Last week, Whitney Danhauer asked all of you what you’re looking forward to reading yet this year.
In the comments of that article, Jennifer Cheshire mentioned she’s patiently waiting for my annual reading list.
WHICH I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THIS YEAR!
And I’ve had an exceptional reading year, too. I’m on book #21 so far, but am a bit behind my book a week goal.
Sometimes my brain hurts so much at the end of a workday that reading is not an option (so I scroll Pinterest and look at pretty pictures instead).
I still have time. Thirty-one more to go.
This year, I’m going to do this reading list a bit differently. Rather than write out what I loved or hated about each one, I’ll give a quick synopsis and then a thumbs up or thumbs down.
(Because…it would take me a full week to write about each one and this would never be published.)
Also, note there are more than 21 books on this list because I’ve included everything I’ve read since the last summer reading list.
The Annual Spin Sucks Summer Reading List
- Bridge of Clay: The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance. ?
- The Marriage Lie: Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and life is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will flies out for a business trip to Florida, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt: another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board and, according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers. ?
- Rules of Magic: Alice Hoffman delivers “fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle” (The New York Times Book Review) in a story how the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is “irresistible…the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last forty pages, savoring your final moments with the characters”. ?
- An Anonymous Girl: Looking to earn some easy cash, Jessica Farris agrees to be a test subject in a psychological study about ethics and morality. But as the study moves from the exam room to the real world, the line between what is real and what is one of Dr. Shields’s experiments blurs. ?
- The Silent Patient: Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word. ?
- Nine Perfect Strangers: Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be. ? (It makes me sad to give this one a thumbs down because I LOVE Liane Moriarty. But it was bad.)
- Lilac Girls: New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France. ? (It was a perfectly good book. I’m just over all the WWII historical fiction right now.)
- The Age of Light: The Age of Light tells the true story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse. “I’d rather take a photograph than be one,” she declares after she arrives in Paris in 1929, where she soon catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray. Though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to take her on as his assistant and teach her everything he knows. As they work together in the darkroom, their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined, changing the course of Lee’s life forever.?
- The Winter Sister: This is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we know the people we love most? ?
- The Last Time I Lied: Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she—or anyone—saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips. ?
- Before She Knew Him: Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston. Hen is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? ?
- The Secret Keeper: During a picnic at her family’s farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking crime, a crime that challenges everything she knows about her adored mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel and her sisters are meeting at the farm to celebrate Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this is her last chance to discover the truth about that long-ago day, Laurel searches for answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. ?
- Where the Crawdads Sing: I know I said I wasn’t going to say whether or not I liked the book, but I will say this about this one: if you don’t love it when you start it, put it down and go back to it later. I couldn’t get through it the first time I tried. Then my mom convinced me to try again and I am so glad I did! Hands down, best book I’ve read this year. ?
- My Lovely Wife: Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. Had kids. Moved to the suburbs. Told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored. We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive. Ours just happens to be getting away with murder. ?
- Miracle Creek: In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident. ?
- The Girl He Used to Know: Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game—and his heart—to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone. ?
- The Forgotten Hours: At twenty-four, Katie Gregory feels like life is looking up: she’s snagged a great job in New York City and is falling for a captivating artist—and memories of her traumatic past are finally fading. Katie’s life fell apart almost a decade earlier, during an idyllic summer at her family’s cabin on Eagle Lake when her best friend accused her father of sexual assault. Throughout his trial and imprisonment, Katie insisted on his innocence, dodging reporters and clinging to memories of the man she adores. Now he’s getting out. ?
- Rock Needs River: After two years of waiting to adopt—slogging through paperwork and bouncing between hope and despair—a miracle finally happened for Vanessa McGrady. Her sweet baby, Grace, was a dream come true. Then Vanessa made a highly uncommon gesture: when Grace’s biological parents became homeless, Vanessa invited them to stay. ?
- A Killer’s Mind: Three Chicago women have been found strangled, embalmed, and posed as if still alive. Doubting the findings of the local PD’s profiler, The FBI calls on forensic psychologist Zoe Bentley to investigate. Zoe quickly gets off on the wrong foot with her new partner, Special Agent Tatum Gray. Zoe’s a hunter, intense and focused; Tatum’s a smug maverick with little respect for the rules. Together, they must descend into a serial killer’s psyche and untangle his twisted fantasies, or more women will die. ?
- In the Darkness: An online video of a girl clawing at the ceiling of her own grave could be the worst thing FBI forensic psychologist Zoe Bentley has ever seen. Perhaps even more disturbing is the implication of the video’s title: “Experiment Number One.” Zoe and her partner, Special Agent Tatum Gray, work as fast as they can to find the monster behind the shocking video, but soon another one shows up online, and another girl turns up dead. ? (I’m patiently waiting for the third in the series.)
- Lock Every Door: I finished this one two nights ago and WOW! It is definitely not what I expected at all—and I stayed up late to finish it. It’s the same author as The Last Time I Lied (#10 on the Spin Sucks reading list) and I think it was even better than his first. ?
The Second Half of 2018 Books
- The Last Mrs. Parrish: Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent. ?
- Then She Was Gone: Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. Beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her. And then she was gone. ?
- A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: Before: Jen Waite has met the partner of her dreams. A handsome, loving man who becomes part of her family, evolving into her husband, her best friend, and the father of her infant daughter. After: A disturbing email sparks suspicion, leading to an investigation of who this man really is and what was really happening in their marriage. ?
- All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives. This story will make you question your values as you cheer for the unlikeliest of relationships.?
- The Home for Unwanted Girls: The story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other. ?
- Leaving Time: Throughout her blockbuster career, Jodi Picoult has seamlessly blended nuanced characters, riveting plots, and rich prose, brilliantly creating stories that “not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us” (The Boston Globe). Now, in Leaving Time, she has delivered a book unlike anything she’s written before. ?
- Something In the Water: Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves. ?
- You: A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. ?
- The Reckoning: (John Grishan is my guilty pleasure.) In a major novel unlike anything he has written before, John Grisham takes us on an incredible journey, from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during World War II; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to the Clanton courtroom where Pete’s defense attorney tries desperately to save him. ?
- The Hate U Give: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. ?
- Salt to the Sea: Told in alternating points of view, this historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff—the greatest maritime disaster in history. The story unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity and love can prevail, even in the darkest of hours. ?
- Before We Were Yours: Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong. ?
- Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: Soon to be a major motion picture, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes…the only way to survive is to open your heart. ?
- City of the Lost: A Rockton Novel (Casey Duncan Novels Book 1): Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey’s best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana’s husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it’s time for the two of them to disappear again. ?
- Darkness Absolute: A Rockton Novel (Casey Duncan Novels Book 2): When experienced homicide detective Casey Duncan first moved to the secret town of Rockton, she expected a safe haven for people like her, people running from their past misdeeds and past lives. She knew living in Rockton meant living off-the-grid completely: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. What she didn’t expect is that Rockton comes with its own set of secrets and dangers. ?
- Sing, Unburied, Sing: Jesmyn Ward’s historic second National Book Award–winner is “perfectly poised for the moment” (The New York Times), an intimate portrait of three generations of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. “Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief, and love… this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it” (Buzzfeed). ?
- When Life Gives You Lululemons: After leaving Miranda Priestly, Emily Charlton has been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now. Billed as a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada, it doesn’t quite hit the same cult following. ?
- The Perfect Couple: It’s Nantucket wedding season and the Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember. But it’s going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons after tragedy strikes: a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony-and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect.?
- The Sun Does Shine: This is an arresting memoir of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading, written by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. It will make you exceptionally angry.?
Your Summer Reading List
One more thing to note: if you want to amp up your reading, check out Book Of the Month.
I gifted several subscriptions as holiday gifts last year.
It’s been fun for us all to choose books to read and discuss them in our own virtual book club.
They generally have books available that haven’t yet hit the bookstores/shelves so you get to be among the first to read up-and-comers.
It’s introduced me to new authors—some I likely never would have read if I were searching Amazon on my own.
And it’s renewed my passion for real books versus reading them on my iPad.
Now the floor is yours. I’d love to know the top three books you’ve read (or listened to) in the last 12 months.
The photo is all of the books I’ve received from Book of the Month this year. You’ll note there are a couple in the photo that are not on this list. That’s because I haven’t read them yet. Next year!