20 Books To Add To Your Summer Reading List

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for summer. Or, at least, the idea of summer…which includes lemonade and hammocks and perfect mosquito-less afternoons spent outside with a book. So, to help foster that moment into actually taking place, I’ve compiled a summer reading list just for you! A lot of people have been asking me for book recommendations. And, like any good bookworm, it’s my pleasure to comply. Here are 20 books/series that I’ve loved from all different genres and age ranges.


1. The Blood of Kings Series, by Jill Williamson

If you haven’t read this series yet, NOW IS THE TIME. If you have read this series…it’s time to re-read them. 😉 They are brilliant and packed with all things summer and travel and adventure.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Because traveling and summer and songs and pipe tobacco and second breakfast. That’s why. I have two friends who have never seen nor read The Lord of the Rings and hubby and I are going to marathon the movies with them and force them to bow to our fandom. *ahem* I mean…and share the joy and epicness of Gandalf and Samwise and Aragorn…

3. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

I include this book/series because it takes place in a desert kingdom. Aka: warmth (and sand.) Thus…summer. I always love those less common worlds that show up in fiction–the ones that aren’t a medieval forest or mountainous terrain. Desert, people. Desert. Prepare your camels.

4. Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne

MERMAIDS, PEOPLE. Mermaids. What is summer without mermaids or swimming? Without playing sharks and minnows or Marco Polo and snagging a snorkel to pretend that you are king or queen of the raging sea? I recently finished Breakwater and it’s now my favorite mermaid story. So there.

5. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. I know I had Lord of the Rings up there, but I probably should have put The Hobbit first. If living in a round little hill house isn’t summery then I don’t know what is. Who doesn’t want to hang out in The Shire when they’re on school break?

6. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Time travel and pirate ships. Can you really beat that? I’ve yet to read the sequel, but I’m excited to revisit Passenger this summer. I read it while on a cruise ship in the Bahamas last year. Not sure I can top that.

Disclaimer: Readers seem to either love or loathe this book, so it may not be your thing. I happened to really enjoy it. 😀

7. The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis

If that cover doesn’t scream summer and adventure, I don’t know what does. A sweet little standalone about a girl getting sucked into a book and having to survive the plot. Just YES.

8. Unraveling by Sara Ella

Okay this is a sequel so you have to have read Unblemished first. But you should know that Unraveling is phenomenal. I mean…I liked the first book, but book two is awesomeness on steroids. It releases in July (two months away!) and it’s packed with tension and adventure and jaw-dropping “WHAT?!” moments. I’ve read it in book form…but the hardcover calls to me for a re-read. And I’ve given you enough time to go pick up the first book to prepare yourself.

9. The Bloodheart by Steve Rzasa

Sky pirates? Yes please. Cloud cities? BRING IT. This is one of those secretly awesome books that slipped through the cracks. But now I am shoving it in your face so that you can go read about it and love it like I do!

10. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Bookworms, this is a retelling of Arabian Nights…only as a YA novel set in a magical Persia-like empire. I still haven’t read the sequel but…it calls to us, precioussss.

11. A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

And by A Voice in the Wind I actually mean the entire Mark of the Lion Series. Do it. Now. Obey me (or I will hunt you down…nicely.) This is the story of a Messianic Jewish slave girl who serves a Roman family during the time of the gladiator games. It’s intense and amazing and inspiring.

12. The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

There’s just something about a 1920s mystery novel that seems to fit with summer. That is my opinion and my opinion is always right. 😛

13. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This book’s just a goodie all around. And if the thickness of it intimidates you…snag it on audiobook. 😉 Or just go watch the movie, because it’s also fantastic.

14. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Why yes, I’m pulling out a classic because this is a journey and summertime is all about hiking and traveling and growth and being outside. It just fits…both for the mood and for our souls.

15. The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

Oh, you know, just your typical middle-grade novel about a young farm girl who can fly. No big deal. This is one of this it-slipped-through-the-cracks books that is near and dear to my heart. In fact, I think I need to go read it again. I might just set this blog post aside and… *runs to read*

16. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Maybe you hated Twilight or maybe you loved it. No matter where you fall on the Stephenie Meyer spectrum…you need to read The Host. A standalone about an alien invasion that takes over our minds. I found it absolutely brilliant. (Warning: As would be expected because it’s Stephenie Meyer…there is some heated kissing. 😛 You’ve been warned.)

17. Dune by Frank Herbert

Do I even need to explain this one? They live on a desert planet! It’s a classic and it’s an old style of writing, but what a crazy and brilliant story. Not to mention giant sand worms that will hunt you down.

18. A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr

A Cast of Stones is one of the most unique and yet gripping fantasy novels I’ve read. I love a good rags-to-hero story.  😉 Also…that coverrrrr. This is a good summer read because it includes traveling and staff fighting.

19. Storming by K. M. Weiland

Zeppelins, airshows, and sky pirates. Just try and tell me you don’t want to read it.

20. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hunting. Gathering. Love triangles. Giant arena of death and forest. What’s not to love? 😉 I had to include The Hunger Games on this list, though I will say…read Mockingjay at your own risk.

Well, my friends. Theres a new TBR pile for you.

Have you read any of these books?

Which books were new to you?



About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.

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  1. brandonscottmiller

    Me: I am very busy and don’t hardly have time to write, much less read.
    But.. I’ve already read five of them, so… I guess only fifteen. And that’s a /much/ smaller number. #sarcasm
    My personal issues aside though, these look great. Dune was already on my list, (and my shelf) so I guess I’ll have to bump it up. A Cast of Stones looks awesome, so I’ll have to look that up. I think the Blood of Kings are the only books of Jill’s which I haven’t read, so I should probably get on that.
    Also on my summer reading list are Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, The Partials Sequence by Dan Wells, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and the Peter and the Star Catchers series by Dave Barry.
    Yeah, I guess I’ve got a busy summer lined up. But that’s cool. Have y’all read any of those?
    Also, the Lord of the Rings is obviously my favorite from the list, but Stephanie’s The Lost Girl of Astor Street is fantastic too as is (old book warning) Pilgrims Progress.

    • You…haven’t read The Blood of Kings trilogy!?!?! O.o *passes out* IT’S SO GOOOOOOOD!!

      Oooh, I have Brandon Sanderson and Cornelia Funke on my personal summer TBR pile, too!

  2. I think your last sentence in the intro might have been cut off?

    Also, did you know The Host was going to be a trilogy? But I think everyone’s given up hope for the promised sequels.

    • Oops! Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve now fixed it. 🙂 Yes, I’d heard that The Host was going to have a sequel, but I just love it so much as a standalone I’m okay if she never writes the sequels. 😉

  3. Oh my goodness based on the ones I’ve read or have on my TBR pile (Storming is at the top), I’m going to check out the remaining ones! I’m even considering rereading Dune. I had a bad experience in high school with this one. I’m due for a reread of The Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s one of my favorites. Matthew 7:13-14 are a couple of my favorite verses “through the wicket gate” just like Christian.

  4. Anna Bourassa

    Oooh!! Thanks for sharing this list of goodies! I’m checking into 6 of them!

  5. Polaris Northstar

    I Neeeeeeeddddddd Breakwater!!!! I have been waiting for this book to hit the
    shelves Forever!!!!! I need a mermaid story!!!! I’m SO jealous you already got
    to read it!!!

    I also neeeeed The Word Changers and Unraveling because 1) they sound So awesome (and yes, I read Unblemished, which was totally awesome and I need to read the next one! NOW!!!) and 2) BEAUTIFUL COVERS!!! XD

    I have the old covers for the Mark of the Lion Series, but these new covers are just beautiful! And yes, I read them =D

    I have also read most of the Hunger Games series, but I stopped approximately
    half way through Mockingjay. The writing it self was phenomenal, but the
    story could have been better. I don’t know, should I ever finish Mockingjay?

    • Breakwater is soooooo goooood! It will satisfy your mermaid craving. 😀

      I, also, have the old covers for Mark of the Lion and I like them better. 😀

      DO NOT FINISH MOCKINGJAY!! Watch the movie instead (I know that is bookworm sacrilege, but still….the book will not satisfy you. Finish if you want, but I regretted ever reading that book.)

      • Polaris Northstar

        I know!!! I need Breakwater!!!! I NEEEEDDDD a mermaid story!!!!!!

        Interesting. Of the original covers, my favorite is #3, and I do like that one more than the new one. But I do like the new covers for # 1 & 2 better (maybe because they are shiny;)

        I did see the Mockingjay movie… I just did not find the movies as good as the books ;). I guess I will think about finishing Mockingjay… but I don’t know… ; /
        Was it unsatisfying? The ending I mean. My favorite part of the series is the writing style itself (I don’t actually care for the characters themselves for some reason, and I know that was what a lot of people had a problem with ending over. I was just reading it because a friend really wanted me to… and the only reason I was thinking about finishing it is because I almost always read the entire thing).

        Thanks for replying Nadine!

  6. Wow what a mix of books and some of my favourites in there LOTR and Dune! And Storming, they are so good! There were a few of these that I had never really heard of before so that is interesting.

  7. Widely diverse books – I need to expand my go-to romance genre to include many of these other categories. I’d have to add “Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, though. *plans bookshelf rummage* AND the new film out in 2018! Squee!

  8. Hannah Rodriguez

    I just read A Voice in the Wind last month
    IT WAS SO AMAZING. (I obviously have a mountain of a tbr between some new books and re reads)

  9. I’ve read two of three of the Blood of Kings series. This reminded me I need to read the third book sometime soon. I’ve been interested in reading a Francine Rivers book lately but have yet to pick one up. I actually read The Hunger Games in April. I can’t believe it took me so long to pick up the book. I will have to get to reading the last two sometime though. I haven’t read the Lord of the Rings nor the Hobbit but have watched most of the movies. My brother and I stayed up to midnight the other night because it was on T.V. It reminded me how much I loved the story. Now, I’ve added a lot of books to my TBR list. Although a few were already there.

  10. AH, this post made me so happy! All the good books that I have read (I MAY have squealed when I saw some of the ones on your list xD), and all the amazing books that I haven’t read (which are most definitely on my tbr now!)!

    I’ve never heard of Breakwater, but it immediately jumped out at me because THAT COVER. It’s gorgeous <3 <3 . I need to get my hands on all of these books, they look INCREDIBLE. Do you have a favorite?

    (okay, this is random, but I was looking through some of your old posts and ran across the fact that you love Settlers Of Catan and OH MY <3 <3 That's one of my favorite games ever *highfives*)

  11. Rats! More books for my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendations! 🙂

  12. Love this list! Thank you! Always need recommendations! The mark of the lion series is one of my favorites. Might have to reread that one again. Some of these will have to be audiobooks since I have a 14 month old! Wish I could read more than I do now!!

  13. I haven’t read The Blood of Kings series, but I have definitely loved some of Jill Williamson’s writing!

    I have heard great stuff about Sara Ella’s books and glad that you enjoyed them too! I should probably check them out.

    Just recently finished “The Lost Girl of Astor Street” (here’s my review: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29618105-the-lost-girl-of-astor-street). It was SO. GOOD. The book is currently only $2 on kindle, so I encouraged/made my sister get it too. :p

    So far, I have read the first Hunger Games book (review: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2767052-the-hunger-games) and watched the first movie. Loved it and was stunned by it. Of course, the book is much better, which most originals are, whatever form of media they are in. But I’m pretty pumped to read and watch “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” 🙂

    Thank you so much for the post, Nadine!

I love hearing from you!