Although summers change with every year of our lives, surely it’s the summers of our childhood that continue to cast the longest shadows over our expectations of how these warm days should be spent. That’s why I never fail to feel compelled to read stacks of books during the extended daylight hours from June through August. In fact, it takes everything I have to resist printing out an official summer reading chart on blue paper so that I can list the books I read one by one, turn it in at the end of the summer and receive a certificate signed by the public librarian in exchange. Instead, I’ll opt for sharing with you my summer 2020 reading list.
Like most writers, I’m a reader. I love to read serious fiction, silly romances, page-turning mysteries and inspiring non-fiction alike. At the same time, I’m a pretty picky reader. Yes, I often choose my books by their covers, so if the illustration on the front doesn’t pull me in I won’t pick it up…unless someone I trust tells me I must.
And that’s largely what this Summer 2020 Reading List is – a compilation of books I’ve been encouraged to read…either by you, my dear readers, the book club I recently joined or my daughter…because she chooses her books the same way I do.
Non-Fiction Books on My List
First, let’s check out the non-fiction books I’ve read recently or have on my list to get to this summer. I’m only including three non-fiction books because I tend to read more fiction in the summer.
It’s Not Supposed to be This Way – by Lysa TerKeurst
I recently finished this Christian self-help book by Lysa TerKeurst and I’m still mulling it over. Propelled to share biblical principles for dealing with the disappointments in life by her own broken marriage and life-threatening physical illnesses, TerKeurst offers both relatable raw emotion and sound counsel. She writes beautifully if not sometimes a little too exquisitely, and her profound statements stick in your mind like hand scribbled cherished notes you’ve received from a dear friend who knows you well.
This book is a must-read for anyone going through a difficult season – as we all do at one point or another – but it’s worthwhile for any woman who simply wants to be prepared for the next life disappointment. I appreciate that the book is bursting at the seams with scripture and the overall timbre is encouraging, straightforward and honest.
How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations – by Max Lucado
I’m about half-way through Lucado’s recent book, which is based on, what I call, the “one anothers” in the Bible. According to this prolific Christian author, true happiness happens when we diligently and consistently, by the indwelling presence of God’s Spirits, practice the “one anothers” – greet one another, serve one another, pray for one another, forgive one another, love one another, etc.
As usual, Lucado has a way of making big life changes feel doable and achievable. I enjoy reading this book at the end of my day as I prepare for sleep because he gives me positive, biblical challenges packaged in gracious and encouraging words.
One Day – The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten
I was recently invited by a friend to join her book club and, in fact, tonight will be my first time to attend…by Zoom, of course. We’ll be discussing Gene Weingarten’s One Day.
The author of this non-fiction book set out to tell the stories of ordinary people as they happened on one random day in recent history. He and and a friend gathered in a diner one day to draw numbers from a hat – a year (between 1969 and 1989), the 12 months of a year and 31 days. Allowing two children to do the drawing honors, they emerged from the diner with the date December 28, 1986. Do you know what you were doing that day? I do.
Weingarten proceeds to tell some fascinating stories of events that occurred throughout the hours of December 28, 1986. But he does more than that. He gives you the rest of the story. While not every story has held my attention like the one before it, all of them have given me plenty to think about. And several are utterly spellbinding. This book does include mature themes, raw language and graphic scenes.
Fiction Books on My List
Like I said, I like fiction books of all kinds. But I much prefer historical fiction. This list includes indulgent romances and fine literature alike. Remember, this is my summer reading list. I’m keeping it real. I enjoy lighthearted, silly books some days and heavier, thought-provoking novels on others. And I tend to alternate between the two so that I don’t spiral down with the weightiness of the latter.
Also, I’m going to include a list of general recommendations at the end of the post, but this list includes mostly newer books…those published in the last few years.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
I recently finished reading The Alice Network with my Libby App. (Use the Libby App to easily navigate and read the audio or e-books you check out from your local public library.) It kept me mesmerized while walking through our neighborhood or washing dishes or just sitting on my back deck.
“In this enthralling novel from New York Times bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.” This book does include mature themes, raw language and graphic scenes.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
From the author of Me Before You, set in Depression-era America, The Giver of Stars is billed as a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond. The women are recruited as Packhorse Librarians, delivering books deep into the hills of Appalachia to those who otherwise would never have them.
This book is on my to-do list, so I don’t have any personal insights to offer. But it comes highly recommended by DFMD readers and other book clubs.
A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky
“In A Week at the Shore, New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky explores how lives and relationships are forever changed when three sisters reunite at their family Rhode Island beach house.”
Delinsky is one of my favorite romance writers. While this isn’t fine literature, I find that Delinsky’s books do give me things to think about more deeply. And I especially enjoy books that take place at a beach during the summer.
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni
This is the next book on the list for the book club I’ve joined. Actually, I accidentally started it last week before discovering I had taken the assignments out of order. I was hooked in the foreword and hated to put it down. So I’m looking forward to picking it up again later this weekend. I
“Sam Hill always saw the world through different eyes. Born with red pupils, he was called ‘Devil Boy’ or Sam ‘Hell’ by his classmates; ‘God’s will’ is what his mother called his ocular albinism. Her words were of little comfort, but Sam persevered, buoyed by his mother’s devout faith, his father’s practical wisdom, and his two other misfit friends.”
Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
And then in August my new (to me) book club will be discussing Cemetery Road. I have to tell you, this book club is going to be good for me. It’s challenging me to read books I probably would not pick up otherwise.
“An ambitious stand-alone thriller that is both an absorbing crime story and an in-depth exploration of grief, betrayal and corruption… Iles’s latest calls to mind the late, great Southern novelist Pat Conroy. Like Conroy, Iles writes with passion, intensity and absolute commitment.”— Washington Post
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
When I asked followers on Instagram for recommendations, this book came up frequently. And I’d heard of Where the Crawdads Sing before. So I think it’s time I read Delia Owens’ book about Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl on the North Carolina coast.
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
The Dearly Beloved was also recommended by Instagram followers…and my daughter. It’s charted as a beautifully written novel about relationships, faith, commitment and change.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Many followers also recommended The Dutch House. Now see. Here’s an example of how I miss out on some good books. This cover does nothing for me. But when I read the synopsis, I was intrigued. I’ll definitely be reading this novel about a family, a house and the troubles that marked them.
If I Were You by Lynn Austin
Lynn Austin is one of my favorite Christian fiction authors. She sometimes writes modern day novels, but her historic fiction is my favorite. This summer she released a new title, If I Were You. It’s the story of two friends – one wealthy, one not – who have survived World War II only to be thrown into a deeper battle because of the choices they’ve made since. The themes of jealousy and comparison are explored throughout the book.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
I read Lisa Wingate’s The Prayer Box and really enjoyed it. But I hadn’t realized that she had also written Before We Were Yours.
“Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.”
If you’ve already read Before We Were Yours and enjoyed it, you may want to read Wingate’s newest novel, The Book of Lost Friends.
Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer
Here’s another summer indulgence romance novel. Nancy Thayer turns out a book most summers, and I enjoy the escape they provide. Girls of Summer takes place in Nantucket, where a single mother and her two grown children find their ways through summer romances and changes in family dynamics.
What are you reading this summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below. Some of you have already sent your recommendations to me, but because of space and time limitations I couldn’t include them all. I do highly recommend all of the Mitford books by Jan Karon, if you haven’t read those. I love those darling, genteel books, and have read every single one of them.
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Blessed for My Day
Dear gal, I want to remind you today that the best book for any of us to read is the Bible. Without hesitation or shame, I believe the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. It is without error and it is everything we need for life. I don’t apologize for that profession.
But more importantly, God’s Word is able to do something none of these other books can possibly do. Yes, any book can impact you, change your course or even enlighten you. But on the Word of God can change your destiny, your heart, your character…completely. While I love reading all kind of books during the summer, I highly recommend taking time to read systematically from God’s Word each day, too. It will truly prove to be the anchor you need to make it through each day.
Read it as a love letter from the Creator of this world to His beloved. Read it to learn, first of all, about God. Then, as you learn more about Him, you’ll discover more about yourself, too.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12
29 thoughts on “My Summer 2020 Reading List”
This reading list was an excellent idea. I’m like you, if the cover doesn’t move me I leave it. Some on the list struck me that way, but after reading your review, I’m intrigued. I also appreciate you divulging those that were off color.
The Mitford books were a favorite series of mine 20 years ago when I worked as a library aide in an elementary school. The librarian recommended the books as something to read during breaks throughout our day and I fell in love with the storyline. Highly recommend them to anyone reading this blog post. I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading…I need to remedy that situation.
LOVED this post! Thank you. Some of these books I’ve read and some are new to me. Can’t wait to read through some of these this summer. ? ? ? ?
I too love to read , and I have one more for your list ..
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson
It also tells about Packhorse Librarians, delivering books into the hills of Appalachia but specifically about one woman , who happens to have blue skin. Is depicts how “the Blues” were treated—how people shunned and shamed them. The Blue skin was caused by a blood condition passed down by a gene .
Sara, I grew up in central Kentucky and am very interested in Appalachian culture; I like Kim Michelle Robinsons book better than JoJo Moyes book. Ms Richaardson has a better understanding of the area and era (while not from that part of Kentucky, she’s obviously been there and researched it) while Ms Moyes is from England. While she also obviously researched it, she just didn’t quite have the same feel for the area and era IMHO
Thanks for the list Kay. I’m always looking for a good read!
Add The Book Women of Troublesome Creek. Like Jojo Myers book this is based on the women who delivered library material to the poorest rural areas of West Va. the main character beside living in poverty, has another battle to fight: her skin is blue. Yes, blue. The blue skin people of Troublesome face subtle and not so subtle discrimination but our main character responds with grace.
A faith based book is “ The Father’s Son”. The main character seems to have it all but he has been running his whole life from a devastating tragedy that happened in his childhood. Filled with twists and turns, David embarks on a journey that few have the courage to do.
I am in the process of reading For Better or For Hearse by Laura Dunham. The main character is a wedding planner who always manages to stumble upon a murder. This is a series of books and they are incredibly funny. I like Mary Alice Monroe and her low country stories.The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe is the first book in another series she has written that I’ll have to read. I enjoy cozy mysteries like Laura Dunham’s,M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series, the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews, and the Sarah Booth Delaney series by Carolyn Haines.Nonfiction books such as The Jersey Brothers by Sally Mott Freeman. This is a compelling story of a family during World War II, it describes the fate of the youngest brother. I reread books that I have taught to others or books that have had an impact in my life as well.
I have read several of your recommendations. I keep a running list of titles I want to read on my phone. Cemetery Road is quite a read, but’s its a story you will never forget. Much like When We Were Yours. I would recommend Educated, The Great Alone and A Man Called Ove.
Joan, I totally agree with your 3 recommendations!
Boy did I make a mistake! The author of For Better or For Hearse is Laura Durham not Laura Dunham. I’m so sorry! The main character Annabelle Archer is delightful.
I did manage to spell the rest of the authors’ names correctly. ?
Thank you so much for this list! I love reading all the time but especially in the summer and especially those with a beach setting. I’ve read a few on this list and they are good. I’ve just finished The Authenticity Project and it was so good and thought provoking. Our book club met last night in our backyard and there is a list of questions on line to use to keep the conversation flowing. I’d recommend it. But the Bible is tops on the book list by far – thanks for your Blessed for My Day every post. You blog is one I read every day now!
The Authenticity Project is by Clare Pooley.
I loved yesterday’s post about how to style casual summer clothes. Great ideas. Another one that I’ve learned from my sister is to take a lightweight neckerchief and wrap it around the neck and tuck in the ends. She does this often with a casual tee and it looks so cool and elevated in style.
Thank you for your book list. It comes at a perfect time as I’m having back surgery next week. I’ve read several on your list…Where The Crawdads Sing is my absolute favorite,,, I devoured it. When We Were Yours is a difficult read emotionally, so be prepared. One of my favorite authors is Dorothy Benton Frank, who unfortunately passed away last year. She wrote about the South, with good food and funny women in her stories.. Highly recommended. On a different note, yesterday’s post on fashion hacks was a winner!
Thanks for the recommendations! I have more time to read in the summer and will enjoy several of these. However, I have been appalled at the language some of the authors are ok with using, and will stop reading some of them because of it…I definitely appreciate the clean authors better. Thanks for reminding me about Lynn Austin. She’s awesome!
Thanks for doing this blog ??.
I have made a list of your book recommendations. I am always looking for a good read. I did read Where The Crawdads Sing. Great book. I could not put it down. I have also read The Silent Patient which I also loved.
Thank you for putting this post together. As much as I like to learn about styling outfits, and great sales, shifting my focus to simpler, less expensive, more mindful activities is a nice change. You did a nice job of providing a varied selection. With 90+ degree humid days coming to the North East, sitting in a comfy chair with a book and fan blowing is looking like a lovely way to spend a summer afternoon.
Thank you for your summer reading list. I also think The Silent Patient was a very good read
What a wonderful diversion from fashion you’ve given us. Some of these books sound great and I love your choices in genre! Much the same as mine! Thank you too for sharing your faith w us!
I love this list! Thank you for the great ideas and the fun, a little bit different, post. I have read at least 20 books since March – WAY more than I normally have time for and I have really enjoyed it. I read Before We Were Yours a few years back and it is in my all-time top 5!! (And I am in the minority, but I did not like Where the Crawdads Sing…I actually could not even finish it; the syntax and dialogue frustrated me so much that I couldn’t overlook them!) I will be adding some of these to my “to read” list! 🙂
Thank you, Rebecca! I was listening to Where the Crawdads Sing on audiobook and I could not finish it either — it was just soooo slow! Friends have recommended it but it is just not my style. On the other hand, I highly recommend Ann Patchett, one of my favorite authors (The Dutch House), Lily King (currently listening to Euphoria), and Tana French (Welch murder mysteries). Lab Girl was a fascinating non-fiction read. I always have an audio book (for workouts, walks, and gardening) and a physical book in progress. For light summer reads, I recommend Elin Hilderbrand.
I have not read Patchett, King, or French before! I will add those to my list, thank you!! I’m closing in on 100 books since mid-March 2020! 🙂
I also love Lynn Austin books. If you love them, you would also like books by Tamera Alexander. I have read all her books to date and I would recommend each one. Happy reading!
On December 28, 1986, I was celebrating my Sweet Sixteen!
Hahaha! Believe it or not two women in my book club have that birthday too. ? Crazy!
I love books and reading!! A friend just recommended The Dutch House. Our book club finished The Red Address Book, an easy and enjoyable read. We also read This Tender Land and A Gentleman from Moscow, both we all loved. I love a good book!!
Thanks for sharing, Kathy. I enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow too. Haven’t heard of the others. I’ll check them out! ?
I hope you’ll continue to include the books your new bookclub is reading (either before or after you discuss). If you like The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, her other book, The Huntress, is equally good.
I’m an avid reader and taught college reading at a Christian university. Some of my favorite Christian authors are Lynn Austin, Kristy Cambron, Katherine Reay, Sarah Ladd, Jennifer Delamere, Carrie Turansky, Julie Klassen and Susan Meissner. I thought Jojo Moyes’ The Giver of Stars was stunning! Other books I’ve enjoyed recently include Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Warren, Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar, No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky and The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow. If you like intriguing mysteries and different cultures, I’d recommend Sujata Massey’s The Widows of Malabar Hill and The Satapur Moonstone. The main character in the novels is Perveen Mistry, one of the first female attorneys in India. (The first book in the series was my choice for our neighborhood book club in February. We enjoyed the book so much that another member chose the second in the series for the next book). If you enjoy historical novels, I highly recommend Kristy Cambron’s Lost Castle Series: The Lost Castle (France), Castle on the Rise (Ireland) and The Painted Castle (England). I’m currently reading Katherine Reay’s Of Literature and Lattes.