A Man Called Ove
Behind Closed Doors
Born a Crime
The Magicians
Norse Mythology
Into the Water
The Handmaids Tale
Nine Women One Dress
Anne of Green Gables
You are a Badass
Grapes of Wrath
News of the World

Let’s get lost this Summer in stories of love, life after loss, triumph, fantasy, and laughter. I’ve already read a few of the books below, but most I’ve saved for these warmer months. These are books to be enjoyed with an icy beverage by a pool, in a chair on the beach, in a stolen hour before everyone else in the house wakes, or on an airplane to and from Summer vacations and work-ations alike. My personal read-for-pleasure style includes a good mix between historical fiction (my favorite genre), recent thrillers, clever autobiographies, at least one book from the “you can do it” section of the library, and almost anything nodding to mythology.

Getting lost in stories is a part of my personal healthy mindset plan. I argue that mindset, the 1st pillar of health in my Fed & Fit Book, is both the most important and (can be) the most challenging healthy lifestyle pillar to manage. Disconnecting from the swirl of stress in our day-to-day is the name of the mindset practice game. Regular mediation, warm baths, community, and prayer can all be great components …but one of my personal favorite ways to disconnect is to submerge myself in a good story.

Those of you who know me WELL, know that my preferred form of “reading” is via audio. Though I will keep 1 to 2 hard copy books on hand for the occasional vacation or “turn off your devices” plane ride, I find it easier to incorporate reading into my daily life via audio. I will listen to a book while I grocery shop, while I cook, while I clean, fold laundry, garden, walk Gus, and (of course) while I drive. In this way, I can usually tackle about a book a week …which is exactly how I approach the list below. Each link will take you to where you can snag the book however you prefer to read: kindle, hard copy, or audio.

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – At first, this book caused me to feel so much sadness that I almost gave up on it. It’s a beautifully told story of heart-wrenching loss, the consequences of staying close-minded, and the redeeming love of new possibility. I’ve never been so glad that I didn’t give up on a book. The sadness passes and becomes a story of life after loss. Give it time, it may take a while to truly fall in love with these characters.
  • Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – This is, hands down, the most page-turning thriller I have ever read. It’s a disturbing tale that will leave you desperate to know the ending. Highly recommend you read with a friend or two, you’ll want to discuss.
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – The audio book of Born a Crime is narrated by Trevor Noah himself, which automatically makes me enjoy it more. He’s a delightful storyteller who effortlessly weaves big truths in with easy humor. This is our chosen road trip book because it’s easy to break up into sections left us cracking up. His book opened my eyes for the first to as to real life in South Africa.
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman – This was an interesting read. At first, I was so engrossed in the story that I couldn’t put it down. It initially struck me as a (forgive me, Lev) Harry Potter for grownups. The secret world of a magical school is revealed to a few select students …only this magical world is much more realistic than Rowling’s. The story of a young magician’s self discovery is riddled with real life college experiences. If you’re looking for a magical escape, this could be a great stop.
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – Greek and Roman Mythology were what initially drew me, and then ultimately kept me enchanted with, the subject of Latin during high school. I absolutely adored the stories of the Old Gods and leapt at the opportunity to learn about Norse Mythology. Revolving around the lost stories of Thor and Loki (yes, the same ones from the Marvel pieces), these myths are deeply enchanting. Gaiman is a truly gifted story teller and, if you enjoy cultural mythology, you’ll find these hilarious/thrilling/magnificent stories endlessly entertaining.
  • Into the Water by Paula Hawkins – Because any self-respecting Summer list needs at least 2 page-turning thrillers. Brought to us by the author of The Girl on the Train, I’m eager to see if this one lives up to the hype.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Let’s read a classic that has stolen hearts for 30 years. I want to learn about Offred, hear her story, know the ways of the dystopian society, and uncover for myself why the novel has puzzled so many. Note for audio book readers: the story is narrated by award winning Claire Danes who, apparently, did an absolutely fabulous job.
  • Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen – With so many heavy stories listed here, let’s add in one lighthearted tale about love, fate, and connectedness.
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montogomery – Let’s read (maybe re-read for some of you) a classic story about big heart, perseverance, and beauty. Note: the audio book I have is narrated by Rachel McAdams and I can’t wait to dive in.
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero – My token choice from the “you can do it” section! Many of you recommended this book and I’m eager to learn from Jen.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – John Steinbeck wrote my favorite book in the whole wide world, East of Eden. The way he masterfully uses the most beautiful words to convey the biggest perspectives leaves me so, so inspired. Let’s dive into his arguably more famous historical fiction without the fret of a high school term paper waiting at the end. Let’s just read and enjoy.
  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles – Let’s read a wholesome book about a post-Civil War journey of a young lady. Let’s read about honor and hope. Let’s fall in love with diversity and the sweet South.

What books to you have to add to our Summer reading list? Please comment below!

About the Author

Cassy Joy Garcia, NC

Cassy Joy Garcia, a New York Times best-selling author, of Cook Once Dinner Fix, Cook Once Eat All Week, and Fed and Fit as well as the creative force behind the popular food blog Fed & Fit.

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  1. Thank you so much for suggesting Fate and Furies a few months ago. It was beautiful, and tragic, and a punch in the gut at times. It is refreshing that you bring an intellectual component to your blog, and that it isn’t all about food, workouts, and how we look. We are all so much more than that, and you convey that well.

  2. Thank you for posting this! I’ve been meaning to get back into reading and just feel like I never have the time, so I’m excited to try to listen to some of these!! Thank you so much for giving such a varied list, I hope I can make a solid dent in these this summer 🙂

  3. Hello, I stumbled upon this reading list while adding a few of your recipes to My Fitness Pal for my calorie counting . I purchased the cookbook from the recommendation of my daughter and absolutely find it a joy to thumb through.

    A defined summer reading list is so inspiring. I cannot wait to see what else I find while visiting the pages.

  4. Behind Closed Doors is an incredible read! Definitely will check into some of these others

  5. Neil Gaiman also wrote American Gods, about our new “gods” of telephone, internet, etc, are taking over the world from classic myth gods. Great book and it just came out as a series on Starz.