The Ultimate Summer Reading List: Something for Everyone

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Ah, summertime, where you seem to get more of everything that is great. More sun! More beer! More baseball! More ice cream! And of course, more reading! Even if you don’t make it a goal to read at least 50 books a year (like the crazy that I am), everyone seems to do a lot more reading in the summer. There really is nothing like laying out by the beach or pool all day while reading a great book. Here’s a list of over 33 books to read this summer. Whether you’re looking for a light, easy read or something more challenging, I’ve got you covered.

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For the Film Junkies:

From films that will be releasing as soon as this month and others releasing next year, catch up on these books before they hit the theaters.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner – Believe it or not, this is the first time Faulkner’s best novel (in my opinion) has been made into a movie. The film is directed by James Franco, who also stars, and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival last month.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – This zombie film starring Brad Pitt will be coming to theaters June 21st. So if you’re planning on reading this one before checking it out on the big screen, make sure to put this book on the top of your to-read list.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – This is the first novel in The Mortal Instruments series, based off of Harry Potter fan fiction. I had A LOT of problems with the book, but the movie does look interesting. The film comes out August 21 and stars Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower.

Serena by Ron Rash – If you liked Silver Linings Playbook, you’ll definitely want to see this one. The film, which takes place in North Carolina during the Depression, stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and has a release date of September 27. Should be interesting to see if Lawrence can pull off the ruthless title character.

Carrie by Stephen King – The remake of the 1976 classic film starring Sissy Spacek is set to hit theaters this October with Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman – The film adaptation of this adorable novel about two teenagers experiencing their first love and heartbreak is set to come out next year with Hailee Steinfeld. Side not: They’re coming out with another film version of Romeo and Juliet this summer, which will also be starring Steinfeld.

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The Series:

Reading a series during the summer is the perfect idea. Reading through all the installments will keep you busy throughout the entire season.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – This could have easily been on Film Junkies list. Catch up on this series before the next film, Catching Fire, comes out in the end of November.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – Believe it or not there are still people who have not read Harry Potter. It’s rare but they do exist. If you’re still the few who have not read Rowling’s classic series about “the boy who lived,” now is the perfect time. There are a total of seven novels in the series.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – Also known as the Game of Thrones series. Even if you’ve been watching the TV show, I’ve heard reading the series is a great companion, providing further details and character development. There are currently five novels in the series, with future installments in the works.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – There are a ton of YA series out there, especially ones based on a dystopian world. Uglies happens to be one of the better series in this genre. The series was originally a trilogy but Westerfeld released a fourth book, set a few years after the third installment.

Divergent series by Veronica Roth – The series be touted as the next Hunger Games. While the first novel had some flaws, it’s a fun read. This series is a trilogy with the last novel set to be released in October.

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The Books That Have Been Sitting On Your Shelf:

We all have those books that we’ve been saying we want to read but the thought of getting started is a bit intimidating. Even if you only read one book the entire summer, if it’s from this list, you’ll feel accomplished.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Personally, this novel has been on my kindle for awhile now and I have been constantly putting it off. At over 800 pages and a ton of characters to keep track of, Anna Karenina is a challenge worth taking during the summer.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville – Over 600 pages. Entire pages dedicated to whaling. This novel is work to finish. But the good kind of work, the work you enjoy.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – Another Tolstoy novel, but what did you expect? No one says, “I’m looking for something light to read. I think I’ll pick up that Tolstoy book that’s been sitting on my shelf.” Honestly, this book intimidates me. Any book over 1000 pages does. That’s quite a commitment to make but I’d genuinely feel a sense of accomplishment if I could say I finished War and Peace.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – Here’s another one of those 1000+ pages novels. This book is an undertaking but it’s worth it.

Ulysses by James Joyce – Often referred to as one of the greatest novels ever written. You know you should read Ulysses, you just haven’t been able to get around to it yet. What better time than now?

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New Releases:

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – In his latest novel, Hosseini explores the relationships in families during both the good times and the bad. Release date: May 21

Joyland by Stephen King – King’s latest is a throwback to some of his earlier work. Set in 1973, the novel follows 21-year-old Devin Jones as he works at a North Carolina amusement park. Release Date: June 4

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld Prep is one of my favorite novels so this is the new release I’m most excited about. It’s the story of twin sisters born with psychic abilities. Release Date: June 25

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Easy, Breezy Beach Reads:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – Spend a few hours laying out by the pool and you’ll be able to read this book in it’s entirety.

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin – If you’re going to read chick lit, you can’t get much better than Emily Giffin. Heart of the Matter is the best of her novels.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld – There is just something about coming-of-age stories. They make for the perfect summertime reads. Prep is Sittenfeld’s first novel, and still her best work (maybe Sisterland can change this but I’ll have to wait to find out).

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume – The name says it all. And a little Judy Blume during the summer never hurt anyone.

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands by Chelsea Handler – This book will having you laughing out loud. I’m not much of a fan of Handler anymore; her comedy can get old fast. But My Horizontal Life, her first novel, is fresh and entertaining.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris – Ah, the Sedaris family! Talented, weird, and hilarious. David Sedaris has a way of making any story laugh-out-loud funny.

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The Classics:

Maybe they weren’t assigned during your High School english classes. Maybe they’ve been on your to-read list but you just haven’t gotten up to them yet. Whatever the reason, there are a ton of classics you haven’t read yet. You know the ones that EVERYONE has read except for you. Summer is the perfect to read all those classics every person seems to reference.

Dracula by Bram Stoker – Told through a series of letters and newspaper clippings, Dracula is spooky, thrilling and incredibly entertaining.

1984 by George Orwell – Big Brother is watching! Now you’ll finally know what people are talking about when they reference Big Brother. Because no, they were not referring to a reality TV show.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – This seems to be the go-to book for authors when writing about angsty teens falling in love. They completely ignore the fact that everyone in this book is a selfish sociopath.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Even if the glitzy Leonardo DiCaprio trailer for Gatsby didn’t put this book back on the radar, this is one of those books you need to read. At least once in your life. Side Note: For purely entertainment reasons you should watch this clip of the film’s star Carey Mulligan on The Colbert Report.

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A Few Others:

This list has no other purpose except for me to inform you of some of my personal preferences. If you haven’t read any of these books yet, why not pick one up before heading to the beach?

Still Alice by Lisa Genova – This novel will change the way you look at Alzheimer’s disease. Alice is a brilliant woman who discovers she is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky – Taking place in France during the Nazi occupation, this novel is moving. The fact that the book was hidden and unknown for over six decades because the author was killed in Auschwitz during World War II makes it more chilling.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – This is one of my favorite novels and it saddens me that more people haven’t read it yet. Tartt is also releasing a new novel this October, her first in about 10 years, which I am VERY excited about!

Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne – Don’t judge this book by it’s crappy film adaptation. The book is 10 times better and a million times funnier.

So, which books are on our reading summer list?

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