My Summer Reading List

Every so often I share a list of the books I’ve been stacking on my nightstand. Have you read any of them? Share your thoughts in the comments! NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and purchase a book, I’ll receive a small commission.


Taking a social media hiatus for part of the summer opened up extra space for reading. In case you’re looking for new book to tote to the beach before the seasons change, here are some of the wonderful titles I’ve finished. Here are some of the wonderful books I’ve finished.

One of my barometers for judging a novel is whether or not I find myself thinking about it when I’m not reading. If my mind drifts off to the characters while I’m driving or cooking dinner, I know I’m hooked. This debut novel from Claire Gibson (who’s the daughter of a West Point professor) follows three cadets as they navigate life, love, and the battlefield. When the book ended, I secretly hoped for a sequel to keep the story going. 

The season always reminded her that no matter what, change would eventually come. Things could look absolutely dead—completely hopeless—and yet, the future always held the promise of a new life.

“Diverting” is one of the best words I can use to describe this novel. It’s set in the lively theatre world of New York City in the 1940s, and swept me up completely. It’s narrated by Vivian Morris, a woman looking back on her life and retelling it to a mystery character. (I wasn’t quite expecting the twist in the end when we discover more about her identity, which made things all the more intriguing and as you’ll find if you read it, complicated and emotional.) It goes well with ocean views and a glass of chilled wine.

When I was younger, I had wanted to be at the very center of all the action in New York, but I slowly came to realize that there is no other center. The center is everywhere—wherever people are living out their lives.

I first came across Lauren Groff in the New Yorker, where several of her short stories have been featured over the years. This book certainly an exploration of place—mysterious marshland and unpredictable weather patterns feature strongly—but there’s also something else. Her writing is so sharp and penetrating. As a reader, I was filled with the sensation that anything could happen at any time, which kept me turning until the last page. 

He’s like a perfect, windless pond, her husband once said. You throw something in just to watch it sink, and you’re going to see it on the bottom staring back at you for the rest of your life.

This collection of the last poems of Richard Wright—800 of the 4,000 or so haiku he penned at the end of his life—was beautiful. This started out as a library book, but I’ve since ordered my own copy. Of all the haiku I’ve read this year, Wright’s is some of my favorite as it’s quite in keeping with the form’s essence of being rooted in seasonality and place.

And now once again
Winter wind breathes sighingly
Amid the pine trees.

Altman’s had a fractured relationship with her narcissistic mother since the day she was born, but when the woman took a fall and needed medical attention, Altman became her caretaker and proceeded to excavate memories that were long buried. This memoir is a poignant look at the complicated love and loathing between mothers and daughters and asks fundamental questions about family, moral responsibility, acceptance, and forgiveness.

The passage of time repairs the heart; distance sharpens the lens of clarity.