I will admit that I am picky when it comes to books. Maybe it’s because I read so many of them that I’m not impressed with very many stories, especially fiction stories. However, when I find one I love, I recommend it to absolutely everyone. Book recommendations (giving and receiving them) are my love language. Same goes for podcasts. Anyways, to share the love, I want to give you some summer reading recommendations.
15 books I have recently rated 5/5 stars
(* denotes a fiction book. The rest are non-fiction)
+ Just Mercy – I’m not sure why I didn’t read this book sooner (I think I thought it must be overrated since everyone loves it so much) but now I consider it a must-read for absolutely everyone. It deserves all of the praise it’s gotten! It made me think a lot about what justice is, how our criminal justice system is broken, and what can be done about it.
+ The Last Cowboys – reading this book had me obsessed with all things rodeo for WEEKS. Actually, I’m still kind of fascinated by rodeos and the culture surrounding them because of this book. It follows a family of bronco riders as they go through the rodeo circuit for a season. These guys are still out there riding, so I went down a whole rabbit whole of finding videos and their IG pages and all of that stuff… I love feeling like I can still follow along with the ‘characters’ of this story!
+ Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets – This book takes place in Chicago so I extra-love it. But it’s one of those books that I’ll never forget because it’s just so dang interesting. It takes place a few decades ago and is about a student at the University of Chicago who basically starts shadowing a gang leader and learns all about the gang culture in Chicago.
+ Educated – You have CERTAINLY heard of this book, right? It’s just as good as everyone claims it is. It’s a memoir about a girl who is born into a family of survivalists in Idaho and doesn’t receive a formal education until she’s in her late teens. It’s also about family and boundaries and grief and perspectives and all of the things. No summary can do it justice, so just read the book.
+ Hillbilly Elegy – If you liked ‘Educated’ you’ll probably love this book, too. It’s another memoir, but this one takes place in Appalachia and is about a working class family. This is more a commentary on our society in general, and how hard it is to get out of the lower and middle classes if you’re born into them. I was fascinated with the Appalachian region after reading this book, and watched some documentaries on similar topics… fascinating stuff.
+ Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly – I read this after Anthony Bourdain died, because I really didn’t know very much about him. This was an entertaining memoir about him and the culinary trade in general and I’ll never eat at any restaurant without questioning whether I should really be ordering certain items on the menu!
+ How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease – I appreciate how this book tells you what to eat instead of just what not to eat. Although, I do feel better about my choice to not eat meat after reading it! I didn’t read every single word of this book, but I did read the sections that most interested me and skimmed the rest. If you’re into food and nutrition, definitely read this one!
+ The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – I’m an enneagram type 7 and love reading all things about myself and everyone else I know. I really feel like I understand people better from learning about these personality types! This is one of the best books I’ve read about the enneagram.
+ The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth – This book (also about the enneagram, as is obvious from the title), is good, too! I forced my church group to read it so we could all learn more about each other – and I thought it was enlightening! “The Sacred Enneagram” has more of a religious context to the enneagram than “The Road Back to You” and was not as easy of a read. (Still awesome, though!)
+ Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life – I’m considering this one another ‘must read’. I honestly thought I wouldn’t learn anything from it, but how very wrong I was! I learned so freakin’ much and as I’m writing this I’m thinking I should re-read it. If you’re a woman, you simply must read this book. I promise you’ll be talking about it to your partner, friends, EVERYONE.
Tiger Woods – When I give people this book recommendation they’re always like, “really?!” Yes, I don’t even like Tiger Woods, but I loved this book. And he just won another Masters title, so he’s still relevant in the golf world, people! And probably will be forever. This is a biography and it’s long but well written. I didn’t realize what a complex character Tiger Woods truly is, and while I don’t necessarily respect him as a person, I do respect his talent.
(Since it’s hard to say exactly why I like fiction novels, I’ll just include the book summaries from Amazon. These are well-written, entertaining, and worth reading!)
+ Where the Crawdads Sing * Amazon summary: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
+ The Bear and the Nightingale * Amazon summary: … But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
+ The Alice Network * Amazon summary: An enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
+ The Pillars of the Earth * This is one of my favorite books of all-time, and I’ve read it a few times. I suggest you do, too! Amazon summary: Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through 40 years of social and political upheaval as internal church politics affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. “Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale.”