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the books I read this summer

I’m a sporadic reader. I go for months without picking up a book and then cruise through one after the next in a short period of time. When I’m not reading, I forget how much I love being engaged and entertained by a well-written story. When I’m reading, I wonder why I don’t do it more often.

I read mostly at night before bed, but when it’s a book I can’t put down I carve out minutes here and there throughout the day. Somehow the time to read just makes its way into my days.

Over the past few months, I’ve poured over several books worth sharing. Here they are:


the dressmaker // an aspiring seamstress is hired by a famous designer to be her personal maid on the Titanic. Of course disaster strikes and suspicions arise and Tess must decide where her loyalty falls. I’m a lover of historical fiction and so this one was an enjoyable and engaging read.

cold tangerines // a collection of short stories about celebrating the everyday. This book was recommended by a friend and it is the most heart warming and inspiring set of little essays. A must read, if you ask me.

a week in winter // an old irish estate is re-vamped and turned into a bed & breakfast by a woman looking for a second chance. It is there that a cast of characters come together each finding a way for themselves and enriching their lives. I love it when an author can create a handful of separately captivating stories and weave them all together until at the end, they become one big story. Maeve Binchy’s books are always well done.

sparkly green earrings // a heartwarming and hilarious commentary on motherhood written by well-loved blogger, Melanie Shankle {aka. big mama}. This one makes you laugh and cry and feel normal and overwhelmingly thankful for the opportunity to be a mother.

war brides // four women return to their war-era village in england 50 years after the end of the war to commemorate the occasion. It’s a story about the way their lives were changed by the war and another one of those great weaving-the-characters-together type of stories. Maybe not the greatest book of all times, but I really liked this one.

and the mountains echoed // an exploration of the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how the choices we make resonate through generations. The story takes place around the globe, but primarily in kabul, afghanistan. The book is beautifully written and almost poetic, the characters are so well developed and I didn’t really want this one to end. It breaks your heart but lifts it up as well.

bread & wine // another collection of short essays all surrounding the idea of sharing our lives around the table. It’s a story about the ways God nourishes our souls as we nourish those around us. Recipes are included and stories to go along with them. A lovely book and a great gift.

the house at riverton // the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades {via the amazon description}. I LOVED this book. All of Kate Morton’s books, actually. If you love downton abbey, you’ll adore this one.

give them grace // a revolutionary perspective on parenting that shows us how to receive the gospel afresh and give grace in abundance, helping our children know the dazzling love of Jesus and respond with heartfelt obedience {via the amazon description}. I haven’t finished this one, but really should. It is so the way I want to parent.

where’d you go bernadette // when her social-outcast mom disappears, 15 year old bee puts the pieces together to find her. It’s funny, sad, intriguing and an entertaining read. In other words, read it.

what alice forgot // after a terrible fall, alice wakes up forgetting the last 10 years. She thinks shes happily married, expecting her first baby, but really is going through a divorce with three kids who don’t even like her. How did her life end up like this? And can she get back to the way it was? This book makes you think and reflect on your own life. Where will I be 10 years from now? Will I like who I am? Would my 10-years ago self like who I am today? This one is a little crass, but a really entertaining and interesting read.

with all my love // I have only just began this one, so I can’t say much about it. The story is set in ireland and centers around the relationships between mothers and daughters. I’ll let you know how i like it.

So there you have it. Twelve good books worth reading.

Have you read anything fabulous lately? Please share …

71 thoughts on “the books I read this summer”

  1. Love this post! We go to the library every week for kids books but I never know what to get for myself. I’ve read Kate Morton, Where’d you go Bernadette & give them grace and liked all them! Excited to check out the others on your list since we must have similar taste :) hope you will do more posts like this!

  2. I’ve been reading the Anne of Green Gables series. *sigh* It’s such a wonderful summer read! I’m on Anne of Windy Poplars right now and LOVING it! Have you read them? Do!

  3. Emily,

    Thank you for sharing your book list again! I appreciate the opportunity to find something new to read. LOVED “What Alice Forgot”. Found that book a summer ago. I also read “Bittersweet” by Shauna Niequist on my Kindle. “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” has been on my watch list, but I haven’t taken the bait yet. Maybe now I will! The book, “Sparkly Green Earrings” is now calling to me as well. :-)

    Summer may be just about over, but here in the PNW, the rain will be coming! That equals curling up with a good book! Thanks again! {Kimberly}

  4. Thank you for sharing these reading finds – your taste is great and I’ve enjoyed a handful of books at your suggestion. Please keep sharing.

  5. I’m so excited to read these. I have a hard time finding books I love, maybe because my recommendations are from my wonderful reading husband (Our taste I have finally realized after 17 1/2 years of marriage is very different – Ha!). Thanks again and for the recommendations in the comments. I’m ordering today!

  6. Thanks for the book recommendations – I have been listening to books while walking. Books I have read/listened to and enjoyed “The Walk” Series (4 books) by Richard Paul Evans, “The Fault with Our Stars” by John Green, “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult and “Crazy Little Thing” by Tracy Brogan (not my usual type of read but was recommended from someone I respect and it did make me laugh out loud).

    If you read any of these books, I hope you let us know your take on them. I love reading your blogs, especially the love letter to your house. Thanks for sharing.

  7. It was interesting to find that, although not always the same books, we had many authors in common. I, too, read the Kate Morton books and “War Brides” and enjoyed them. I read a different Maeve Binchy — “Nights of Rain and Stars” – and have “Kite Runner” on my short list (and my book shelf).
    I have also enjoyed re-reading James Herriot’s “Cat Stories” and listening to “The Hobbit” on audiobook while on a long road trip.
    My most surprisingly enjoyable read this summer was a story in two parts by Stephanie Grace Whitson, “A Garden in Paris” and “A hilltop in Tuscany”. Not my normal style at all, but they were foisted on me and I found them very refreshing if only slightly too “happily ever after”. I appreciate a happy ending these days.

  8. I love getting book recommendations! One author I’ve been enjoying this summer is Susanna Kearsley, my favorites are The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden and Mariana. I too am usually a just read at night gal but I cannot put her books down and find myself putting off housework to read.

  9. One of my favorites was Folly Beach by Karen White. In fact all of her books are good. They have background history woven into the story. Also A Vintage Affair by Isobel Wolff. If you love vintage clothing this is a must read. I read it twice.

  10. A visual girl like you might like The Night Circus. It’s not my usual style (I am drawn to non-fiction / bios), but I downloaded the digital audiobook from the library, and listened while I work and was totally captivated. The language was incredibly descriptive and it was so easy to see the story the author was telling. It made me want to have a Night Circus themed party afterwards. That it was read to me in a great British accent didn’t hurt either. Wonderfully unexpected escapism!

    Also loved lately: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (SO well written), The Dinner by Herman Koch (twisted ending, very interesting story), Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (she was way more interesting than I knew about), The Wife also by Meg Wolitzer (such good writing, and a lovely ending though the rest was sometimes prickly), An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler (actually a cookbook, but in an unusual style and written so beautifully you won’t believe it’s not poetry), Steve Jobs bio by Walter Isaacson (a bit drawn out sometimes, but an amazing life story and worth the effort), and maybe my favorite of the last few years that is perfect for anyone who doesn’t mind laughing ALL the way through – Bossypants by TIna Fey. A masterpiece! :)

  11. Out of all the books I’ve read this year, I would say, The Secret Thoughts Of an Unlikely Convert” would be the best book by far! I was hesitant to read it at first, but I’m so thankful I did and would highly recommend it.

  12. I love getting reading ideas! Thank you! I’ve had Sparkly Green Earrings on my “to read” list for a while. I like your tastes in books. :)
    These are the ones I read recently that I’ve been recommending to friends (many do not make my 5-star list, so these are the BEST in my opinion! :)
    -Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. It’s Jane Austen-ish, sweet, funny, romantic…I just smiled the whole time! Then I bought a copy for my friend…it is THAT good!
    -Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz- The title and cheesy cover almost turned me off, BUT, I ate this book up! It is a beautiful picture of pioneer times in Kentucky, tension with Native Americans and settlers, and a swoon-worthy love story that doesn’t stop once they get married—there’s still half of the book left! I just LOVED it! I can’t loan it out because I plan to read it again and again.
    -Anything: the Prayer that Unlocked my God and my Soul by Jennie Allen. WOW. I just highlighted the entire book. It hit me right where I’m at in this stage of life, raising three young kids, with a tendency towards “building my own kingdom” instead of joining God’s bigger story….WOW. A MUST READ. Again, I raced out and bought a copy for a friend.

  13. Thanks for sharing your list…just borrowed a copy of And The Mountains Echoed; looking forward to starting it! If you’re looking for another great read, definitely chevk out The Fig Orchard by Layla Fiske. Great historical/women’s fiction (would also make a great book club pick)!

  14. I read and loved Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. An amazing story with twists and turns so that you don’t know what finally happens until the very end. Very well developed characters and she’s not afraid to tackle tough issues and conflicting emotions. And if you are afraid of wolves, you will be changed after this book.

  15. Aagggghh! Too many good choices, not enough time! My TO READ list is growing by the minute. Loved “The Light Between Oceans,” “Beautiful Ruins,” and “The Kitchen House.”

  16. Wow! Impressed with what you were able to accomplish this summer! I read Sparkly Green Earrings.. entertaining but was a little disappointed after reading some great reviews…maybe having four kiddos in five years I can’t relate to the only child life. I did love A Little Salty to cut The Sweet by Sophie Hudson aka Boo Mama! I laughed out loud so many times! Anyone with a big extended family can relate to her humor and “love ’em no matter what” attitude.

  17. The last book I read was Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves. Although deeply theological he writes in a very easy going, down to earth, often funny way. It’s a small book packed with truth that made me fall deeper in love with my trinitarian God.

  18. ANYTHING by Nicole Baart. She is one of my all time favorite Christian novelists. If you like complicated characters whose story is told with grit and grace you will love her books. She doesn’t provide pat answers and makes you think, but the thread of redemption is woven throughout. http://www.nicolebaart.com/blog. She is also on Facebook. Very approachable, endearing lady.

  19. Thanks for helping me beef up my reading list! Some of these sound so good especially The House At Riverton.

    This summer I’ve been reading the Chronicles of the Kings series by Lynn Austin. It’s a 5 book series based on the lives of the kings of Jerusalem beginning with King Ahaz. I can’t put these books down!


  20. Love Cold Tangerines. Agree with another commenter – The Fault in our Stars, great read. Also, the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, based on a true story and one of the “I had no idea” kind of books. Really very interesting.

  21. Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe, By Jenny Colgan. A very entertaining, fun book – takes place in London which adds to the appeal.

    The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls – sweet, sad, fun to read. Only 300 pages that go very fast. Walls also wrote “The Glass Castle” – it has been on the bestseller list for 6 years and very deserving – so so good.

    I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron. Ephron, who has since passed away from cancer is immediately entertaining and engaging. It is bittersweet to know this was her last book…

    All three very much worth the time. Enjoy, please:)

  22. I noticed someone else has been reading Love Does. Highly recommend it!! I’m about half through it…amazing and gives one something to think about. I see a few others I need to add to my lists.

  23. I’ve read Safe Haven {the movie ruins the book, of course}. My older kids are being homeschooled and so on Tuesdays I’ve decided it will be our day to read a novel. We picked Happy, Happy, Happy as Duck Dynasty is one of the few shows we watch. I get that they eat crazy stuff, and whatnot BUT they are a Christian family, and praise The Lord always. I know that this book portrays him in his younger days as a drunk, maybe a bit mature for my 12 & 14 year olds. Never the less this is real life, they need to see how the devil works and how trusting in The Lord works. It’s one of our favorite shows. If they preach the gospel I don’t care about their eating or grooming habits! It’s better than Watching MTV!Hey, what day are the kids coming here during the day. I remember you and Byron talking about it when y’all decided to homeschool. I’m enrolling Isaac into a free Pre school Hoke has. It’s only for a day, but they offer different days and I’d prefer not to send him on the day they come. Orientation is tomorrow, so I’m trying to find out. Thanks.

  24. I love book recommendations, so thank you!! I just got done reading Harry Bernstein’s 3 books. The Invisible Wall, The dream and The Golden Willow. He started writing them when he was 93 I believe…worth reading for sure!

  25. I have read a couple good books…….A Thousand Splendid Suns by: Khaled Hosseini. WOW Written so well!! Hard to put down. Your above description says it all about this book as well, although different location in the middle east. I want to read his other books.
    Still Life by: Louise Penny. A murder mystery that takes place in a small canadian town called Three Pines. Don’t know much about her other books but the detective Armand Gamache is a regular. Well written, draws you into the small town and the characters. So far it’s good, need to finish reading it.
    My mom borrowed Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, the lost legacy of Highclere Castle by: The Countess of Carnarvon (Lady Fiona Carnarvon). She doesn’t watch Downton but really enjoyed the history the books talks about. This book tells the real story of Highclere Castle the inspiration for the tv show. Really good read if you like the show and want to learn more about the real family who lived there. The Countess of Carnarvon lives in the Castle with her family. My next read.
    I will have to check out some of the books you read. They sound good! Thanks for sharing.

  26. I love to hear all the different books being read. I just finished all 8 books in a series by L. N. Cronk. The first book is called Chop Chop (and that is the name of the series). They are easy reads about a man and his life through the years as well his relationship to God and his family. Books 1-6 are David’s story. Books 7 and 8 are told by different characters you meet in the series. They fill in some blanks along the way. As I said, easy reads but not necessarily easy topics. The books are very reasonably priced on Amazon for kindle readers.
    I also read Sparkly Green Earrings…loved it. I can so relate as a mother. I wish I had written down some of the stories of motherhood along the way. Maybe I couldn’t laugh at myself so much as a young mother. I’m glad I’m over that!
    I have Bread and Wine on the table to read as well as Speak Love by Annie F. Downs. This is a MUST read for girls middle to young college age as well as their mothers. Annie is on a mission to get rid of the mean girl. It is thought provoking, honest and gut wrenching at times. But we can all relate to being wounded by words.

  27. My friends and I just used the old book club idea, really for a reason to get together every month! Our 1st book is The art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It’s told from the dogs perspective. It’s pretty great so far. Thanks for the great suggestions.

  28. I also read Cold Tangerines and Bread & Wine this summer, along with Shauna’s other book Bittersweet. I’d recommend that one too!

  29. Love your list. I’d suggest The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Phillipp Sendker and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Both beautifully written and hard to put down.

  30. I love well-written fiction based in history. Coupled with complex intrigue and bright, descriptive language, I found “Treasure of Saint-Lazare” written by journalist John Pearce the best read in recent memory. I couldn’t put it down. Tracking lost art treasures from WWII to current history, between Europe and Florida on roads I have personally traveled, was especially intriguing. There is a sequel headed for the presses this fall, so Vol. 1 is discounted at Kindle.

  31. English Girl by Daniel Silva – good mystery
    The Storyteller by Jodi Pocolt
    Good Earth by Pearl Buck -great classic
    Snow Folwer and the Secret Fan-learned so much, plus good story

  32. I am also a sporadic reader. This must be the summer to read because I have read more books in the past 3 months than I have over the past few years.
    My favorite read has been A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in three days!

  33. I LOVE to read and LOVE hearing other people’s suggestions. I just finished “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats”. It is a fabulous story that will draw you in from the first page. Check it out.

  34. I am always looking for a good book to read so love these posts! I read Where’d You Go Bernadette after you talked about it earlier and did enjoy it but it ended to quickly I thought :( maybe we will get a sequel b/c there is def. more to tell!

    Thank you!

  35. A Kate Morton fan as well, I just finished The Secret Keeper…superb! And from earlier this summer, a MUST read is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

  36. Last week I finished The Violets of March by Sarah Jio. It was a real page-turner and one of the best books that I’ve read this year.

    After being cheated on by her husband, best-selling author Emily asks for a divorce and heads to her aunt’s house on Bainbridge Island to heal. In her nightstand drawer she finds a diary written in the 1940s that tells of a once-in-a-lifetime love that is challenged by bad timing. As Emily dives deeper into the story, she realizes that her family is harboring secrets and perhaps the diary can give her some answers.

  37. Megan Babkes Stellino

    Thanks for all the wonderful book suggestions! Reading your description of when, what and how you fit in reading echoed true for me too! I’m reading “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman. Fabulously written story of the life a couple leads running a lighthouse on an island off of Australia in the late 1920’s. Happy Reading everyone!

  38. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright has been my favorite read this year. It’s a quick read, and one of those books that makes you look at the world from a new perspective. The book brings the adage “people are happy with less than you have” to life. Truly inspirational.

  39. I love when you share which books you’ve read! This helps when I go to the book store and I have an idea of where to start instead of searching for hours for the perfect books! You and I share the same taste in books (other things, too, of course). Thanks!

  40. I went through Give Them Grace last Fall with some girl friends. Like you said – revolutionary way to think about your children & our JOINT need for God’s grace and how to parent from THAT place. LOVED IT! Also have recently gone through A Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith – AMAZING book. Cannot recommend it highly enough!!!!!! It’s the first in a series of three. Just started Love Does by Bob Goff, too – incredible book about his life and what love in ACTION (or maybe TRUE love) looks/should look like.

  41. If you haven’t read The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani, you really should! I read it this year and it is my new favorite book. It’s a historical fiction novel about Italian immigrants who come to America and make a life. It’s one of those stories that artfully brings together different people’s stories. So Beautiful! I promise you will love it :)

  42. Yay! Thanks for suggesting more books. I immediately went to my local library website and began adding them to my reading list!

    This summer I’ve been flying through Dee Henderson’s new books. Have you read her O’Malley series? Probably my favorite series of all time… I’ve re-read them and lent them out to friends over the years.

  43. The Fault in Our Stars: so, so good! And Edenbrooke by Julieanne Donaldson A Regency love story. If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll love this one!!!

    1. I’ve been reading SO MANY books lately — like 20 this year, maybe more… :-)

      I just finished Where’d you go Bernadette per your suggestion the other day and it was so cute! I finished it in a few days!

      I’ve also been reading the Divergent series and about to start the Matched series!

    2. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, my hands-down favorite is “Child of the Mist”. Everyone that loves this genre that has read it loves, loves, loves it. Thanks for the book list. I’m always looking for a great read.

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