The days are getting longer, the temperature is beginning to rise, a gentle breeze replaces the cold blasts of winter – and, if you’re like me, you’re beginning to think about summer vacations. Whether you’re taking a break from sightseeing for some wine and cheese at a Paris bistro, relaxing in your camp chair beside a river after a vigorous hike, or lying on a sun-drenched beach in Maui, vacation reading is going to be part of that picture. If you’re reading this blog, you’re hoping you will find the perfect book to keep you entertained during those moments of relaxation.
When my friend, Dennis, goes on vacation, he likes to bring along challenging books that he doesn’t have time to read during the work year. He’s brought “Anna Karenina,” “Bleak House,” one year he brought “War and Peace.” And during every trip he tries to read over the shoulders of the rest of us, who bring less lofty, but more entertaining, books. As soon as one of us finishes a book, he snatches it away.
I’m far more realistic about my vacation reading. I know I don’t want to be enlightened or educated – I want to have as good a time while I’m reading as I do when I’m sightseeing. I’m always keeping my eye out for books that might be good to take on vacation so, when the time comes, I’m not settling for something that turns out to be a disappointment.
The books I’ve selected to recommend to you as great summer reads are tried and true favorites that meet this criteria:
- Not too mentally challenging
- A great story that keeps you entertained
- Something you can pick up or put down easily, depending on the day’s activities
- Something I’ve reviewed on this blog
Because each of us has our own definition of what a good vacation book might be, I’ve divided my selections by genre. And I’ve linked each title to my review, so you can get more information than you might find on a book jacket. Be aware that many of these books fall into more than one genre, but I’ve chosen the one I think highlights the most distinguishing characteristic of each.
Humorous Books These aren’t necessarily “laugh out loud” books, but they are books that I thought were light reading and had an element of the ridiculous or eccentric.
And Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evision
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Action/Mystery These books are heavy on plot, lots going on.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
The Reversal by Michael Connelly
The Dinner by Herman Koch
Let Him Go by Larry Watson
The Painter by Peter Heller
Drama Human interest, serious but, for summer reading, engrossing and hard to put down.
Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment
Room by Emma Donoghue
Defending Jacob by William Landa
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Short Story Collections Because sometimes you just want something you can finish.
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenudin
Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson
Your turn – what books would you add to this list? Please share with the rest of us!