Friday, May 22, 2020

2020 Summer Reading Guide

Summer is not complete without a good list of books to read. I used the same categories as last year with an added "Escape Reads" as a bonus because we could really use it with COVID-19. Per Anne Bogel, I will add my 'minimalist list' at the end if you're interested. I hope you find something that you will love!

History Comes to Life

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini
-This may seem like another WWII novel but I appreciated that the author starts the story years before it begins. Seeing the lead up from characters' perspectives was really fascinating. Based on true life accounts, this was long but I always enjoyed picking it up to read. 

Muddy: Where Faith and Polygamy Collide by Dean Hughes
-Brigham Young asks Morgan Davis to marry quick and settle with other Saints in today Nevada. Then Morgan is faced with the instruction to take on another wife and the saints are being tested on whether their leaders were inspired to settle here. Even though the polygamy aspect is uncomfortable, I think Hughes did a good job tactfully handling it and helping us to see what these people must be thinking and feeling with polygamy. Some interesting things to discuss. 

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
-I'm not a Wizard of Oz fan, but I was swept into the story of Maude Baum, the wife of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz. It goes back and forth between time periods of Maud's courtship, marriage, and mothering and then switches to the late 1930's with her meeting Judy Garland on the set of Oz. I loved how they weave these stories and it just made me want to tear up thinking about Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Escape Reads

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
-A few years ago I enjoyed another book by McCoy so while I was still skeptical about how she was going to tackle this, I also felt confident she could pull it off. And she did. You are cheering Marilla on but heartbroken because you know how the story ends. 

Lovely War by Julie Berry
-I feel like this is getting buzz everywhere. I admit that several months ago before I heard much about it I got it on my kindle and starting reading the first chapter and decided to set it aside. The idea of Greek gods and goddesses was something that really threw me off. But after hearing great reviews, I gave it another shot and blew through it. Two love stories set in WWI and I loved them both. Next time I'm going to do this one on audio because I hear it's fantastic with the music played along with it.  

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
-Here's my one fantasy on the list. I'm not usually a fantasy fan but this twist to the story of Beauty and the Beast (one of my faves) got me interested. And I totally stayed up late one night finishing it. It is pretty long so it takes some bit getting into the story but it's a fun one if you want to get lost into a book. 

Let's Hear it For the Ladies

All the Days Past, All the Days Gone by Mildred Taylor
-This is the 8th and last installment of the Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry series but this one is a stand alone. You're totally rooting for Cassie and then you question by the end if she made the right decision. This spans 20 years of time going into the civil rights movement of the 1960's. While it took a good little bit to get going with the story, it led to a emotional ride by the end. 

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare
-Adunni is forced into a child marriage at age 14. She escapes but then is a brutal servant for Big Madam. All she wants is to be free and go to school. Oh man, Adunni, she is the best. I loved her character and just wanted to give her a big hug. She is fighting up against everyone and I loved her resilience to want to get an education and be the louding voice for other young girls. So good. 

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Kane
-Delightful is what I would describe this one. May Attaway is 40 years old, single, and works gardening at a college campus. She decides to take a trip visiting old friends and discovers a lot about life along the way. This was a lot more philosophical than I realized and I felt May's uncomfortableness and awkwardness of navigating adult relationships. Such a pleasurable read. 

Middle Grade Magic

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
by Dan Gemeinhart-Coyote and her dad, Rodeo have been living on the road for years, ever since an accident killed her mom and two sisters. But there is something that pulls Coyote back to her hometown and she has to convince Rodeo to unknowingly take her there. This is full of heart and humor. 

White Bird by R.J. Palacio
-The author of Wonder comes out with this graphic novel depicting Julian's Grandmere's experience as a Jew in Nazi occupied France during WWII. It was heartbreaking and a great story about kindness and courage. 

Tilly and the Bookwanders by Anna James
-Tilly has lived with her grandparents in their bookshop ever since her mother disappeared. But some of her favorite literary characters come to life and help her 'wander' into books and she finds some important information about her parents. This was a surprised delight. About middle of the way through I thought it was just going to be a simple book but then a little twist happened with one of my favorite books as a kid and I got sucked right back in.

Audiobooks for the Road

Enchanted Hour by Megan Cox Gurdon
-Nothing brings me more excitement than the topic of reading aloud. This was a re-read for me and this time and I did it on audio and I liked it even more. Gurdon lays out the science on the benefits of reading aloud and of course, there are a plenty of recommended titles in the back. She does the narration and her voice was so comforting to listen to. I can imagine what pleasure it was for her kids to be read to. 

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
-If you're familiar with Gladwell already, you know he delivers. This was basically a 9 hour podcast episode. He gets people's recording of interviews and events. This was a bit uncomfortable to read because of the subject matter but I'm still thinking about things months later. 

Boom Town by Sam Anderson
-This is all about how Oklahoma City came to be from its choatic start till now. I can't believe I read 400 pages about Oklahoma City but the author's writing was sharp and funny. He also brings in the Thunders basketball team with legendaries Kevin Durrant and Russell Westbrook. I don't think I would be as interested if basketball wasn't in it. :) 

Nonfiction Worth Discussing

'm Still Here: Black Diginity in World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
-This one will probably give anyone a punch in the gut but for good reasons. A Black, Christian women who gives life experiences in dealing with racism that will challenge you and make you listen. 

Tightrope: Americans Reading for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof
-This was a unique book because the author depicts his friends that he grew up with that had a very different American experience than he did. The author explores those that are in the margins and how we can help them. Another one that will make you think differently about the world. How do we get every Congressman to read this? One of my favorites this year. 

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
-I listened to this one and Melinda reads it which is a treat. She tackles some heavy issues but comes up with strategies that will help women all over the world. She makes cases for controversial topics that turned my thinking around. Another one that will get you thinking and then you'll want to take action. 

For my Minimalist Guide
Finding Dorothy
Marilla of Green Gables
The Girl with the Louding Voice
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Enchanted Hour

What are you excited to read this summer?


  1. I read through your list while eating breakfast and it was the perfect start to my day! But now i just want to read-ha! Resistance Women was really good! I am in the middle of finding Dorothy right now. It's been fun. I think I am going to need to listen to enchanted hour...that sounds delightful. And will help me keep reading aloud through the summer. Thanks for the list!!

  2. Truly, you make me want to read ALL of them! Thanks for the recommendations on audio versions, too. I think I might give lovely war another chance with audio.