Top Ten Summer Readings for 2013


Ahhhh, summer! Finally, some time for a bit of pleasure reading. Got a gift certificate you’ve been hanging on to? (Ha. Mine are gone minutes after they hit my hands.) Or maybe you are just overwhelmed with choices and don’t want to waste precious free time on something that isn’t so great. Well, we at eNotes want to help you get the most out of your summer reading

Here are ten suggestions offered by my very well-read friends who occasionally hang up their tweed jackets and loosen their professorial buns (no, not hair).  Here you will find a combination of new and older works, both fiction and non-fiction, serious and comedic.  So pick a few and let us know what YOU think!


1.  Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue by Jane Maas

Are you a fan of AMC’s Mad Men and Peggy and Joan in particular? Curious about what life was really like on Madison Avenue in the ’60s? Then you will enjoy Maas’s exploration of life in the ad game in the 1960s and beyond .


2.  Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend by Lynda Curnyn

A good beach read by a first time novelist. A friend says it is “the only romance novel I’ve ever finished.”

“Suddenly single when her aspiring screenwriter boyfriend takes off for a hot job in L.A., bridal magazine editor Emma Carter is forced to reassess her appearance, her job, and her prospects-and take action. A diverse cast of engaging, occasionally offbeat characters, the hilarious sayings attributed to them, and a fast-paced style facilitated by Emma’s pithy sound-bite “confessions” add to the fun in a lively Manhattan-set story that, while not a true romance, leaves the heroine happily pursuing her dreams and involved in a satisfying romantic relationship. This work may appeal to those who enjoy Bridget Jones-type books and like their stories urban, trendy, and slightly ambiguous. Curnyn is a fiction editor and lives in New York. This is her first novel. ” – Library Journal

worst hard time

3. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

As a Steinbeck scholar, this has been on my own list for a long time, and I was pleased to see that several friends highly recommend it as well. Egen’s gripping true story of living through the Dust Bowl is also a National Book Award winner.


4.  Wash by Margaret Wrinkle

This novel was recommended by one of my closest friends so I will be popping this into my shopping cart soon. It sounds fascinating. The Atlanta Journal Constitution calls Wash

“Amazing . . . Never has a fictionalized window into the relationship between slave and master opened onto such believable territory . . . Wash unfolds like a dreamy, impressionistic landscape .”


5.  Who I Am by Pete Townshend

Rock ‘n roll bios seem to make the list every year and this summer is no exception. If you’ve ever fantasized about pummeling a guitar to bits on stage…this is the book for you. Rock out by the pool and learn

“the story of a man who…. wanted The Who to be called The Hair…. loved The Everly Brothers, but not that “drawling dope” Elvis…. wanted to be a sculptor, a journalist, a dancer and a graphic designer…. became a musician, composer, librettist, fiction writer, literary editor, sailor…. smashed his first guitar onstage, in 1964, by accident…. heard the voice of God on a vibrating bed in rural Illinois….”.

What’s not to love?


6.  Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Another recommendation from a good friend (I am going to be so broke by the time this list is done…).

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.


7.  Chanel Bonfire: A Memoir by Wendy Lawless

Another friend suggests this, saying:

  “Chanel Bonfire is brilliant. It’s a memoir by the witty, sharp daughter of a beautiful 1970s jet setter. The social climbing Mom has mental illness and alcoholism. It’s actually quite funny, in a black humour sense. Highly recommend it.”


8.  Devil in the White City: Murder, Madness, and Magic at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

This friend says,

“Devil in the White City is a fascinating intertwining of two contemporaneous true events: a serial murderer operating in Chicago and the lead-up to, running, and aftermath of the Chicago World’s Fair. It’s heavy on history and architecture, but I really liked it.”


9.  Defending Jacob by William Landay

What is it about legal thrillers and summer? Lots of people love them and a very literate friend suggests this one, so on the list it goes.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.


10.  Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener

Every man I have ever known loves Michener.  Published in 2011, this volume is a

“collection of tales is set against the background of the South Pacific, the endless ocean, the coral specks called islands, the coconut palms, the reefs, the lagoons, the jungles, and the full moon rising against the volcanoes.”

Sounds like the perfect summer mental escape!