make-believe: summer reading list.

July 13, 2016

make-believe: summer reading | reading my tea leaves

Oh, the joys of a summer reading list. So much time, so many options, so many opportunities to collect gold star stickers for all of your efforts. As an adult the gold star stickers fall to the wayside—darn it—but with so many new books out at this time of year, it still always feels like I’ve got a summer reading list to munch through. Thank goodness.

The books here are judged largely on their covers, of course (how else to make a cohesive collage in shades of white and pink and brass?) but they’ve been heartily recommended by friends on the internet and in the flesh and so I feel confident in my judgement. (Just started Sweetbitter last night!)

Books included, of course, here’s what’s floating around my summer reading dreams:

 A barely there slip to stay cool in.

bedside lightamp to read by.

A copy of Sweetbitter and a copy of Dear Fang, With Love.

A bedside carafe and tumbler for staying hydrated.

brass coaster to protect the nightstand.

A bottle of delicious summer nourishing body oil for massaging into my gams, pre-read.

A fan for a breeze.


PS. Here’s what I’ve actually read so far this summer and loved. What about you?

All The Light We Cannot See: Heartwrenching and beautifully written. Feeling particular poignant given the current political climate.

Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice and just so good.

Homegoing: Should probably be required reading for everyone in the US right now. If ever there was a story to make clear why we need a Black Lives Matter movement, this is it.

Saint Mazie: Short and sweet. I love anything about old New York and this fit the bill.

In the Unlikely Event: Haven’t read Judy Blume since middle school, but I gobbled this one up. Good for the beach, or anywhere.


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  • Reply Andreya July 13, 2016 at 7:54 am

    YES! I just read All the Light We Cannot See. I loved it. Currently reading, Crome Yellow, and always rereading the Harry Potter books.

    • Reply ladylyn July 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      I also am always rereading the Harry Potter Books. 🙂

  • Reply Joyed July 13, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Coincidence – I spent all morning researching the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and now you recommend a book that has Lithuanian history woven through it… not usually my kind of book but may have to try it after all! Thanks!

  • Reply Erin July 13, 2016 at 9:00 am

    LOVE that dress, wish I could afford it. 🙁

    I like my summer reading to be light and easy, not heavy on the political side, so I will stray from some of the heavier books for now. Although, I barely get any time for reading anymore!

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 13, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Oh, me too! Such a nice thing to dream about! The books aren’t political per se, just historical!

  • Reply NINA July 13, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Love these book recommendations. P.S. I am so impressed that you find time to read! Do tell, friend! How/when?

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 13, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      We’ve basically cut out our Netflix watching habit and so I use that post-kiddo-bedtime hour to read as much as I can!

      • Reply MissEm July 13, 2016 at 6:04 pm

        We’ve just made the decision to do the same thing! We miss reading so much, even though Netflix is easier, but these days it’s one or the other and reading always feels so nourishing.

        • Reply Erin Boyle July 14, 2016 at 11:35 am


  • Reply Kirstin July 13, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I got myself hooked on the Outlander series…. I have read the first four in the series so far, oh dear me! But there is so much to love about a time travel series.
    I am starting The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, (today actually). I hear it is an enthralling novel.
    summer reading lists are great – as are winter, autumn and spring reading lists.

    • Reply Jakki July 13, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      I loved The Historian! I picked it off the bookshelf of a home we were renting in Prague, and it looked silly but it took me to a different world. I love when books do that! Great read.

  • Reply Sally July 13, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Oh I must read Homegoing! Also, I just finished Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend”. I thought the beginning was a bit insufferable but once the main characters grew into adolescents, I was hooked. Also on my list this year: In the Country by Mia Alvar, Bad Feminist and Untamed State by Roxane Gay, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. Just waiting for my library holds to come through. 🙂

    • Reply Genevieve July 13, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Sally, I love your picks and I highly recommend The Argonauts! I am adding In the Country to my list.

      The best books I’ve read so far this summer: a couple creepy thrillers by Patricia Highsmith, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a great set of short stories by China Mieville called Three Moments of an Explosion, and now The Girls by Emma Cline. This is a very bloodthirsty list, I see, haha–guess summer escapism means MURDER AND DEATH to me. Oh and Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies is great if you like…swimming.

  • Reply Kristen July 13, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your reading list; I’ve added several of these titles to my own. I’m currently working my way through Confessions of a Comma Queen, by The New Yorker’s own Mary Norris. Soon to begin Sisters in Law, about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor.

  • Reply Julie July 13, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Ah I am so excited to have some more books to read! I also recently discovered how easy it is to borrow e-books and audio books from Brooklyn PL. I just started Euphoria by Lily King.

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 13, 2016 at 11:24 am

      Yes: all of these have been library books! Obsessed. (Loved Euphoria!)

  • Reply Simona July 13, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Love this collage and the body oil looks divine! I’m currently reading The Girls, the writing is superb.

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 13, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks! Doesn’t it? Will add to my list!

    • Reply Emily July 14, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      I just started the girls last night! It was hard to put down and go to sleep, for sure.

  • Reply Amanda @ Anchored to Sunshine July 13, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I love that your reading list wasn’t just books! A cute slip and book light are just as important as the book 🙂 Sweetbitter is on my list to read as well!

  • Reply Stacy July 13, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Quick note to readers on the fan that Erin posted about:

    The Vornado is actually a room air circulator, not a fan. I only point this out because I did a ton of research on fans and air circulators for our baby’s nursery (since the air in our apartment is horribly stagnant with no possibility for a cross breeze) and we ended up registering for this exact model. Basically, it’s ideal for getting air moving in a small or large space (depending on the size you buy), but it is NOT effective for keeping a room cool — like a typical fan pointed right at you, or an air conditioner, might.

    Just in case someone was curious about this product, I wanted to share what I’ve recently learned! 🙂

    P.S. — Erin, that bedside carafe and glass is perfect and the price is to die for. Purchasing it as we speak!

  • Reply Lourdes July 13, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Commenting for maybe the first time because if there’s a conversation about books happening I need to be in it! I am halfway through Eligible and it’s a true delight — I love everything Curtis Sittenfeld has written and I’m so excited Prep is going to be made into a show. My goals for the rest of the summer are All the Single Ladies, Modern Lovers, and Homegoing. <3

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 13, 2016 at 1:24 pm


  • Reply Allyson July 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I always love to see people’s reading list. I’ve been slowly reading (or perhaps savoring is the better word) Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt. It’s filled with all kinds of good stuff- Elizabethan England setting, critique of patriarchy, gorgeous writing, and magic.

  • Reply ladylyn July 13, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    I lovelovelove Anthony Doerr. “All the Light We Cannot See” is a stunning book, but his “Four Seasons in Rome” (not fiction) is my favorite of his books. I read it three times last year. It captures the magic and chaos of parenthood and travel in the loveliest way.

    This summer has been really stressful, so I’m currently sticking to old favorite books which means Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling.

  • Reply Meg July 13, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    LOVED All the lights we cannot see! So incredibly good. I’m looking forward to trying Four Seasons in Rome and Saint Maize (also a fan of books based in old New York!)

  • Reply Mary Kate July 13, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I love the abundance of summer reading lists that come up in summer, though I spend just as much time if not more curled up reading in the winter. I recently did my own “beach book” list, if anyone is interested 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 14, 2016 at 11:37 am

      Ha, totally.

  • Reply Mun July 13, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Reading is such a treat… Have gotta schedule more time to indulge in it!

  • Reply Jane July 13, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Thank you for your book recommendation from last summer. Both my Mother, my sister and I loved reading The Orchard House!

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 14, 2016 at 11:36 am

      So glad! Loved it too!

  • Reply Margaret July 13, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I have not been able to pick up a book since Homegoing because that book stirred my soul. It keeps coming back to me over and over. It was stunning.

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 14, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Totally. Sits with you, for sure.

  • Reply Emily July 14, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    I just finished reading (listening to, really) A Little Life for our book club – oof. What a painful and moving book to read. I started listening to Sweetbitter to counter it with something a little lighter and loved listening and walking the dog around the neighborhood last night (and then, to prolong listening, I trimmed the giant hedge next to our house for an hour). Homegoing is next on my list.

  • Reply jiturka July 14, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I got All The Light We Cannot See for Christmas and was surprised how fast the pages flew by! It is a nice story. Must bring it to grandmas, so that they both can read it!

  • Reply Rachael July 27, 2016 at 11:28 am

    I hope that I can spend whole my summer time to read these book. ANW, i will start with All The Light We Cannot See. Thanks for the list!

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      Hope you enjoy it!

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