Every summer for the past several years, I’ve been creating a summer reading list for myself of sorts. While my reading life is often entirely dictated by my moods, I find that in the summer, I want my reading life to be especially GOOD — I want thrillers and entertainment and fluff and love stories and humor, and so I put a lot of thought into putting together a list that excites me, and then I share it with you.
The list is carefully chosen to be a good mix of several different kinds of genres and moods, and I also am pretty careful to mostly just include titles that have been highly reviewed by fellow readers with great taste, so I can try and guarantee myself (as much as possible) a stellar summer of reading.
Now, whether or not any of these titles will be great for YOU will be a different story, but I share them anyway in the hopes that you’ll find a few to swell your TBR list.
Note: There are affiliate links to the books mentioned below, which means if you choose to make a purchase through those links, I get a small commission on the sale at no extra cost to you.
Summer 2022 Reading List
What better way to start out this summer’s reading list than with The Reading List? Books about books are always fun for those of us who are freakishly obsessed with the printed word, and this relatively new novel seems especially promising. This is a book about two lonely people from two totally different generations — a widower worried about his granddaughter and an anxious teenage girl trying to escape painful things at home — and how a crumpled up book list found in an old copy of To Kill a Mockingbird brings them together. I’ve heard this is heartwarming and beautiful and illuminating, and it already is off to a great start on Goodreads with a solid 4.08 rating.
One of the best treats I’ve ever given myself was joining Book of the Month Club, which has been such a joy to me, especially since moving to a small town with a very small library (and therefore limited book selection). In case you didn’t know, BOTM club is an (optional) monthly subscription where at the beginning of each new month, they list 5+ hardback new releases from a variety of different genres that you can choose from. If you’re not into the monthly titles, you can easily skip that month’s box, but it’s a great way to get your hands on new releases (sometimes before the official publication date!) at a fabulous price for a hardcover. (If you’re interested in trying, you can get a major discount on your first box by going through my affiliate link.) I love how it exposes me to so many new books that I wouldn’t have heard from otherwise, and how it helps me to be more “in the know” about what’s coming out in the literary world. This particular book is a perfect example of one that totally would have never come under my radar, but that I’m really excited to pick up this summer. This is about a young cartographer whose passion for maps came from her father, who is a legend in the field and who suddenly turns up dead in his office. With only an old, cheap highway gas station map to aid her, Nell embarks on a wild journey to find out the truth of what really happened.
This is another pick from BOTM Club, which I’m glad they put on my radar because Susan Cain wrote the groundbreaking book Quiet all about the power of being an introvert, and she hasn’t really written anything since. While this isn’t your typical happy, fluffy beach read, I’m including it for those quiet, contemplative summer nights when I crave something with a little more substance after a hard day. Her first book Quiet was paradigm-shifting when it came to how we view introversion, and I’m hoping that this second book will do the same thing for why feelings of sorrow and longing are so important and even enriching to our lives. I made this my Book of the Month the second I saw it come up on my monthly picks, and I can’t wait to dive in.
I’ve always loved books about Asian culture/settings, and I’ll admit when I saw the cover of this on my Book of the Month app for the month, I was intrigued. I’m also drawn to stories that span a single family over multiple generations, which this one does, starting with a mother fleeing from China’s war against Japan in the late 1930’s. Later, her son ends up migrating to the United States and grapples with questions of identity and belonging and coming to terms with his past when his daughter begs to know more about her heritage. I’ve heard this is an emotional and beautiful reminder about the power of telling our family’s stories, and I’m excited to dive in.
I loved Emma Lord’s YA book Tweet Cute, and this latest release is getting excellent reviews, so I’m hoping that this will be another hit for me. I also like that although Lord’s books are usually categorized under the young adult “romance” genre, they are about much more than just the love story—they have a lot of satisfying character and plot developments as well. This young adult novel follows Millie Price, who wants more than anything to become a Broadway sensation, but her father would much prefer that she stay close to home. After stumbling upon some old diary entries her father wrote many years earlier, Millie decides that what she really needs is to find her mom, and so she begins her quest. A reader I follow on Goodreads described this as “a breath of fresh air” because it wasn’t super heavy (like many of the YA books that have come out the last several years), and it also wasn’t ridiculously superficial and fluffy — it hit a good blend of both substance and fun, which is exactly how I felt about Tweet Cute, too. I think this will be the perfect read for summer! (P. S. This just went on sale for only $2.99 this weekend on Kindle!)
I personally love me some nonfiction, so I always try and make my summer reading lists about a 50/50 mix of both fiction and nonfiction. This particular pick has come highly recommended by several sources I follow, and when I saw it for a steal ($2.99) on Kindle the other week, I snatched it up immediately. In this, journalist Catherine Price weaves together personal experience with research to talk about why we shouldn’t discount fun as being something frivolous, and why we should make it a much bigger priority in our lives. I’ve heard some criticism that she rehashes some of the content from her other book (How to Break Up With Your Phone) in this, but seeing as I haven’t read that one, I doubt I’ll find it problematic as others have. Considering that I’ve definitely put “fun” on the back burner more often than not for the past couple years, this one seems long overdue.
Magical realism is a bit hit or miss for me sometimes, but when it’s done well, I think it’s a really fun way to breathe some new life into stories, so I’m always game to give it a shot. In this middle grade story, Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, and soon after they arrive, a magical tiger straight out of one of her family’s oft-told folktales shows up. The tiger tries to make a deal with Lily that if she returns what was stolen from him, he will heal her grandmother. However, in doing so, Lily has to bravely face the secrets of her family’s past, as well as take on the tiger itself, which is not always as it seems. I’ve heard from multiple readers that it’s definitely worth reading the author’s note on this one, as it adds a much greater layer of depth and appreciation to the novel.
While epistolary novels (aka, books that are written as a compilation of letters or other correspondence sent back and forth rather than in the traditional narrative novel format) can be hit or miss, but I’ve heard enough solid reviews on this one (with enough comparison to 84, Charing Cross Road, an epistolary book I loved) to make me want to give this one a try for sure. I’m a huge fan of books that revolve heavily around food and cooking (hence the reason for me doing an entire book round-up post on just some of my favorites), and in this one, both feature prominently. When a 27-year-old just starting work as a food writer for a local paper writes a fan letter to one of her favorite food writers, 59-year-old Imogen Fortier, a rich and beautiful friendship evolves over time as the women share their triumphs and heartaches (not to mention their favorite recipes and foods) over the years. Bonus: I’ve also heard this one is good on audio, for those who are so inclined to go that route.
Collections of essays can be pretty hit or miss for me (and John Green can be REALLY hit or miss for me), but I’ve heard enough rave reviews of this nonfiction collection from readers with similar taste that I’m excited to dive in. Basically in this collection, Green gives a ranking based on the five-star scale to things like the QWERTY keyboard and Canadian geese. Some of the essays are a lot more superficial (the one on Dr. Pepper I’m particularly interested to read), and some are much more serious, such as the issues of mental health and environmental crises. I’ve heard this is both complex and funny, deeply moving and light-hearted, all wrapped up in one, and I’m excited to dive in myself.
I rarely read much in the way of thrillers, but I do occasionally like more suspenseful reads, particularly when I know beforehand that everything turns out okay in the end (yep, I’m a bit of a wimp). What makes this particular book appeal to me is that it’s a true story that might be a bit reminiscent of books by Jon Krakauer, albeit with a happy ending. In 2018, a soccer team and their coach went on an afternoon adventure together to go explore a nearby cave, but when they tried to leave, floodwaters trapped their ability to exit. I’ve heard this meticulously researched book by Christina Soontornvat is gripping and awe-inspiring, and since I also have loved books in the past about humans’ remarkable ability to survive the unthinkable (a la Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand), I think I’m really going to enjoy this one, too. And a bonus? When I’m done, I’ll pass it off to my husband, since I know he enjoys the same.
Sometimes, when a book is compared to several other books that all have a similar theme, it can be a turnoff, like if you remember when all of a sudden after the Twilight craze, it seemed that everything was about vampires and werewolves, and it got way overdone. However, sometimes if a book is compared to several other books that I really loved–even if they end up being quite similar–I still will be intrigued, even if the book has a “I’ve been here before” kind of feeling. Such is the case with this novel by Mike Gayle, which seems strongly reminiscent of books such as A Man Called Ove or The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry or How Not to Die Alone. Yes, they all have a lot in common. But yes, I am all for it when another book is compared to them, at least for now. In this latest “up-lit” novel, a lonely widower who has lived an isolated existence for a long time has been spinning a tale of his fantastic, dreamlike retirement for years every time his long-distance daughter calls to check in. Problem is, it’s all a lie. However, when he gets a phone call one day that’s going to change everything, he realizes he’s got to all of a sudden make his fake life become a reality, and so he embarks on the journey of a lifetime to try and actually make that happen. So even though I’ve been down this road about every year with a book for the last handful of years, I’ve still got it in me to go down it at least one more time.
I originally had The Grumble-Free Year as my last title on the list, but it got booted to a later season when I saw this new release from Purifoy. Long-time blog readers will know that one of my favorite genres of books to read are diary-type collections written about ordinary life, and Purifoy is a great example of a writer who can find beauty and meaning in the everyday ordinary and then translate it with fresh insights to the page. I’m also excited because this particular book also includes a ton of gorgeous photography, which is definitely something that calls to me as well (even more so when it’s of flowers, which is obviously a subject I never tire of). Although I’m mostly picking this up to get her reflections on the gardening life in general, I know this also includes a lot of info on how to actually grow and plan out your flower garden as well.
And that’s a wrap! I’m super excited about the list for this summer (even more so than usual!), and I would absolutely love it if you’d drop a comment below and tell me about a book YOU’RE excited to get your hands on soon. And also, if you found some good titles from this, I would love it if you shared this with your friends!