The Books We Absolutely Loved Reading This Year – Perfect for Summer Reading

Now that the kids are off doing their own thing, there is perhaps a little more time for one of our favorite activities, reading for pleasure. We asked your fellow Grown and Flown parents what books they are reading and loving. There were many books that readers liked, but here are the ones that were mentioned over and over and over. Consider this your start to summer reading.

Note: We receive small amounts of compensation from the Amazon links on this page.  

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng
Best books for summer reading

“Little Fires Everywhere is well crafted. The characters are vividly drawn. The author manages a large cast, multiple points of view, and all three rings of her circus with grace and authority. The dynamics between siblings and within teenage romances ring true. The prose is supremely competent…” The Guardian

Before We Were Yours: A Novel

by Lisa Wingate

Best books for summer reading

“Avery Stafford, a lawyer, descendant of two prominent Southern families and daughter of a distinguished senator, discovers a family secret that alters her perspective on heritage…” Kirkus


When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi

Best books for summer reading
Compelling memoir written by a Stanford neurosurgeon who finds himself as the patient. Gut-wrenching but surprisingly upbeat, given the subject matter. The Washington Post says, “…it’s an emotional investment well worth making: a moving and thoughtful memoir of family, medicine and literature. It is, despite its grim undertone, accidentally inspiring.”

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel
by Amor Towles
Best books for summer reading
“From the New York Times bestselling author—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.” The New York Times Review 

Lilac Girls: A Novel
by Martha Hall Kelly
Best books for summer reading

“Drawing upon a decade of research, Hall reconstructs what life was like in Ravensbruck. More than a war story, this is a tale of how the strength of women’s bonds can carry them through even the most difficult situations. Lilac Girls is a solid, compelling historical read.” Library Reads

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
Best books for summer reading

“Thomas’s debut novel offers an incisive and engrossing perspective of the life of a black teenage girl as Starr’s two worlds converge over questions of police brutality, justice, and activism.” The Atlantic

Pachinko
by Min Jin Lee
Best books for summer reading

“Lee deftly sketches a half-familiar, half-foreign but oftentimes harsh new world of a Korean immigrant in imperialist Japan…This is honest writing, fiction that looks squarely at what is, both terrible and wonderful and occasionally…bracing.” NPR books

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
by Anthony Doerr
Best books for summer reading

This bestseller received countless literary accolades. It is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France during World War II and it won a Pulitzer.

The Wife Between Us: A Novel
by Greer Hendricks
Best books for summer reading

“At first, it looks as if Hendricks and Pekkanen have written a book that’s more romance than thriller…Then the twists come fast and furious. Not everything makes a lot of sense. That stuff you thought was local color? A surprising amount of it fits in somewhere. Those characters with walk-on parts? A couple of them offer their own surprises.” The New York Times

Educated: A Memoir
by Tara Westover
Best books for summer reading

“…Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others. She is but yet another young person who left home for an education, now views the family she left across an uncomprehending ideological canyon, and isn’t going back.” The New York Times

On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety 
by Andrea Petersen
Best books for summer reading

” On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety, is an exploration of her life with anxiety, from her first panic attack, to realizing that she had an anxiety disorder, to sorting out the dizzying array of treatments and ultimately discovering for herself what anxiety is and how to live with it.” PsychCentral

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic
by Sam Quinones
Best books for summer reading

“In this National Book Critics Circle Award-winning book, the investigative journalist Sam Quinones…weaves together the roles of a cast of characters, including pharmaceutical executives, narcotics investigators, recovered addicts and the dealers who set up a system that Quinones compares to pizza delivery.” The New York Times

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen
by Kate Fagan

Best books for summer reading
“…on the evening of Jan. 17, 2014, Madison leapt over the ninth-floor railing of a parking garage in downtown Philadelphia, leaving behind gifts for family members and friends, and a brief note. “I love you all . . . I’m sorry,” it concluded. “I love you.” How Madison, a talented 19-year-old student athlete with a loving family, supportive community and loads of friends reached this moment is the subject of Fagan’s “What Made Maddy Run.” The Washington Post

How Hard Can It Be?: A Novel
by Allison Pearson
Best books for summer reading

“Pearson is fiercely funny and keenly observant. But it is her poignant and powerful statements about serious topics like aging, the invisibility of older women and the impact a paycheck has on a woman’s psyche that make this novel a must-read.” USA Today

Mothers of Sparta: A Memoir in Pieces
by Dawn Davies
Best books for summer reading

“A collection of quirky, funny, sad, and moving short personal essays that compress the author’s life into the snippets and moments that shaped who she is today…Forthright, entertaining essays that portray all the love, struggle, and anguish of being a woman and a mother.” Kirkus

Another Side of Paradise: A Novel
by Sally Koslow

Best books for summer reading

“Graham’s first-person point of view (in mostly the present tense) makes for white-hot intensity. The romance is deep and interesting but never pornographic…This intimate nothing-held-back work is a pleasure from the first lines to the last and will linger with many a reader.” Historical Novel Society

How to Walk Away: A Novel

by Katherine Center

Best books for summer reading

How To Walk Away is “a touching and believable love story with plenty of romantic-comedy flourishes…A story about survival that is heartbreakingly honest and wryly funny, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Elizabeth Berg.” This is one to put on your list for summer reading. Kirkus


Pick up a few of these terrific books and enjoy some great summer reading.

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About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She has been writing and editing since the beginning of time. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, BonBonBreak, Kveller, Better After 50, The Forward, Club Mid, and Grown and Flown where she is a Contributing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

More by Helene Wingens:

What Every Mom Needs to Teach Her Son About Rape
6 Reasons Why Moms Cry When They Leave Their Kids at College
Dear Parent Freshman, You Need to Know This About Your Student
Crushing Culture of Parental Expectations
What Moms of Grown Sons Want Them to Know

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