Friday Question of the Day – What’s on your Summer Reading List?

summer reading
Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

Yesterday I was in Kramerbooks and I was intrigued by the My Struggle series by Karl Ove Knausgård. Anyway – it reminded me that we are do for our 2015 summer reading list and recommendations. You can see last year’s list here. What’s on your list this year?

63 Comment

  • My Struggle is the best book(s) you will read this summer. along, but definitely a good, light summer read. Also highly recommend The Sympathizer. Cesar Aira’s new short story collection is great too.

    • Surely you mean the Norwegian novels, and not Mein Kampf, right?

      • Farragut

        Yep, I think Petworther is responding directly to Dan’s original post to start this thread: “Yesterday I was in Kramerbooks and I was intrigued by the My Struggle series by Karl Ove Knausgård.”

        • The My Struggle series is a must read. Karl Ove Knausgaard has a way of making the most bland moments in life descriptive and interesting to read

      • I Dont Get It

        The thought of “Mein Kampf” as a summer beach read made me giggle.

  • Stephen King’s back catalogue.

    • Farragut

      I loved “11/22/63” and “The Eyes of the Dragon,” as well as the the Dark Tower series, but I’ve never read any of his “real” horror stuff!

  • Farragut

    I’ve got a few different “reading projects” as I call them for the year:
    1) Read as much of the books and stories by Alastair Reynolds as I can before October (he’s the Guest of Honor for the local Capclave convention).
    2) Read some of the lesser known series by David Weber (primarily known as a military scifi writer). He’s great fun and I love the Honor Harrington and Safehold series, but there’s still a bunch I haven’t read by him.
    3) Finally get around to continuing the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I haven’t seen the show on Starz, but I did read the very first book a few years ago–I just need to get around to reading the rest of it.
    4) Read more short stories: semi-tied into the Reynolds thing, since I really like some of his shorter works (I loved his “Zima Blue” and the Merlin stories), but I want to get back to reading more novellas and short works. I’m thinking about subscribing to Asimov’s or Clarkesworld in addition to the free fiction on We’ll see! I think I find the short stories to be perfect lengths for my Metro commutes–I started & finished one coming home from work tonight.
    5) My perennial goal of reading more nonfiction. It’ll probably mostly be baseball books, but I’ve got a big fat book on the history of Prussia that’s enticing, along with Charles Mann’s “1493” followup to the great “1491.”
    Recommendations for Popvillers: It’s hard for me to make recommendations to people since we all read for different reasons, and my stuff tends toward the science fiction & fantasy (w/ some mysteries and histories in there), but here are some suggestions:
    – Fantasy: Highly recommend books by Martha Wells (“The Cloud Roads,” “The Death of the Necromancer”), and more recently, “City of Stairs” by Robert Jackson Bennett or “The Goblin Emperor” by Katherine Addison. Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories (sort of “Jane Austen with magic”) just wrapped up this year, the first book is “Shades of Milk and Honey.”
    – Science Fiction: John Scalzi’s stuff is always fun, and the 6th book in the “Old Man’s War” series is coming out this summer. I recommend starting with the first book, “Old Man’s War” or trying some of his standalone work like “Agent of the Stars,” “The Android’s Dream,” or “Lock In.”
    – Mysteries: I love Martin Walker’s Bruno mysteries (first book is “Bruno, Chief of Police”). Bruno is the only town policeman in a town in SW France. Do not recommend if descriptions of French food and cooking make you hungry. 🙂
    – Histories: I just read “The Basque History of the World” by Mark Kurlansky–easy to read, and utterly fascinating look at Basque culture and history. I also love Bill Bryson’s stuff. Any of it. Read it. Right now. Most recent is “One Summer: America, 1927” and “At Home” was awesome.

    • Thanks for the fantasy/sci-fi recommendations! As for the lesser David Weber series, the Safehold series is excellent (though still in progress, which is irritating, especially if you, like me, got sucked into the Wheel of Time series when it first debuted). The Empire of Man series is good as well. Dahak series is good, and his contributions to the Ring of Fire series are the best of that lot.

      • Farragut

        Yep! I know someday in the Safehold series we’ll get back to the Gbaba, but at this rate, it’ll be book 40, haha. Sorry to hear that you’ve been with Wheel of Time from the beginning, though–I only got into WoT after Book 9 (Winter’s Heart), so I only had to wait 12 years for that ending. I really liked Empire of Man, but man, scifi writers REALLY love Xenophon’s Anabasis. (Along those lines, the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell is plenty fun, if simple in some ways). Dahak is good, too, but I gave up on the Ring of Fire series (by Eric Flint for anyone skimming this comment); it got a little too sprawling for my taste, and not all of the “co-writers” are that good (lookin’ at you, Virginia). I need to get around to reading the Multiverse books, though, especially since he’s finally continuing that series with Joelle Presby (she wrote a Grayson-focused short story in the mos recent Honor Harrington anthology).
        Have you read David Drake/S.M. Stirling’s General series, or Drake/Flint’s Belisarius series? Those were REALLY enjoyable.

        • I was a senior in high school when Eye of the World came out; I was 41 when the series ended (unsatisfactorily, in my view – the “final battle” was excruciating). Just brutal.
          Have not read anything by Drake, will check it out.
          Re the Ring of Fire – I fell away from it, recently picked it back up, and am currently slogging my way through the Ram Rebellion. (Completely agree about Virginia.) I’m 75% through, and I am going to finish it, but that may be it for me.
          I enjoyed the Mistborn Trilogy by Sanderson, and the following add-ons as well.

          • Farragut

            Hm, I didn’t mind the ending for WoT, but I also knew it wasn’t perfect–more so than Gathering Storm & Towers of Midnight, I could definitely tell it was made from an incomplete manuscript, but what are you going to do? I’m glad it reached a conclusion in any case.
            David Drake is an interesting guy for me to read–I don’t think I’ve ever finished any novel he’s ever written on his own (though I haven’t tried his Lt. Leary series yet). But he wrote extensive outlines for Stirling and Flint to write those series, and darn it if he isn’t a good setter-upper.
            I think Ram Rebellion is where I quit, too. Sigh.
            Brandon Sanderson is a writing machine, and I’ve enjoyed every single one of his books so far. Though
            Forgot to mention that I’m *currently* (re)reading Weber’s War God series. I’ve only read the first three, and I got the 4th already, and he’s apparently starting a new chapter/arc with a book this August.
            If you’re a big David Weber fan, you might appreciate this, too: he’ll be an author at the National Book Festival this Labor Day Weekend! (And Jane Lindskold will be there, too, coauthor of 2nd & 3rd Stephanie Harrington “YA” books, as well as a few HH short stories).

    • PDleftMtP

      Looking at your list, you might want to give local boy Tom Doyle’s American Craftsmen a try. Second in the series is out soon.

      • Farragut

        Just looked it up–that sounds fun! I’ve also heard good things about Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series.

    • If you like David Weber, have you read any Lois McMaster Bujold? Specifically the Vorkosigan Saga. It’s up to about 15 books, but they’re pretty quick, and the best military space opera I know of. She’s won ALL the awards, repeatedly.
      I also just finished Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. It was a little hard to get in to, but once you had her style and her universe figured out, very good sci fi with an interesting psychological bent. It won Hugo, Nebula, and Clark.

      • Farragut

        Yes, I absolutely love Bujold! I got one of my friends hooked on her, and she keeps asking me for more like Bujold, and I can only shrug and go, “No one’s like Bujold!” (plenty of milSF/space opera, but not Bujold’s other stuff). I’m really looking forward to the new Cordelia novel in the Vorkosigan Saga: “Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen” (should be out next February).
        I thought Ancillary Justice was wonderful, and I really liked the sequel Ancillary Sword, too (warning: it doesn’t do the flashback thing in that one). I believe the 3rd book, Ancillary Mercy will be out in October!

        • Ooh, it’s about time Cordelia got another story! Something to look forward to. (But… Jole? I mean, he can’t be worse than Roic, but still pretty blah.) I’ve largely switched to libraries and ebooks, but I always pre-order physical copies of new Bujolds, and keep the hardcovers lined up on my shelf for the inevitable multiple re-reads. 🙂

          • Farragut

            Haha, we’ll see! So you’re not too embarrassed by the usually terrible Baen covers? (Seriously, who is doing the book design over there…)
            By the way, not sure if you know of this, but Politics & Prose has a Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Group that meets every 2nd Thursday (Fantasy pick at 6:30pm, Sci Fi pick at 7:30pm), and I think we’re doing “Cordelia’s Honor” for our October 8 SF meeting.

          • It’s true, the Baen covers are dated at best, and sometimes timelessly terrible. The art on Mirror Dance is laugh-out-loud bad. Harper does a much better job with her fantasy stuff.
            Thanks for the book group rec! Is there drinking? I may check it out one day.

          • Farragut

            We meet in the basement level of Politics & Prose. They’ve got a little coffee shop thing, but I’m not sure if they have an alcohol license or can allow it into the store, though. I don’t drink, but I see people with tea and coffee and sodas in there. Now, in December, it’s a bit different b/c they need all their space for their Christmas-shopping events, so that month, we usually have an unofficial meeting across the street at Jake’s American Grille.
            Here are the links to the book picks (only through November so far): and

    • I am so with you in having the goal of reading more nonfiction.

      Nonfiction: A Woman Among Warlords, Ghost Wars, The Accidental Guerrilla, The Forever War.
      Fiction: Valis Trilogy, Code Name Verity, The Cuckoo’s Calling.
      Graphic novels: East of West Vol. 4, The Wicked and the Divine Vol 2, the rest of the Lazarus series.

      • Farragut

        The Wicked + The Divine was really interesting; looking forward to the next volume. Apparently it’s already gotten optioned for TV/film? That’s blowin’ my mind.

        • I heard about that! There is also apparently a Lazarus show in the works for TV. So many comic-based options right now.

  • Blithe

    I was also looking at the Knausgard books — and wondered if I could start with the third book, or if they really have to be read in order. I picked up “Boy, Snow, Bird” by Helen Oyeyemi, and the sales associate at Kramerbooks assured me that it is an excellent read.
    – I’ve got “Washington’s U Street – A Biography”, “Excellent Sheep – The Miseducation of the American Elite & The Way to A Meaningful Life”, and a couple of Louise Penny mysteries on my summer reading pile.

  • Besides time-sensitive things like new issues of Washington City Paper, Rolling Stone, all of Marvel’s new Star Wars series (assuming they don’t turn me off) and any issues of Star Wars Insider that contain short stories that appeal to me, I have this list:

    The new issue of Berlin, by Jason Lutes. It should arrive later this month, several years after the last issue. I’ll believe it once I have it in hand.

    Essential Amazing Spider-Man volume 6, plus perhaps volumes 3 and 7, as the library has those also.

    The remainder of Chris Claremont’s run on (Uncanny) X-Men. I am on Essential X-Men volume 6 now, out of eleven. I have the rest except for 9 and 10, which are rather expensive, so I decided to buy all their component issues separately. The last of those should arrive in the mail soon. Three of those issues are in Gambit Classic Vol. 1, which contains a four-issue miniseries (featuring Gambit) to boot, so I’ll read those too.

    Whichever volume of Essential Doctor Strange is at the library.

    Resist (or is it Resistance?) volumes 1,2,3.

    Essential Fantastic Four volumes 2 and 3, and perhaps 4 and 7, since they’re at the library.

    Goodbye Chunky Rice.

    The Essential Dazzler, volume 2.

    The Essential Captain Marvel, volumes 1 and 2.

    Cable and the New Mutants.

    The Star Wars novels sampler I got at AwesomeCon, and possibly Star Wars: Battlefronts. Finally, a book about the common soldiers!

    Should it come out this summer, Garth Ennis’s latest Battlefields collection.

    Harold Pinter: Complete Works, volume 4.

    I think that’s everything.

  • My daughter is halfway through the Harry Potter series, and is after me all.the.time to read it, so I’ll probably do that at some point.
    Someone recently reminded me hos much I love Guy Gavriel Kay, so I think I’ll reread his collection, starting with my favorite, the Lions of Al-Rassan
    Other than that, haven’t given it much thought – this thread will give me some other ideas!

    • Farragut

      I picked up “Under Heaven” by Kay last year, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it. Another thing to start this year!

    • I wish I hadn’t read Harry Potter, so that I still had it to savor for the first time. But I’m enjoying reading it with my kids. I like how it grows with them… simple and relatively light at first, with the books getting longer, more complicated, and more fraught as the kids age.

      • I Dont Get It

        I’ve always wondered if I would enjoy Harry Potter books although I once did a photo essay on my blog with obviously fake spoilers when “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” came out. Yeah that probably explains why my blog died an unnoticed death.

  • Started Jon Ronson’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” and enjoying it so much that I intend to read his entire back catalog while shaming myself publicly (here, for instance) for not having discovered him sooner…

  • ThunderCheese

    Determined to finally finish a Neal Stephenson book. Attempting his latest, Seveneves. Page one, the moon blows up. I think the book ends 5000 years later.

    • Farragut

      I can’t wait to read this one! Still a long line for the ebook from the library, though. I’ve actually liked (and finished) most of his books. Anathem was amazing.

      • canadianexile

        I have the Seveneyes digital library copy – I’ll work on it this weekend!

        Cryptonomicon may be my favorite Stephenson book; REAMED was the easiest to read if you just want to finish one!

        • Farragut

          It’s “REAMDE.” 😀 “Cryptonomicon” was amazing. It directly led to me doing a research paper on the Japanese Purple code in school.

  • Roadside Geology of Maryland, Delaware and Washington DC. Bought it because I was curious why the ground around my house (near the top of the hill of the Old Soldier’s Home) has lots of round river rocks in it.

    • Love it :o) Can you report back what you find out? My hubby and I joined a local community garden last year. At times it feels we’re working a stone quarry not a garden, so many rocks!

    • Thanks for this recommendation!

  • The Familiar, Volume One: One Rainy Day in May by Mark Danielewski. For lovers of the strange and bizarre, I highly recommend his first novel, House of Leaves.

    • I read House of Leaves a couple years ago. I don’t get spooked by books too often but when I think about this one I still get the shivers. I definitely agree with your rec!

    • I JUST finished this during lunch today. It’s wonderful. Can’t wait for Volume II.

  • I just finished reading The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart by Mark Achtemeier. It’s enlightening and I stumbled upon it in the DCPL and it seemed fitting with it being Pride month and the upcoming Supreme Court ruling.

    I just started reading Just above my Head by James Baldwin, one of my favorite authors.

  • “Bossa Nova” by Ruy Castro – an imaginative telling of how Joao Gilberto created Bossa Nova music in Brazil.

    “Bolivar: American Liberator” by Marie Arana – biography of one of the world’s great military leaders who attempted to unify Latin America after independence from Spain.

    “The Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain – story of Mark Twains travels to Europe and the Holy Land

  • Emmaleigh504

    anything and everything by Tana French and Kristina Ohlsson
    Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
    Chritina, Queen of Sweden: the Restless lofe of a European Eccentric by Veronica Buckley
    Women who Love Men who Kill by Sheila Isenberg
    American Hippopotamus by Jon Mooallem

  • Bourbon Empire by Reid Mitenbuler

  • Just finished Nell Zink’s “Mislaid”. It was really good!

  • The rest of the Bernie Gunther novels, then everything else by Philip Kerr. Also whatever I can find by Philip K. Dick that I haven’t already read recently.

  • Just finished the Woman Upstairs, which was great. Currently reading On Being Stalked, which is sorta terrifying but an easy and quick read. Next up is Winter’s Bone because my dad asks me obsessively if I’ve read it yet.

    • I really enjoyed The Woman Upstairs. The library has a fantastic e-audio version of it.

      • I have a habit of ordering books off of amazon for 25 cents and this is one that I happened to order. It turned out so differently than I expected (the end !!!) but I really loved it. I’m also an artist so it was a nice surprise that that was such a strong thread throughout the story.

  • Pablo Raw

    “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins

  • I Dont Get It

    I just started reading Sarah Vowell’s “Unfamiliar Fishes.” and am really enjoying “a whiplash study of the Americanization of Hawaii and the events leading to its annexation. Its scintillating cast includes dour missionaries, genital-worshiping heathens, Teddy Roosevelt, incestuous royalty, a nutty Mormon, a much-too-­merry monarch, President Obama, sugar barons, an imprisoned queen and Vowell herself, in a kind of 50th-state variety show.”

    • I loved Assassination Vacation (enough to buy several copies to give as gifts), and The Partly Cloudy Patriot (although that one felt pretty specific to the time in which it was written– not sure it would be as good now). But The Wordy Shipmates was… boring. And so I didn’t pick up Unfamiliar Fishes because it felt like it would be the same as Shipmates. Thoughts?

      • I Dont Get It

        I haven’t read The Wordy Shipmates so I can’t help you out, sorry. I love Sarah Vowell though, I want to be her BFF. I knew nothing about Hawaiian history so maybe this is why I am enjoying it so much.

      • I love Sarah Vowell, and have read everything (and like you, have bought Assassination Vacation to give as gifts on more than one occasion) but also could not finish “The Wordy Shipmates.” I am happy to report that SV seems to be back in top form with “Unfamiliar Fishes.” I really enjoyed it!

  • I have never understood the idea of “summer” reading. The seasons don’t affect my taste. I hope to get through more European writers this year: Thomas Mann, Robert Musil, D.H Lawrence, Knut Hamsun, Stendahl, Proust, Flaubert, etc.

    • Really? I definitely want something different when I’m outside, being distracted by kids and birds and stuff, compared to when I’m snowed in, under a blanket on my couch. It would feel frivolous and terribly wrong to read Zola on the beach.

    • Emmaleigh504

      Me too. I get “summer reading” for kids who have the summer off. They have more time to read and sometimes have mandatory reading lists. But as an adult, my reading list is year round. It doesn’t change with the seasons.

    • I get it, but my tastes in other things (food, cocktails, music, movies, hobbies) also change depending on what season it is or what the weather’s like.
      Right now I’m reading The Rocks which is quintessentially summer reading.

  • According to my Goodreads account I have 348 books I own but haven’t read. I may have a *slight* addiction to buying books…Out of those stacks I’ll probably be picking up a few by Stephen King who I fell in love with the last couple of years, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Possession by Byatt and whatever else catches my fancy when I’m ready to start a new book.

    • Farragut

      I’ve really liked this Japanese word: “tsundoku.” Apparently it’s a word that means “pile of unread books.” That’s what I ended up calling my “own but unread” shelf on Goodreads. 🙂

      • It’s funny you should mention tsundoku. I saw a discussion last week on the site about that word and thought it was neat! It reminds me of tsunami which is about right if all my stacks ever fell over!

  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North; the recent biography of Napoleon; the last couple of novels by Ward Just; probably will re-read Hilary Mantel’s books in anticipation of the final installment of the Wolf Hall trilogy; the Lowland; some Zadie Smith; Beautiful Ruins; some GK Chesterton…

Comments are closed.