Margin Notes: Summer Reading Suggestions, Nostalgia

It's that sun-block hands, sand in the bindings, use a shell/rock as a place holder season and we all know that that means... Lots of SPF and some serious reading time. In honor of freckles and sunshine I want to give you my official 2014 list of suggested summer reads. I'm posting these one section at a time over the next week, so keep your eyes peeled for Nostalgia and Breezy books. Click here to see my first post on Book Club Books, here to see my second post on summer "It" Books, and here for my third post on Breezy Books. This wraps up my summer reading suggestions!


Are you hankering for something a little weighty? Did you rely on Cliff's Notes in high school and are you feeling slightly guilty about it? My friend Cate is working her way through a list of classic lit. In honor of her, here are my picks for classic but eminently readable books. Some of my all time favorites.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

If you've read this book or haven't read this book, reread it. It's just amazing at every age, at every point in your life. Just totally wonderful.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

I absolutely think this is a classic book. It's frightening, honest, enthralling, and just so crazy. I couldn't put it down and think it's a must-read for everyone.

Never Let Me Go by Kazue Ishiguro

As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance – and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro’s finest work.

One of my all time favorite books. I found it heart wrenching, realistic, shocking, and ultimately very very effective. Highly recommended.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John IrvingJohn Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is the inspiring modern classic that introduced two of the author’s most unforgettable characters, boys bonded forever in childhood: the stunted Owen Meany, whose life is touched by God, and the orphaned Johnny Wheelwright, whose life is touched by Owen. From the accident that links them to the mystery that follows them–and the martyrdom that parts them–the events of their lives form a tapestry of fate and faith in a novel that is Irving at his irresistible best.

I read this the summer before my senior year of high school and it remains one of my favorite books to this day. Highly, highly recommended.

Love Story by Eric Segal

Oliver Barrett IV, a wealthy jock from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law . . . Jenny Cavilleri, a sharp-tongued, working-class beauty studying music at Radcliffe ...

Opposites in nearly every way, Oliver and Jenny are kindred spirits from vastly different worlds. Falling deeply and powerfully, their attraction to one another defies everything they have ever believed—as they share a passion far greater than anything they dreamed possible... and explore the wonder of a love that must end too soon.

One of the most adored novels of our time, this is the book that defined a generation—a story of uncompromising devotion, of life as it really is... and love that changes everything.

Such a wonderful book. My friend Jen is named after the main character :) You could read this in a day or two on the beach and be totally in love with it. It's breezy, but classic and beautiful.

What would you add to this list? Have you read any of these? 

Check out all of the Summer Reading Installments!


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