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15 Books You Should Read This Summer

Looking for some great reads for your summer beach vacation or for slower summer days? I’ve got you covered!

I put together a list of my Top 15 Favorite Reads that are perfect for summer reading. I chose each of these because they had a compelling storyline, they left an impact on me, and they were all books you could read pretty quickly, if you wanted to. (And they are probably not the same books you are seeing on most other summer book lists!)

We also put together a FREE Summer Reading Printable Packet, complete with checklists and a challenge to help you plan and prioritize reading this summer! You can download it at the bottom of this post! Enjoy — and a big thanks to my team for helping me put this together!

And here are my top 15 Picks for Summer Reading:

Non-Fiction Books

Bread & Wine

This book moved me, inspired me, and challenged me. And it made me want to spend more time in the kitchen and around the table.

However, the phrase that stuck out to me most was: Present Not Perfect. Shauna shares how we can get so wrapped up in trying to make life perfect — to get all our ducks in a row and keep them that way — that we miss the present.

We rush through life with our plans, our goals, and our lists. We check things off. We pat ourselves on the back for being a powerhouse of productivity. And we forget to breathe. To slow down. To soak up the moments. To savor the here and now.


This book is the story of Kayla Aimee’s daughter being born as a micro-preemie and the pain and heartache and struggle that she walked through while fighting for her daughter’s life.

It’s funny AND heart-wrenching at the same time — which is a mark of a talented author, in my opinion. (I always say that I consider a highly talented author to be someone whose writing makes me laugh and tear up in the same page.)

The Happiness Dare

I loved Jennifer’s encouragement to start looking for shots of happy in the middle of the mundane, cultivating cheer in the midst of the messes, and celebrating the gifts and wonder and beauty to be found all around us!

As Jennifer challenges us, let’s “refuse to join the chorus of negativity, stop sleepwalking through life, boycott cynicism, and wring the joy out of ordinary days.” We were made for more!

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

This book wasn’t anything like I expected it to be, but it was everything that I needed to read. It was so good and messed with me in such a profound way!

Bonnie shares how she had to go back to the broken places in her life and work through and heal those before she could find freedom from her intense anxiety and panic attacks. As someone who has experienced anxiety since the time I was a young child, I resonated with her journey so much and this book was a big piece of my own healing journey this year.

If you feel like you’re running on empty with no time for rest, no time for yourself, and no time for God, I think you’ll be blessed and challenged by this book.

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

Bob Goff is a unique, one-of-a-kind man. You’ll pick up on that just by reading the introduction. He loves life, he loves people, and he’s not afraid of outlandishness or extravagance when it comes to showing love to others. His big heart is contagious.

Loving others isn’t just words we say; it’s the life we live. It’s giving of ourselves, it’s bringing joy to others, it’s being available to others, it’s dropping everything to be involved in others’ lives. It’s caring, it’s giving, and it’s sometimes doing crazy stuff, all because we love someone else.

You might not agree with all of the finer points of Bob’s theology and you might think he’s a bit over-the-top, but I can almost guarantee you can’t help but be challenged to examine how you love others.

Fiction Books

The Giver

I don’t quite know what to say about this book. At first, I was so frustrated by the ending. That’s it?!?! No! There has to be more!

I couldn’t get the story out of my brain. What am I missing? Why is it haunting me?

The more I pondered, the more it started to make sense to me and I actually started to love the book and the powerful way it reminds us that without pain and suffering, we can’t experience emotional connection or truly feel at a deep level. If we took all of the pain away from the world, it would also take away so much depth and the ability to experience life in full color.

I wished I would have read this book with a book club because I would have loved to hear what other people thought of things as I went through it. And I totally understand why some people love it and some people don’t like it at all.

Dear Mr. Knightley

The book starts out slowly, but once I got to about page 40, I couldn’t put it down. It delves into some deeper issues of how past hurts and rejection can wound people so deeply that they hide their real self for fear of further pain and rejection. It’s a beautiful story of healing and redemption and of how to love and reach out to hurting people.

Ever read a book that you just don’t want to end and when you finish it, you want to meet the characters in real-life? That was this book for me.

Me Before You

This was one of the most heart-breaking, compelling, and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. I thought it was very well-written and found it hard to put down. In fact, I read the entire book in one day!

Caveat: This book is not written from a Christian perspective, has quite a bit of language, and the plot line deals with suicide in a very raw form. I didn’t agree with the outcome of the book, but it made me dig deep and think hard… and books that do that are ones I feel are very worth my time.

What Alice Forgot

I really enjoyed this book and it has stayed with me for months after reading it. While it wasn’t written from a Christian perspective and had some swear words in it, the book was well-written and really caused me to step back and examine my own marriage and relationships to see if I’m making small choices that would, over time, have devastating consequences.


The Art of Losing Yourself

If you like Christian fiction that tackles real-life brokenness and doesn’t have Hallmark endings, I’d highly recommend this book.

I loved the character development and it reminded me that everyone has hard burdens they are carrying, and that hurting people need our love not our judgment, ostracizing, or criticism.

Read-Aloud Books

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

I’d had this book on our shelf for a long time, but honestly, the cover just looked boring so I didn’t pick it up to start reading to the kids. I’m glad it was assigned reading in our Sonlight homeschool curriculum, or we would have missed out on this gem of a book.

Yet another great example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover! All three of the kids found it very engaging and attentively listened when I read it and always begged me to read more when I’m done.

Johnny Tremain

This book was a winner of the 1944 Newberry Medal and is a fascinating novel that chronicles the defining events leading up to the American Revolutionary War. The author does such a great job of weaving together historical events and fictionalized characters in a way that had us all wanting to read just one more chapter!


The Golden Goblet

Kaitlynn and I read this book as part of her Sonlight curriculum in homeschool and really enjoyed it! It was one of our very favorites this year — especially if you love Ancient Egyptian history.

It was a Newberry Honor Award winner and I’m not surprised. The storyline is compelling and interesting and it brings Ancient Egyptian history to life.

Plus, it’s a story of endurance and resilience in the face of many odds. It was one of those read alouds that we just didn’t want to stop reading and both of us looked forward to each day to see what was going to happen. And we were kind of sad when the book was finished!

The Upstairs Room

We really enjoyed reading this book together as a family. It’s the true story of a young Jewish girl who was hidden in a room for two years to protect her from being captured or killed by the Germans. While the writing in the book could have been tightened up a bit, we all found the story fascinating and such a good reminder of the gift we have of freedom to be able to go outside and live our normal lives without fear.

Note: It totally caught me off guard that this book had language in it that I never would have expected for a kid’s book and I’ve had to edit out a few words here and there. Just keep this in mind if you’re planning to read this to your kids or let them read it.


This book is such a worthwhile read! I read it in two days and can’t recommend it highly enough — especially if you have kids around ages 9-12 like mine are. I think it’s a book that can really impact your thinking on what compassion and empathy look like and the importance of being a true friend.

My girls read it and we had some great discussions about the book. We also went to the movie and I wrote a really honest review of my thoughts on the movie and why I felt like it missed the mark.


FREE Summer Reading Challenge Printable Pack

Want accountability and encouragement to read more this summer? Download our FREE Summer Reading Challenge Printable Pack to help you keep track of all the books on your summer reading list!

This printable pack comes with 3 FREE printable pages:

  • Checklist of my favorite reads listed in this post
  • Summer reading challenge you can personalize to your interests
  • Fill-in list to keep track of all the books you read this summer

Download it for FREE here.

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  • Joolz says:

    I’ll have to check out the Upstairs room. A book I’ve really enjoyed that sounds similar is “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. It is written from a Christian perspective.

  • Jennie says:

    I always LOVE LOVE your book lists. Your selections vary and cover different stories and styles.

    My daughter and I are reading through Wonder. We saw the movie 1st. As mama to a child with health issues and a Trach, we felt very close to so much of what is revealed In The book and movie.

  • Carol says:

    Great list! I have several of these books, including the Katie Ganshert title. I’m actually going to read her latest, No One Ever Asked, because I know it’ll be eye-opening for me! And I’ve heard so many good things about it.

  • Crystal says:

    Did you know there are more books in “The Giver” series? There are actually a total of 4 books that you can buy as a boxed set or in a single quartet volume.

    • Yes! Those are on my list to read this year!

      • Keturah says:

        I’m really excited to look into some of these books you have suggested. Especially the read-alouds.

        I wanted to say something about ‘The Giver’ series.All the books are very good, Messenger being my favorite. I was very confused and a bit frustrated reading Gathering Blue since I was expecting something different in the second book in this series. But if you can get past that and get through it, they all come together in the next couple of books. It’s totally worth the wait.

  • Theresa says:

    Thanks for the list! I added some of these books to my want to read list on Good Reads.

  • Tam says:

    I have to ask if you have read “A Summer To Die”? As much as I hated “The Giver”, I loved “A Summer To Die”. It’s amazing to me that the same author wrote both books!

  • Lisa LawtonLi says:

    Katie Ganshert’s latest book “No One Ever Asked” is, in my opinion, even better than “Life After” which I also love! Very much a book for where we’re at right now as a nation. I highly recommend it!!

  • Sarah says:

    I discovered Joel Rosenberg and am working on Epicenter, then hoping to go through some of his fiction. Definitely thought-provoking as it’s making me research world history and looking at current events. Not sure I’d call it light reading at all, but it is really good! He has one on the Holocaust that I really want to read despite all the warnings that it’s heartbreaking. I discovered I love historical fiction!

  • Robyn says:

    I loved What Alice Forgot! I have read all of Liane Moriarty’s books. I started with Big Little Lies by chance from the discount book store & I was hooked. They have some language but I loved each one she has written. Thank you for the new suggestions.

  • Pamela says:

    I love your book lists ! I’m a school librarian and as part of my summer reading, I like to read at least 50-100 chapter books so I can give book talks throughout the school year.
    I put “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch” on my reading list for summer and was so happy to actually find it, right here, in my school library ! It hasn’t ever been checked out by students but hopefully that will change after I read it.
    So not only are your suggestions great for us but will most likely influence my young students also !

  • The Art of Losing Yourself and the Upstairs Room sound very intriguing.

    Thank you for reminding me that I need to make more time to read, Crystal. 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    I love to read but have 4 kids, so my reading has slipped some. But you’ve inspired me to pick it up again!:) My oldest turned 13 a few months ago, and I found myself needing some guidance. I purchased the book “Passionate Parenting, enjoying the journey of Parenting teens” by Cary Schmidt. I would definitely suggest reading this book…so helpful!

  • Tracy says:

    A good place to order books is thriftbooks. They are really cheap. I just ordered 6 books for $19. They have specials often, right now it’s 20% off your total. Every $50 you spend, you earn $5 credit. There is a user friendly app too.

  • Shanna says:

    I felt the same about The Giver. I need to finish the other books so that I can get closure. I am currently reading Of Mess and Moxie. I love this book. I have been intentionally reading it slow instead of speed reading it.

    • Anita Salcedo says:

      When you get to the final book Son in the Giver series it will all come full circle. It is a great series. Finding Blue is the next followed by Messenger than Son.

  • chellie says:

    I loved Bread & Wine, I have yet to read Present over Perfect, but I want to. Love Does was amazing! I read Me before You and What Alice Forgot for book club, and we really enjoyed those. I didn’t like the sequel to Me Before You as much. My son read Carry on Mr. Bowditch, I read parts of it with him and need to read the whole thing. I’m looking forward to checking into some of these other ones, clearly we have the same taste in books. 😉
    We just read Educated for our book club and gave it 5 stars. It’s a memoir and so interesting! We also loved Little Fires Everywhere. So many books, so little time!

  • Charlene says:

    I have read a few of those already. Me Before you was a tough ending. The Art of Losing yourself and Dear Mr. Knightley were good. I loved Johnny Tremain as a kid. Wonder wasn’t my favorite… But I just finished What Alice Forgot. It was great! I have read several others by that author and have enjoyed the plot twists and things but this is my favorite by her so far! (And the cleanest I think) It was a great story and very thought provoking!

  • Angela Mills says:

    I really enjoyed all of the fiction books you listed, except I haven’t read The Art of Losing Yourself yet. I’m going to have to read that one, since we obviously have a similar taste in books!

    What Alice Forgot is my favorite of Liane Moriarty’s and I recommend it to people all the time. My mom and adult daughter both read it and loved it, too. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie when it comes out.

  • Suz says:

    I loved Dear MR.knightingly favorite book in a long time.I’m going to read what Alice forgot now. Thank You

  • Dawn says:

    I have only read “The Giver” from your list. I went to the library to check some out and they didn’t have any of them, i requested 3, and am anxious to get started. Just got the call that “Me Before You is in, so i’m looking forward to picking that up.

  • Kris says:

    I am so happy to see Johnny Tremain on your list! It has always been one of my favorites since I read it in Junior High (36 years ago!), yet no one else seems to know about it.

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