Friends, normally I’d attempt to write some witty and semi-insightful intro to a summer reading list like this, weaving together previews of the dragon adventures, delightful mysteries, dazzling poetry, and delicious peaches held within. I’d go on and on about the unmatched pleasure of reading in a hammock on a perfect summer’s day…
However, a writer is supposed to know his audience, and I know that, like us on the Rabbit Room staff, y’all are already a reading bunch in need of zero convincing to pick up a new story. So allow me to forego the formalities and just say plainly, we like these books. We’d love for you to discover these books. So browse the shelves of our summer reading list and pick out one or two or twelve to dive into this year!
Before we begin, here is a link to the full collection at the Rabbit Room Bookstore.
And if you find a book in this blog post that looks especially interesting to you, just click on the image of its cover and you’ll be taken to its page on the Rabbit Room Bookstore.
44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith
Welcome to 44 Scotland Street, home to some of Edinburgh’s most colorful characters. There’s Pat, a twenty-year-old who has recently moved into a flat with Bruce, an athletic young man with a keen awareness of his own appearance. Their neighbor, Domenica, is an eccentric and insightful widow. In the flat below are Irene and her appealing son Bertie, who is the victim of his mother’s desire for him to learn the saxophone and Italian–all at the tender age of five. Love triangles, a lost painting, intriguing new friends, and an encounter with a famous Scottish crime writer are just a few of the ingredients that add to this delightful and witty portrait of Edinburgh society, which was first published as a serial in The Scotsman newspaper.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
A book that nearly defies categorization—equal parts Watership Down, Lord of the Rings, Animal Farm...and The Canterbury Tales. It’s the story of Chauntecleer the rooster, Lord of all he surveys until the twisted and evil Cockatrice sets his eye and his armies upon the land. In the end Chaunticleer and his farmland subjects must stand together in the face of the destruction of the earth and the wakening of Wyrm. It’s a story that’s both intimate and epic, horrifying and humorous, dreadful and hopeful. I’ve never read anything else quite like it. Certainly one of my top 10 favorite books of all time. Has to be read to be believed.
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.
The Dragon Lord Saga: Martin and Marco by Jonny Jimison
The Lord of the Rings meets Calvin and Hobbes in The Dragon Lord Saga, a graphic novel series from Jonny Jimison now published in full color! Martin Millar is a second-string soldier with a thirst for adventure. Marco Millar is Martin’s brother, a stableboy who would rather stay at home. As the king’s guard launches the dragon crusade, Martin and Marco are drawn into an unexpected journey that lands them in the path of bandits, monsters, a cursed satchel and even a talking horse—not to mention dragons! But in order to survive the road there and back again, Martin and Marco have an even bigger challenge to face: themselves.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.
The Fiddler’s Gun by A. S. Peterson
America is on the brink of war with England, and Fin Button is about to come undone. She’s had it with the dull life of the orphanage, and she’s ready to marry Peter and get away from rules, chores, and a life looked after by the ever-watchful Sister Hilde. But an unexpected friendship forms between Fin and the fiddle-playing cook, Bartimaeus, which sets her on a course for revolution. With Bart’s beloved fiddle and haunting blunderbuss as her only possessions, Fin discovers her first taste of freedom as a sailor aboard the Rattlesnake. She’s hiding some dark secrets, but there are bigger problems for the crew—they are on the run from the Royal Navy, and whispers of mutiny are turning the captain into a tyrant. When Fin finally returns home, will she find Peter still waiting, or will she find that she’s lost everything she once held dear?
A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
Go and Do Likewise! by John Hendrix
In this inspirational and richly illustrated book, John Hendrix brings to life the wisdom of Jesus. Interweaving hand lettering with his signature, award-winning art style, Hendrix captures the spirit of Jesus’s timeless message that will resonate with readers of any Christian faith.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are driven off their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. From their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of this new America, Steinbeck creates a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, tragic but ultimately stirring in its insistence on human dignity.
In He Saw That It Was Good, activist and recording artist Sho Baraka wrestles deeply and honestly with these questions, gives you permission to do the same, and shows a hard-earned path to creative change. With Sho, you’ll engage with art, justice, and history. Learn from the powerful principles of historic movements, explore why it’s important to cultivate your creative calling (no matter what you do!), and discover a fresh look at how the gospel can transform how you see God, your neighbor, your work, and your world.
Jack by Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson’s mythical world of Gilead, Iowa—the setting of her novels Gilead, Home, and Lila, and now Jack—and its beloved characters have illuminated and interrogated the complexities of American history, the power of our emotions, and the wonders of a sacred world. Jack is Robinson’s fourth novel in this now-classic series. In it, Robinson tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the prodigal son of Gilead’s Presbyterian minister, and his romance with Della Miles, a high school teacher who is also the child of a preacher. Their deeply felt, tormented, star-crossed interracial romance resonates with all the paradoxes of American life, then and now.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
In London in 1806, a dangerous battle begins between two rival magicians—the scholarly Gilbert Norrell, intent on reviving a centuries old tradition of magic, and the young and reckless Jonathan Strange—and their dark arts are unleashed into the politics of the Napoleonic wars. Published to critical and popular acclaim in 2004, the novel was Time magazine’s Book of the Year.
The Light Princess by George MacDonald, illustrated by Ned Bustard
A princess, cursed by a spiteful aunt, has lost her gravity. She can’t seem to keep her feet on the ground—or her mind on a serious matter. And when her aunt drains the lake where the weightless princess flourishes, the only solution is for someone to plug the hole—but at what cost? What will it take for the princess to feel the weight of the world at last?
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard’s translation of the beloved classic beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry’s unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this edition has been restored to match in detail and in color Saint-Exupéry’s original artwork. Combining Richard Howard’s translation with restored original art, this definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince will capture the hearts of readers of all ages.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, Lonesome Dove, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.
Luminaries: Twenty Lives That Illuminate the Christian Way by Rowan Williams
Starting in the first century with Saint Paul and ending in the twentieth with St Oscar Romero, Rowan Williams invites you to reflect with him on the lives and legacies of twenty great Christians—saints, martyrs, poets, theologians and social reformers. Their stories and writings have profoundly influenced his own life and thought, and this sequence of short reflections is sure to sharpen your theological vision and cast a fresh light on what it means to live and breathe the gospel. Included among these ‘luminaries’ are Augustine of Hippo, William Tyndale, Teresa of Avila, Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Simone Weil. Let these brilliant meditations light your way as you follow the footsteps of the faithful who have gone before.
My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Proprietor named his second son after the title character of this book. There were a few reasons. First, “Asher” is just a cool name, and the Proprietor wanted to give his son a head-start with the ladies. Second, it’s a bible name, and the Proprietor wanted to give his son a head-start with the Old Testament professors. Third, this is an amazing book. At the very least, it’ll change the way you see art. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal said: “Memorable . . . Profound in its vision of humanity, of religion, and of art.”
On the Road With St. Augustine by James K. A. Smith
This is not a book about Saint Augustine. In a way, it’s a book Augustine has written about each of us. Popular speaker and award-winning author James K. A. Smith has spent time on the road with Augustine, and he invites us to take this journey too, for this ancient African thinker knows far more about us than we might expect.
The Peach Truck Cookbook by Jessica N. Rose & Stephen K. Rose
From first bites to easy lunches to mouth-watering dinner dishes and sumptuous desserts, The Peach Truck Cookbook captures the Southern cooking renaissance with fresh, delectable, farm-to-table recipes that are easy to follow and feature peaches in every form. Whether you’re craving peach pecan sticky buns, peach jalapeno cornbread, white pizza with peach, pancetta, and chile, or minty peach lemonade—or have always wanted to try your hand at making a classic peach pie—Stephen and Jessica have you covered.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house. There is one other person in the house―a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
Reading While Black by Esau McCauley
Reading While Black is a personal and scholarly testament to the power and hope of Black biblical interpretation. At a time in which some within the African American community are questioning the place of the Christian faith in the struggle for justice, New Testament scholar McCaulley argues that reading Scripture from the perspective of Black church tradition is invaluable for connecting with a rich faith history and addressing the urgent issues of our times. He advocates for a model of interpretation that involves an ongoing conversation between the collective Black experience and the Bible, in which the particular questions coming out of Black communities are given pride of place and the Bible is given space to respond by affirming, challenging, and, at times, reshaping Black concerns.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.
Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries. The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows….
So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger
In 1915 Minnesota, Monte Becket—“a man fading, a disappointer of persons”—has lost his sense of purpose. His only success long behind him, Monte lives a simple life with his loving wife and whipsmart son. But when he befriends outlaw Glendon Hale, a new world of opportunity and experience presents itself. So Brave, Young, and Handsome is the next book from the mind of Leif Enger, the author of Peace Like a River. Though a different book entirely, So Brave is equally unique in its vision and voice. It’s a western on the edge of a fading west and journey in search of grace. Not to be missed.
The Spirituals & the Blues by James H. Cone
Cone explores two classic aspects of African-American culture—the spirituals and the blues—and tells the captivating story of how slaves and the children of slaves used this music to affirm their essential humanity in the face of oppression.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
Jericho Brown’s daring new book The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we’ve become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.