Gini Dietrich

The Spin Sucks Summer Reading List

By: Gini Dietrich | July 2, 2013 | 

The Spin Sucks Summer Reading List

By Gini Dietrich

I’m a huge fiction fan. My senior year in college, I took a women’s literary course to finish out my English degree, and I remember sitting in the stairwell of the creative writing department reading. No one would think to look for me there so I could read, uninterrupted, for hours.

It was like I was six years old again, hiding in my closet where my brothers couldn’t find me, with a book.

And I loved every second of it.

Not much has changed, except now I read on my iPad and I’m better at tuning out interruptions. I read on the couch, in the hammock, in bed, while getting a manicure, on the beach, on the El, and even when I’m riding a stationary bike.

Because of that, I have read 26 books this year and have six to recommend you put on your summer reading list.

The Spin Sucks Summer Reading List

  1. 11/22/63. Some of you may have already heard me extol the virtues of this book. It was the first Stephen King I’ve read (I went on to read The Stand this past spring) and it was a good one to start with. Built around Kennedy’s assassination, the book follows a story of a man who goes back in time to stop it. He has to make several attempts and you realize there is a part of you who really wants him to stop it. But what happens if he’s successful? It’s a long one, but it’s worth the time.
  2. We Need to Talk About Kevin. This is written as letters from a wife to her husband about their son, who kills some of his classmates while in high school. The book begins by her being in the grocery store and running into the mother of one of the girls who was killed. With so much violence in our schools, we forget the murderers have families and it’s a fascinating (though fiction) look at how it affects them. P.S. I heard the movie was terrible. Don’t see it. Read the book instead.
  3. Defending Jacob. Along the same lines as above, a young man is accused of killing a classmate. His father, the city’s district attorney, is fired from his job as the investigation heats up. He joins his son’t defense team and you read as the case is tried and his family begins to fall apart. You go back and forth between believing he did it and believing there is no way he could have.
  4. Into the Darkest Corner. Written by a police intelligence analyst, this look at a woman’s life who was so severely beaten by her boyfriend, she couldn’t face him in court is harrowing. It flips back and forth between the present – as she tries to get her life back together, even with a terrible case of OCD which the incident created – and the past when she met the man. It’s agonized to read, but it’s an interesting look at how we treat our friends when we think they’re nuts or when they have something we want.
  5. Sever. I’ll admit it. I’m a teen at heart. This is the third – and final – book in the Chemical Garden series and I read it in about 60 seconds. If you haven’t read the first two, they’re pretty good. Not Harry Potter or Hunger Games good, but good enough for a summer vacation fling. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the adults have figured out how to make perfect children, free of disease and disabilities. The only problem? Men live only until they’re 25 and women only until they’re 20. This story is told from the perspective of a young woman who is kidnapped to bear children for the son of a wildly successful doctor…so he can run tests on them to figure out how to lengthen their life spans.
  6. Dark Tide. Written by the same author as “Into the Darkest Corner,” this one is about a young woman who fulfills her father’s dying wish of buying a boat and living on it while she refurbishes it. But, in order to save the money needed for said boat, she becomes a stripper at night in a high-end gentleman’s club (if there is such a thing). After leaving her job, things begin happening near her boat. A body washes up on shore, there are a series of burglaries, and she is attacked. It’s nothing more than a high-suspense, murder novel. Great for those days you’re lying by the pool, drinking a Mai Tai.

Of course, anything written by Gillian Flynn is aces in my book. I love her. My favorite was Sharp Objects, but you can’t go wrong with Dark Places or Gone Girl.

So there you have it. First half of the year equaled 26 books read and the six best recommended for your summer reading list.

I have a long list of books yet to read this year, but always welcome recommendations. What have been your favorite fiction books so far this year?

P.S. We’re going to try something for the next three months. So I can focus on some longer form content and test some of the ideas outlined in Increase Blog Traffic with These 12 Ideas, I am scaling back by three blog posts per week. I’ll be here Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. Wednesday morning, Gin and Topics, and The Three Things will be written by our team. We’ll report back in October!

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.

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102 responses to “The Spin Sucks Summer Reading List”

  1. Danny Brown says:

    I’m pretty biased, but I hear the books by Jaclyn Aurore are perfect if you like Young Adult fiction and solid characters… 😉

  2. PattiRoseKnight1 says:

    At first I thought this was going to be business books – not that there is anything wrong with promoting the books written by our community but I was pleasantly surprised and look forward to getting started on these books – they sound great – all of them!

  3. lizreusswig says:

    I have several of these on my list already, based on your previous mentions…I’m also excited to read “The Light in the Ruins” by one of my favorite authors, Chris Bohjalian (, which comes out next week.

  4. lpscribe1 says:

    I can suggest a handful of great books for anyone’s reading list: Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson, a new take on the writer’s life as refracted through the cabin cruiser he owned for the last 34 years of his life; Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, a sort of spy/love story; No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (for once the movie did the book justice); and a class crime book, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

    • ginidietrich says:

      lpscribe1 We have the Hemingway debate here at least once a year. I cannot stand his writing. I know. It’s unAmerican. I’ll probably be shot for saying it.

      • ginidietrich lpscribe1 Hemingway I could still read in school. I had so much trouble with Faulkner – snooze fest for me. I only barely remember Light in August but we had to read several short stories etc. as well.

      • ExtremelyAvg says:

        ginidietrich lpscribe1 I thought you said you liked Hemingway last year? Maybe, I was missing sarcasm.
        It isn’t unAmerican to hate Hemingway, it is natural, because he is freaking awful. Old Man was tolerable, but I’m reading through is letters right now and his correspondence is just as poorly written as his prose.
        I’m sure E.H. was a good guy, and I bet I would have enjoyed hanging out with him, but he wasn’t a good writer. He was someone who had many friends in publishing.
        When I need a boost, I like to go read the one and two star reviews on his books. They are brutal and delightful.

        • ExtremelyAvg ginidietrich lpscribe1 I still haven’t read any of his work other than a few bits and pieces here and there.

        • RebeccaTodd says:

          Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes ExtremelyAvg ginidietrich lpscribe1 I can’t do Hemingway myself. I’ve tried, repeatedly. Not often I put something down and walk away, but yet…

        • ginidietrich says:

          RebeccaTodd Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes ExtremelyAvg Nope. I’ve never said I like Hemingway. If I did, I was definitely being sarcastic. I LOVED The Paris WIfe, about his first wife, but it wasn’t written by him. I’m also obsessed with that generation of writers, but I think the writing was “eh” from most of them.

      • lpscribe1 says:

        ginidietrich lpscribe1 It’s very hard to separate the man and his myth from the books he wrote, but it’s worth noting he changed the landscape of modern fiction. The biography I mention doesn’t shy away from chronicling his torments and poor treatment of others, but is also beautifully written itself.

  5. Fun post.  Love Fiction too. Thanks for the recommendation. 11/22/63 is on my list for this summer. I read Defending Jacob last year and really enjoyed it. I loved the going back and forth – did he , did he not and being quite disturbed along the way as well (being the mom of 2 boys). We Need To Talk About Kevin is on my list of to watch movies. Wondering if I should read first. I just finished Gone Girl and The Dinner in this genre. Gini have you read them /are a fan?

    • ginidietrich says:

      LSSocialEngage I LOVED Gone Girl! Loved. Thought it was really well done. But I’d read We Need to Talk About Kevin instead of seeing the movie. I’ve heard the movie is really bad.

      • ginidietrich loved Gone Girl too. I had heard so much hype before I read it that my mind was going in a totally different way -and so starting with the first twist it was all unexpected and so good.  Good to know about We Need to Talk About Kevin – movie vs. book. Thanks.

  6. JodiEchakowitz says:

    11/22/63 is a fantastic book. As you say, it’s very long, but very well worth the read. I’m in the middle of Gone Girl and loving it. Of course, your list is very timely since I always pick my books based on recommendations, and was trying to think about what was next.
    Another great book that I’ve read this year is Love Anthony by Lisa Genova (she wrote Still Alice), an author I had the honour of meeting this spring. I can highly recommend it.

  7. Word Ninja says:

    Love this post! I’m a big YA fan, trying my hand at it. 🙂 I recommend Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent (third book not out yet), better to me than Hunger Games.

  8. RebeccaTodd says:

    Wow G what a feel good list! Is there even one not about death? Really feel good summer hammock reading all around. And here I was thinking Starship Titanic was nice light summer fun. Clearly I need to read some darker stuff. 
    Now that you are in to King, I would recommend The long Walk and Running Man- both under Bachman- both about how “reality entertainment” would be the new thing. I have this *other* little rant I give after a few glasses about the return to the Colosseum, and use those books as evidence. Required reading for our next night out! 
    Excited for you as well about the new changes! Well done. I cant wait to see what the team does with G & T and 3 Things!

  9. SarahPinho says:

    Can you do this kind of list for books that would help us as PR professionals?

  10. bradmarley says:

    “P.S. I heard the movie was terrible. Don’t see it. Read the book instead.”
    Isn’t that usually the case, ginidietrich ?
    Thanks for pulling this list. “Into The Darkest Corner” sounds intriguing. I think I’ll add it to my list, once I finish the other three books I’m trying to read. Sigh.

  11. RebeccaTodd says:

    Debra Hah my thoughts exactly!

  12. biggreenpen says:

    Books yay! Books yay! Happy to have yet more to put on my TBR list. I finished We Need to Talk About Kevin recently. (Great book, disturbing on audio!). I am just finishing re-reading (via audio) The Memory Keeper’s Daughter since I’m doing that with the prison book club — I don’t like to re-read things but in this case I am glad I did – I had really lost some of the details from my memory. Just finished Cutting for Stone, which I loved. I also loved Bend Not Break — it has been a bit mired in controversy with detractors doubting that it’s accurate/true. I don’t know that I’m the judge of that but it was an incredible read. Thanks for the list!

    • ginidietrich says:

      biggreenpen Oh! Cutting for Stone is on my list. You loved it?

      • biggreenpen says:

        ginidietrich Yes, I LOVED it. It was particularly good on audio – the narrator did a great job — the structure was a little difficult to follow on audio – I am sure that would not be an issue on paper. I should admit that a portion of it is based in the Bronx which gave it extra merit points on my personal scale  (I worked in the Bronx for almost 3 years) :-).

    • biggreenpen says:

      (Not surprisingly I got carried away when talking books. Bend Not Break is not fiction, unless you believe the detractors.)

  13. Let’s hear it for fiction! I’m always surprised when people dismissively say, “Oh, I don’t read fiction.” Okay, so you’ve never read Shakespeare or Bronte or Austen or Hemingway or Fitzgerald or Wolfe? You can learn more about life and business and love from one Shakespeare play or great novel than from a shelf full of self-help books. 
    Even more “popular” fiction holds tons of lessons if you’re paying attention. If nothing else, then lessons in how to write and tell stories. Not to mention it’s fun. So thank you for these recommendations, Gini!

    • ginidietrich says:

      RobBiesenbach It always bothers me when people say that. It makes me think they must have no imagination or appreciate creativity.

    • susancellura says:

      RobBiesenbach I love Shakespeare! His comedies have me laughing hysterically. Maybe that is why I got an “A” in that class?  🙂

  14. Unmana says:

    I’ve seen We Need to Talk About Kevin recommended by so many people that I’ve had it on my wishlist forever. Maybe it’s time to finally buy it, huh.

    • ginidietrich says:

      Unmana BUY IT! You won’t regret it. I promise.

      • Unmana says:

        ginidietrich But can I trust you? :p I was a bit disappointed with Gone Girl, to be honest. I mean, the first half was great, and then it got weirder and weirder.

        • ginidietrich says:

          Unmana It did get weird. And the ending made me so angry. But I thought about it for weeks afterwards, which signals a great book to me.

        • Unmana says:

          ginidietrich Oh good, that’s exactly how I felt about it. I loved it so much at first I was extra disappointed at the ending. I’ve wishlisted Sharp Objects too…

        • photo chris says:

          Unmana ginidietrich The thing about Gillian Flynn is that the good guys really aren’t so like able…her characters, STICK with you, they BOTHER you, they NEEDLE at you and the plot twists can flip your stomach but I’ve yet to be happy at the end of one…and yet….I can’t stop talking about them ot the characters when I’m done. I’m still begging my friend to find time for Gone Girl so we can talk it to death.

        • ginidietrich says:

          photo chris Unmana You just described her perfectly. The tween in Sharp Objects? I obsess about her.

  15. I added all of these to my wishlist. I like these kinds of books, though I find it harder to read them now that I have a child. Bob LeDrew convinced me last summer that I need to give Stephen King a shot. But he recommended starting with a different book…I’ll have to ask him to remind me.

    • ginidietrich says:

      Karen_C_Wilson Bob LeDrew Where is Pepe?! I want to know what he recommended, too.

      • ginidietrich bobledrew Bob is a King expert. He even has a podcast!

        • ginidietrich says:

          Karen_C_Wilson bobledrew I didn’t know this about him!

        • bobledrew says:

          ginidietrich Karen_C_Wilson bobledrew Catching up! is where I am. Yes, it’s true, I am “The Kingcast.” Haven’t interviewed the man yet, but hope springs eternal. 
          I’m going to pick some Canadian content to recommend — in fact, the last novel I read. It’s called “419”, and it’s written by Will Ferguson. 419 refers to the Nigerian criminal code section referring to e-scams. And this is a fascinating exploration of that phenomenon.

  16. bdorman264 says:

    I recently read Defending Jacob; just remember to buckle your seat belt, huh? 
    I actually found some ‘free’ books for my Kindle that I have enjoyed reading but not sure they are ‘best of’ quality. I liked the Assassin’s List by Scott Mathews but it’s kind of a macho book that guys like. I’m half-way through Dead Like Me by Kelly Miller and the setting is Tampa, Fl which is local so I enjoy identifying with some of the landmarks mentioned. So far it’s pretty good…
    To catch up with your 26 books, my ‘free’ time now instead of online social is spent more with reading which I can do while watching baseball. I’m also venturing into some trail/mountain biking and when my ass quits hurting I will go out again over the holidays. 
    More than you wanted to know I’m sure, but I’m a talker like that ya know…

  17. Pascale Bishop says:

    Gini, I recommend Life After Life by Kate Atkinson if you’re looking for a new read…

  18. IpjRobson says:

    Sever sounds interesting. Perhaps even a little disturbing. 
    I haven’t read much fiction lately although I do enjoy reading it quite a bit. Seems like you’ve mentioned a few goodies here. 
    I curious how the test is going to go. I look forward to reading the results.

  19. ginidietrich says:

    Debra I’m fascinated by the way people behave and the disturbing things they do to other human beings.

  20. maggielmcg says:

    I”m obsessed with We Need to Talk About Kevin! And I can sadly confirm that the movie is TERRIBLE…truly not worth watching. Will have to try the other Gillian Flynn books–I loved Gone Girl but hated the ending.
    Two of the best books I read this year were Are You My Mother? and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Breed by Chase Novak was freaky/interesting, if not the best written book ever–good for a summer read.

  21. blfarris says:

    OK Gini, you’re ahead of me! I’m only at 20 books YTD. 
    The only one on my list that feels like it would fit on yours is “One Came Home” by Amy Timberlake. It’s a little on the YA side — but written by a Chicago author about turn of the century rural Wisconsin. I really enjoyed it. Part mystery, part historical fiction, part fun.
    My summer reading list is a little more businessy. =>

  22. NancyCawleyJean says:

    We sure have the same taste in books! I read the first 3 and loved them (and if you haven’t read  King’s Under the Dome, which is now airing on TV, I’d add that one too, except for a bizarre ending, I couldn’t put it down). 11/22/63 blew me away. AMAZING. And Defending Jacob was just “hold on for an amazing ride.” GREAT writer – same with “Kevin.” Of course I can’t wait for the next Gillian Flynn. She’s just got an unbelievable talent for pulling you along at lightning speed in her books. Adding the remainder of your suggestions to my list. Also, I just finished a delightful novel that I got lost in, feeling like I was on the West Coast of Ireland myself in Maeve Binchy’s final book before she passed away, A Week in Winter. And one of my fave books ever, if you haven’t read it (it’s old): A Painted House by John Grisham – a 180 degree turn from his normal legal thrillers, this little piece of 1950s America has  characters that will stay with you for a long time to come. 😉 Happy summer and happy reading! Keep your lists coming, and good luck with your test!

  23. TimPio says:

    Hi Gini:
    Thanks for the recommendations and good to hear you read your first Stephen King book recently.  Growing up, SKing was my go-to author and I read most of his books.  To me, summer reading = Stephen King.  I have not read 11/22/63, but I’m intrigued after reading more about it here.  
    Last year,  along with a couple of my friends, we created a book club.  It has been a fun way to keep in touch with friends…but it’s also a great way to become exposed to books I would not ordinarily select on my own.  Currently, we’re reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I’m digging it.
    Thanks for the perfect summer post!

    • ginidietrich says:

      TimPio OMG! I read The NIght Circus while I was in Maine last year (I remember cities by the books I read there) and LOVED it. I’ll be curious to hear what you think when you’re finished.

    • ayms219 says:

      The Night Circus is one of my faves! Read it twice now and it only gets better.

  24. ExtremelyAvg says:

    I’ve just finished the first omnibus in the Wool series by indie author Hugh Howey. It is a finely crafted book which catches one off guard on more than one occasion.
    I’m also reading through the Unicorn Western series, which is a delightful mix of western and science fiction, where the main character, Clint (a nod to the greatest western star ever) and his steed (a unicorn), Ed (a nod to a talking horse we all love), go on an amazing adventure. The stories give nod to many of the great Sergio Leone flicks of the past.  Brilliant!
    And then there is Secret Doors: The Challenge, coming out soon…by ME! It has similarities to Harry Potter, though the main character is a red haired girl named Abby and her best friend is an very large 12 year old boy named Stevie. The main reason you should read it is that there are also two giant guinea pigs named Billy and Badger…and Billy talks! I mean, seriously, what is better than giant guinea pigs!
    So, here is an offer to you, Gini (and any of your Spin Sucks readers), if you (or them) would like to be a beta reader, then just let me know with a reply. Did I mention the giant guinea pigs?!

  25. susancellura says:

    I LOVE to read!!! I would read in my room for hours (with a large bag of Skittles). I still love to curl up with a good book. When I find time now, I will go sit outside on the patio under the ceiling fans, because it is so quiet there. (Until more people start spending time in their backyards…which begs the question, “Why have a backyard if you aren’t going to enjoy it?” But I digress.)
    My daughter is slowly building a love for books as well, and I’m thrilled. I put actual books in her hands as she spends enough time on the iPad. I love seeing her read books that I read at her age. 
    To everyone commenting – I am making a list of all of your suggestions as I have a vacation coming up!

    • ginidietrich says:

      susancellura If we ever have kids, I will do the same thing with books. There aren’t the constant interruptions like there are with reading on the iPad. I have to put mine in “airplane mode” if I want to get lost in a book.

      • photo chris says:

        ginidietrich susancellura Books on the electronic devices are cool for little ones when you travel, but, children’ books are especially magical in their HANDS. I ordered Journey of the Noble Gnarble on my Nook for the kiddos for something crazy- .99 or something. The second I opened it I knew we had to own it- I just wanted to smell those pages! They were so richly illustrated and I didn’t feel I was “getting it all” with it sized down so drastically. Hubby bought it for ME for Valentine’s Day that man knows my heart! I “share” it with the kids, lol.  Double Trouble in Walla Walla, Mouse was MAD, any one of the Miss Spider series…..none of those are done justice on an electronic device.

  26. photo chris says:

    Gini- you wrote about We Need To Talk About Kevin awhile ago so of course I had to buy it- I read it months ago and am STILL haunted.  I was just looking for another good read- so thank you to all who are posting!

  27. Who has time to read. I am too busy helping Jack Steiner finish at least one of his 39 unpublished novels.

  28. dbvickery says:

    Might have to read that Stephen King book – it’s been a long time since I’ve read King. I’m reading a lot of Daniel Silva, Robin Cook, Eric Van Lustbader, and Alex Berenson right now. Sometimes I throw in a David Baldacci.

  29. Fellow English major here — and I LOVE reading fiction too! I am continually sucked in to all of the YA fiction that my kids are reading, but I’m going to have to pick up that Steven King one for this summer. As soon as I finish The One And Only Ivan. 🙂 I also recently read Wonder by R.J. Palacio and loved it. It’s one of those stories that changes the way you think about people and their struggles.

    • ginidietrich says:

      TaraGeissinger Did you read Ender’s Game? I’m listening to it while I ride right now and I can’t decide if I like it.

      • ginidietrich TaraGeissinger I have not read that one yet. I finished The One And Only Ivan, however, and it was cute. Not life-changing or anything, but unique. I just finished Divergent as well and loved it. (If you love the Hunger Games, it’s right up your alley.) I am now digging into the second book in the series. THEN Steven King! LOL

        • ginidietrich says:

          TaraGeissinger Divergent is actually what I’m going to start on the plane today!

        • ginidietrich TaraGeissinger Be prepared. I could NOT put it down. I had to remind myself to be rational. “Okay Tara, it’s 1am and you still have 200 pages left. This is NOT happening tonight. Put the book down and go to sleep….” 🙂

        • Word Ninja says:

          TaraGeissinger ginidietrich Can’t wait for Allegiant out October 22! Veronica Roth is going to be at Tivoli Theater in Downer’s Grove on Oct. 26.

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  31. ayms219 says:

    I feel exactly the same way about reading fiction! I got away from it for awhile, reading a lot of non-fiction, business related books, but it only takes one great one to fall madly in love with it again. I highly recommend The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson – strange title I know!

  32. […] teased Gini Dietrich about her “summer” reading list, full of lots of death and darkness, but I headed right to the science fiction and fantasy corner […]

  33. Kato42 says:

    ginidietrich I was in the bookstore today, buying myself a novel to perch on my bookshelf and motivate me through the last 1.5 weeks of my last Master’s course. (I can’t read fiction when I’m reading academic stuff, or I’d never read the academic stuff). 
    I totally thought of your list, and how I have “We Need To Talk About Kevin” on my list… but then I saw the latest James Rollins book on sale and thought “YES! Brain candy!” and bought that instead. 
    Because it’s like the book equivalent of a Twinkie – all that book with no uncomfortable “thinking” feeling at the end.

    • ginidietrich says:

      Kato42 I admire your discipline. I have probably 50 books on my nightstand, on my desk, and on my Kindle that still need to be read…and yet I continue to buy more.

      • Kato42 says:

        ginidietrich I understand completely. Until I decided to get a Master’s degree, I was the same way. 
        Actually, your list also reminds me that I’m looking forward to re-reading the early Stephen King novels, all of which I have, and love, and haven’t read for years. I kind of gave up on him somewhere around “Insomnia,” but might check in on his more recent books 🙂

    • photo chris says:

      Kato42 ginidietrich For more brain candy read Sweets, the first installment of the Windy City Witches books. Nice beach-y read, and I could SMELL the candy being made. And of course, I love that’s it’s set in Chicago 🙂

  34. photo chris says:

    Can I beg of you all to keep the recommendations coming? I am going to a conference in September and can’t believe I will have a whole airport, plane ride, and hotel stay all to myself! I can read while waiting, flying, eating…..ahhhhhhh!

    • ginidietrich says:

      photo chris I have an entire list in an Evernote note, if you want it.

      • photo chris says:

        ginidietrich photo chris Really?!?! Yes please! I just downloaded Evernote over the holiday weekend and don’t know the ins and outs quite yet; is there a way to share a notebook? What do you need?

        • Word Ninja says:

          photo chris ginidietrich Has anyone read Dark Monk from the Hangman Daughter’s series? Mystery set in the 1600s. Just bought it at Half Price today b/c when it was new the library would only let me take it out for a few days. *raspberries*

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