There is nothing better than spending the summer sitting in the shade with a great novel in your hands. I read all the time, and I wanted to share some of my all-time favorites as we approach the summer. Perhaps one of these books will strike your fancy and you can disappear into a great story. Here are my top five summer books.
5. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
I somehow made it through high school and college without having to read this, but when I picked it up on my own, I was hooked. This book follows the struggles of the Joad family as they journey across the country seeking a better life in California during depression-era America. If you think you have it rough, this book will definitely sober you up. Steinbeck is one of our finest writers, and this is a book you’ll want to read more than once.
4. It by Stephen King
People like to discount Stephen King as just a horror writer with no literary merit, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there are monsters and terrifying plot twists in this book, but it is about the friendship of a group of kids that helps them defeat a cyclical evil that descends on the town of Derry, Maine. It turns out that their childhood work wasn’t finished, and they have to return as adults to end it once and for all. Strong themes of friendship—the kinds of friends you have when you are a kid—made this one of my favorites. Warner Brothers recently announced two motion pictures are in production from this book. Even though it is one of King’s longest works, you’ll be sad when it is over.
3. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The first rule of fight club is don’t talk about fight club. I guess I’m breaking that rule by telling you that the book is amazing. Yes, there is a film version of this that you have likely seen, and you probably already know the surprise ending. But getting there is a fine journey through the printed pages of Palahniuk’s breakout hit novel. I particularly loved the smart-ass tone of the book, and the way he describes everything slowly spinning out of control.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Here’s one I did have to read in high school, and I was so hooked that I finished it ahead of our prescribed reading schedule. This book is beautiful in every possible way. If you haven’t read it yet, just do it. I can’t do it justice with a simple synopsis…other than by sharing my favorite line: “Pass the damn ham, please.”
1. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
I found this by complete accident when it was released back in February, and I bought it on a whim. I was immediately hooked with Smith’s writing style and the honest way in which he portrayed teenage awkwardness, hormones, and friendship. All of this goes on while giant praying mantis-like insects are hell bent on eating all of mankind. The bugs also like to screw their brains out. At the heart of it is the friendship of Austin and Robbie, and that is what the book is ultimately about. Don’t be misled by the publisher’s categorization of this as a young adult novel. This book is so much more in many ways. There is profanity, vulgarity, violence, and some of the most heartwarming situations in this brilliant coming of age novel. The author said in an interview that he wrote this for him and really didn’t want to share it; I’m glad he did. It is one of the most unique books of all time. I seems to encapsulate all of my favorite elements of every book on this list. Since I read it, I bought four of Andrew Smith’s other novels and I loved all of them. This guy is one hell of a talented writer and he deserves to become a household name. There is also a movie in the works based on this novel.
And there you have it. Hopefully, one of these books strikes your fancy. I also won’t argue with you if you choose to read Rated F or Blogs of Wrath.