Sweet Summertime Reads: School Reading Lists

summertime books for people to read

For a lot of us, it’s been a few years since we’ve received a mandatory summer reading list. If you’re like me, you may even glance at the Summer Reading tables at the bookstores and be surprised by the titles that are there. Some are so modern! In my high school much of our summer reading was filled with classics.

Who knows? Maybe I was lucky because I remember really enjoying a lot of these books and I even still have a few of them sitting in my bookcase to this day. I can’t remember hating any of them so that’s a good sign right? But I’ve been racking my brain to keep straight the books I was assigned in the summer and the books I actually read during class. Is this what getting old is like?

Since this is my blog post, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and talk about a few of my favorite school reads that may fit nicely in your beach bag, carry on luggage, or look good near a frozen margarita. While I’m pretty sure I read most of these during the summer way back when, I’m not entirely sure. Don’t sue me, okay?  – e

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (Goodreads)
> This was a summer reading title that I never thought I would grow attached it. But I really liked it a lot and it’s one of the ones I’ve kept over the years.
Description from Goodreads: It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again….


The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene (Goodreads)
> Another book still in my bookcase from high school or maybe even middle school. (My memory is fuzzy.) I breezed through this one but really liked it.
Description from Goodreads:  When German prisoners of war are brought to her Arkansas town during World War II, twelve-year-old Patty, a Jewish girl, befriends one of them and must deal with the consequences of that friendship.


The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (Goodreads)
> I couldn’t stop singing the praises of this book. I also remember having it in common with the “boy of my dreams” back in middle school/high school. I was really into witches and this one just stayed with me. I have a copy of it but it’s not the exact one I read back in school.
Description from Goodreads:  Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives’ stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit’s friendship with the “witch” is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Goodreads)
> Still have the same exact copy I read during the summer at a Yankee game. Could not put it down. I reread it last year or the year before and it was just as good.
Description from NYT: A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life…If you miss “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” you will deny yourself a rich experience…It is a poignant and deeply understanding story of childhood and family relationships. The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919…Their daughter Francie and their son Neely knew more than their fair share of the privations and sufferings that are the lot of a great city’s poor. Primarily this is Francie’s book. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie’s growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

The Human Comedy by William Saroyan (Goodreads)
> I remember really really enjoying this book. It wasn’t my typical kind of read and I can still see myself walking through Disney World with my nose in its pages. I bought a copy a few years ago at a book sale but I cannot find it. It’s hiding from me!
Description from Goodreads: The place is Ithaca, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley’s—a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America’s second-generation immigrants…In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime death, love, and money brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw.

So help me out, friends, did you have required summer reading? What do you remember loving?

In the meantime, Sweet Summertime Reads feature is almost reaching its conclusion but we each (Tara, Ginger, us) still have giveaways going on! Please be sure to check out the details and enter if you haven’t!

Estelle: Sweet Summertime Reads – Retro Throwback

When I was a kid, my library used to have these reading contests every summer. We would have to keep a tally of the books we read and at each different level (determined by the library), we would get a prize. Is it surprising I won almost every year for most books read? (ha) One of my favorite parts of this was picking out all the Baby-Sitters Club books my library had. That series was one of my favorites and I can honestly say it shaped my childhood. I always wanted to be as cool and grownup as these gals who were smart enough to start their own club. THEY ALWAYS SEEMED SO OLD TO ME. In fact, I was quite disappointed when I turned 13 and I felt like I was never going to catch up to their level.

After my mom gave away MY ENTIRE COLLECTION (I can’t even talk about this), I started recollecting last year. Boxes and boxes of books arriving from eBay and I’m pretty much back to where I was. (Although, now I’m moving so I’m going to have to get rid of a bunch of them… sadface.) Because of the Baby-Sitters Club reminds me so much of the summer, I wanted to list a few of my favorites and hear about yours! (Here’s the complete list to refresh your memory.)

And most importantly, what baby-sitter was your favorite? (At a recent book event, I was SHOCKED to find out someone didn’t remember who Dawn was. What?!)

Kristy’s Big Day: Kristy was never my favorite baby-sitter even if she started the club. But when I started rereading the series I really fell for this book. Kristy’s mom is getting married, their moving across town to the “rich” side of the neighborhood, and Kristy is gaining step-siblings. I love weddings but I think this book was pretty on par with all the changes going on in Kristy’s life. Plus the baby-sitters get the job of a lifetime. (They have patience I do not possess.)

Boy-Crazy Stacey: Sea City, New Jersey anyone? This is the book where Mary Anne and Stacey are hired as mother’s helpers for the Pikes — the family with a billion kids? Stacey falls for a lifeguard and gets a little distracted on the job. This is one of my FAVORITES especially because I always pictured our time at the shore when reading it. (Except as the mature lady I am now, Stacey acted sort of like an idiot… just saying.)

Dawn on the Coast: I’m a cheating a bit with this one but Dawn goes to visit her dad and brother in California during spring break. They go to Disneyland and she gets to see her friends for the first time since moving to Connecticut. I remember always going straight to this book when I wanted to read something familiar. I actually used some of the pages for our table numbers at our wedding. Plus the cover just screams summer to me.

Mary Anne’s Makeover: Now this one has nothing to do with summer, but instead, starting fresh. Mary Anne must have been tired of being the quiet one, the overprotected one. This is a book where she is finally allowed to come out of her shell a little bit and embrace a whole new look. I always loved the cover of this book. Mary Anne was a cool girl (with or without the makeover) but a lot of the times they played it too safe with her. Plus I think this book in particular showed just how much her relationship with her dad has grown (especially compared to the earlier novels).

Here Come the Bridesmaids: A Super Special! Those were always awesome because it meant more time with the Baby-sitters! (I am such a geek.) I’m cheating AGAIN with this one because it’s actually December and some of the sitters are headed to California for Dawn’s dad’s wedding and a few others are helping out with Mrs. Barrett’s wedding. (Remember her from Dawn & the Impossible 3? She’s a single mom who is pretty scatterbrained and relies heavily on Dawn during that book.) What can I say? I love the California books. I’m pretty certain the BSC is why I always wanted to visit.

For anyone looking to buy any older BSC books, I like to buy them used on eBay or aLibris.com. Happy hunting!

To fulfill the throwback, who remembers this?!

P.S. Do we feel old yet?

Don’t forget to visit Ginger @ GReads & Tara @ Fiction Folio — our Sweet Summertime Reads ladies!

Sweet Summertime Reads: Our Local Bookstores

Confession: we spend a lot of time book shopping. Not a shocker, we know. Those marketing people sure know what they are doing when they set up books on a table and add a pretty sign. WE CANNOT RESIST. As part of Sweet Summertime Reads, we wanted to share some of the summery book displays made up at our stores:


From the NYC Barnes & Noble on 46th and 5th.

Stay by Deb Caletti (Goodreads)
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (Magan’s review)
Forever Summer by Alison Noel (Goodreads)
Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton (Goodreads)
Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly (Goodreads)
Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond (Goodreads)
The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells (Goodreads)
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (My review)
The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland (Magan’s review)
Moonglass by Jessi Kirby (Goodreads)
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Oakler (Our joint book report)
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols (Goodreads)
13 Little Blue Envelopes
by Maureen Johnson (Goodreads)
We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (Goodreads)
The Summer of First and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy (Goodreads)


From Book People in Austin, TX at 6th St. and Lamar

The setup at my local Book store wasn’t as summer specific as Estelle’s. They did have a display of featured authors that have stopped by to sign books.

book people featured author display austin texas

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (Goodreads)
Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg (My review)
Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Goodreads)
The Fame Game by Lauren Conrad (Goodreads)
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Goodreads)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (My review)
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (Goodreads)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Goodreads)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Goodreads)

Jellicoe Road book cover

One of my favorite aspects of Book People is that it’s apparent how much the employees also love reading. Shelves (at eye level) are dedicated to hand-written reviews/summaries created by employees and some teenagers. They take the time to draw the covers or scenes from the books. Two of my favorite drawings are the Shatter Me and Under the Never Sky cards. I took pictures of these two because a) I’ve read Jellicoe Road and loved it, and b) Goddess Boot Camp looks pretty fun and summery. (I haven’t read it yet.)

Head on over to Ginger  @ Greads & Tara @ Book Folio for more summer bookstore fun!