Friday, August 21, 2015

What Does Summer Reading Mean To You?

(NOTE: This post is reprinted from my monthly book column in Vital! magazine, July issue)

Back when we were in school, “summer reading” meant having to read whatever was required by your teachers. Now, as adults, summer reading means whatever we want it to mean! Different people have different ideas about what makes an ideal summer book, but there are lots of good choices to help pass those lazy days of summer:

Light, Funny Books
Lots of people like to keep their summer reading light and fun. Here are some great choices:

The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich – you can rely on Evanovich for fast-paced suspense with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Her latest in the series, Top Secret Twenty-One, was released in May.

Author Bill Bryson’s nonfiction books are always good for a laugh, and his childhood memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, is one of his best, both amusing and informative.

If you like irreverent, slightly silly humor with a heart, then you will probably enjoy Christopher Moore’s novels. I liked the hilarious A Dirty Job, about an ordinary, slightly neurotic dad whose new job title is Death (this one contains profanity).

Mysteries & Suspense
Some people like their summer reading with a hefty dose of suspense and mystery. A few series to try:

The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child is my husband’s absolute favorite suspense/thriller series. Personal was his latest book.

If you prefer your protagonists younger (and precocious), you might enjoy the Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley featuring the adolescent amateur detective. The series begins with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

My husband and I are both hooked on Tana French’s award-winning series featuring the Dublin Murder Squad that begins with In the Woods. Her latest novel is The Secret Place.

Big Books
For me, summer is the time to lose myself in the big books that I don’t have time for during the rest of the year. Some to try:

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett was the first big book I tackled a few summers ago that started my tradition. He has also written The Century Trilogy that starts with Fall of Giants – all are long but engrossing books.

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (recently made into a TV show) about a young woman in 1940’s Scotland sent back in time – adventure and romance in very big books.

My husband and son love the A Song of Ice and Fire series that begins with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – massive, epic fantasy tales set in a Medieval-type world.

Whatever your preferences, enjoy your summer reading!

Suzan Jackson is a freelance writer who lives in Delaware with her husband and two sons. She writes a blog about books, featuring reviews, book news, and more at You can find reviews of all of the books listed here on the blog.
(This article is reprinted from my monthly book column in Vital!, The magazine for Active Older Adults, available free in public places like libraries and drugstores in Delaware and North Carolina)
Which kinds of books do you like to read in the summer?


  1. This summer I'm reading The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It is about the black migration from the South to North to escape the Jim Crow laws. I chose it to better understand today's racial problems, but in addition to learning about that I fell in love with the story. Wilkerson follows three individuals sharing stories about their lives.

  2. That sounds REALLY good - I hadn't heard of that one before. Glad you are enjoying it!

  3. I normally try to sneak in a beachy read but I've had no time this summer! I've been just reading my usual style of books around the world and a couple of chunksters. Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup.