5 Books You Must Read This Summer

June 25, 2014 § 2 Comments


Summer is the time to soak up the sun, get a nice tan, and binge-read all the books you can. It’s weird not having a lot of free time in the Summer now that I am out of college and have an 8-5. Still, as soon as I get home I put on my shorts, get my picnic blanket, and go outside to read. While I wasn’t an English major in college, I have been an avid reader ever since 2nd grade.

These 5 books are ones I have read recently and that I deem totally worthy of your sun-bathing summer reading time.


1. Ape House by Sara Gruen

If you loved the book Water For Elephants, (or the movie), you will love this.  When I first heard the premise of this book, I was a little skeptical. It sounded forced. It’s not. You do not have to know anything about apes/be extremely interested in them to read this book. Gruen creates a riveting plot involving these apes and incorporates many current issues including the unethical and immoral use of primates in research, the rabid fascination we have with reality television, personal alienation and betrayal etc. I could not put the book down and became obsessed with these apes. Internet research provided instant gratification to photos and videos of these remarkable creatures.

TLDR: Highly recommended, especially for animal lovers.

2. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I know you probably watched the movie. Listen. The book is so much better than the movie, I just urge you to read it. So much was left out in the movie about Pi’s childhood growing up in Pondicherry, especially (and what I found most fascinating) was exploring different religions through a child’s eyes. My favorite quote? “I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.” On the surface, this is the story of a 16 year old Indian boy named “Pi” who, when he and his zoo-keeping family decide to transplant themselves and some animals to Canada, ends up stranded on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450-lb Bengal tiger named “Richard Parker.” Young Pi loves God, and to prove it he becomes Christian and Muslim in addition to his native Hinduism. He also loves animals, and much of the book examines animal psychology and its relationship to human psychology in a vibrant, interesting way.

TLDR: This book had me asking questions about my life, my beliefs, and society on just about every page…. when the reader gets to the end, they’ll  be  forced to ask themselves the kind of person they really are. 

 3. The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

Okay, I’m not a fan of overtly-Christian books. Eat Pray Love? No, thank you, not for me. This book is nothing like that, though that’s what it seems judging by the cover. The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. I most loved the back story of Alexander Graham Bell as it coincided with the current day story, I love a bit of history within fiction books. It is a great mystery story that will keep you glued to this book until the very end, then require you to call all of your friends and family members and urge them to read it.

TLDR: If you’ve read Mitch Albom books before, you will obviously love this. 


4. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

The Silver Star was an easy read. Like all three Wall’s books, a look at dysfunctional family relationships (whose family isn’t) with an off-kilter mom. Fifteen-year-old Liz and twelve-year-old Bean are abandoned in California with some money for chicken pot pies when their mother goes off to “find the magic again.” When she does not return, they board a bus for rural Virginia where their Uncle Tinsley lives. It’s a big adjustment to be living in a 1970s Southern mill town during the first year of school integration. The book is narrated by Bean, a strong, spunky girl with a lot of the same spirit as Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird (one of my absolute favorite books) which she is studying at school. Bean and Liz get jobs in the household of Jerry Maddox, the town bully and mill manager. After Liz goes through a terrifying incident, the girls decide to seek justice.

TLDR: Easy read, you’ll especially love it if you were a fan of To Kill A Mockingbird.


5. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Can you tell I love historical fiction yet? I’m not going to lie, I just started reading this book last night, upon rave recommendations from my family. Christina Baker Kline weaves together a story of a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the troubled teenage girl. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie. Vivian Daly (the 91-year-old-woman)  has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are remnants of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

I’m only on the second chapter of this book, so I can’t give too much of my personal opinion yet. However, the only thing I’ll say for now is I’m eager to read more about Vivian Daly’s past and coming to America as an immigrant……



So these are my top 5 picks to read (or re-read) this Summer…and now I totally can’t wait to go home at 5 and get to reading!

Do you have any must-read books for this summer? What’s the best book you’ve read lately?



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