Gini Dietrich

The 2015 Summer Reading List

By: Gini Dietrich | May 21, 2015 | 

Summer ReadingBy Gini Dietrich

Though last weekend was the official start to summer in Canada, it doesn’t officially begin in the States until this weekend.

But, if you’re anywhere but Chicago right now, summer began several weeks ago (it’s 42 degrees here right now; blah).

So I thought it’d be fun to give you the 2015 summer reading list to get your BBQ, beach, flip-flop wearing season off to a bang.

The 2015 Summer Reading List

This is everything I’ve read since January 1 of this year. I probably would have had 16 books by now, but I got stuck watching Bloodline (just finished last night and it was super good), which took away from my fiction reading.

I’ll catch back up!

I present to you the good and the bad.

  1. The Goldfinch. Hands down, the best book of the year…and I started the new year off with it. It’s definitely going to be hard to beat. The writing is superb and it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction because of it. In fact, when my mom finished it, she said, “It was like a symphony of words that jumped off the page.” If you want to craft your writing skill, read this book. Study this book. Never put this book away.
  2. Big Little Lies. From the author of The Husband’s Secret (which I loved), comes this tale of ex-husbands, new wives, and the little lies we tell ourselves to survive. As USA Today put it, it’s a bit like drinking a pink cosmo laced with arsenic.
  3. The Rosie Project. I can’t remember if this is ever actually said in the book, but I have the impression the main character has Asperger’s (or is on the autism spectrum), which makes it even more endearing. He is charming, yet socially challenged so finding a wife becomes a science project. But the woman he ends up falling for won’t have anything to do with his genetics testing. It’s a fun, romantic story.
  4. City of Bones. I’m not going to lie. I love teen books, particularly trilogies (hello, Hunger Games!). But I could not get through this. I don’t know if it’s because I read a draft of Neicole Crepeau’s forthcoming novel first and it was 10,000 times better (same genre) or if it just wasn’t that good. But, if you’re into teen thrillers, you might want to give it a try.
  5. Wild. I loved this with every part of my being. When I finished it, I was seriously ready to take a three-month sabbatical and go hike the Pacific Crest trail by myself. Some people thought the main character was selfish and absorbed. I thought she was an amazing human being who made some really horrible mistakes and used her three-month hike to realize what she needed in life. I loved it.
  6. The Bone Clocks. This is from the author of Cloud Atlas and it came recommended by Lindsay Bell-Wheeler (we typically have the same taste in fiction), but I hated it. The book’s description says, “Rich with character and realms of possibility, The Bone Clocks is a kaleidoscopic novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together by a writer.” I could not disagree more. I couldn’t want to finish it so I could go on to something else.
  7. The Girl on the Train. When my mother-in-law suggested I read this, she said, “I couldn’t put it down. I missed my bedtime!” I had the same reaction. I read it in a day (and missed my bedtime). It’s a story of a woman who rides the same train every day and makes up stories about the people she sees in their homes from the train stops. And then she meets one of the couples in real life and it all unravels. It is a bit like a Hitchcock thriller.
  8. Still Alice. I do not recommend this book for anyone who is affected by Alzheimer’s. It’s an incredible story about a woman who has early onset Alzheimer’s (at 50) and what she has to go through as she begins to forget things and then completely lose her present self. We see and hear stories of what it’s like for the family, but rarely what it’s like for the person with the disease. I also saw the movie this past weekend and it was good…though not as good as the book.
  9. Natchez Burning. This is the first book in another trilogy and I could take it or leave it. It was OK. Not good enough to read the other two books. The story, itself, is really compelling—about a present-day man who has to look into his family’s history of the KKK, greed, and murder—but I don’t know, I just didn’t like it.
  10. All the Light We Cannot See. This is the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner so I know I have to love it. But I don’t. I can’t get through it. I’m only 12 percent of the way through it, but I’ve gone back to it three different times and can’t get hooked. BUT. It didn’t win the Pulitzer for nothing so I’ll try again. I know many of you have already read it and loved it so I will give it another shot. Sometime this summer.
  11. Minor King. This is the debut novel from Jim Mitchem, who some of you may know from Twitter or his blog, Obsessed with Conformity. He also was our author feature this month during the Author Q&A. I loved this book. Partly because I know Jim and his story and partly because the writing is magical. My only complaints are that the characters weren’t developed as well as I would have liked and it was much too short. I was disappointed when I finished it because I wanted more. I wanted more Jim Christianson. I wanted more Tabitha Christianson. I even wanted more of the jerk boss.
  12. Silent Wife. Eh. This was OK. I didn’t love it. (Though it was one of the books that Mr. D. said, “Are you reading a manual on how to be a wife?” Hardy, har, har.) I think it was trying to be Gone Girl or a similar thriller, but it missed the boat. I did finish it (which is more than I can say for this year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book) and it did hold my attention, but it fell flat of my expectations.
  13. The Nightingale. This was slow to get into, but I’m glad I stuck with it. It’s the story of the women who lost their husbands and sons to the concentration camps in Nazi France. I was finishing it on a flight home last week and I cried and cried and cried. I had to put it down because I was crying so hard on a plane and finished it in the middle of the night at home. The jump between present day and the 1940s is a little jarring at first, mostly because you read half the book before she comes back to today, but it soon becomes apparent as to why that is.
  14. Secrets of a Charmed Life. Clearly I’m now stuck on a World War II path (I blame Pamela Grow) because this book is about girls who live in England when the Nazis come in. They are sent away from London to live in the country, where it’ll be “safe” and it tells the story of sisters who want different things from life. It wasn’t a book that made me sob, nor one that made me want to hike for three months alone, but it was good.

I have The Life We Bury on my list and then I’ll go back to All the Light We Cannot See.

So there you have it, my 2015 summer reading list.

Now it’s your turn. What should I read for the second half of the year?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • The Girl on the Train is next on my list! 

    I’m currently working my way through the Outlander Series, which I really love, although sometimes I feel guilty about it. I’m a nut when it comes to historical fiction, especially with a sci-fi angle and this series feeds both of those loves. That’s what first brought me to it. Gabaldon is fanatical about historical accuracy so it really makes the story fascinating. I know a book is a winner when it makes me want to pick up a regular history book and learn more. 

    However, what’s so entrancing about the series is the relationship set up between the two main characters that weaves back and forth through time. It’s quite addictive. I’m know on the third of the series. The first book was outstanding, and I was sad when it was over, the second was meh…but jenzings , who has read the entire series, encouraged me to keep going. And I’m glad she did! The third book is my favorite so far. 

    I also recently read Stephen King’s “Under the Dome,” which I also LOVED. A totally fascinating look at society…a bit Lord of The Rings, and classic Stephen King character development which brings these people to life in almost a spooky way (I had dreams about that).

    And on Wild….we WILL be doing that hike.

  • Kate Nolan

    My offer to work for AD and do all the reading still stands. U0001f600

  • YAY! I was wondering when the summer reading post was going to be published.  I have read many from your list. I hope you do get to finish “All the Light We Cannot See”. I did love it like I loved “The Goldfinch”.  
    Just finished “Big Little Lies” last night and love the USA Today description – so appropriate. 
    Still Alice was so good but so sad that I cannot get myself to see the movie yet. I do hear Julianne Moore was incredible so hopefully one of these days I’ll muster up the strength.
    I had heard so much about “The Girl on the Train” that I had really high expectations and as a result was disappointed.
    I have “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri lined up next and then will check out some of your other recommendations.
    YAY! Summer reading post!

  • You’re going to be ashamed of me, but the one thing that I’ve gotten REALLY, REALLY bad at is reading. I was just thinking that I needed to get a couple of titles for the summer and poof! just like that – you delivered them!

  • LauraPetrolino I’m inviting myself along for a portion of that Wild hike, okay? (But I refuse to hike on duct-taped shoes; we need to equip ourselves accordingly.) And Laura, the audio version of Outlander was AWESOME – it’s truly amazing how the narrator did it all. Truly.

  • Boy do I need this impetus as I change my setting from the winter couch watching every Netflix series there was to a beach chair with a book. As far as Still Alice and Wild, I will probably pass as have seen the movies. I prefer reading the book and then seeing the movie and never have enjoyed vice versa. The Goldfinch is first up when I hit the sand and then I think I will take a ride on a train 😉 Appreciate your recommendations, Gini.

  • Arment Dietrich, Inc.

    I get that job first! (GD)

  • Oh boy I am now scrambling over to Audible to beef up my wish list. I am currently reading something from my Wish List (Twin) that had been on there for years — I was having a decision making crisis so picked the oldest thing on my wish list. So far I am basically wondering why I ever put it there in the first place! // The Goldfinch definitely had some fine moments but I have to admit I wasn’t forever and ever in love with it. I did All the Light on audio and STRUGGLED with it. I didn’t walk away bowled over. // Still Alice was EXCELLENT. I haven’t seen the movie but holy cow it was well written and well researched. // I keep hearing raves about Girl on the Train so it needs to be on my list. I loved The Boys in the Boat — it’s a little heavy on rowing terminology, lots of skulls, oars, and coxswaining but I loved the message (and yes it’s a WWII related book). I enjoyed Erik Larson’s book about the Lusitania (which obvi ended up being WWII related). I also pulled something off of my Audible list called What is Left the Daughter (which ended up having a WWII theme) — it was really good — and it always impresses me to hear Balki of Perfect Strangers do such a masterful job of narrating an audiobook. Great list Gini! 🙂

  • LSSocialEngage I watched Still Alice with my elderly mother who is well into the first stage of Alzheimer’s Disease and she was quite taken aback by the images without any cognitive assimilation to her own status. It was indeed very sad but I highly recommend it for everyone to garner a better understanding of how devastating this disease can be and especially the hell it is on early onset. 

    P.S. Hence forth I think I will keep the collaborative movie watching with my mother to upbeat musicals 😉

  • I’ve gotten a little behind on my reading these days (shocking I’m sure!), but I’m also a bit bogged because I finally started reading the Game of Thrones Series … as predicted, it’s taking a long time. It’s good! But, you know. There are a lot of words, and not a lot of hours in the day anymore.

    I want to read The Goldfinch next—all my smartypants friends have been talking about it for ages and it kills me to have nothing to add!

  • Kate Nolan

    Stupid seniority…

  • Not one Ziggy novella.Not one. Wish I had time to read again. Hoping soon.

  • Angie Finley

    Looks like my list just got longer! I always look forward to your suggestions. I’m reading “All the Light We Cannot See” right now and, while I’m really enjoying it, it took awhile to get into because I don’t do well with books that jump around a lot at the beginning. Based upon what I’ve read so far, it could have been just as great if not better with about a third of it gone. If it doesn’t move the plot along, begone! (A throwback to my print journalism background, maybe?) I’m about 3/4 of the way through it now. It’s worth finishing. I’ve read the “Goldfinch;” page for page, it was much better.

    Suggestions for you, if you’ve not already read them– Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. And a surprisingly good read, although it’s not new– The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Loved that one!

  • Gini Dietrich


  • scribblinghappy

    Ohhh, those all look so good! I know I’m going to add a few to my summer reading list. 

    – West with the Night by Beryl Markham. Gorgeous writing. The memoir of a female pilot in Africa. Hemingway thought the writing was stellar, and that was a good enough plug for me to pick it up. I’m betting it becomes a movie soon. An Academy Award winning one. 

    – People over Profit by Dale Partridge. A business book by a successful millennial, for anyone. Great insight into how we think about business. 😉

  • Kate Nolan


  • LauraPetrolino I don’t know if I want to have dreams about characters. I re-read The Stand when we were in Paris a couple of years ago and I couldn’t sleep!

  • LSSocialEngage I hate it when you hear amazing things about something and then are disappointed. It’s why I try to avoid ALL conversation about anything I read so my expectations aren’t too high.

  • KristenDaukas This is what happens when I spend time in person with you…I begin to read your mind.

  • annelizhannan Did you watch Bloodline?!?

  • biggreenpen I love to see your Friday reads every week…and maybe some of these will end up there in the next few months.

  • Eleanor Pierce You should be reading on your Kindle while you’re doing late night feedings!

  • Howie Goldfarb I’m sorry to disappoint you.

  • Angie Finley Alright, alright. I’ll get back to it. I also loved Orphan Train, but haven’t read the others so will add to my list!

  • scribblinghappy People over profit. As if people are more important than making money. 🙂

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen That’s extremely likely!

  • My goal this year is to read 20 books. I’ve read…3. (Sigh.) 

    The only book we share in common is The Girl on the Train. I’m definitely going to look for that. I’ll research the rest, but I’m not sure I can read Still Alice. The New York Times Magazine recently had a story about a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who decided she would kill herself before it got too bad. That was a tough read; not sure I can do an entire book.

    As for a recommendation, I’ll go with Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors. Sounds like something that would be your alley. I haven’t read it, but I plan on it.

  • biggreenpen LauraPetrolino When I say read, I mean listen. It is AMAZING!! In fact, She really brings it to life!

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino There were several nights I couldn’t sleep. It was a problem. Stand is next on my list of King books, but I need a break for awhile.

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino I’ll also add (and I think I mentioned this before) living in Maine makes these characters even more realistic, because they fit all the very accurate Mainer stereotypes.

  • LauraPetrolino biggreenpen AHHH then you know exactly what I mean! 🙂

  • LauraPetrolino ginidietrich I find it impossible to travel through any NYC tunnel without thinking of The Stand. I got the book as a remainder years ago – a NYC bookstore literally handed me a coverless book and said “here take this we  need to get rid of it.” I read most of it on a train from NYC to FL. Such vivid memories of that reading experience.

  • whitney_fay

    I loved Big, Little Lies so much and am so excited HBO has picked it up for a series! Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are supposedly behind it.

    Loved Girl On the Train too! 

    I’m reading Ready, Player One for the second time and it’s a book after my own heart… Sci-fi and packed with 80s pop culture references. Me + Ghostbusters References = 4-Ever.

    I’ve been meaning to check out All the Light We Cannot See so it’s on my summer reading list already.

    LauraPetrolino I loved Under the Dome! It’s rare that I don’t like something Stephen King wrote though. Have you read Desperation? It’s my favorite of his.

  • ginidietrich I hear you! Although sometimes that is a catch 22. It’s all the conversation that leads me to my next read.

  • KevinVandever

    I’m working through Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I’m not sure what I think, yet. Parts are extremely funny, others are dull, the writing is way unique, which I love. So I guess that’s what I’m thinking.

  • susancellura

    I’m so excited that school is almost out! I’m not sure that it leaves me any more time to read, but I love knowing what others are reading.

  • AbbieF

    Really? You don’t like All the Light We Can Not See? I am almost finished and was going to tell you to read it.  I’m actually listening to in on Audible and it is wonderful. Girl on the Train was so-so. Enjoyed Delicious, The Whip and Orphan Train.

  • mktgqueen

    The Boys in the Boat – the true story of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team that went to the Berlin Olympics, in the middle of Hitler’s reign. It’s compelling as it weaves the personal stories of the team members with the political and economic situations of the US and Nazi Germany.

    As a member of a competitive sports team, I am finding the references to teamwork to be most enlightening. As someone who has not spent much time learning about the history of WWII, I have realized how undereducated I am on this subject. As a marketing professional, I am intrigued at how the Nazi party used propaganda, to the extreme, to further their cause. The term “spin” may not have been invented at that time, but they certainly used it to their advantage.

    Thanks for the suggestions, Gini!

  • I’ve read some of these books, but not all and will definitely add the ones I haven’t read to my list. The Goldfinch is great (I loved the character Boris) but I think the best book I’ve read this year (so far) is All the Light You Cannot See. I read it for one of my book clubs and am going to recommend it for my other discussion group–can’t get enough of it.

    In case you (or anyone else on this thread) is interested, the latest piece of fiction I read was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s the fictionalized, true story (if that makes sense) of two early American feminists and abolitionists. A definite page-turner.

  • AndreaKempfer

    Yes, love this list! Thank you for sharing. I just started The Goldfinch– so far, I’m really enjoying it. I’m putting Big Little Lies and All the Light We Cannot See on my summer reading list. For anyone interested in YA, I recently read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and absolutely loved it.

  • ginidietrich Oh yeah, finished that in two days starting the day it aired;) Problem with binging on these Netflix originals is that by the time the second season comes round I have to watch the first season again as a reminder. I did that with House of Cards and will probably have to repeat The Affair (Showtime). The Affair is my second favorite after House of Cards and pretty juicy as is The Fall (Netflix) with Gillian Anderson (a BBC series). I looked up the setting for Bloodlines and it is filmed at The Moorings Village and Spa. I would love to stay there in the keys!!!

  • AndreaKempfer I shall add that to my list. I love YA. (As much as I hate to admit it.)

  • Shelley Pringle Ohhhh. Sounds like The Invention of Wings must be added to my list. Thank you!

  • mktgqueen Alright, you’re the third person to recommend that so fine. FINE! I will add it!

  • AbbieF I can’t get through it! It’s like Unbroken to me. Blah. I’ll try again, though.

  • susancellura I feel having E home leaves you with less time to read!

  • KevinVandever This literally made me laugh out loud! (And Kelly is reading that right now, too.)

  • whitney_fay I have a special surprise for you and your 80s love.

  • bradmarley Really? That surprises me. Usually you’re on top of the reading. And I shall check out Process. Thank you!

  • ginidietrich AbbieF I still can’t believe you didn’t like Unbroken. That was one of my favorite books last year.

  • LauraPetrolino AbbieF Hated it. But I LOVED the movie. Go figure.

  • annelizhannan I still haven’t watched House of Cards. That’ll be next for me. I’m going to do it!

  • susancellura

    ginidietrich Um, yes, but I choose to believe this can be done. 🙂 Especially since we are going to FL for one of our vacations and between her cousins and her Mimi, well, I might get to read a chapter or two by the pool!  And, I still have a couple of car lines left!

  • whitney_fay

    I am so excited! What is it?!

  • Oh, lots of goodies here! Thanks for the list Gini!

  • Thanks for the list, ginidietrich. I’ve read Wild and The Rosie Project – enjoyed them both. I’ve been in the midst of The Goldfinch for longer than I’d like to admit. This may be a good weekend to pick it up again and get it done. 🙂 You’ve confirmed The Girl on the Train will be the next one. 
    Happy Memorial Day weekend to the crazies who are celebrating! xo

  • ginidietrich

    MediaLabRat 🙂

  • Kids, ginidietrich. Kids.

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  • Suzy Chisholm

    Hey Gini, what a great list!  I love a list which includes both the good and the bad.  Not only will I be adding a few of your recommendations to my list but your productiveness is awe-inspiring.  How the heck do you find the time to read all this stuff whilst doing all the rest of your daily/weekly/yearly responsibilities?  I am impressed.  
    Ok, so you asked for our input.  Just recently you wrote about job interviews in your blog.  It just happens that my latest book was on job hunters and job seekers.  “The Essential Guide to Hiring & Getting Hired by Lou Adler.”  It provides so many helpful tips and worthy strategies to follow, I can highly recommend this one.
    The book which I wouldn’t again touch with a 12-foot pole?  “How Should a Person Be?” by Sheila Heti.  Apparently (but I find it hard to believe) it was listed on the New York Times Book Review as “a notable book of the year”.  To put it simply, I thought it was awful.  Seeing as it was given to me by my mother-in-law for Christmas, I felt obliged to at least give it a try.  It was painful.  
    And while I’m at it, thank goodness someone else doesn’t enjoy City of Bones because everyone seems to love it here.  I, too, love teenage books.  Whatever my kids are reading is good enough for me:  harry potter, hunger games, divergent, maze runner – I loved them all.  But this one?  Didn’t even make it to the middle of the book.
    Since we are travelling through the States this summer, I am happily filling my kindle with reading material. Thanks again for the tips.

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  • Diana Combs

    Gini, this article was so delicious that I waited to get home and read it … so I could add some to my Kindle wish list!  Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Diana Combs I love anyone who calls a list “delicious.”

  • Corina Manea You’re welcome!

  • EdenSpodek Now that you’re horizontal, perhaps you should finish The Goldfinch?

  • Diana Combs

    ginidietrichich – I read a lot, and am always seeking recommendations.  But I’m also picky about who’s making the suggestions, and why.  For example, I’ve never referred to the NYTimes best seller list.
    You know what I need to know — you indicated what’s slow, what’s hard to get through — this I like.  Ditto for descriptive positive comments. 
    Hence, it is a delicious list!!!

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  • Gahhh I’ve tried to read The Goldfinch twice and I just can’t get in to it. I want to finish it but I just don’t think it’s for me.

    Thanks for the rest of the list though, I’ve pinned it for the next time I’m deciding what to read next!

    • It’s a super dense book and I always tell people, if the writing weren’t spectacular, the story would just be meh. I probably wouldn’t have finished it if I hadn’t been so absorbed in the detail aligned with simple things such as smoking pot in a park after midnight.