It’s Not Too Late To Start A Summer Reading List

 Summer may be halfway through (gasp!) but it’s not too late to check a few books off your “must read” list!

I’ve lost touch with the power a book holds. The summer is already half-way over (how?!) and I haven’t had the time to read even just one. Is it really lack of time? Or is it just me prioritizing other things? It’s both, and I’m to blame. Seeing as I write every single day for my job, reading should to be a pastime that is more frequent in my life. Actually, it’s necessary. The more you read, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you know. Words have the power to enrich the soul, to inspire. I realized the other day that I haven’t read a book in quite some time, and I felt really bad about it. I have a strong desire to improve my writing, and I believe reading other’s work is the door to new perspectives, different points of view, a fresh verbiage. To get myself jumpstarted, I asked my friends here at home office to recommend the best of the best. The books that leave pages marked in their lives, the ones that make them laugh, the ones that help them grow. The summer isn’t over yet, and it’s never too late to start a reading list that can then be carried on into the seasons ahead.

Below is a list of reads that the people of FP recommend. I would love to hear your recommendations too. So if you will, please leave a comment with a book you think we need to add to the list! 

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Julie, Editorial Specialist: Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

On my last trip home I snagged my mother’s old copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I remember this book being on her nightstand when I was younger and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to crack it open. Estes is both a Jungian psychoanalyst, and a cantadora (keeper of the old stories of the Latina tradition), and in WWRWTW she uses both sides of herself to analyze and redefine fairytales and folklore from different cultures in order to help women reconnect with the wild part, the Wild Women, within themselves. 

Abby, Content Director: 1) Sea of Poppies by Amitav Gosh ,  South Of Broad by Pat Conroy

Gosh is an absolute linguistic genius and takes the reader on an epic adventure aboard a ship called the ibis through 19th century India and  Mauritius. His creative and superb use of language is so inspiring and such a treat! I can’t wait to read River of Smoke, the next book in the series. 

One of my all time favorite summer reads is South Of Broad by Pat Conroy. Packed full of all the delicious southern drama, wit and hauntingly beautiful imagery that I only imagine fully depicts the south. Quite a page turner by one of the south’s greatest contemporary story tellers. 

Naomi, Marketing Specialist: Travels With Charley: in Search of America by John Steinbeck

I recently read and loved Travels With Charley: in Search of America by John Steinbeck. It’s the perfect summer read. It’s quick, full of adventure, and a deep look into Steinbeck — one of America’s great writers — as an actual man. Unlike his other books, it’s written as a memoir, recounting his journey driving across the USA in a custom-built camper, accompanied solely by his dog Charley. You see the entire country through Steinbeck’s eyes. He ponders politics, human nature, global warming, societal shifts, geography, and so much more. Even though it’s written in the ’60s, part of what I love is that so many of Steinbeck’s observations still stand true. And yet, some things, like the ability to post up and camp anywhere, have changed so much. I’ve also heard that you can go visit Rocinante, his camper, in Sausalito. I would love to go check it out someday. I imagine it as the perfect bachelor pad on wheels.

Rachel, Assistant Videographer: 1) Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, 2) The Golden Compass (and The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman.

My dad gave me Blue Highways right before I left on a three month, technology-less road trip with a few friends. It follows the author’s road trip around the United States, in which he traveled only on ‘blue highways’ (highways that used to be drawn in blue on old maps – no interstates, only the back roads through small towns.)  It’s an awesome look into what makes people connect, and the things you can learn from strangers. 

I’ve been known to cry when I read books… or watch movies or listen to music. Some things touch you, and you can’t help it. But at the end of The Amber Spyglass, in the backseat of my mom’s car on our way to Florida for Christmas – I must have been 15 or so – I WEPT. Wept. Uncontrollable, inconsolable weeping. It’s the story of a girl from a world much like our own, but one that took a different turn at some point; where there are witches and magic, warrior polar bears who talk, and all humans’ souls are visible in the form of an animal who hangs out with them all of the time. (How cool!) When her friend is kidnapped, she sets out on a journey to save him – and in doing so, learns more than she ever dreamed about her world and our own. 

Christian,Video EditorA Giacometti Portrait by James Lord

A Giacometti Portrait has been one of my all-time favorite books since I was in high school. The result of writer James Lord sitting down to pose for his good friend, the famed painter Alberto Giacometti, the whole book is an attempt to capture and share the artist’s full creative process from conception to fruition.

At just under 130 pages, it’s a pretty deceptively quick read, but it’s packed with some fascinating insights on the personal creative arc from one of the most celebrated painters, draftsman, and sculptors of the 20th century. Each chapter opens with a photo of where the painting was at that given point, letting you know what was changed, added or abandoned.

Running through virtually the entire emotional spectrum — from manic pride to wavering uncertainty to self-depricating anguish — the book in a lot of ways is a message of support, almost consolation, to anyone who has wrestled with their own creativity.

Dawn, East Coast Social Media Manager: 1) Just Kids by Patti Smith 2) Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Patti Smith’s memoir takes me back to a time before myself that intrigues me. As struggling young artists and musicians during the late 60s and 70s, Patti and Robert came to feel like old friends to me.

Wild is memoir that takes you along the Pacific Coast Trail with Cheryl as she battles her inner demons. Yes, she was wild and maybe did things she shouldn’t have, but haven’t we all!! The point is to take it as a life lesson and move on, which she eventually does. I found myself rooting for her the entire way and still feel inspired to give that trail a try one day!



+ Comment with your recommendations below! 

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  1. Ops, I haven’t read any of the recommended books to be honest. Most of the time I read on the train but it’s a goal of mine to read at home or in the park too (getting there). I’m reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami at the moment. It’s kind of slow but really well-written & exciting. I definitely recommend it! x

  2. I just finished reading, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. It was such a good story, I absolutely loved it. I never knew about this piece of American history.

  3. My favorite book to recommend is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Also, Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, is another favorite. I just picked up Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, so I’m super excited to delve into that!

  4. I had a reading lull this spring, but I’ve managed to pick my reading pace back up. I have two recs. My first is AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir. It’s super fast-paced, but there’s a lot of subtle political stuff going on. It’s a fantasy novel based on ancient Rome. The cast of characters is diverse; the characters are well-rounded, flawed, and oh so interesting; and the world-building is fantastic.

    My second suggestion is THE FIRST COLLECTION OF CRITICISM BY A LIVING FEMALE ROCK CRITIC by Jessica Hopper. This one is easy to squeeze in five-minute bursts because her essays were originally published online. But she is a phenomenal thinker and writer and her words inspire me to not only think about how I write but also how I listen to music. Great stuff.

  5. I’m much more of a YA reader…so I would like to recommend a series: The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. It’s about this lovely gray-eyed girl from New York, Tessa Gray, who comes to London in the late 1800s. She is captured by villains and the arrogant yet beautiful William Herondale comes to save her. Though it brews into this terrific love triangle between Will, Tessa and Jem. It’s truly amazing and consists of magic, love and otherworldly creatures. I love it very much.

  6. I’m (admittedly) poor so I read a lot… libraries are your best friend! I personally like to wander and select one book at random each time as well as one book from my to read list on Goodreads. One of my favorite books to recommend is The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s not strictly fantasy, but a believable tale told through the eyes of a child but in a sense that every adult can feel the truth in the words. There is just so much delicious prose and it’s not too long… can be read in a few days. I reread The Ocean at the End of the Lane at random whenever I want to just appreciate beauty.

    More personal favorites are Revolutionary Road and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. If I was stranded on a desert island with only 3 books, these would be it. If I could add a bonus it would be The Nick Adams stories by Hemingway. Gosh, I love every bit of those.

    I didn’t mean to get so carried away, haha. I need to go to the library tonight. I’ll be done with Steinbeck’s Pearl soon and need a new book…

  7. Earlier this summer I finally got around to reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. It is the perfect summer novel. It’s set during a southern summer and tells the story of a girl and her relationship with the women in her life. The writing is beautiful and inspiring.

  8. I found Just Kids by Patti Smith as one of the FB book club reads and have been absolutely hooked to that style of writing ever since. It’s one of my absolute favorite books.
    I’m struggling to find fiction books to read lately that don’t seem cheesy to me. I’m much more into the biography/memoir/life-lesson kind of writing right now. So for this summer I would highly recommend

    YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler. A combination of comedy, memoir and self-help, everyone already loves Amy…but this book helps you love yourself!
    CAT’S CRADLE by Kurt Vonnegut. If you’ve never read Vonnegut, you should. This is my favorite by him.
    IF NOBODY SPEAKS OF REMARKABLE THINGS by Jon McGregor. This book is about nothing in particular, but written in beautiful prose, highlighting the simple moments of everyday life. Every time I closed the pages I felt like my senses were heightened.

  9. The recommended books listed below are amazing! I also recommend Just Kids by Patti Smith it has been a New York Times BestSeller forever and its an amazing vivid memoir. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a must read for any hopeless romantic such as myself. The Hungry Ear (Poems of Food & Drink) Edited by Kevin Young is a great summer read. Poems are so much fun and humorous, full of memories we can all relate to with food.

  10. The Wood Wife by Terri Windling. You will only find it second hand, it’s not a long book but so worth every second spent with the characters. It is a powerful story, inspiring and thought provoking, and written so well I long to visit Arizona and see the land where it takes place. This is one of the few books I read at least once a year. And if you are left wondering what could possibly follow it, I find Forests of the Heart or Someplace To Be Flying by Charles de Lint the only choices for me.

  11. The Girl on the Train is riveting, a thriller. Also The Light Between Two Oceans is very touching and a thought provoking.. Total summer reads are by Jojo Moyes. They are British, funny and touching. I read all the time. English teacher…..

  12. I recently started reading Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance. As a single woman in her early 30’s, the book has made me cringe out of recognition of so many of the scenarios he discusses, but it’s still a fascinating look at how dating and love has evolved over 50+ years. And, of course, it’s beyond hysterical. I just had to put it down for a week or two though because it got a little too real!

  13. I absolutely adore reading! I can read for days straight. I am lucky this summer – I have like 12 books to read from the library (and I am getting more) and all the time in the world to enjoy romance, drama and life in those stories! :)
    x M.

  14. Spinster by Kate bolick
    Revolutionary road by Richard Yates
    My first New York by editors of New York magazine

  15. If you have not already you HAVE TO READ
    100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez- magical realism at its absolute best!
    Bel Canto by Ann Patchett- enchanting prose, love, humor, and suspense, what more could you want?

    The absolute best books I have ever read and would recommend them both to anyone!

  16. Hopefully I’ll have time to read some new books before the summer ends, but as I am currently lagging on the book that I am currently reading “A Long Fatal Love Chase” by Louisa May Alcott (Think 50 shades of Grey, but a less explicit 19th/20th century version).

    I would recommend- Memoirs of a Geisha- Arthur Golden (This book is fantastically written with history lessons and beautiful imagery of a fading part of Japanese culture.)

  17. Such a great list! Happy to say I’ve only read a few, I always love finding other recommendations! One of my forever-favorites is “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt! Also always love anything postmodern by Kazuo Ishiguro (“The Unconsoled”) or Italo Calvino (“If on a winter’s night a traveler”). “Bel Canto” by Anne Patchett. “Tales of the Jazz Age” by F Scott Fitzgerald (if you’re looking for short stories). “Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan is a really fun read too! “The Way The Crow Flies” or “Fall On Your Knees” by Ann-Marie MacDonald are incredible.

    Goodreads is a great resource for finding new books as well! It’s been a big help for me to keep track of what I’ve read and what I still want to read or if I can’t figure out what to read next.

  18. Great list, i’d like to contribute one I just finished up that was recommended to me by a friend titled The Evolution of Robert Carr by Paul K. Lovett: It deals with the concept of human neural enhancement, and the implications of this technology. What happens when the human brain becomes obsolete? These are real issues that we will truly face in the future, which makes the book very poignant. Check it out!

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