My Summer Reading Log

Trying to keep my kids reading throughout the summer is like pulling teeth and performing a root canal. Not so for me. My favorite part of summer at the pool is reading. The only time my body comes into contact with the water is to hang on the ladder for ten seconds when I get too hot. Then it’s right back to the book.

My kids had to fill out their reading logs and keep track of the books they read, so I decided to do the same. So many times someone will ask what books I’ve read recently, and I draw a complete blank. It’s not that I didn’t like the book. It’s that I read too many of them to keep track.

Without further ado, here is my reading log:
1. BOUND by Erica O’Rourke
2. THE FARM by Emily McKay
3. GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers
4. PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry
5. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick
6. DEATH, DOOM, AND DETENTION by Darynda Jones
7. CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers
9. PAPER TOWNS by John Green
11. LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green
12. THE BEST MAN by Kristan Higgins
13. FOREVER AND A DAY by Jill Shalvis
14. SHADOW IN THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
15. THE CELESTINE PROPHECY by James Redfield
17. AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED by Khaled Hosseini
18. IT HAD TO BE YOU by Jill Shalvis
19. CRAZY LITTLE THING by Tracy Brogan
20. YOUTH IN REVOLT by C.D. Payne

I love books. Clearly. But I do have to say that I loved every single book I read this summer. I loved them for all different reasons. Some I read for escape. Some I read to better understand a culture or social position. Some I read just for the romance. When I looked at my reading log, it occurred to me that the books I like to read the most are the books that I tend to write—Young Adult. It’s a genre that’s not really a genre. It’s a group of books caught in between the cracks of so many types of books. Most of the ones I read this summer are straight contemporaries, but some paranormals entered my log. The first five books on the list were all RITA-nominated YAs, but Darynda Jones followed close on their heels. ☺ I always have to read her latest.

Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins sit together on my shelf, friends both in my bookcase as well as real life. Their romances make my heart feel lighter. They make me laugh. They make me cry. But, more important is the laughter and those family and friendship connections.

Just when I feel happy, I decide to read Khaled Hosseini, who makes me cry in a way that hurts my heart. His stories don’t tug at my heartstrings. They pull them so hard that I feel drawn and quartered by the end. But I love his books so much. They take me to countries that I’ve never been, but I feel that I have. When I put down his books, I feel like I’ve known every character intimately.

After reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS in the spring, I decided to buy John Green’s hardback collection, and I wasn’t disappointed. During our vacation, my daughters, husband and I traded John Green around like a bong at a hippie commune. If hippies actually smoked bongs. Not really sure about that as I’m not really acquainted with either hippies or bongs. I would say our John Green Marathon was successful since we all liked the books.

Several of the books were recommended by my nephew Heidar, who always gives me the best books during the summer. His recommendations were books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own: SHADOW IN THE WIND, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE, YOUTH IN REVOLT, and THE TORTILLA CURTAIN. And I loved these books. Every year we go to California, I hit him up for his recommendations because I want to read out of my comfort zone.

Tracy Brogan’s book was funny and light-hearted but touching in the family relationships and the zany characters. I predict big, BIG things for Ms. Brogan. ☺

And of course, I’m probably going to get yelled at when I admit that—before this summer—I had never read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. What the hell took me so long? I think it’s because I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. If you WANT me to do something, don’t tell me I have to. As I always lumped Harper Lee’s classic into the “mandatory reading” category, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. I’m so, so happy that I decided to cave to conformity. What a book! Now I understand why people read it again, and again and AGAIN.

Just writing this quick write-up about the books I read this summer makes me excited about reading—and hopefully writing—again.  If I could ever touch someone else’s life through my writing like these authors have done for me I would consider myself a success. It’s a rare gift indeed to change someone’s perspective about illegal immigration colliding with middle-class values (like THE TORTILLA CURTAIN) or doing the right thing in the face of prejudice (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD).

But, for me, it’s about teens. It’s about showing them that they aren’t alone—no matter their situation. Whether they’re struggling with that crazy hierarchy of popularity or identity crisis in any form, they need to know that they aren’t alone.
Isn’t that why we all read? To alleviate loneliness? To make our hearts feel? To know we aren’t alone?

Those are the reasons why I started reading when I was a kid and never stopped. My grandmother once said to me when I was four and bored: “When you learn to read, a whole new world will open for you. And you’ll never be lonely again.”

What books have you read lately that lifted your heart, changed your perspective or you loved for a different reason?

If you haven’t read any books lately (for shame!), what is on the top of your TBR pile?

29 thoughts on “My Summer Reading Log

  1. My kids and I read many of the same YA novels as you did including To Kill a Mockingbird and The Fault in Our Stars. Such a wonderful list filled with so many familiar authors’ names. Thank you for sharing it!

    1. We always seem to be reading the same things or obsessing about the same things. Lol. I love that you and your kids read the same things too. It’s such a wonderful bond I have with my kids.

  2. Great list, Kim! I’m so glad you finally read To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m with you – those “you must read” books just make me say, “oh no I don’t have to read them.” But TKAM is phenomenal! The movie with Gregory Peck is also awesome!

    I read a lot of what I write this summer – small town contemporary. Jill Shalvis, Nora Roberts, Darlene Gardner and some new authors to me like Christi Barth.

    1. I am going to get the movie soon. I need my kids to read the book first though. They can’t watch the movie before reading the book. House rules. Maybe I can sneak it…
      I love the small town contemporary as well. I love the character-driven with the family and friend attachments.

  3. Thanks for this list. For those of us who don’t regularly read YA, it’s important to see a list that helps steer me toward what’s what, and since I trust your YA palate, this is a great list and a keeper! Thanks again for your post!

    1. Denny,
      Although the majority is YA, there is a definite sprinkling of everything. The spiritual, literary, the foreign-based, the romance, and straight contemporary. 🙂 I’m like a jack of all trades.

  4. Kim, what an amazing post and what a wonderful list of books! Like you, I read a lot of YA. My friend used to say you can tell a lot about a person from what they read. Another friend just said the same thing about what a person writes. I don’t know if either of these are true, but here are some of the books I read this summer and would recommend: Starters, by Lissa Price, The Fifth Wave, by Rick Yancey, The Program, by Suzanne Young, What’s Left of Me, by Kat Zhang, Story of a Girl, by Sara Zarr. And of course, the debuts from my amazingly talented DoomsDaisies — Angel Academy, by Cecily White, Find Me, by Romily Bernard, and Six Months Later, by Natalie Richards. I am currently reading (and loving!) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, and This Is Not a Test, by Coutney Summers. This is fun. I’d tell you a little bit about why I like each book, but that would make this comment way too long! Thanks for this post today!

    1. Pintip,
      You were the one who started me down the John Green road by lending my THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Then I bought it, along with the others because I couldn’t stand the idea of the book not being in my house. Lol. You’ve mentioned several of these books before so I need to check them out. I forgot to include THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, which you also gave me to read.
      I need to get some DoomsDaisies books.

  5. My reading list is probably varied for similar reasons. I read Gone Girl and Sharp Objects because, apparently, I didn’t have enough disturbing thoughts in my head. I read The Book Thief and I’ll Be Seeing You so I could cry. I read everything by Robin Benway so I could laugh. I read Eleanor & Park and Son so I could get lost in stories I loved. Finally, I read Nora’s Chasing Fire so I could try to figure out what she’s doing that I’m not (the answer is, a lot!)

    Thanks for sharing your list, Kim!

    1. Holly,
      So many people have mentioned GONE GIRL. I really need to get that one. My daughter (who doesn’t like to read) loved THE BOOK THIEF. I want to read that just for that very reason.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      I’m still excited…:-)

  6. Thanks for the great list! My daughter had to read To Kill a Mockingbird so I read it with her. Still awed by the power of the story of a young girl’s recounting of her town. The characters are simple and stunning.

    1. Well said, Mary Jo! That’s exactly it. The power of the story and the simplicity of the story telling but with such wonderfully vivid characters. I’m so glad I finally read it. Thanks so much for coming by!

  7. I love your list! I read some of them this summer too. Higgins new book and Erica’s BOUND. Right now I’m working my way through Game of Thrones. (Bought the 5-book set – 4,800 pages. That should took me a bit.)
    I re-read all the Fool’s Gold books to catch up with the next trilogy. Read a bunch of Sarah MacLean. Also was listening to the Anaheim tapes and got intrigued by Karen Robards talking about a book that has a ghost for a hero. And guess what — I got that book in Atlanta is the bag. So I read everything that Nook has to offer for Karen Roabards.
    Since I have a possible SuperRomance, I decided to read all the books that Liz Talley has published. (Do you have the sense that I go after authors and then read all their books.)
    And I finally picked up JR Ward and got tied up with her Black Dagger Brotherhood.
    Those are the series I remember. And I read chaptermate books and Golden Heart friends books. So fun!!!
    Looking back — it was a wonderful summer. New authors, new worlds, new friends.

    1. Nan,
      All of your recommendations sound awesome. I love when I hear about new authors–or at least new to me. Then I become obsessive and buy all of them.
      Summer was definitely wonderful. I’m glad to count you among the great friends.

  8. Great list, Kim. I love Kristan Higgins and Jill Shalvis too. And it’s been years since I read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I remember that I loved it and it really moved me. Need to read it again. My favorite crazy pants hot read this summer was Anne Calhoun’s Liberating Lacey. Wow! Hunter wins the award for the hottest hero ever.

    I also read a lot of Regencies since I write them and love Grace Burrowes, Jo Beverly, Courtney Milan, Joanne Bourne and Jo Goodman.

    Still working my way through all the books I got at RWA…have four left to read..

    1. Sandra,
      I proudly admit that I stalked Kristan for a while, and she was really nice about it. The reason I attended our first local retreat was because she was going to be there. Honest to God. Then I met so many writing friends during that weekend. Kristan was actually the one who turned me on to Jill Shalvis. I had read all of her books and was patiently waiting for the next when I asked her for a recommendation. She said Jill Shalvis, so I started buying. 🙂
      I will definitely have to read LIBERATING LACEY. I’m up for another hottest hero ever. My current hottest hero ever is Reyes in Darynda Jones’s FIRST GRAVE series. Holy Cow! He’s smokin’. Have to check out that series if you haven’t already.

  9. Kim, I’m another reader who didn’t pick up To Kill a Mockingbird until way later in life. It was never required reading at my school – no idea why – but I read one year as my Banned Books Week choice (I always buy a book off the list that week – quiet rebel that I am *s*) and loved it SO MUCH! Glad you enjoyed it as well. And thanks so much for sharing your summer reading list! I’m always looking for a good recommendation so this is a fabulous post — both your initial input and the replies.
    For my part, I had the good fortune to hit BEA at the start of the summer so got to read some awesome stuff ahead of release: Romily Bernard’s FIND ME, Gennifer Albin’s ALTERED, oh gosh and something that just slipped my mind! rats! But I also read TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson and what a haunting, moving book that is. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple was fun and scathing and family and social commentary and I couldn’t put it down, and finally Neil Gaiman’s THE OCEAN A THE END OF THE LANE was beautiful and heartbreaking and spooky and wonderful and it is my winter plan to read everything he ever wrote. Thus, number 1 on my TBR (after I finish my current read) is STARDUSt. I’m very excited!
    Now to go add your entire list to my Goodreads…. *VBG*

    1. Jen,
      Now I know why I’ve always loved you. You’re a rebel too! Rebels unite! 🙂
      I have to read Romily’s book. Someone gave me her copy from the YARWA day. That’s next on my list.
      I’m anxious to read your other recommendations. So many sound familiar, so I’m pretty sure they’ve been mentioned to me before. I’m not a very good listener. It takes a few times of hearing something before it finally clicks into place.
      Thanks for stopping by, Jen!
      Loved your post at Honestly YA today.

  10. Fabulous post as always, Kim! Alas, I didn’t get pool time (as evident by my chalky pallor), but managed to squeeze in a few of the awesome titles you mentioned. Plus a few others… Got my Elizabethan Spy Girl groove on w/ Jenn McGowan’s dazzling MAID OF SECRETS, then got totally smitten w/ WRECKLESS by Bria Quinlan, had to reread SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater because it’s freaking brilliant. Then read LOSING IT by Cora Carmack, HOLD ON MY HEART (both hilarious and deeply touching) by Tracy Brogan, and currently reading Raven Boys by…ahem, Maggie Stiefvater. Yeah, I might have a thing for her 😉

    Thanks for sharing your summer treasures!!! 🙂

    1. Darcy,
      As I seem to remember having Bria’s WRECKLESS temporarily tattooed on my *cough, cough*, I should have read it. I’ll have to get on that pronto.
      I adored SCORPIO RACES as well as RAVEN BOYS. I might have a little thing for her as well. 🙂

  11. What a fun post! I didn’tr read nearly that much this year… But it did read! Like the others, I caught up with a Kristan Higgans (or two) and other books that I scored in Atlanta. My favorite this summer, though, was probably “Ain’t She Sweet?” by Susan Elizabeth Philips. Since I’d never read her before, this book was world-altering, to say the least. As to the number of books read, I’ve met a few people who keep lifelong lists of their reading. Little notebooks they keep in their purse or jacket pocket. For me, it’s too time intensive and I’m too old to get started. However, I did calculate for a group of students, once, how many I may have read in my life.

    Bring a) a lifelong reader, and b) a librarian, I spent some time totalling it up. They were silenced. And no one has ever asked again.

    1. Susan,
      Did you go to SEP’s workshop at Nationals? She was mentioning her book AIN’T SHE SWEET? and I put it down in my notes to make sure I purchased it, but I forgot. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. This was fun to see, Kim. And to read every else’s lists too! Like others here, my reading list has some overlap with yours. Not sure if it’s all from this summer; some might be from the spring. I really need to start keeping a log!!

    Okay, um, the McGarry. The one by Huntley Fitzpatrick (love her writing style), Kristan Higgins’ newest. Also Going Too Far, by Jennifer Echols. The first three of the Between the Lines series by Tammara Webber. Losing It, by Cora Carmack. Hopeless, by Colleen Hoover. Just One Day, by Gayle Forman. Meant to Be, by Terri Osburn. Ain’t She Sweet, by SEP (which reminds me, I want to read more SEP soon). Body of Evidence, by Rachel Grant. Never Deal with Dragons, by Lorenda Christensen. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, because it’s my son’s favorite book and he insisted I read it. (No, really. He put it on my bed with a note saying, “read this book now.”) The characterizations were a bit thin but man can that guy tell a story that has you on the edge of your seat the entire time. An absolute master at building story tension. Wow.

    Yes, I read a lot. I may even eventually read The Fault in Our Stars, but probably not. Too close to home in some ways.

    Darcy, I love Stiefvater. I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the Raven Boys sequel. Now pleez. (Also the next in the Unspoken trilogy by Sara Rees Brennan and the final book in Rae Carson’s series, which waits for me at the library right now. And the final book in Marie Lu’s dystopian series. And Romily’s book, and Natalie’s. Such riches await!)

    1. Talia,
      I love that we love the same books. No wonder we clicked so well in Atlanta! 🙂 I have yet to read any SEP, so I need to get a move on. I’m also waiting (im)patiently for the RAVEN BOYS sequel.
      I’ve heard great, great things about FIND ME, so I have that on my TBR pile first. That’s my next pleasure read.
      Thanks so much for the recommendations.

  13. Holy catfish, Kim! You’ve read oodles! I must install a pool, or at least a hot tub, to read by. 😉

    The Fault in Our Stars is so fabulously painful. Le sigh. Oh, sorry, where was I? Books I’ve read this summer include Across the Universe by Beth Revis (finally got to it, glad I did!), The Testing by Joelle Charboneau (awesome!), The Accident by Linwood Barclay (never saw the huge twist coming!), Rush by Eve Silver (total cliffhanger action), Requiem by Lauren Oliver (love those triangles!), oh, and an advance copy of Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (book 2 of the Falling Kingdoms series, which I totally loved!). Whew! Now I need a nap.

    I hear you on the taking a break from writing, Kim. Sometimes you’ve gotta fill the well before getting back in the writing saddle — or even starting to look for it!

    1. Bonnie,
      I wish I could say that I was a prolific writer during that reading time, but sadly I cannot. That’s why I was able to read so much. While everyone else was plugging away on a new book or hunkering down in revision mode, I couldn’t seem to string a few sentences together. 🙂
      Hopefully that will end on October 1. That’s when Pintip will become a bonfire under my lazy bum.

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