Every year when I go on vacation, I am frantically searching for books to download to my ipad the night before.

Oh why do I do this to myself? I think as I’m sitting on the floor next to a huge suitcase and several carry-ons, scrolling through hundreds of books.

I know why. I don’t want just any book for vacation. I want a fast read that’s well written, and draws you in at the end of page one.

I’m not asking for much, right?

Listen I get it. It’s hard to randomly pick the right one (or three, in my case), which is why I love book recommendations. Whether I’m reading someone else’s, giving my own recommendations, you name it, I love books, bookshops, book podcasts, and book guides. 

Just for fun, I put together a summer reading list featuring my top reads for you!

My only problem: I still don’t have my summer reading list yet.

But at least you’ll have a few new ideas for yours!

Fiction Recommendations

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This book had me on the edge of my seat and is one of the first books I recommend to anyone. After months of reading other things, Sam finally took my advice and started it.  A few days later he tells me, “This book is GREAT.”

I won’t say I told you so.  Richly layered characters and a book that you will talk about for days.

“Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?” (Amazon description)



Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Moriarty, like Picoult has numerous books under her belt, but for some reason, I didn’t pick up any of them until Big Little Lies. I’m a sucker for character-driven novels with layered, complex characters and a little mystery in the plot line.  Moriarty is a master at drawing you into a mystery while keeping the characters, and the world they live in, real. In this book, she weaves a whodunit into a riveting story of suburban families.

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal… a murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?  Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads.” (Amazon description)



summer reading

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

This intriguing tale of a white immigrant slave girl and her life on a tobacco plantation in Virginia is a compelling historical fiction book. I got swept up in the lives of the slaves and plantation owners and didn’t want to stop reading until it was over.

Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. She finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk. (Amazon)




The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

If you had described to me the premise of this book: successful new york author who tells no one of her hidden past of poverty and horrendous living conditions, I might not have picked it up. Who wants to read that?But behind it is a story of survival you almost can’t believe.  The story of a child who despite having parents that moved constantly and lived in sub-human conditions, found a way to thrive

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms. (Amazon)


Motivational Book

Vacations are a great time for me to evaluate my habits while trying to set new goals. Reading a motivational book on vacation is sometimes just what I need to make positive changes in my life during a time of rest and relaxation.

Girl Wash your Face by Rachel Hollis

This book falls into the Christian genre, but could be described as a motivational book for young women, because that’s what Hollis does best. She tells stories of overcoming obstacles in her life to reach goals and shows how you can too. I wasn’t expecting to like this book, but it was the kick in the pants I needed to dream bigger.

Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward. (Amazon)


Happy summer reading!




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