We’re all avid readers at SB, so when summer rolls around, we like to have a big stack of books on hand to choose from for vacations, for for the pool, for timeout during the heat of the day, and for the millionth time our kids say “I’m bored!” We put our heads together and asked some friends, too, and came up with this list of must-reads to share with you today! Parnassus Books, co-owned by author Ann Patchett (who was listed as one of the Top 100 most influential people of 2012 after opening this first class bookstore) joins us today with some staff picks, as well.
(Note: Local and online bookstores are listed at the end of today’s post.)
BOOKS for ADULTS:
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Set in Appalachia, this novel explores climate change as it relates to Monarch butterflies and their flight pattern. But the real story, though, is the female protagonist’s journey out of her present “circumstances,” trapped in a small Tennessee town. Kingsolver writes so adeptly that you can physically sense and picture her prose; you know what her characters and surroundings look and feel like without ever seeing them for yourself. www.kingsolver.com –From SB Louisville Writer Heidi Potter
Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan
Robert Morgan is a wonderful fictional author, best known for his book Gap Creek (an Oprah Book Club pick). He has written this biography of Daniel Boone as a novel, making it incredibly engaging to the reader. Daniel Boone is quite a subject, and it takes a non-fiction piece to distinguish between the man and his legend. Boone’s life is truly stranger than fiction. (Note: A Great “guy” book or gift for Dad.) www.robert-morgan.com –From SB Louisville Writer Heidi Potter
Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson
One of the Fathers’ Day books I am giving to my husband, Davis, who is a devoted Southern duck hunter. This is the latest in the Duck Commander series. It will be a good off-season read for Davis to enjoy at the beach! Duck calls are the source of Phil Robertson’s livelihood, but when asked what makes him the man he is today, he’s quick to say, “Faith, family, ducks—in that order.” duckcommander.com –From SB Memphis Editor Christian Owen
The Resurrectionist by Matthew Guinn
Got my hands on an advanced copy of this debut novel by an Atlanta native and UGA grad. What a lucky break that turned out to be! Oooh, Southern Gothic … Yes, please. Dr. Jacob Thacker, a young physician on probation and wrestling with his personal demons, unearths — literally — macabre antebellum secrets of the prestigious medical school he reveres. (Hint: The title refers to the 19th century name given to those providing cadavers for anatomical study.) Hits the shelves July 8th, perfect timing to send a cold chill up your spine on a red hot summer night! www.matthewguinn.com –From SB Atlanta writer Katherine Michalak
Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
An inspiring book when the inevitable challenges of motherhood at every stage set in, written from the perspective of a younger and an older woman. It offers a wealth of wisdom, both from a Christian perspective, as well as non-denominational. Learn more about Desperate by clicking here. –From SB Memphis Editor Christian Owen
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Several years after the mysterious disappearance of her father, a high profile New York City attorney, Julia Win, finds a love letter he had written years ago to a Burmese woman. Julia tracks down the woman in a small village known as Kalaw. An irresistible story of love and family that takes place in Burma in the 1950’s up to the present, this inspirational novel combines all the best elements that make for a compelling story: mystery, romance, intrigue and heartache. This book comes highly recommended by my friend Lisa Marie, who says “It is such a beautifully written book. I felt like I was watching them from afar. I could feel the land under my feet and smell the surroundings and taste the papayas!” artofhearingheartbeats.com –From Catherine Romero, SB Birmingham Editor
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
I’m only at the beginning of this highly acclaimed book, but I’m already captivated and can’t put it down. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo, this is a powerful, haunting account of life in the slums of Mumbai. If you liked the storytelling quality of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, you’ll appreciate Ms. Boo’s ability to weave a narrative thread into this non-fiction book. www.behindthebeautifulforevers.com. — from SB Editor Amy Norton
BOOKS for TEENS:
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Most older kids have assigned summer reading lists they plod through each year, though some are lucky enough be given a choice to select their own. If that’s the case (or if your avid reader zips down the school list in a few weeks) grab a John Green novel … any John Green novel. John Green is to YA Fiction what John Hughes was to 1980s Teen Movies. Green’s novel Paper Towns might actually be on that school list, and a film version of The Fault In Our Stars is in pre-production right now. Of course, my personal fave would be An Abundance of Katherines, whose protagonist keeps dating girls with the same first name. –From SB Atlanta writer Katherine Michalak
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
The Birchbark House is the first in a four-book series about a baby girl who was found on an island by Ojibwa fur traders in 1847 as the sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic. This novel, and the subsequent three books, are about this girl’s life. This was a National Book Award finalist in 1999. It is a refreshing change from the sci-fi futuristic novels out currently. birchbarkbooks.com/louise-erdrich –From SB Louisville Writer Heidi Potter
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
My teenage daughter, Catherine, says this is one of her recent favorites.
All systems are go on this routine trip for Robie, who is travelling from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll. A storm hits during the flight. Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and the co-pilot, Max, shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. And then . . . she’s in the water. Max pulls her onto the raft. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way. www.rockforadoll.com –From SB Memphis Editor Christian Owen
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor and Park reads like the perfect mixtape, transitioning seamlessly between characters for whom you’d brave a cafeteria lunch and capturing the tentative hope of a first relationship. This is a book that both guys and girls will enjoy! www.rainbowrowell.com — Recommended by the staff at Parnassus Books
Wonder by RJ Palaccio
Wonder will make even reluctant readers want to read through dinner. The kind of story that will make you want to stand up and cheer, Wonder is a story about being different and the triumph of kindness and friendship. Perfect for boys or girls (and readers of all ages). rjpalacio.com — Recommended by the staff at Parnassus Books.
BOOKS for KIDS:
The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch
This is a five book fantasy series for young readers written by the anonymous author Pseudonymous Bosch. If your kids liked Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, they will love this series! The books chronicle the adventures of three middle school children who are members of the Terces Society, a group that keeps a mysterious Secret from being found out or stolen by the Midnight Sun society. Interestingly, each book targets one of the five senses:
- The Name of This Book is Secret (Smell)
- If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late (Sound)
- This Book Is Not Good for You (Taste)
- This Isn’t What It Looks Like (Sight)
- You Have To Stop This (Touch)
And, the reader is kept at a distance and not told the real names of the characters should they in fact be part of the Midnight Sun society. –From Catherine Romero, SB Birmingham Editor
Theodore Boone: The Activist by John Grisham
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Brandon Mull, author of the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Beyonders and Fablehaven series, visited Presbyterian Day School in Memphis this spring. My son Mac has been excited about the author and his books ever since. Mac and his friends, all rising fourth graders, are enthusiastically working their way through this extensive fantasy series. brandonmull.com –From SB Memphis Editor Christian Owen
Uncle Wiggily’s Story Book by Howard R. Garis
From classic tales of mischief to sweet and simple anecdotes, Uncle Wiggly takes children of all ages on the classic summer adventures we all remember fondly. — Recommended by the staff at Parnassus Books.
And, before we sign off, here are just a few more book suggestions to have on your radar this summer from our SB book reviewer, Jennifer Puryear:
- Cinnamon and Gunpowder: A Novel, by Eli Brown. A foodie pirate novel, full of adventure and romance.
- The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker. Magical creatures arrive in turn of the century New York and have the same immigrant experience as thousands of others — except different.
- Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld. Twin sisters make different choices with profound consequences. (Perhaps a good book club read).
- The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud. Middle-aged women can get awfully angry.
- Claire of the Sea Light, by Edwidge Danticat. A small sea town and a missing girl.
Where to purchase:
- Atlanta: www.acapellabooks.com
- Birmingham: www.alabamabooksmith.com
- Louisville: www.carmichaelsbookstore.com
- Nashville: www.parnassusbooks.net
- Memphis: www.laurelwoodmemphis.com/stores/davis-kidd-booksellers
- Online: www.amazon.com