11 Spectacular Book Club Selections You Need to Read This Summer
Summertime and the reading is easy. Or that's the goal, anyway. Do you have a summer book club that lounges around a pool? Or does your regular group gather in an air-conditioned café over a chilled bottle or two of chardonnay? Either way, we've got some sizzling selections in all your favorite categories.
Dad is Fat
We dare you not to giggle at comedian Jim Gaffigan’s life with his large family in a tiny New York City apartment: “Sometimes going to bed feels like the highlight of my day. Ironically, to my [five] children, bedtime is a punishment that violates their basic rights as human beings. Once the lights are out, you can expect at least an hour of inmates clanging their tin cups on the cell bars.” Enhance your own sense of humor with five basic tricks.
Career of Evil
If you like your mysteries tinged with suspense, you won’t be able to put down Career of Evil by J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. A million miles away from Rowling’s Harry Potter tales, this book alternates between the viewpoints of a tough detective and a killer who chops off body parts for souvenirs. Here are more psychological thrillers to keep you up late at night.
Whether or not you’ve thrilled to Masterpiece Theater’s small screen adaptation of this series by Winston Graham, we guarantee you’ll be swept up in the rapturous romance between a rough-riding nobleman and a fiery servant girl meant for better things, set on the coast of Cornwall in the 18th century. Did you know you could read books online for free?
The Good Nurse, A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder
Get your goosebumps on in this true chilling tale by Charles Graeber. Charles Cullen, RN, the “sad Mr. Rogers type, both drippy and depressed,” managed to murder patients in hospitals all over New Jersey before he was finally stopped—with no thanks to the medical establishment Strangest of all, Cullen later wound up donating a kidney to a stranger from jail.
Eleanor & Park
Teen author Rainbow Rowell (yes, it’s her real name) will tug your heartstrings so hard you’ll almost wish you were back in high school. Park is quiet, half-Asian, and doesn’t fit into any of the stereotypes available for guys his age in Omaha, Nebraska. Eleanor is so poor she uses plain old rubber bands to pull back her thick wavy red hair, much to the popular girls’ disdain. But once they find each other, none of that superficial stuff matters. You’ll be rooting for this sweet, unusual young couple all the way. Don’t miss these other young adults books that grownups secretly love.
The Handmaid’s Tale
This hugely influential dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood has been back on the best-seller lists for months and the new TV version has just come out on Hulu. Pity poor Offred, a bonneted “handmaid” in the Republic of Gilead, where there are only pictures on the signs in the food markets because women are no longer allowed to read. As a fertile woman in an age of dwindling birth rates, Offred is considered the property of the Commander and his wife, who hopes he will impregnate her. And if you love female authors like Margaret Atwood, try the others on this list.
In a Sunburned Country
Perfect for livening up a stay-at-home summer, Bill Bryson will plunge you into the sights, sounds and even smells of Australia. You’ll veer off the beaten path into a land of extreme weather, rugged landscapes, peculiar and dangerous critters on the one hand, and friendly locals with delicious cold beer on the other. You’ll be planning your own trip Down Under by the time you turn the last page.
A Spool of Blue Thread
Midway through A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler, you may think you know all about the Whitshanks, a lovable, close-knit extended Baltimore clan. But there are secrets you will never guess till the end of this intergenerational saga. “An act of literary enchantment…How can it be so wonderful? …[Anne] Tyler remains among the best chroniclers of family life this country has ever produced . . ..” writes The Washington Post. Check out the 18 classic books you can read in one day!
Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People
You absolutely don’t have to be religious to love Nadia Bolz-Weber, a tattooed ex-comedian in recovery from drug addiction, now a Lutheran pastor. But after reading her book, you might just want to fly to Denver, Colorado, to hear her preach, because, as she says, “the only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”
A pandemic has wiped out most of the world’s population, taking with it civilization as we know it in this novel by Emily St. John Mandel. The Symphony, a traveling troupe of Shakespearean performers, make yearly rounds of the few scattered settlements left where individuals cling to artifacts of the past. Along the way they bump up against a dangerous prophet who believes he is entitled to polygamous marriage with an indefinite number of young women. Over the course of the story we see the strange, lasting interconnections between five people and their seemingly random cherished mementos of the past, including a homemade series of graphic novels entitled Station Eleven. These are the life-changing books you should read this year.
If you loved Harry Potter once upon a time, this superb adult fantasy by Lev Grossman will have you levitating to the bookstore for the sequel (there are two). Quentin Coldwater is a brilliant but depressed high school senior in Brooklyn who has always wished the Fillory books, his favorite childhood fantasy novels, were real. Imagine his surprise and joy when he gets recruited to a kind of magical Harvard, a grownup Hogwarts where students curse, lie around in a drunken stupor, sleep with each other, transform into Arctic foxes, and, oh, yes, wind up going to Fillory. This is the basis for the Syfy television series, but it’s so much darker, smarter, and more imaginative. These are the classic books you should definitely have read by now.