just realized there were more — more for me!); Laurie King (more for the Kate Martinelli series than the Mary Russell books), Dorothy Sayers (I love Harriet Vane, but I’m really reading them for Lord Peter & Bunter), Ngaio Marsh. Oh, so much goodness!

    A friend recently recommended Megan Abbott, and I’ve got a bunch of her books from the library now to read.

    • Kirstin

      I liked The Round House too! No one else in my book club did, and I’m not sure why! Glad to hear others who appreciate it. I have The Painted Drum in my stack too.

  • http://nzmuse.com eemusings (NZMuse)

    YESSSSSS. I just finished In My Heart’s Own Blood. Can’t wait for the Outlander show debut this month!

  • malkavian

    For science fiction fans, I recommend the Silo series (Wool, Shift, Dust) by Hugh Howey and the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance which is out in September) by Jeff Vandermeer. I’ve read both series within the past year and they are quite excellent, though quite different.

    Also, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh. It has some prints of the webcomics and some new material but Brosh is always hilarious.

    • Caroline

      Oh, I just got Wool for the honeymoon. Looking forward to it!