Book Club: Summer Reading Check-in

What are you reading?

I kept meaning to get around to making a summer reading list, it just kept sliding down the list of things to do…. (Fall list will be stellar, promise). But, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading!

This isn’t necessarily all of them, especially the children’s books because sometimes you just have to read books about farting  or super heroes or Minecraft or some other random book they’ve chosen from the library but I probably would not recommend you spend your time on. You know, unless a little moon-faced cherub brings it to you and asks…  But, every book on here is one I have actually read and recommend enough to mention.

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Here’s what I’ve been reading since last we discussed books:


Lady of the Rivers, by Phillipa Gregory

I enjoy historical fiction and Ms. Gregory always delivers a solid well-researched novel that is thankfully devoid of the feeling that she did the research and now you must learn!  Her take is beautifully written within the framework of known history.  This novel is focused on Jacquetta the mother of the White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, who in turn is the mother of the two princes who disappeared from the Tower of London.  This novel like all of her novels, though in the series of Plantagenet and Tudor novels, can be read as a stand alone.  In fact, this one was published after the White Queen, which is out of order historically.  So, if you are hung up on chronology it is really not a problem with these books. As a history major in college, it is nice to get a woman’s perspective on some of the most pivotal moments in European history.

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

This one I wanted to read before it became a movie because if I do it the other way around I will likely never read the book.  It was a good suspense novel that reads just like a movie (which is probably why it became one so quickly…).  It does have a couple of coincidences that defy reality but it’s a work of fiction so it moved the story along.  The “girl” was actually a really interesting character and it was nice to follow here story to the end.

The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty

After reading What Alice Forgot I was quite confident that anything by Liane Moriarty would be delightfully readable.  The Husband’s Secret was confirmation of that.  Her characters are so relatable – real people that could live in your neighborhood, serve on your PTA, or be a girlfriend you meet up with for happy hour.  But, then she throws in a little twist.  This one is a good one where the “perfect” wife discovers a letter misfiled in paperwork that causes her husband to basically flip out and the story unfolds from there.



You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir, by Felicia Day

I love a little Sci-Fi. And, a little Joss Whedon.  If you know who that is then you probably know who Felicia Day is.  If not, then maybe not.  She’s basically always the cute, quirky red-head you saw on that show one time.  I like her.  I also like Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and Supernatural.  Who knew she had such an interesting story for someone so young (that wasn’t completely tragic and depressing).  I picked this one in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep.  So, I didn’t know she was homeschooled but it says it pretty clearly in the book blurb.  I also got this one as an audiobook, which i enjoyed since it is read by the author.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero

This one I also got as an audiobook and it was also read by the author, which I feel is a good choice since it’s her day job to go around and talk to people.  If you like this genre or need a little self-help or like picking out books with swear words in the title this is a good option.  Probably, only as life-changing as you need it.  I was a bit surprised (probably from the swear word in the title) when she gave a lot of credit to belief in a higher-power, but it’s a pretty secular higher power but not in an offensive way.  She definitely has some great sound bites and puts all of your failure or success squarely in your control.

Read Alouds:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

The end of the Harry Potter series is definitely a bittersweet time.  I almost needed a break from reading because it would be a hard world to follow.   Thankfully, there were some tidbits to cling to (in the form of the complimentary books) to try to keep the magic alive.



Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander & J.K. Rowling

This we read in parts as it reads like a dictionary alphabetized by beasts.  It is also one of the few books that it doesn’t matter if you read it before seeing the movie as the story of the movie is all but non-existent in this book (being that it is more of an encyclopedia than story).  We would read a few chapters of this along with another book at bed time.



Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling & John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

A play is not a normal read aloud (at least not for children) and I get that, but my kiddo was still quite hungry for more Harry Potter and…well, here he is.  I did add a few “Harry said,” or something of the ilk to make it a bit easier to tell who was talking or where they were if the scene changed, but in general we read it straight through.  Maybe because our imaginations had been adequately primed from the original series but we found the play equally easy to follow written almost as-is. And, thankfully, the story was just as good, the characters complex and full-bodied, and it gave the insight in to “what happens next” that you will crave when the first seven books are over.

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

I remember this book from elementary school and as my son has had an interest in WWII I dusted it off (yes, I really loved it so much I’ve kept it for all these years).  It had been awhile and I’d forgotten all but the basic plot so it was nice to get reacquainted.  This WWII book is great for kids as it makes it pretty clear how awful things were under German control but still, has an uplifting message of bravery and courage.  It’s also a nice perspective because it is set in Denmark rather than some of the more regular scenes of London, France, and Germany.


Picture Books:

Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney

Who wouldn’t love a beautiful book with a beautiful message?  Miss Rumphius just wants us to travel the world and find a way to make it more beautiful. Sigh.



The Glorious Flight, by Alice & Martin Provensen

This story of Louis Bleriot and his family was a surprise favorite of ours and a fun one to work with.  There are so many extension projects and trips that can be done alongside this book. It’s a Caldecott Medal winner which a lot o people don’t realize is just an art award it has nothing to do with the prose.  Fortunately, this book is the whole package


The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, by Hildegarde H. Swift

The Little Red Lighthouse is easy to realte to for even the youngest of us. Maybe even more so for the little person you read it to as they can sometimes feel pushed aside and insignificant next to older siblings and life in general.  The illustrations are classically lovely and the story is endearing.



Follow the Drinking Gourd, by Jeanette Winter

The illustrations are in keeping with the folk art style the era is known for.  The story is an introduction to slavery and the underground railroad in a way that is appropriate for younger children.



Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

A beautiful classic not to be ignored for its seeming simplicity.  My children love this book. On the surface, it seems very basic but it is a gentle treasure for the imagination.  Normally, print does not matter but for a book but for this one, I would highly suggest getting the hardback version. The boardbook has been simplified.




Happy reading and enjoy the rest of your summer!

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