Updated May 27, 2020.
It’s that time of year again… Summer is coming! And that means it’s time for my annual summer reading list. This year’s top picks have inspired me, made me laugh, and taught me things about history that I never knew I wanted to know! I hope they’ll inspire your wanderlust, so if you see something you like, click the image to get yours from Amazon!
The Convenient Groom
If you’re looking for a beach read, you’ve found it! This book is set on Nantucket Island, where the author of a relationship book is about to get married—and was promptly jilted at the altar. Luckily, her fiance had been a secret, so she married someone else and the world was none the wiser! But will the plan ultimately work? I flew through this book in just a couple of days by the pool, so I’m sure it’ll be a quick read for you, too!
Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
Here’s one that’s mighty short on humor, but a fountain of little known Baltic and Soviet history. I genuinely loved the Baltics, but I am embarrassed to say I knew next to nothing about these beautiful countries or what their people went through. Millions of people from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were sent to Soviet work camps, some above the Arctic Circle, for decades. You read that right:decades.
The ones who did return home found their identities stolen, homes occupied by Soviet citizens, and belongings confiscated. They were not allowed to talk about what happened to them, which is why so little is known about the event. This is the only book I’ve found based on this event, and it’s incredibly well-written. It’s not a light read, but you won’t be sorry you’ve read it.
The Alice Network
by Kate Quinn
Speaking of well-written novels based on actual events, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s written from two perspectives across two wars, but the story comes beautifully full circle. There really was an all-female spy ring during World War I called the Alice Network, and many of the characters were real people. The book is meticulously researched and artfully written, making it one I just couldn’t put down!
It also did something for me that not too many historical novels can do—it kept me guessing right up until the end!
The Glass Ocean
by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White
And speaking of World War I history, how much do you know about the sinking of the HMS Lusitania? If you’re like me, not much! But after reading this book I know a lot more that I did before, and it’s a pretty good story, too! There’s a love triangle, of course, some family secrets, spying, and a writer doing some historical research for a book—my favorite. Not to mention it centers around luxury cruise travel!
by Elizabeth Gilbert
In need of inspiration? This book was written by the author of Eat, Pray, Love, and while we all know her name because of that book’s wild success, she had some bumps along the way. In this book, she talks about the concept of “Big Magic,” meaning the bigger picture. Your missed opportunity may not be missed after all, but inspiration should be acted upon with courage and gusto! And when you’re finished reading, you should plan to take a Creative Retreat to let your own creativity work its magic!
by Nicki Koziarz
For another quick and inspirational read, you should really pick up a copy of Why Her? by Nicki Koziarz. While acting on your inspiration is important, it’s also essential to remember not to be jealous of others’ successes. We really can be happy for others even during our own dry spells, though much of the world would have us think otherwise. This book applies the Biblical account of Leah and Rachel to our lives today. It stepped on my heart in all the right ways, and I hope it will do the same for you.
Where’d You Go Bernadette?
by Maria Semple
Thanks to couple of long flights and some jet lag, I finished this book in less than 24 hours! It’s funny, it’s pretty light, and it’s recently been made into a movie, set to release this August! It’s set in Seattle with a little dabbling in Antarctica. If the White Continent is on your list but you don’t know when you’ll get down there, you will definitely get your fix in this book!
By Keith O’Brien
Every frequent flyer should read this book. And everyone who wants to know more about the beginnings of flight and air travel. Everyone knows about Amelia Earhart and her famous disappearance, but there’s more to the story, and more stories that should be just as well known. This books is well-researched and well-written, and it made me utterly grateful for the traveling I can do because of these women and the people around them when flying was still taking shape in the 1920s and 30s.
Bonus! Magnetic Bookmarks
Y’all! My mom, the woman who instilled a love of reading in me, got me the best stocking stuffer for Christmas last year: magnetic bookmarks! I love a real book, and I do not like to dog-ear pages (especially on library books). But regular book marks often fall out on travel, and paperclip style bookmarks bend the pages. But these cute magnet bookmarks don’t do either, and they’re travel-inspired!
What’s on your summer reading list this year? Did any of these make the cut?
Want more? Check out my other Summer Reading Lists!
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