Summer Reading List

Well, I love whittling down the pile of books that collects on my nightstand in the summer.  Here are a few of the books on my summer reading list.  Please comment and let me know what is on yours!

I just finished reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.  It was fantastic!  I started it on the plane to Shanghai last month and, even though I knew I needed to sleep on the ride over, I didn’t want to put the book down!  It was a quick read and, honestly, I didn’t want it to end.  I promise you’ll love it!

In 1937 Shanghai—the Paris of Asia—twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree—until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, from the Chinese countryside to the shores of America. Though inseparable best friends, the sisters also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. Along the way they make terrible sacrifices, face impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are—Shanghai girls.
Were you as caught up in Downton Abbey as I was?  I went into withdrawal after the season ended so I ordered Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey and started to read about the real lives of the family who lived in the beautiful home.  It is written so beautifully by the current lady of the house, The Countess of Carnavon.  If you like Downton Abbey, I promise you will love this book.  

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration for the hit PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and the basis of the fictional character Lady Cora Crawley.  Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.
This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.
I am now in the middle of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and I can’t wait to steal a few minutes away everyday to keep reading!  It is so fascinating and endearing to read about the iconic first lady from the perspective of the secret service agent who spent so much time with her.

For four years, from the election of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in November 1960 until after the election of Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Clint Hill was the Secret Service agent assigned to guard the glamorous and intensely private Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. During those four years, he went from being a reluctant guardian to a fiercely loyal watchdog and, in many ways, her closest friend.
Now, looking back fifty years, Clint Hill tells his story for the first time, offering a tender, enthralling, and tragic portrayal of how a Secret Service agent who started life in a North Dakota orphanage became the most trusted man in the life of the First Lady who captivated first the nation and then the world.
Filled with unforgettable details, startling revelations, and sparkling, intimate moments, this is the once-in-a-lifetime story of a man doing the most exciting job in the world, with a woman all the world loved, and the tragedy that ended it all too soon— a tragedy that haunted him for fifty years.

On my bedside table and in my beach bag:

Seating Arrangements

Maggie Shipstead’s Seating Arrangements is
a stunning debut, an irresistible social satire that is also an unforgettable
meditation on the persistence of hope, the yearning for connection, and the
promise of enduring love. 
Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s
retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of
calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers
as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young
scion Greyson Duff.  Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with
military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious
misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had
her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an
eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of
reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on
Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves
presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and
monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life. 
Hilarious, keenly intelligent, and commandingly
well written, Shipstead’s deceptively frothy first novel is a piercing
rumination on desire, on love and its obligations, and on the dangers of
leading an inauthentic life, heralding the debut of an exciting new literary
Meet the Harcourts of Chevy Chase, Maryland. A respectable middle-class, middle-age, mixed-race couple, Harold and Forsythia have four eminently marriageable daughters—or so their mother believes. Forsythia named her girls after Windsor royals in the hopes that one day each would find her true prince. But princes are far from the mind of their second-born daughter, Elizabeth (AKA Bliss), who, in the aftermath of a messy divorce, has moved back home and thrown herself into earning her PhD. All that changes when a Bachelorette-style reality television show called The Virgin takes Bliss’s younger sister Diana as its star. Though she fights it at first, Bliss can’t help but be drawn into the romantic drama that ensues, forcing her to reconsider everything she thought she knew about love, her family, and herself. Fresh and engaging, Imperfect Bliss is a wickedly funny take on the ways that courtship and love have changed—even as they’ve stayed the same.

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.
And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.
What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

*all bios courtesy of


  1. Kendall on June 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    These look great! I just added several to my amazon wish list!

  2. Kendall on June 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for the great suggestions! I just added a few to my amazon cart!

  3. Carole on July 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I was wondering whether you would be happy to put up a link in my monthly series called “Books You Love”. The idea is for people to link up posts about a book they loved. It could be an old fave. I am hoping we will end up with a nice collection of books that can go on our reading lists. Here is the link Books You Loved July Edition

  4. Simple Snaps Halo on July 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Carole,

    What a fun idea! We just linked up our Summer Reading List to your "Books We Love." Thanks for letting us know about it!

    KSW Team

  5. Carole on July 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Jessika – thanks for linking in to Books You Loved. Have a great week.

  6. Elizabeth on July 9, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    They all look so good…thanks.

    NEW FOLLOWER…is there any way to subscribe by e-mail?

    Silver's Reviews

  7. amandachristina on July 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Great suggestions! I'm going to check out the Lisa See book right away.

    I recommend, 'A Piece of my Heart' by Jane Green & 'Adrenaline' by Jeff Abbott… fast paced summer reads!

    Great blog!

Leave a Comment