Welcome to my 2018 Summer Reading List. I started this list in 2016 as a way to gather interesting books to read at the beach or the pool. My Summer Reading list has become an annual event that I look forward to putting together each year and sharing with friends, family, and colleagues.
This year, I received recommendations from a host of people from my personal life to my professional life. Their contributions make this list a ‘must read’! I hope that you will find a new author, a book that allows you to make sense out of this crazy world or find a way to escape for a few hours.
I am amazed at the collection of books on this year’s list as they highlight works from established authors, classics and books from new authors. Take time to read over the list and check off the books you want to borrow from your local library or purchase on Amazon.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this year’s list. Some have contributed to my Summer Reading list since I started this list in 2016. There are some who are first-timers who answered my call to share a book or two that they have read this past year that moved them in some way.
If you have a book that is you would like to contribute that is not on the list, feel free to put the name of the book, the author and why you liked the book in the comment section so others can read your recommendations. Enjoy!
I will start the list with the first person to submit a book to this year’s list. Connie Sunderhaus is a longtime friend, case management colleague, and patient advocate colleague. She is an avid reader and always suggests a good read. Her suggestion this year is; The Woman in the Window: A Novel by A.J. Flynn. Her comment was, “it was a real page-turner’.
The second person to contribute was Teri Mills, President of the National Nurse Network. Teri shared two books that she read and found compelling. The first book is: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. She said the story focuses on children taken from their parents through kidnapping and then placed for adoption, for a price. It is written from two perspectives-the granddaughters of a wealthy Senator and Rill, one of the children whose life was forever changed. Sadly the comparison between this book and current events is gripping, especially when children are being pulled away from their parents and stored in warehouses while our government decides what to do with them.
The second book recommended by Teri is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. This novel is about a family’s move to Alaska when they are gifted property to seek a better life. However, they were ill-equipped to handle the isolation and brutal winter. The father has severe PTSD related to his service in the Vietnam War, the mother is an enabler, and the teenage daughter is caught in-between. This book is an excellent read for any book club, and it already has a movie deal.
Linda DeBold, a nurse colleague, and friend, said she just finished reading Robin Cook’s CRISIS. A medical mystery that kept her turning the pages. She said the book was factual with an excellent plot.
Natalie Miller shared she just finished Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. She said, “The book is about black women who contributed to the space program through their mathematical geniuses. I am amazed and surprised by their contributions because these contributions were hidden from the average Joe, meaning people like me. As a child growing up in Virginia NASA was in my backyard, and I was never aware of the contributions that black females were making to the space program at that time. Blacks were not represented positively in television at that time in a big way nor were they being shown as participants in the space program. Back then little black girls could have benefited from those types of role models, black females making a difference in the world. We only saw images of maids, etc. Seeing the movie inspired me to purchase the book. I am amazed by what I am reading, that we as women, we as black women contributed so much and made a difference.”
My water aerobics friends weighed in this year with some interesting recommendations. First up is Carole Altobell. Carol shared three books: First was The Girl with Seven Names, a story about a North Korean Defector’s. David John and Lee Hyeon-seo wrote the book. “It is a true story, and I found it very interesting because I know very little about Korea.” Her second recommendation was a book she read with her book club. The book was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. “The book was enjoyed by all as it was a mystery with lots of twists. If you like this book, know there are more like it as this book is one of 5 books in the Millennium Series! Her last recommendation was the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Carol shared “the book is a futuristic look at American society gone a little crazy. The story focuses on one woman story of how society evolved. It is a gripping read!
Another friend from water aerobics, Barbara Fogarty, did something that might be fun for anyone who likes to read! She re-read her favorite books that shaped her childhood and early adulthood. The novels she read will always be her favorites. She loved re-reading them and shared them with her granddaughter who is 13. She suggested we all consider doing this. Here are her favorites!
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This book was her first exposure to a mentally challenged character, Miss Haversham and one of my literature’s first ‘mean girl, “Estella”.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Didn’t all readers wish Atticus Finch was their father?
The Children’s Story by James Clavell. This book was a brief look at how easy to brainwash children. It is a must-read for all parents.
Her favorite book was: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. The story is a tender look at immigration by showing us life in an Irish ghetto through the eyes of Francie Nolan.
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. This book shows the reader what truly divides society is not race or religion but wealth.
Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. Barbara shared she was riveted from the first sentence. This w book is her favorite thriller.
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. This was her first, sexy book! She shared she was 13 when she sat on the floor with her friend as she read the Betty Ronney beach scene!
The Group by Mary McCarthy. Reading this novel took her back to her college dorm when her roommate got pregnant – a taboo in 1962. Several friends raised money for her to get an abortion. A different time for sure.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This is a beautiful story in the Civil War era.
In addition to these classics, she shared her most recent book. Without a Paddle by Warren Richey is an adventure book and a must-read for anyone who lives in Florida. Warren is her friend and neighbor who won the Florida Challenge for kayaking 1200 miles around Florida. A fascinating read.
Next is a special lady from my water aerobics class, Inez De Jesus AKA the Queen! Her suggestion was A Cup of Comfort by Colleen Sell. Inez shared that this is a very comforting read composed of short humane stories that touched you and stays with you after reading them. This author has a ‘comfort series’ which is an uplifting anthology of fifty inspirational stories shares messages of compassion, determination, comfort, and joy designed to transform and enrich the lives of readers. Inez also read Barbara Bush, A Memoir by Barbara Bush. The books share the extraordinary life of the wife and mother of Presidents of the United States. It was an interesting read about an extraordinary woman.
The last contributor from my Water Aerobics class is Barbara Bryan Rojas. She shared a book that she has been reading is The Complete Stories of Father Brown, by G.K. Chesterton. “I watched the whole series on Netflix and wanted to look up the original stories, so I ordered this book on Amazon. When it says “complete”, it means complete – 797 pages! I haven’t read them all, but that’s the beauty of it. I can jump around in no particular order. They are fun stories to read, very short and to the point. The character descriptions are vivid. The original stories do not have the extra characters like Mrs. McCarthy, Lady Felicia and Sid. They are more cut-and-dried, just Father Brown figuring out very puzzling situations.”
Next up is Janie Harvey Garner, the creator of the popular Facebook page, Show Me Your Stethoscope. The page has over 657,000 plus members. The page is a powerful force of advocacy and support for nurses, rising above the role of traditional trade associations and politics as usual. Their motto is nurses take care of patients; we take care of nurses. It is my go to page to keep up with what is happening in nursing! Her recommendations for the Summer Reading list were two classics by George Orwell. 1984 and Animal Farm.
Lynn Rutherford suggested 9 Women One Dress by Jane L. Rosen. “A good woman’s read about a black dress, as the title suggests, and the women who come in contact with it. Her second book is; One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. A more serious story about what one thinks about when in a serious situation. A good thoughtful read.
Several of my longtime childhood friends shared their picks for this year’s list. First was from Kathy Pauza who said she just finished 7 Lessons from Heaven: How Dying Taught Me to Live a Joy-Filled Life by Mary C. Neal, M.D. The book was a New York Times bestseller! Here is Kathy’s overview and insights; “Dr. Neal tells about her near-death experience. That in and of itself was an amazingly-riveting story. After this experience, she was determined to share her story with others and how it changed her life to live with joy. It’s spiritually-oriented but told from a scientist’s frame of mind.” The book includes a Reader’s Guide intended for book club members to use as a tool for discussion. I have been wanting to start a book club in my area…hmmm…need to give this some serious thought. I would recommend this book to all.
The next book Kathy is going to tackle is Victoria’s Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard. It’s packed with lots of history which really isn’t my thing but I love anything Victoria related.
Theresa Petrelius is a good friend who came into our circle of childhood friends through Kathy Pauza. They worked together years ago. She was immediately adopted into our circle of friends. I knew Theresa was an avid reader, so I invited her to share some of the book she has read recently. Here is what she said; “There are so many books to recommend, I don’t know where to start! When we were away in April, I read six books in four weeks. Here are my recommendations: First, every summer I read the new Dan Silva book that he has been publishing for a decade about the character Gabriel Allon, an artist who is also a spy working for Mossad. Dan publishes a new book every mid-July and I am already looking forward to the next book. I was hooked with the first book of the series; The Rembrandt Affair about a painting that went missing during World War II from a Jewish family taken by the Nazis. I like reading thriller novels based on historical events (much like Dan Silva). Steve Berry is one of my favorites and has quite a few books to choose from. I particularly like the Cotton Malone series that he writes. Lisa Scottoline is another favorite. She is from Philadelphia and writes an article for the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. She puts out two books every year, one as a series and one independent. I don’t especially like the characters in the series books, but always enjoy the independent book she writes annually. This year’s independent book was After Anna.
Theresa goes on to share that a few years ago, Kristin Hannah wrote a book called The Nightingale. It is my favorite book in several years and I still occasionally read the very satisfying last chapter. It was about two sisters in France during the war who find their own ways of surviving (some parts are difficult to read) but it is quite good. She just came out with The Great Alone. Also hard to read and makes you mad about women putting up with abusive relationships, but an interesting story. After reading those two books on vacation, I read the latest Sophie Kinsella book which is a light read and often good for an out loud chuckle. She wrote the Shopaholic series. Surprise Me is a comical book after reading something difficult.
Liz Wooster, another of my longtime childhood friend shared quite a few recommendations. First, “I just finished a quick read that I think you would really like. Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki. This is a true account of a young wife, expecting her first child, who is thrown a real curve ball. Her life is nearly perfect as she and her husband head out on a “babymoon” vacation to Hawaii. However, during the flight, her husband (30 years old) has a massive stroke. Thus they embark on another type of journey as he battles back from this debilitating brain trauma. As we all know, life can change in an instant and can we ever be prepared? Her account is endearing and genuine. Her story talks about faith also…and makes those of us who complain about small things sit up and slap ourselves silly.
Another book I HIGHLY recommend is Educated by Tara Westover. This is a memoir in the same vein as The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Both of these books have earned a place on my library shelves…Educated being recently published this year. This book is about a young woman raised in a survivalist family…barely homeschooled by parents who are mostly interested in preparing for the end of time. Her first time in a formal classroom is when she is 17. It’s a fascinating account of one’s determination to slip the bounds of a controlled environment and truly reach a pinnacle of finest achievement. Excellent, Excellent, Excellent!
Two others for you that I read this year – both true stories but classed as historical fiction: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. I enjoy WWII stories and this one takes us to Italy – rather than usual Germany, Britain, France locales. This is a fantastic account of young Pino Lella who becomes a German soldier in order to spy for the Allies. As the Germans infiltrate Italy, this 18-year-old becomes a resistance fighter, helping Italian Jews escape over the Alps to Switzerland and freedom. Later, his parents force him to enlist as a German soldier in order to increase his chance of surviving the War to end all wars. (If only!) There is suspense as well as a love story in this book. I really enjoyed it.
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa. Have you heard about the SS St Louis? This is a transatlantic cruise ship that offered Jews a save passage out of Germany to Cuba – all to escape, of course, the persecution from the Nazis. However, after a surreal vacation like voyage, they are turned away by Cuba as well as the US and other countries. Some people do have the necessary credentials to disembark in Cuba – one being “the German girl” whose life takes a very different turn. The story is intriguing. Another great read.
Tina Fey’s book called Bossy Pants is by far the most hilarious book I’ve ever enjoyed. Truly laughed out loud. You can read it in one weekend. And it has a great Philly accent.
Time to hit the road….however, if you have never read any of Ann Patchett’s books please do yourself a favor and read: The Commonwealth and The Patron Saint of Liars. These are two of my favorites and they have a place on my library shelves. I have to read them each twice – they are worth a re-run for sure. Another favorite Brooklyn by Colm Toibin? Another favorite
Lastly, I’ll leave you with one of my all-time favorites. I often re-visit this simply to read the very last page. It’s actually on my phone in my photo album. It’s from The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. This novel was one of my very favorites… I lent this to someone so it’s not on my shelf but I’m going to treat myself to a hardback soon so it can have a special place with the rest of my “chosen” ones. I hope you get a chance to enjoy these as much as I did.
Next is a recommendation by Laura Ostrowsky a longtime friend and case management colleague. She shared, Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found by Rebecca Alexander. Here is an overview: Born with a rare genetic mutation called Usher Syndrome type III, Rebecca Alexander has been simultaneously losing both her sight and hearing since she was a child, and was told that she would likely be completely blind and deaf by age 30. I read this book after seeing the author speak at a presentation at my hospital. She is an amazing woman, an athlete, a psychotherapist. She wrote an inspiration.story about obstacles we all face. The book is a very honest story of the ups and downs and the resilience of people.
Two friends from my Mahjong group shared books they have read this year. First is Mary Anna Milone, shared her most recent book; Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden. This book was inspirational. It tells how the former Vice President faced life’s challenges and how he dealt with them while still being responsible to his family and his country.
Next is Elaine Reyes. Elaine shared several books she has read in the past couple of months. Here is her list.
- The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
- The Life She was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
- Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
- Little Flies Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
- The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Several of my Quota sisters shared their top reads this year. First was Lavinia Strupler. Here are her suggestions: The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake. This book for an ‘adult audience’ and is a mystery and suspense novel about the Mexican American Border Region. The book was highly entertaining and a quick read. She adds that all of Blake’s books are a must-read for pure enjoyment.
Her next recommendations were; House Reckoning and House Revenge, both by Mike Lawson. These books are a combination of fiction and fantasy about crime and money. A wonderful read to escape and relax.
On the political side, she read, What Happened by Hillary R. Clinton. In this book, Hillary writes on her feelings during the presidential election. The book moved me to tears over the unfairness of politics and lack of respect for human emotions. The last book recommended by Lavinia was Fire and Fury by Michael Wolf. This book provides an overview of Trumps first nine months as President. The book convinced me further of the total chaos in the White House. She closed by saying that she hopes all readers enjoy these books!
Elinor Adler also contributed. She shared the books on her nightstand are: Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan and James Patterson’s new book, The President is Missing. The book is co-authored by President Bill Clinton!
The last recommendation came from our President, Karen Burnside. Karen suggestions are; The Rent Collector by Cameron West. This is a powerful story about adversity and a mother’s desire to learn to read for the sake of her child. Next, she recommends, The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict. This is a novel based on the life of Albert’s wife and how being a woman and his wife caused her to stay in the background even though she was probably more brilliant than her husband! Karen also suggested The Girl with 7 Names by David John and Lee Hyeon-seo. This is an interesting story of a young woman who escapes from North Korea. Her last recommendation was The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. This is a story of a young girl who moves to remote Alaska with her father who suffers from PTSD and she survives.
Fellow Past President from the Case Management Society of America, Theresa Treiger shared an entry for this year’s Summer Reading list: The Anatomy Coloring Book Lawrence M Elson and Wynn Kapit. She said that with the ongoing adult coloring book craze, it’s a fun twist… but coloring pencils are purchased separately.
Stefani Daniels is another case manager friend and colleague who lives in South Florida, but summers in Rhode Island. She contributes to my Summer Reading list each year. She shared: since this time last year, there is only one memorable book that I found fascinating…and it wasn’t even a new one.
Robert Caro’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Robert Moses. Caro’s enormous book is less a biography as it is a meticulously detailed study of power in general; how it’s acquired, how it’s used to change history, how it ultimately corrupts those who get it. You don’t have to care about New York City to be awed by the changes Moses wrought during his 44-year reign as an unelected official; he not only shaped the destiny of New York City but had a direct impact on many American cities during that time.
For fiction, Stefani recommends The Chatham School Affair by Thomas Cook. Henry Griswald narrates the events of 1926, the year disaster overtook the Chatham School where his mild-mannered and very proper father served as headmaster at the private boy’s school. The story is slowly constructed following the arrival of a new teacher at the school. Cook’s mysteries are best appreciated as very literate character-studies as he slyly misleads the reader about the nature of the crime to be considered.
Educator and fellow colleague and Patient Advocate Certification Board Member Lea Christo sent me a few of the books on her desk. She said “my recent reading included books around the opioid/addiction crisis. These are timely and current debunking some outdated but common myths and misconceptions about the nature of addiction and treatment implications.” As we are all hearing about the Opioid crisis, I thought some people would appreciate a few of Lea’s recommendations. They are Unbroken Brain, A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction by Maia Szalavitz. She also shared the book, a High Price, A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know about Addiction and Society by Dr. Carl Hart. Altered Traits; Science Reveals How Medication Changes you’re Mind, Brain, and Body by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson. Last was Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness by Rick Hanson
Marilyn Van Houten, friend, and colleague shared a book titled Miami Breast Cancer Experts: Your Indispensable Guide to Breast Health by Cindy Papale-Hammontree and Sabrina Hernandez-Cano. Marilyn is a Breast Cancer Survivor and Advocate. She will have a chapter in the second edition that is due out soon.
My sister in law, Patricia Douville is an avid reader and bike rider. She shared two books by the same author: Brit Marie was Here and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. She said she did not love them, but they were interesting. She also recommended The Nix by Nathan Hill.
My Facebook gaming partner Julie Irons suggested 4 books. They were:
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – about 2 different children going up in WWII and their perspectives on the war.
- Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – another WWII story based on true events of 3 women
- The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – about a young girl and her life growing up with an abusive, mentally ill father and her struggles of growing up in the wilderness of Alaska
- Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – about children who were taken from their parents in 1939 and the granddaughter searching for the truth about her grandmother, whom I think was one of these children. I am still reading this one. Julie shared that she really enjoyed these books and hoped others do also.
Case Management colleague and Barbara Kuritz sent in her contributions from her book club.
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. This is a novel set in the 1880s and present day. Tells the tragic history of how the Chinese were driven out of northwest Washington. She also recommended, Always by Sarah JIO. This is not your typical romance story about the lasting effects of love. The lead character is engaged and her fiancé disappears. She rebuilds her life and is about to get married and spots a homeless confused man outside her restaurant window. Her book club is in the process of reading the following books: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. The book is about how the director of Memphis based adoption organization kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and they just added The President is Missing by James Patterson and Past President, Bill Clinton. Small Great Things and Hellcat Canyon Series by Julie Anne Long were also highly recommended. Currently, we are reading Castaway Cottage now and love it!
Last but not least, I caught a post on a fellow Patient Advocate Randi Oster, Facebook page. Randi posted; “I am thrilled to go to my dear friend, Debbie Levison’s, book launch of The Crate. Let’s all check out Debbie’s new book out! Congratulations Debbie!
Wow, what a list! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this year’s list. Let me know what you think of this years list.
I hope YOU find some good summer reads! Hope you and your families have a happy and safe summer.