Books I read this summer, books I quit this summer and what I’m reading now

Well, summer has juuuust about come to an end and I’m feeling quite bitter sweet about it.

Because we were traveling around the country all last summer, we missed out on the very best weather our beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer. This year, we mainly stuck around home, with two trips over to Eastern Washington where it is hotter, dryer and the lake is much more swimable than the chilly Puget Sound. It has been an amazingly warm and sunny summer (which we all so needed after that dreadfully wet and gray winter and spring!) and it feels like we’re all holding on to it as much as possible.

Staying around home, taking some time off work and the easy ages of our kids has allowed me to get a few books finished this summer.

Since recommendations from a friend is my favorite way to choose a book, I thought we could spend a few minutes chatting about the books I finished, the ones I quit and what I’m reading now.



This is the book I can’t stop talking about. The Enneagram is a personality typing system that is both completely fascinating to me (my degree is in psychology, so I guess that makes sense) and also has been hugely eye opening and healing. This book uses the Enneagram as the basis, but approaches it through scripture. It’s so good!


Susan Meissner’s stories are my favorite types: historical fiction with multiple characters whose stories intersect in unexpected ways. This book is about the Queen Mary and *warning* it talks about ghosts. It almost stopped me from reading because I’m not super into ghosts, but I kept going and I really liked the story. Not my very favorite of hers, but still worth reading (fyi, my favorite of hers is this one).


Did you read Where’d You Go Bernadette? If not, you should. If so and you liked it, you’ll like this one too. Quirky, quick to read, endearing character, and it’s set in Seattle, which makes it fun for this local girl.


Annie Downs is adorable and I want to be her friend. I listen to her podcast and kept hearing pieces of the message of this book so I decided to go against my normal non-christian-living book preferences and give it a try. I actually listened to the audio version (Annie reads it so it feels like your listening to a fun/wise/kind friend sharing and encouraging you).

Here’s what Amazon says about this one: No matter who you are and what path God has you on, we all need to remember the lovely, fight to finish, and find beautiful in our every day!


READ THIS ONE! I loved it. I quit a WWII novel (see below) because I needed something a bit lighter and happier – but still engaging and well-written – and this one was perfect. A young woman goes to work at a food magazine, only to have it shut down shortly after starting. But in that time, she uncovers hidden letters written during the war between a young girl in Ohio and legendary chef James Beard. The letters, the characters, the way food is part of it all makes it such a delightful read.


I can’t remember how I heard about this one, and even though it is on the heavy side, it was a good read. I started listening to the audio version and it was read in a super depressing voice, so I switched to reading it on my own and liked that much better. There is a movie out, which I haven’t seen yet, but I think I will. A husband and wife find a baby and decide to keep it, but have to deal with the moral ramifications, which are many.



I’m not typically a book-quitter, but I am allowing myself the freedom to stop reading a book if it just isn’t holding my attention. How far in should I give it? I make myself get to at least 25%. These three I quit for various reasons … but chances are I’ll pick them up again when I’m more in the mood for the stories.


Based on a true story about the nanny who cared for the brothers who were both the King of England (Queen Elizabeth’s father is one of them), I wanted to like this one because I’m generally interested in history, England and the Royal family, but I grew bored pretty quickly. Perhaps I’ll try again.


See? History, England, royal family. I made it about 60% through but this one felt a bit dull as well. I might try to get through it, or I might just watch the pbs series of the same name and call it good.


A friend recommended this WWII novel and I jumped because I do like WWII novels and I actually really do like this book. It is just heavy and I was wanting something a little lighter for the summer (I picked up Delicious – see above – and it was just what I was looking for. I’ll come back to finish Lilac Girls this fall).




Just keeping with the Enneagram learning. This book is also written from a Christian perspective and is surprisingly witty and very enjoyable to read. If you are brand new to the Enneagram, this one is a great choice.

Here’s what Amazon says: Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile forge a unique approach―a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of ourselves, compassion for others, and love for God. 


I’ll confess: I almost quit this one. I was at 23% and my sister told me to at least give it to 25%, so I did. And then I couldn’t stop. And now all I want to do is read and see what happens to the characters that I now really like and care about.

I was initially drawn to this book because its subjects are not my typical go-to (I’m trying to expand my reading preferences from the above mentioned history/England/WWII mix). This story is about an immigrant man and his family from west Africa who works for an executive for Lehman Brothers before its collapse in 2008. It is a story of immigration, family, facades, wealth, secrets and dreams.


While on vacation, we spent one dinner talking around the table about the best books we’ve ever read. My brother-in-law named this book as his favorite. We put on the audio version for our family to listen to on the long drive home but stopped a few chapters in after not finding it quite as child-appropriate as we prefer. I think I’ll keep going, though, because it is a clever and compelling story.

Have you read anything great this summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

68 Responses to Books I read this summer, books I quit this summer and what I’m reading now

  1. Sylvia September 10, 2017 at 3:58 am #

    I would love to see a list of family friendly audiobooks, if you get a chance! Thanks for the recommendations!

  2. Lindsay Martin September 5, 2017 at 11:23 am #

    Per your recommendation I downloaded Delicious! from the library which subsequently led to Labor Day weekend being spent with my nose in a book; I don’t know the last time I was up until midnight because I just couldn’t wait until morning to read the ending! Such a beautifully captivating and sweet book! just got Today Will Be Different off the hold list today and am looking forward to diving in. Aren’t good books the absolute best?!

    • emily September 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!

  3. Melinda Whipple September 4, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    The Victoria series on PBS sucked me right in!

  4. Cheryl August 31, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

    I love your book post since we like similar types of books. I just finished Lilac girls it took a little time to get into but it was great and I learned so much . I am now reading Jen Hatmaker’s new book and Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. I love reading and usually post pictures on my instagram account Cherylv35. I will totally be adding some of these to my reading list. Did you know they are filming Where’s you go Bernadette in Seattle right now? I will definitely be reading her new book next, it is fun when books are from where you live.

    • emily September 1, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

      I didn’t know they were filming! But I will be watching that one because the book was just so interesting!

  5. Jennifer August 31, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    I picked up Delicious from the library last night (and started reading it at 6pm) and couldn’t put it down. I stayed up till 11:30 to finish it! So good!!! Thank you for suggesting that book.

  6. Jenny August 30, 2017 at 8:05 am #

    It took me a little bit to get into Lilac Girls… but eventually it picks up and I learned so much! Later I researched a few things, and it sounds like she did her homework on this book. But yes, definitely a darker book. Once I make some time to sit and read again, I plan on starting, The Husband’s Secret.

  7. Christine McD August 29, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    Here’s an interesting one that I stumbled across a few months ago – The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. It’s set in the context of the Armenian Genocide which sounds awful but it is’ not as horrid as it sounds. It was interesting to learn about this time period as I’ve heard lots of references but knew very little about it. Not that a fiction book is the best way to learn about history but sometimes it is the pathway that gets you started!!

    • emily August 29, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

      I totally agree! I find myself researching historical events after being introduced to them in fictional books. I’ll check out The Sandcastle Girls! Thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Lize August 29, 2017 at 11:08 am #

    Hey Emily, sorry this is not about reading books. What is your favourite tool for referrals on an ecommerce store? We have just started our (WordPress) store here in South Africa and I need yraffic so we want to run a Refer-a-Friend campaign. Any suggestions?

  9. Kirby August 29, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of the only books I have ever re-read! It is so, so, good. And just when you stop crying, you cry a little more. In a good way :)

  10. alicia August 29, 2017 at 5:02 am #

    did you and ryan read a couples enneagram book in the past? I was trying to look for the post but I couldn’t find it

  11. Grandy August 29, 2017 at 4:02 am #

    Love the book list. I desparerly need to expand my reading list. Thank you for this post.
    Only two have I already read, Light Between Oceans and Art Of Racing in the Rain. Loved both. “Art” is probably one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. I recommend it to everyone. “Light” is so unusual and leaves one questioning themselves. Both are worthy reads.

  12. Jodie August 28, 2017 at 8:41 pm #

    Looking for Lovely is one of my all time favorites! It’s my go-to recommendations for friends. I listened to the audio version first as well. I just blogged about her podcast the other day too as one of my favorite podcast hosts. Have you read her book Let’s All Be Brave? I think these two books are a straight up tie for the win!

    • emily August 29, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

      I haven’t read Brave yet … I will do it on audio too!

  13. melissa stover August 28, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

    the art of racing in the rain is so good. keep trying. i tried listening to the light between oceans and gave up. this summer i quit a man called ove but quit and just recently picked it back up and loved it.

  14. Kelly August 28, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

    I read Abraham by Charles Swindoll. The journey of his faith was inspiring.

  15. Cecelia August 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

    Thank you for suggesting Looking for Lovely, I borrowed the audiobook today and I’m really connecting with the author’s story.

  16. Ellette August 28, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

    Here’s another one that a friend just gave me for my birthday “Before We Were Yours”. Lisa Wingate. It got 5 stars on Amazon by 1200 + reviews.

    • emily August 29, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

      oooh, even the title sound intriguing!

  17. Ellette August 28, 2017 at 1:50 pm #

    Ditto with “Ordinary Grace”! Am about halfway through the book and it is really good.

  18. EW August 28, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    I finished Behold the Dreamers just a few days ago and I’m torn because I cannot decide if I liked it or not. It has stayed with me but that’s different from liking it. I think I wanted the author to portray these characters with more judgement. Instead, it plays out as real life and things happen, people make choices. I found the book unsettling and it left me with a bitter taste; I want to believe our country is better than it was portrayed in this book (and on the news every night).

    I’m on a non-fiction kick right now, reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before in preparation for her new one about the Four Tendencies, which is due out in September. Likewise, I’m super-excited for Brene Brown’s new book, also due out in September. And, iGen is waiting in my que. I hope it will help me better understand some of the younger folks my company recently hired (and will probably convince me that my littles never need personal devices of any kind!).

  19. Ann August 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    The PBS series Victoria is absolutely wonderful! I think you’ll love it! I can’t wait for the next season.

  20. Wendy August 28, 2017 at 11:55 am #

    Also, I forgot to add that I read:

    Open by Andre Agassi
    Leah Reminy’s bio that I can’t remember the name of :)
    Brain on Fire

    It was the Summer of bio’s and I loved all 3 of these!

  21. Wendy August 28, 2017 at 11:53 am #

    I loved the Art of Racing in the Rain! Please finish it :)

    • Priscilla Edwards Hill August 29, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

      I also loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. Finish it without children.

  22. Kelly August 28, 2017 at 11:46 am #

    I just love Ruth Reichl…Every single book she has written is wonderful. I had no idea she had a new book out, so thank you for letting me know ;-) Start with Tender at the Bone, then Comfort me with Apples and then Garlic and Sapphires ( my fav)..I’ve missed a couple but she was the editor of Gourmet Magazine for years and can you tell I love her? ;-)

    • emily August 28, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      i read garlic and sapphires when Audrey was a newborn and loved that one!

  23. Angie August 28, 2017 at 11:44 am #

    There is a kids version of the Art of Racing in the Rain! It is by far one of my favorite novels of all time. Definitely in my top 5. The kids version is Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog.

    • emily August 28, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      Good to know!!

  24. Cordelia Jane August 28, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    I’ve read The Road Back To You (and then made my husband read my chapter, obviously), and it helped my husband and I understand each other much better. Did you know that Ian and Suzanne have a podcast together discussing the enneagram? We listen to some of those on road trips. I stayed up late finishing Lilac Girls. I don’t usually enjoy historical fiction, but this one sucked me in. My favorite book this summer is Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I read it at the beach, and it was fantastic and perfectly suited for vacation. I’ve heard that all her others are just as good, and I’m excited to find a new author to get excited about (well, new to me. I think I’m the last one on that bandwagon.)

  25. LRC August 28, 2017 at 11:12 am #

    I loved the Art of Racing the Rain. It is one of those books that the feeling I had while reading the story sticks with me years after reading it. I do not think that you should listen to it with your children, but I do hope that you finish it.

  26. Megan Price August 28, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    I have a goal of reading 52 books this year and am currently on book number 40. My favorite so far this year has been America’s First Daughter, I think you would like it since you enjoy Historical Fiction. I have also really liked the Crazy Rich Asians series byKevin Kwan, there are 3 in total and they are totally “junk food” novels but SO fun!

  27. Katelyn Ryan August 28, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    so funny, i just posted my summer reading list today too! i think it’s totally ok to quit boots, put them on hold for a more suitable time and pick up something different instead. I know i’m giving myself that freedom too.

    i had the road back to you on my list as well, i loved it!! i’m a 7, what are you?

    here’s my summer reading list if you’re interested: http://www.katelynryan.com/2017/08/summer-reading.html

  28. keri August 28, 2017 at 10:36 am #

    I’m also on the Enneagram train and I LOVE learning about it! It has actually been great for my marriage which I’m so grateful. Now I’m constantly trying to figure out what types all my friends are. I’ve read the Road Back to You and was so helpful (I use it as a resource and keep going back to it). I’ve heard great things about the other one you read and that will be next on my list!

  29. Erin August 28, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    Watch Victoria on PBS! So good.

  30. Chelsea August 28, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    Thanks so much for the recommendations! I also enjoy historical fiction so your suggestions are always appreciated!

  31. Becky August 28, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    Thank you for the great recommendations! Have you read anything by Beatriz Williams? Her books are excellent– similar in concept to Susan Meissen, and always a great story. Overseas is my favorite. Enjoy!!

  32. Donnie Kean August 28, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    Anything by Fredrick Backman – I started with AMan Called Ove – his characters are quirky and quite interesting. Anything by Adriana Trigiani – such an insight into Italy’s immigrants to America in the early 20th century. Even though fiction, heavy on historical facts. I truly enjoyed ALight Between the Oceans, the book was great, I don’t think the movie did it justice. If you have not read Jan Karon’s Mitford series, you have missed out. Excellent fiction with a strong spiritual thread. I’ll look into your recommendations-thank you.

  33. Judy August 28, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    I just finished Lilac Girls. Well worth pushing through on. Also read The Art of Racing in the Rain. Heart warming.

  34. susannah prinz August 28, 2017 at 9:46 am #

    Ok- I was about to give up on Behold the Dreamers so maybe I’ll keep at it a bit longer. I love the Enneagram (I’m a 2 ;)) and I’m reading The Road Back to You right now. Also reading Warmth of Other Suns which is nonfiction/dense but really really good history of the Great Migration- I highly recommend it. I feel like every American should read it.

  35. Karen August 28, 2017 at 9:43 am #

    I enjoyed reading The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck and The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

  36. Renae Reis August 28, 2017 at 9:38 am #

    You and I seem to have the same tastes in historical fiction: WWI I and Civil War era. I’ve read numerous books based on your suggestions, thank you! This summer I read The Nightingale and The Alice Network. Both books about strong women in France with their own types of resistance against the Nazis. I could read WWII novels ad nauseam, I’m currently reading Orphan Train and also have Lilac Girls on my list. Thanks for the heads up about the darkness. It’s always good to know going in. I also have The Zookeepers Wife on my list as there is a movie either out or coming out soon. Thanks, as always, for some great suggestions. My Goodreads “to read” shelf is crazy full!!

  37. Melinda August 28, 2017 at 9:23 am #

    I always peruse your book list, Emily, so thank you for sharing! I would also recommend The Nightingale…though it starts off a little slow, it gains interest. Next on my list is Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger and Steal Away Home by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey (based on the lives of Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson).

    • Renae Reis August 28, 2017 at 9:39 am #

      You should read The Alice Network…it’s a great book that follows the same premise, but they aren’t related at all. I think if you liked The Nighingale, you’ll like The Alice Network.

    • AnnieM August 28, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

      Ordinary Grace was fantastic. In my top 10 of all time favorites.

  38. Torrie August 28, 2017 at 9:20 am #

    I am glad you included the books you didn’t finish, and why you did-I find that helpful. I didn’t get to read much this summer but I did read Code Name Verity. You may enjoy that one, another historical fiction.

  39. Kim August 28, 2017 at 9:20 am #

    Art of Racing in the Rain is fantastic. A tear jerker, but one of my favs.

    • Melinda August 28, 2017 at 9:40 am #


    • Becky August 28, 2017 at 10:34 am #

      I also loved Art of Racing in the Rain…read it a few years back, but plan to read it again soon. An easy read and a very moving story!

  40. Melinda August 28, 2017 at 9:14 am #

    I always peruse your suggestions, Emily! So thank you for sharing. I would also recommend The Nightingale…slow at first, but gains interests and it seems to be your type of book. You will really like The Art of Racing in the Rain…one of my favs. Currently, I’m waiting on a copy of Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger from my library….a recommendation from a friend. And I’m interested in reading Steal Away Home by Matt Carter (based on the lives of Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson). I use the Good Read app to keep my lists of want to read, read, am reading!

  41. Erin August 28, 2017 at 9:11 am #

    I just finished The Alice Network. I think you would enjoy it! It has separate but connecting stories – one set in WWI and the other in WWII. Both stories are compelling and I loved the way the characters and stories connected.

  42. Taylor August 28, 2017 at 9:06 am #

    I read Victoria the book after watching the PBS series, and it is pretty much a word-for-word script of the show. I think Daisy Goodwin was a part of making the series. And I agree with you about the book being dull, but I thought it came across much better in the show. Also, the show continues further into the story than the book. So I would definitely recommend the show, and maybe not the book.

  43. Emily August 28, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    Have you heard of the podcast What Should I Read Next? I have a love/hate relationship with it…she gives such good recommendations and I can’t keep up with all the reading!! If you haven’t read “Wonder,” by R.J. Palacio, that one was really good (and family-friendly). I also really liked “The Summer Before The War” by Helen Simonson–England, but WWI instead of II :) My favorite book of the year, though, is “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. It’s neither historical nor in England but an excellent and thoughtful book. Thanks for posting!

  44. Sandra K August 28, 2017 at 8:59 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing your recommendations! I can’t wait to pick up Delicious! I definitely suggest you stick with The Art of Racing in the Rain. I really liked it, and it’s not my usual genre. :)

  45. Janelle August 28, 2017 at 8:59 am #

    I read The Nightingale. Great historical fiction. The midwife of Hope River is also great! Also just read Wonder. If you or your kids haven’t read it that would be a great one because the movie is coming out in November. I also read the Art of Racing in the Rain. We don’t have dogs but I think all dog owners would love it.

  46. Amanda @ The Bay Bush August 28, 2017 at 8:55 am #

    Have you read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton? I think you will like it if you can make it past the first 100 pages. Her books start out slow but are totally worth it. (I also like the House at Riverton…very Downton Abbey-ish.)

    • Cindy August 28, 2017 at 9:25 am #

      I second these nominations! I started & finished The Forgotten Garden on a vacation & immediately ordered & started The House at Riverton. So good.

      • AnnieM August 28, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

        Our book club read House at Riverton (Kate Morton’s first book) and The Lake House (her most recent) this year. Loved them both!!

        • Kim Wilbanks August 28, 2017 at 7:18 pm #

          me too!

        • emily August 29, 2017 at 5:53 pm #

          I have read a few Kate Morton books and completely loved them!

          • Amanda @ The Bay Bush September 2, 2017 at 5:35 am #

            Have y’all read The Distant Hours (also by Kate Morton)? I made it about 200 hundred pages and then got distracted. Wondering if its worth it to dive back in and give it another try.

  47. Linda Stoll August 28, 2017 at 8:24 am #

    I loved the 2 ocean books you mentioned … and I’m going to keep in mind your 25% rule for when to put a book down. Helpful!

    Meanwhile, I’ve been reading up a storm, Emily

  48. Beth Miller August 28, 2017 at 8:20 am #

    I had to quit Today Will Be Different. I just couldn’t get into it. If you like historical fiction then be sure you read American Heiress, American Wife, and America’s First Daughter. All VERY different books though they sound the same!

  49. Kim - a NW newbie August 28, 2017 at 7:39 am #

    The Art of Racing in the Rain – one of the best books I’ve ever read! I do recommend the print version though, vs. audio – having the characters develop their own voices in your mind, “experiencing” the scenes vs. having them read to you – so hard to explain, but I think you know what I mean… And yes, I can see how the cover art would lead you to believe it’s totally kid-friendly! 😃

  50. Beth August 28, 2017 at 6:05 am #

    I love your book posts! We’ve read many of the same books, so I know I can trust your recommendations. :)

    Also, FYI your link to The Road Back To You sends me to Lilac Girls. Thanks again for the post!

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