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2015 Summer Reading List

We are in the height of vacation season with the arrival of July and the upcoming holiday. I don’t know about you but I get the itch to read during the summer. Longer days, beach trips and pool time make me want to kick my feet up with a book in my hand. And yes, I’m totally old fashioned and still buy the real thing. I just can’t get on board with e-reading devices like iPads, Kindles and Nooks. Even my grandmother uses a Kindle but I’m behind the times. I just like to hold a book in my hands.

I also decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to reinstate nightly reading before bed instead of watching TV and then going straight to bed. It’s such a nicer way to wind down the night and it makes me so sleepy!

Peanut Butter Runner Summer Reading

I stopped by my favorite local used book store last week to pick up some new reading material. Charlotte-area readers, you must check out Julia’s. It’s a coffee shop and used bookstore attached to the Habitat Re-Store. All of the proceeds go to support Habitat and you can get a great deal on the book. They’re usually somewhere around $3 each. I usually read them and then donate them back.

I wanted to share what I brought home with me in addition to some recent reads that I’d recommend. I can spend hours browsing through books and reading back covers and online reviews so I always appreciate recommendations to help me narrow my selections. I would love to hear from you too about what books you’ve loved lately or are on your summer reading list.

What I’m reading this summer…

1) Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

“For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. As three generations of women arrive at the family’s beach house, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.”

2) Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield

“A noted sculptor, Todd Larkin went swimming at midnight off the coast of Florida and hasn’t returned. He was staying with a woman. He was drinking. He left behind his keys, wallet, cell phone, and his return airline ticket. They also found two drawings and pieces of a sculpture. But there is no trace of him or his body. The coast guard has been scouring the shoreline, but no one has seen a thing.

Has Todd run off to start a new life or is he dead? Could it have been an accident, suicide, or homicide? Immediately, Sarah’s life spins into a world of uncer-tainty, hope, and fear as she grapples with the mystery of his disappearance.

As Sarah tries to discover what happened to the man she thought she knew better than anyone, she is forced to confront the love and resentments, the hopes and disappointments of her marriage. And through it all, she must find a way to help her young daughter deal with the crisis while meeting the demands of the high-powered magazine world.”

This book doesn’t have the best reviews so let me know if you’ve read it!

3) All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown

“On the day Paul Miller’s pharmaceutical company goes public, he informs his wife, Janice, that their marriage is over and that the new fortune is his alone. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the Miller’s older daughter, Margaret, has been dumped by her hot actor boyfriend and is failing at her job, kind of spectacularly. Sliding toward bankruptcy, Margaret bails and heads for home, where her confused and lonesome teenage sister, Lizzie, is struggling with problems of her own: She’s become the school slut.

From behind the walls of their Georgian colonial bunker, the Miller women wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, evangelical neighbors, and country club ladies–and in the process all illusions and artifice fall away, forcing them to reckon with something far scarier and more consequential: their true selves.”

4) A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

“With his bestselling spiritual guide The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle inspired millions of readers to discover the freedom and joy of a life lived “in the now.” In A New Earth, Tolle expands on these powerful ideas to show how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world. Tolle describes how our attachment to the ego creates the dysfunction that leads to anger, jealousy, and unhappiness, and shows readers how to awaken to a new state of consciousness and follow the path to a truly fulfilling existence.

The Power of Now was a question-and-answer handbook. A New Earth has been written as a traditional narrative, offering anecdotes and philosophies in a way that is accessible to all. Illuminating, enlightening, and uplifting, A New Earth is a profoundly spiritual manifesto for a better way of life—and for building a better world.”

5) Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

“Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.”

I’ve heard so many great things about this book. I can’t wait to read it!


And here are some books that I’ve already read that I’d recommend!

1) The Rose Project by Graeme Simsion

The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

2) Wonder by R.J. Palacio

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

3) One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

“Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.”

4) A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Williamson reveals how we each can become a miracle worker by accepting God and by the expression of love in our daily lives. Whether psychic pain is in the area of relationships, career, or health, she shows us how love is a potent force, the key to inner peace, and how by practicing love we can make our own lives more fulfilling while creating a more peaceful and loving world for our children.

5) Still Alice by Lisa Genova

In Lisa Genova’s extraordinary New York Times bestselling novel, an accomplished professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease learns that her worth is comprised of more than her ability to remember. Now a major motion picture from Sony Pictures Classics starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, and Kristen Stewart! Look for Lisa Genova’s next novel Inside the O’Briens.

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever.

Do you read on an e-reader or do you keep it old fashioned?

Have you read any of the books I purchased at Julia’s? Thoughts? And any recommendations for outstanding books you’ve read lately?

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Heidi July 2, 2015, 10:57 am

    This is hilarious because literally as this popped up in my email I’m online reserving books at my library. I’m so with you, I have to read the actual book versus a kindle, etc….Perfect timing though – thank you! I did read All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. Loved it! A few others that I would recommend for summer reading:
    Gone Girl (of course right?) by Gillian Flynn
    Tempting Fate by Jane Green
    Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
    The Fault in Our Stars by Jane Green
    Bossypants by Tina Fey
    Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
    Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

    Love the idea of Julia’s! I now live in Raleigh (just moved here from Chicago) so when I take a road trip to Charlotte I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

    Thank you for the recommendations!

    • 2
      Jen July 2, 2015, 11:06 am

      thanks for the feedback and suggestions heidi! i’ve read gone girl, the fault in our stars and big little lies. i’ll check out the others. have you read girl on the train? it’s just as good (if not better) than gone girl!

      • 3
        Heidi July 2, 2015, 11:08 am

        I have not, but I definitely need to! 🙂

  • 4
    Cassie Tran July 2, 2015, 11:11 am

    I like both! The Rosie Project sounds so good!

    • 5
      Jen DeCurtins July 2, 2015, 10:12 pm

      I highly recommend it!

  • 6
    Alexandra July 2, 2015, 11:20 am

    LOVED “A New Earth”. I picked it up skeptically when Oprah included it in her book club years ago. While I’ve read a few books in the same genre, however, this is the one that years later I still come back to, particulary if I’m feeling anxious or unsettled, and especially when I was going through a particularly troubling health scare. I have it in my night stand now, with about 40 pages dog eared, sentences and paragraphs highlighted and underlined, and I find it very comforting to back to from time to time. Enjoy!!

    • 7
      Brian July 2, 2015, 1:10 pm

      A New Earth is a must read. It changed my life.

    • 8
      Jen DeCurtins July 2, 2015, 10:40 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  • 9
    Jennifer Hyer July 2, 2015, 12:23 pm

    The Girl on the Train!!!! Fantastic book!

    • 10
      Jen DeCurtins July 2, 2015, 10:41 pm

      The Girl on the Train is one of my favorites!

  • 11
    Lesley July 2, 2015, 12:59 pm

    The Rosie Project is great! I’m in the midst of reading Elin Hilderbrand and Liane Moriarty books. A little late to the party maybe, but I like reading books that others have recommended rather than a random selection!

    • 12
      Jen DeCurtins July 2, 2015, 10:44 pm

      I do too! I’ll rarely get one I really don’t like.

  • 13
    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West July 2, 2015, 1:03 pm

    I’m totally a real book reader. As in, I like to hold the book in my hands. I read Maine a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. Maine is special to me, because I got engaged there and my hubby grew up there. As far as reading at night — I get too tired. But reading by the pool, I can get behind that! 🙂 Happy reading!

    • 14
      Jen DeCurtins July 2, 2015, 10:47 pm

      Ha! That’s one of the reasons I like it. It definitely helps you unwind.

  • 15
    She Rocks Fitness July 2, 2015, 3:10 pm

    I love books and have no desire to switch over to electronics. Reading and writing in my journal at night are my favorite ways to unwind. I haven’t had a TV in my bedroom in 2 years. My sister recommended “Defending Jacob”…It’s next on my summer reading list.

    • 16
      Jen DeCurtins July 2, 2015, 10:52 pm

      I love that! And thanks for the suggestion!

  • 17
    Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona July 2, 2015, 8:53 pm

    I love used bookstores! My favorite one near me takes back books previously bought from them and gives you a credit for 50% of what you paid for it. The last batch of books I took back got me a $45 credit. I’m going to have a shopping spree the next time I go in.

    • 18
      Jen DeCurtins July 2, 2015, 10:51 pm

      That’s awesome! And a whole lot of used books!

  • 19
    Kelly M. July 2, 2015, 10:06 pm

    The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey. It’s fantastic! I couldn’t put it down. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • 20
      Jen DeCurtins July 2, 2015, 10:49 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  • 21
    Rajul July 2, 2015, 10:52 pm

    So helpful and fun! Thanks!

  • 22
    Kate July 3, 2015, 9:32 am

    I just finished Where’d You Go Bernadette, and really enjoyed it. Definitely a good beach/pool read. Hard to put down!
    Right now I’m reading The Husband’s Secret by Laine Moriarty. So far it’s good!

    I love a real book, but my main time to read is on my commute on the Metro, and using my phone is much easier.

  • 23
    Mademoiselle Coconath July 3, 2015, 9:43 am

    Great list! I really wanna read the Rosie project as well!
    Thanks for sharing

    Mademoiselle Coconath

  • 24
    Audrey July 3, 2015, 12:23 pm

    I, too, love reading a tangible book. Something about the weight of the book and the physical act of turning pages is more satisfying to me. However, I have started using Audible this year, especially when I’m doing repetitive tasks or running. I like it, but it’s a different experience and I think it may affect how I feel about books. For example, I read Gone Girl and loved it while I listened to The Girl on the Train and did not enjoy it. Before I Go To Sleep is in the same vein as those two and quite good (just don’t watch the movie…bleh).

    Maine is good! I just finished Where’d You Go Bernadette and liked it but felt the ending was a little too tied-up-in-a-bow neat. The Martian is one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year (actually, listened to it, but it had great narration). Not a genre I typically choose, but it was highly entertaining!

  • 25
    Heather@hungryforbalance July 4, 2015, 3:12 pm

    Lately I have been reading e-books on my iPad (mostly for convenience sake!) but I really do love the feel of holding an actual book in my hands.
    I just finished The Rosie Project and I really liked it!

  • 26
    Amanda July 4, 2015, 7:16 pm

    Hi Jen,
    I am a total bookworm! For the longest time I put off getting an e-reader because I liked holding a book in my hand, but a few years ago my mom gave me a Kindle for Christmas, and I haven’t looked back. My Kindle is really simple, no touch screen or backlighting and I love it. It fits in all of my purses, so it is really easy for me to have on hand at all times. Also, when I’m reading big books my wrists never get tired. I also love the dictionary feature: when I come across a word I don’t know it is so so easy to look up! 🙂

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