With summer growing ever closer and the lingering promise of escape in the air – escape from work, to the beach, from school, to a book – I thought it would be fun to share a series of reading suggestions here at Literary Inklings. But I wanted to go about it in a slightly different way, so rather than focusing each post on genres you’ll find each list catered to a certain theme with the reader in mind. First off, suggested reads for people who maybe don’t read as often as they’d like, whether it be from lack of time, lack of interest, or lack of just the right book. With life as fast-paced as it is nowadays it’s easy for pastimes like reading to get lost in the fray, but if you’re tired of going to the movies and looking for a simple, low-cost creative way to escape by the pool or at the beach this season, hopefully one of these books will be just the thing. I’ll honestly say that I haven’t read a huge variety of light reads, so I enlisted my very awesome, very cool mom (Diane Marie on Goodreads), who’s read a much broader diversity of books in her life than I have, to give some further recommendations.
11 Summer Reading Suggestions for Light Readers
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near – misses end with the French kiss Anna – and readers – have long awaited?
Why? I’ve heard nothing but absolutely wonderful things about this young adult novel. Everyone says the writing is great and the characters are memorable.
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Buy it | Author’s Website | Goodreads
Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man—perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?
Why? Getting lost in the world of Jane Austen…why ever not? And with the book seeing an adaptation this year (starring Keri Russel and JJ Feild) it’s the perfect time to experience the novel.
Dancing with Mr. Darcy is the very best short fiction inspired by Jane Austen or Chawton House as judged by Sarah Waters, bestselling author of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith. In addition to featuring the winning piece of fiction and nineteen other stories, this anthology contains introductions from Sarah Waters, as well as from Rebecca Smith, the great-great-great-great-great niece of Jane Austen.
Why? If you’re not keen on the modern-girl-in-a-Jane-Austen-world format of Austenland, this collection of short, short, very short stories is a great way to indulge in truly authentic Regency England in brief, enchanting bursts.
The Cove (FBI Series #1) by Catherine Coulter
Buy it | Author’s Website | Goodreads
Sally St. John Brainerd is on the run from the authorities, who want to question her about her possible involvement in her father’s murder. FBI Special Agent James Quinlan goes undercover in the picturesque town of The Cove – home of the World’s Greatest Ice Cream – where Sally seeks sanctuary. But The Cove and its elderly residents harbor sinister secrets of their own. After Quinlan and Sally discover two dead bodies, Sally vanishes, and Quinlan turns to his partner Dillon Savich to rescue her from a place where no one should be held. Quinlan discovers she is indeed the key to a murder – but whose murder?
Why? Catherine Coulter’s books are quick, famously thrilling stories with plenty of mystery and intrigue. Mama says… Cathy Coulter is one of her favorite writers and the FBI series tops her list!
The wealthy world of the Palm Beach horse set seems a long way from a cop’s world in the narcotics division. A lifetime ago, undercover sheriff’s detective Elena Estes worked the mean streets and BackTop alleys, living by her wits and playing the long odds until she took one risk too many. Now Estes lives on the ragged edge of lost hope and self-hatred, hiding from the past and believing she doesn’t deserve to have a future. But the past is about to come back with a vengeance, and the future is about to become a race between life and death.
Why? Another notoriously thrilling writer and an interesting setting. Mama says… She loves everything Tami writers and while I was really twisting her arm to pick a favorite she finally settled on Dark Horse.
Girls’ Night In
Buy it Goodreads
In this must-have short-story collection, Jennifer Weiner revisits on of her Good in Bed characters (and tells the story from, ahem, his point of view), Jill A. Davis (Girl’s Poker Night) offers a darkly humorous take on starting over in New York and working with “the Elizabeths”, and more. Girl’s Night In features stories about growing up, growing out of, moving out, moving on, falling apart and getting it all together. So turn off your cell phone and curl up on the couch: this is one Girl’s Night In you won’t want to miss.
Why? No longer in print but still available second hand, this book is the quintessential beach read: all of the brightest stars in funny female fiction come together for a memorable collection. It’s a great way to experience some of these writers for the first time.
Thirty-four-year-old Manhattan accountant Cat Connelly has always lived life on the safe side. But after her little sister gets married, Cat wonders if she has condemned herself to a life of boredom by playing by the rules. She decides to take a chance for once, accepting an invitation to spend a month with an old flame in Italy. But her reunion with the slick and gorgeous Francesco is short-lived, and she finds herself suddenly alone in Rome. Now, she must see if she has the courage to live outside the lines for the first time – and to face a past she never understood. It will take an unexpected friendship with a fiery Italian waitress, a whirlwind Vespa tour of the Eternal City with a handsome stranger, and a surprise encounter with an old acquaintance to show Cat that life doesn’t always work out the way you expect, but sometimes you have to have fall in order to fly.
Home of the helmet hairdo and Congressional comb-over, Washington, D.C. is a hotbed of fashion faux pas. If anyone should know, it’s “Crimes of Fashion” columnist Lacey Smithsonian. She dishes out advice to the scandal-scorched and clothing-clueless, doing her part to change this town – one fashion victim at a time… An up-and-coming stylist, Angie Woods had a reputation for rescuing down-and-out looks – and careers – all with a pair of scissors. But when Angie is found with a drastic haircut and a razor in her hand, the police assume she committed suicide. Lacey knew the stylist and suspects something more sinister: that the story may lie with Angie’s star client, a White House staffer with a salacious website. With the help of a hunky ex-cop, Lacey must root out the truth.
Why? If you’re a fashionista who fancies a mystery to have on hand by the pool, this one has all the sass and style to keep you entertained.
Ten years ago, Clare Cosi left an unhappy marriage along with a job she loved: managing the historic Village Blend coffeehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village. Now, with a little cajoling from Madame, the Blend’s flamboyant, elderly owner, Clare agrees to return to her old job, and right from the start she gets one heck of a jolt. On her first morning back as Village Blend manager, Clare unlocks the front door to find her beautiful, young assistant manager unconscious in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. As Anabelle is rushed to the hospital, police arrive to investigate, but Detective Mike Quinn finds no sign of forced entry or foul play, and he deems it an accident. Clare disagrees; and after Quinn leaves, there are a few questions she just can’t get out of her mind, like why was the trash bin in the wrong place? If this wasn’t an accident, are her other baristas in danger? And are all NYPD detectives this attractive?
Why? A cozy mystery series focusing on coffee! Cleo even transformed her website into a virtual coffeehouse. Be still my heart. Because she got to it before I did, Mama says… Cleo’s series is entertaining and she has a uniquely creative writing style.
Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers #1) by Lisa Kleypas
Buy it | Author’s Website | Goodreads
Annabelle Peyton, determined to save her family from disaster, decides to use her beauty and wit to tempt a suitable nobleman into making an offer of marriage. But Annabelle’s most intriguing—and persistent—admirer, wealthy, powerful Simon Hunt, has made it clear that while he will introduce her to irresistible pleasure he will not offer marriage. Annabelle is determined to resist his unthinkable proposition…but it is impossible in the face of such skillful seduction.
Why? I’ve raved about Lisa’s ‘Wallflowers’ series before, and the best thing about it is that there’s a book for each season. The series starts with summer, so it’s the perfect time to give it a try – and if you’re a fan of historical romances I can’t recommend these books enough!
Hank Mallone knows he’s in trouble when Maggie Toone agrees to pretend to be his wife in order to improve his rogue’s reputation. Will his harebrained scheme to get a bank loan for his business backfire once Maggie arrives in his small Vermont town and lets the gossips take a look? Maggie never expected her employer to be drop-dead handsome, but she’s too intrigued by his offer to say no . . . and too eager to escape a life that made her feel trapped. The deal is strictly business, both agree, until Hank turns out to be every fantasy she ever had.
Why? Janet’s little romance novels are truly quick, entertaining reads. Hank and Maggie have the sort of chemistry that makes them completely memorable.
Happy reading! If you decide to give one of these books a try, please come back and let me (or us!) know what you picked and what you thought!