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A Summer Reading List For Women - Can't Put Down Books

Updated on June 19, 2015
My sketch of my favorite summer reads.  It reminds me of that song, "Summer Breeze."
My sketch of my favorite summer reads. It reminds me of that song, "Summer Breeze." | Source

Eight Books To Read For Summer

Ah, summer. Many of us are looking for great books to read while on vacation or to pass a well-deserved lazy afternoon. This list includes lighter reading, as well as books that will pique the interests of a wide variety of readers. Whether you're at the beach, on a picnic, or laying in a hammock, all of these selections will have you turning the pages, wanting more! Sit back, enjoy, and enrich your life through these stories of love and heartbreak, triumph, overcoming obstacles, and the human condition.

© C. Calhoun 2012. All rights reserved.

From the Author

The Island – by Elin Hilderbrand

This novel has been on the New York Bestseller List with its riveting story. Chess is planning a late-summer wedding when she inexplicably phones her mother, Birdie, and announces that the engagement is off. Birdie has always prided herself on being ready for the unexpected; she always carefully plans everything, including her daughter’s wedding. But when Chess also quits her job as a food editor, Birdie recruits her younger daughter Tate, and her sister India to help. They accompany her and Chess to Tuckernuk Island for a summer of healing away from life’s daily distractions. A house-full of women will prompt them to uncover secret truths about each other and delve into the depths of their family affairs. This is the sort of book that you won’t be able to put down until you have read the last page.

The Paris Wife – by Paula Mclain

Do you think you’ve heard it all about Hemingway? How about a story told from Hadley Hemingway’s perspective? She is 28 when she marries the 21 year-old Hemingway and together they head for 1920’s Paris. This novel takes you back in time to the Jazz Age in this French capital where Hadley is Ernest Heminway’s rock. She musters serious grit when she recovers from a fall as a young girl, and again when she has to take care of her mother, whose declining health keeps Hadley away from the dating scene. But after meeting Hemingway, she draws upon her inner strength once again as the temptations of other women, alcohol, and artistic passion sweep Ernest away in the fast-paced life of the Parisian 20’s. A story of love, trial and fortitude, Hadley Hemingway finally gets her well-deserved spot in the limelight. This book would also be great for a book group.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – by Jonathan Safran Foer

You may wonder why a book that talks about the World Trade Center tragedy is included in a reading list for summer reading. This is the incredible journey of a nine year old who lost his father in the 9/11 event . But that tragedy only ties into this book as a backdrop for Oskar Schell. He’s unusually bright and inquisitive. He spends his time inventing things, following Stephen Hawking’s work and contacts scientists for fun. He discovers a key in an envelope that doesn’t fit any lock that he can find – it was his father’s key. It’s mysteriously labeled “black.” What follows is a wondrous journey, often funny, of a boy who rediscovers himself that also allows for much-needed healing. This would be a great selection for a book group.

The Buddha In the Attic – by Julie Otsuka

A tale that captures the essence of the American Dream, this novel begins with a story of immigration. A group of Japanese women are “picture” brides and embark on a sea journey from Japan to San Francisco. Upon arrival in the United States, this novel portrays the difficulties and triumphs of these women as they become new wives. The story follows them as they experience life as second-class citizens doing labor-intensive, back-breaking work in California fields or cleaning houses and scrubbing floors. As they become mothers, the reader sees how these women contend with the challenges of raising children in an alien culture, with a different language and ideals so different from their own. A spellbinding tale, you won’t want to put this one down until the final page. This would also be a great read for a book group.

The Author Reads From Her Book

Lucky One – by Nicolas Sparks

If you have ever read any of Sparks’ other work, you will know that he offers stories of love, triumph and challenge that the reader gobbles up with incredible ease. His writing is simple and eloquent, yet he weaves a magical tale that leaves readers wanting more. The Lucky One is no different. Logan Thibault is serving as a marine in the Iraq war when he happens upon a photo of a woman that seems to bring him good luck – in the warzone and in his personal life. When he returns home, he endeavors to find the woman in the picture, but instead meets Elizabeth, divorced mother. As their love blossoms, Thibault’s secret threatens to unravel his relationship. Does Thibault discover who the woman is in the picture? You must read to find out.

Shanghai Girls – by Lisa See

If you read Snowflower and the Secret Fan, you will know how eloquently compelling See’s work really is. In this tale, two sisters – Pearl and May – live a happy, carefree life until one day their father reveals that he has sold them into an arranged marriage to pay off his debts. At first, the girls have no intention of following through with this plan. But when their city is attacked and bombed, they flee for the United States to be with their husbands-to-be. Shortly after arriving in California, May finds out that she is pregnant and the sisters will have to share a secret that could make or break their future. Lisa See's writing is in-depth and filled with meaning and would serve to motivate great discussions in a book group. This book also has an award-winning sequel: Dreams of Joy.

The Characters...

Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James

You might have heard of the media hype surrounding this novel. I just love it when that happens: it just makes people want to read it even more! It doesn’t disappoint. James develops the characters and intertwines their lives. The reader feels like these characters come to life. Christian Grey is a successful business tycoon and has some pretty impressive accomplishments as a 27 year old, yet care and compassion aren’t part of his everyday vocabulary. But then he meets young Ana and is taken by her young innocence. They begin a relationship where she finds out Christian has a dark side, creating a character that the reader loves to hate and hates to love. Ana in the meantime finds herself judging whether this relationship is good for her and whether to stay or go.

The Tiger’s Wife – Téa Obreht

Center-stage for this novel is the doctor Natalia and her efforts to recover details about the death of her grandfather. As World War II breaks out, the once idyllic life that Natalia shares with her grandfather is replaced by the harsh realities of a world affected by war. Though active fighting is hundreds of miles away, Natalia's town is still affected. Her grandfather practices medicine in secret; even the zoo shuts down. Natalia longs for her beloved grandfather who shares stories of wisdom and life-long lessons with her. After the war breaks out, a tiger from the zoo escapes and takes refuge with a deaf-mute woman and is one of the stories her grandfather shares. As this story progresses, the reader faces the fact that life is a cycle, that all beings are mortal, and the wisdom of the ages persists because it has inherent value. The various themes in this book - from the obvious characters to the abstract - will serve as great discussion in a book group.

The NYT Calls This Novel Haunting and Powerful

Which Of These Eight Books Are (Or Will Be) Your Favorites?

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    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hi cclitgirl, I think I am going to read The Island – by Elin Hilderbrand. Nice Hub.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm looking forward to summer so much! I work full time and am currently taking 5 graduate classes, so I haven't done much non-school reading in a while. I can't wait to relax with an enjoyable book.

      Last year, my mom gave me Traveling with Pomegranates, written by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter. It was an interesting read, particularly because, at the time of writing, the authors were about the same age as my mother and me. It is a good book for older and younger women, alike. Just my two cent's worth for anyone looking to share a reading experience with an adult daughter!

      Voted up and useful.

    • Gypsy48 profile image

      Gypsy48 5 years ago

      I plan on reading The Paris Wife and Fifty Shades of Grey. A helpful list for summer reading!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Kristine - great to see you! Let me know how you like The Island. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Natashalh - I LOVE Sue Monk Kidd!! Her books have changed my life! Great recommendation there, too. You're taking 5 graduate classes AND working!? When do you sleep!? Whoa! Well, don't get burnt out and take some time off this summer if you can. Yowza!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Gypsy48 - those are both great selections! Let me know how you like them. I always like to hear from fellow readers/writers what they think of other books. Whether people love them or not, it's always fun to see everyone's perspective. :)

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image

      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      I love reading books and before joining Hubpages planned to write book reviews, your hub reminded me about my plan :) Nice and informative hub! Voted up and interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Dina - oh, I've always got a stack of books I'm reading and they're strewn about the house, driving my husband crazy. Hehe. Here's to a fellow bibliophile. :)

    • profile image

      onlooker 5 years ago

      Copied the list, going to the book store as soon as! Thanks! =)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      Some of these really intrigue me, but I have to say Nicholas Sparks just doesn't do it for me. My book club read Lucky One and I thought it was just okay. Everyone else seems to like Sparks, though. Is it just me?

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      onlooker - wow! Thanks! Of course, ANY excuse to go to the bookstore is good enough for me. :D

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Great list of summer reading books! I have to say, I love Nicolas Sparks books but the themes are generally the same over and over again. I'm still reading them (I have quite the Sparks collection) however I have a system for my summer reading, or beach reading. At the beach I read flimsy, funny paperbacks, particularly Janet Evanonvich novels. But that is just me!! You have quite the list and I'll check them out but probably not when I'm beach bumming ;) Voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      DeborahNeyens - Sparks is one of those authors whose work is simple to read and somewhat predictable. But, it works if you don't want to do so much in-depth thinking. So, no, it's not just you. :) I did include him in this list, though, because for someone looking for that page-turner in the sun at the beach, that could work. :) I was in college when "The Notebook" came out and it was nice to spend an afternoon reading that entire book and taking a break from homework and regular work. I do prefer the others for more higher-level thinking for sure.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      emilybee - yeah, I wanted to include a bunch of different books here because it depends on my mood at the beach: sometimes I really want an involved novel because I love involved novels anyway. Other times, I just want something for entertainment and look for those lighter reads for that sort of entertainment. I'm glad you liked this list. :)

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I am always looking for new books and these summer reads are great. I've read the Paris Wife and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so I know we like the same books. ;) Right now I am reading the C.J. Sansom's historical fiction books. They are really fun reads and would be great for summer as well.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hi, Robin! That's awesome we like similar books. I used to work at a bookstore...you probably know where my paycheck would go, lol, and what people would get for Christmas/birthday/whatever presents. I'll look into CJ Sansom - I love a great historical fiction read.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Good summary on the novels. I would enjoy reading the Island because the building of relationships would be interesting. Plus, the setting against the ocean is open for adventure. Good topic and well written!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      teaches12345 - hello again! ;) Great to see you. I always look forward to your insighful, valuable comments. I'm heading to the ocean in two weeks...I've got a stack of books to read. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the compliments.

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Shebel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

      Your descriptions of "Shanghai Girls" and "The Buddha in the Attic" have got me really wanting to read them! I'm not normally a novel reader, but you've definitely sparked my interest!

      Thanks for the reading list, I think I'll be crossing a few of these off over the coming months. :P

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      melbel - I can't wait for your to read these! I would love to know how you like them. :) HubHugs to you!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Since this is a reading list for women, I will not bother to read. LOL

      But of course I will try to read the titles when you do a hub about reading list for men. LOL

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      You have a great selection here, and it's great to think that the summer is fast approaching! I really enjoyed the excellent presentation of your hub, nicely done :)

      Voted up / interesting

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Vinaya - of course you MIGHT look and see what the titles are so you can give gifts for the women in your life: mother, sisters, wife, daughters...LOL Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Cloverleaf - hey there! It's great to see you!! I'm so excited about summer: the daffodils are blooming and the warmer spring breezes are here. I LOVE spring, summer and fall...and winter has its place, if just to make me appreciate the other seasons more. :) I can't wait for those warm afternoons when I can read in the hammock.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I am always looking for new books to read. Summer is a great time to pick up a few extras. Thanks for the great list!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      randomcreative - hello there! I'm so glad you liked this list. After reading, stop by and let me know what you thought. I love hearing if people like the books I recommend. I used to work at a bookstore and loved it when people told me if they liked a book or not that I recommended. :)

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      For some reason, I love reading a luscious love story on a hot summer day. These are fabulous suggestions! I will look into these reads. Great hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hi tammyswallow! Great to see you. I'm with you: I can't wait for summer when I can just read, read, and read some more. It's just so fun and so many of these books you just can't put down! Thanks for stopping by. (HUGS)

    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thanks for the reading list. I am always getting new books to read and your list has a lot of excellent ideas.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Angela Kane - I'm thrilled that you like this list. Let me know if you end up liking the selections I've picked here- I love hearing peoples' reactions to the different books. :D

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      cclitgirl - Hi Cyndi! I'm bookmarking this list for my summer reading. Summer time is the only time I really have to sit down and read a book. You've listed some great titles and have provided nice summaries. Thanks for taking the time to create this nice list. Nice videos too. And the fact you've included the Amazon links to each book makes it all so easy - no excuses! Thanks again.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      What a great list of summer reading for us gals! The Island has my attention, as well as The Tiger's Wife. You make me impatient for the warm summer months! Thanks for a great list CC!

      HubHugs~

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Fifty Shades of Grey look like a great read. Thanks for another terrific, add-another-book-to-the-reading-pile Hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      missolive - it's so nice to see you! Ah, the warm breezes of summer, a good book and a sunny spot to enjoy a great story - I can't wait! I definitely wanted to make it easy for people to get their hands on these books, so I included the Amazon links. :) (HUGS)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      K9 - I can't WAIT for summer - I'm so cold-prone that I live for those hot days where I can wear fun skirts and flip-flops. Top that off with a great book and I just REVEL in it. :D Thanks for stopping by!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Clevercat - I know what you mean. Every time I read one book, I add three or four to my "to be read" list/pile. There are so many great stories! Thanks for commenting. (HUGS)

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great list of books for the summer. I'm usually a murder mystery girl myself but your titles look interesting. I'll be checking out a few this summer at my local library.

    • jenniferg78 profile image

      jenniferg78 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      I have not read ANY of these! I feel so out of the loop. I need some serious reading time. Thanks for the great list. There looks like a lot of good books on here.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Teresa - Oh, I DO love a good murder mystery! ;) I'm glad you found these interesting. Stop by again and let me know what you thought of the titles you read. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      jenniferg78 - no worries. You're not out of the loop: many of these are newer books AND summer is the perfect time to catch up on a little reading. Hehe. I'm so glad you stopped by. Don't forget to take time to enjoy a good read...and smell the flowers. ;)

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

      CC, I just finished reading "The Rum Diary" and am looking for a better read! "The Island – by Elin Hilderbrand" looks really good! Thanks for your suggestions! Voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Audra - aw, shucks. I'm glad I could offer some suggestions for you. :D I hope you like it - let me know if you do. ;) (HUGS)

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

      I have picked "The Paris Wife" from your summer reading list of books. Lately I am inclined to read books that have something to do with reality, historical novels and/or are based on a true story. I just finished "What is the What" by Dave Eggers, which is real and endearing and I LOVED; The Paris Wife sounds just as interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Claudia - after your description here, I'm going to take a look at "What is the What". Hmm, perhaps I'll make another "list" - I've got several that I'm reading now that might have to be a "Fall Reading List," hehehe. Thanks for stopping by. :D Hubhugs!

    • Jenna Kunc profile image

      Jenna Kunc 4 years ago from Colorado

      I loved The Paris Wife. I actually read it last summer, but I still can't get over it. I may read it again this summer!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Jenna - I know, that's a fabulous book! I might have to read it again myself! :)

    • Bethaleg profile image

      Bethaleg 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I read a lot and have not read any on this list! Thanks for the great summaries. I always like to read books that are recommended by others. Now I have a great list to work on! Thanks again : )

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Bethaleg - I'm so glad you have some ideas on reading! I'm with you, too. I love it when I get recommended reads from others. Let me know if you enjoy them. :)

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great list of books to read. I might give some of those authors a try, except EL James. It's not my cup of tea. Voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 2 years ago from Western NC

      Kristen - aww, thank you! And I appreciate your stopping by. Have a wonderful day!

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