10 Jun 2015

A Summer Reading List – I Own And Adore All of These Books. You Will Adore Them Too. Money Back Guarantee. (Except Not that Last Part).

So today I was chatting with my friend Shannan and discovered her favorite childhood food was “Bologna Boats” (you’ll have to ask her). Mine is hot dogs cut in half, fried up and served between two slices of toast. It’s funny what seems totally normal until you try and explain it to someone else.

And don’t even get us started on our “comfort desserts” — I give you: “Jello water”, “sugar on white bread sandwiches” and “sliced guavas and milk.” How we grew up with any teeth left in our heads at all is a TOTAL MYSTERY to me.

But our conversation started because we were actually talking books.

I love books.

I mean crazy love. I’m that person who SAVES ALL HER BOOKS and re-reads them. Often. Books have been my friends and I’ve shipped them all over the world with me.

Shannan was asking for summer reading recommendations and after I’d talked for nearly 8 minutes straight I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, apparently I have a lot of big feelings about books. Maybe I should write a post about it?”

So, this is my list of current favorite books. I’ve recently read all of these. I love them. I own most of them. I give them as gifts and try to peer pressure people into reading them.

I am a shameless book hustler.

May these bring you book joy this summer. And feel free to share your own favorites in the comments. I am always on the look out for a new author I can binge read.

Yes, I am 40 years old and I regularly stay up into the wee hours to binge read authors – my favorite thing is discovering an entire series just waiting for me to catch up on.

Summer Reading List from Lisa-Jo Baker

OK here we go – my favorite (mostly fiction) books at the moment:
These are all linked to Amazon so you can just click on the image and snag ’em. And yup, they’re my affiliate links. To books I adore. You’re welcome. Also, most of them should be available at your local library as well.

Dad Is Fat
OK you guys, I discovered Jim Gaffigan on Netflix and literally laughed so much I couldn’t breathe and I had to get my friends to pause the show so I could exhale. It was painful. It was brilliant. And the book is the same.

If you have kids – you need this book. Jim is our people. He’s like the cheerleader and mascot for our people, i.e. parents.

He perfectly describes bedtime as a “reverse hostage situation.” Need I say more?

Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel
I’m basically a crazy groupie when it comes to how much I love this book. I have tried to convince you all to read it. I shall continue trying because it’s just that good. Money Saving Mom just gone done reading it and she admitted how RIGHT I was.

It’s written entirely in the format of letters from a foster girl named Sam to her benefactor whose foundation is sponsoring her grad program in journalism. It’s a tender and heart-breakingly beautiful look inside the effects of foster care on kids and the adults they grow up into as well as the most gorgeous hat-tip to Jane Austen – because Sam is obsessed with Austen.

Of course there’s also a love story. Just trust me and read this one.

Attachments: A Novel
Another love story told through letters – or in this case, emails. It’s unexpected. It’s funny. It’s sad. It’s main female character writes movie reviews for a living (one of my DREAM jobs).

It’s a beautiful story about falling in love with who someone is and not what they look like. It’s a love BEFORE first sight story. I re-read it when I’m feeling sad and it’s better than chocolate for a pick-me-up.

It also has some occasional strong language (if I remember correctly). So head’s up there. But the story line of the lonely I.T. guy who falls in love with the girl whose email he has to vet? It’s a gem.

Mitford Series Complete Series Set, Volumes 1-9
You guys, the Mitford Series! Please tell me you’ve read this!
I discovered it last summer when a reader suggested in on my Facebook page. 

These are the books that I read when I need to detox from social media. When I feel the paranoia about platform size creeping in. When I need the reminder that we are called to go deep in relationship, not wide. Father Tim is the priest at the same parish for almost his entire adult life. He invests his whole self in a small community of less than 100. And the reward is so dear, so powerful, so transformative – it’s a reminder of what great love comes from small, daily, faithfulness.

Listen it took me a while to get into the first book. But by the second I wanted to move to Mitford. Period. The end.

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love
I’m not gonna sugar coat it – this book is a very hard read. I pretty much cried non-stop from cover to cover. Many of you may have followed the story when it first unfolded online. Anna is a blogger and so when her son, Jack, (it’s so excruciating because I also have a Jack) went out to play in the rain one day when he was 12 and never came home, she shared the story with us all.

I admit I’ve been terrified of reading this book. I’ve ignored it for years. But then I met Anna recently and she lives only about 15 minutes from my house. And her introduction caught me off guard. She says, “this isn’t a scary book. It’s a book about a loving relationship between a mother and her boy.”

Read when you’re emotionally ready. But do read it if you can. It cracked my heart open several more sizes when it comes to loving my kids. And it made me want to be much braver when it comes to loving people well who are walking through grief. This book is a rare gift and a testimony to a God who does indeed prove that with Him, nothing is impossible.

The Relatives Came
They tell me this is a children’s book. Don’t believe it for a second. 
Because all the best books speak to both kids and grown ups.
I think it’s the pilgrim in me that spends most of her life homesick that loves this book so much. The idea of having so much family over there isn’t room for them all to fit in the beds and they spill out onto mattresses on the floor.
Deidra Riggs gave me this book several years ago when we were still crammed into our teeny tiny rental house and we had family visiting and all the kids were sleeping on the floor. She quoted me back to me – “Big hospitality is a matter of the heart and not the architecture.”

I read this book now ever summer when relative time rolls around.

It’s a book about making room for other people in our lives. And at a time when the world can seem chaotic and angry, I think it’s always a good time to remind ourselves that inviting people IN – in every way that matters – is what it’s all about.

The Amelia Peabody Series
We were living in Ukraine when a friend sent me the first two books in this series. I was hooked and it was terrible because I couldn’t buy the rest in Kyiv and had to wait for Amazon to deliver.

Meet Amelia Peabody – intrepid archeologist in the days when women didn’t venture from home, let alone into tombs and pyramids. It’s the BEST kind of fun. Watch this delightful spinster fall in love and watch as her whole brood ends up getting knee deep in mystery, intrigue and romance.

I own every single book (paper and not even kindle!) and re-read them often.

Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax
Speaking of intrepid women, this is my other great series love. Mrs Pollifax is a widow from New Jersey who has always dreamed of joining the CIA. Which, by accident, she does. 

If that isn’t enough right there to get you to buy it (or order it from your library) I don’t know what is. She’s pure delight with a backbone of steal as she globe trots her way through one mystery after another. Just writing it down gives me a hankering to go and re-read a couple of these treats.

Dick Francis Horse Racing Series
I started reading these when I was 15 or 16 – knicking them off my mom’s book shelf. Over the years I’ve collected almost the entire series. They even showed up in English-language book stores in Ukraine.

Murder, mystery and mayhem always set against the horse racing industry. Dick Francis was a Queen’s jockey in real life and once he retired he spent the next 4 decades or so writing stories set in the intriguing landscape of the horse world.

They’re fast-paced and a thrilling read. I rejoice every time I find one I haven’t read yet. They definitely have a violent streak and occasional strong language – so readers beware. But I’m a PG-13 girl and I love these. Sir Francis (yes, he was also knighted) sadly passed away a few years ago and now his son is carrying on the name and the legacy of writing. They’re a winning bet (see what I did there!)

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Aged 37 3/4
Oh this is a LONG TIME, life time favorite. Another one I was introduced to by my mom. Adrian Plass is a compilation really of everything we love and everything that drives us crazy about Christianity today. He is funny and lovable and gets it terribly wrong and sometimes surprisingly right.

He is you and me. And he will help us laugh at ourselves. I adore this book and YES I have an original copy SIGNED by Adrian when he and his wife were touring South Africa. This makes me insanely happy. Except for the fact that I think it’s still currently in the possession of a friend I loaned it to in the State Department who is right now posted to Finland.

But for real, if you need to remember to laugh again even and maybe especially while in the middle of all the serious parts of faith, this is exactly what the Doctor ordered.

OK, whew.

Now – hit me with your favorite summer reads. I need some new authors to crush on. Please and thank you.

Comments

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  1. 1

    Thanks for the recommendations! Here’s my list (and yes, it also includes Dear Mr. Knightley, thanks to your recommendation!):

    http://katemotaung.com/2015/06/01/books-to-read-this-season-2015-edition/

  2. 3

    We always drank the jello before it set up or even cooled down!

    Thanks for the recommendations on the books. It definitely is the best when you find an author you love and then can read all his/her stuff. But so sad when you catch up :(

    I love love love Lisa Samson. All her books are filled with crazy characters with real lives, not tidy and easy, and sometimes a character from one book shows up in another one. I love it when that happens.

    I also love Pamela Schoenwalter. She writes about immigrants in the US in the early 1900s. Really really good writing.

    • 4

      Here’s what I love: let the jello slightly set, THEN mix it with Cool Whip and let it set more. Then you get this fluffy, creamy, jello-y goodness! :) Ever had it!? :)

  3. 5

    Did you read the new Father Tim book, Somwhere Safe with Somebody Good? I like to listen to Father Tim books on my commute.

    • 6

      No way! There’s a new one? I didn’t realize that. ( rushes to the library to order it immediately.)

      • 7

        I actually wrote down some of the quotes that were in that book, such as:
        “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it” attributed to P.J. O’Rourke
        and
        “Sleep in peace, God is awake.” Victor Hugo

  4. 8

    Adrian Plass! I’ve never read a book as funny as that one.

    I’m currently reading a really clever middle-grade novel (for 8-12 year olds) called Nooks and Crannies. It’s been described as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Clue.

    • 9

      Right? It is awkward to read in public because it makes me laugh so hard! You should read all of his others in the series. They are so much fun.

  5. 10
    Crystal says:

    Oh how I adore Father Tim; my grandmother got me started on these books years ago and they were one of the few things I just had to have when she passed (even though I already had my own copies); just to re-read the books she had held and read herself. I also have a Mitford cookbook and I want more than anything to live there one day. My grandmother and I used to read them at the same time so we could visit about the books and the characters just as if we were there with them.

  6. 12

    The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. This is a great series, I love the characters and discovering what life is like in Botswana through this characters experiences. Sadly I don’t like his other series though.

  7. 14
    Vaughn Terri says:

    You are my kind of reader. I love fiction, and usually prefer YA for its originality. But I do have faves in all genres.
    1) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak to everyone. Wonderfully gripping read for any age. Read the book, don’t see the movie.
    2) The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson. Six books, each book about a different sibling. Intrigue, romance, mystery…the best mix.
    3) Uncommon Heroes series by Dee Henderson. The series itself is about a team of Navy Seals with each book exploring a specific Seal’s story. Military (which I LOVE, mystery, romance). These are my faves if all time. I’ve read this series 3 times…so far.

    • 15

      Just ordered the first from each of those series from the library. Thanks!

    • 16

      Heads up, don’t start the O’Malley series if you don’t have time to get 100% engulfed in the series!! I’ve read the series a few times, and it’s incredible! The characters also show up in subplots of most of Dee Henderson’s newer books…..My mom and I laugh because we feel like they are family members!

  8. 17

    We are kindred spirits! Cannot even say how much I loved Dear Mr. Knightly!! The Mitford series is an top favorite. Thanks for Attachments recommendation, I have ordered it from the library. Have a happy book filled summer.

  9. 19

    Thank you, thank you! I’ve not heard of most of these and now I’m excited to check them out (literally, at the library). Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? One of my all-time favs. Worldly in parts, heartbreaking at times, but overall hilarious and delightful.

  10. 22

    Glory be! Our library has all but the last two!! I’ve added all the rest to my “to read” list – I feel so nerdily (is that a word?) excited to have my list all charged up again! Long live summer reading :)

    I love love love Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. I’m just starting the last of the Mysterious Benedict Society books – youth fiction, but I LOVE it! In the youth fiction category, and beautifully written – Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. I have a lot of “learning” and “improvement” books on my reading list otherwise – needed to lighten it up, so thanks for the recommendations!

  11. 24

    I must introduce you to Susan Howatch. The Starbridge Series. Set in the early 1900’s. Bishops, Mystics, Theology, Romance, Scandal, Mysticism. These books are SO GOOD. I have to pace myself and only let myself read through the series once a year. There are six of them. And then three offshoots–Wonder Worker; The High Flyer, and The Heartbreaker. (you’re welcome)

  12. 26

    I just finished The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. It is a Masterpiece… but not an easy read by any means.

  13. 27
    Crystal miller says:

    Jaded by Varina Denman and the sequel Justified came out June 1st. She is a Christian author with a Christian publishing company so it’s a clean read. However, that doesn’t lessen the quality of the work.

  14. 29

    Love love The Mitford Series and I did not know there was a new one either– off to Amazon I go

  15. 30

    Just ordered Jan Karon’s Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good (Mitford Series) and saw a new one will be out in Sept 2015

  16. 32

    I love Karen Kingsbury! The Redemption series is Amazing!!!

  17. 33

    I was overjoyed when you listed the Mitford books. Oh my goodness. I just love those books, I’ve been re-reading them for years! I can think of several momentous cries generated by them. I’m so happy you love them too!

    Some new book suggestions: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (generational story/mystery). Twelve Clean Pages by Nika Maples (the most gripping memoir I’ve read). The Likeness by Tana French (awesome tense psychological thriller). And the whole Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley, they are simply wonderful!

  18. 34

    yes!! Finally someone shares my love for dick Francis! My recommended authors are Maeve Binchy, Kate Morton, Michelle Moran

    Pretty much any of their books have been favorites of mine.

    • 35

      Yay someone else who’s heard of him. He’s a British author so I find not many here have gotten into him. But I LOVE his mysteries! And his men of integrity who are such great characters. I think The Danger is my favorite.

  19. 36

    All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman – it’s a quirky love story, fun, unexpected, and the ending is absolutely perfect… My all time favourite. Also recently discovered LM Montgomery (you know, who wrote Anne of Green Gables?Except she is soooo much better than that) while reading through my grandmother’s library – A Tangled Web is really delightful!

    • 37

      Ooooo that sounds fascinating – adding it to my reading pile. An invisible husband? Superhero friends – must read it.

    • 38

      You must check out The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. I swept through it recently and have recommended it over and over. Am going to read Tangled Web very soon.

  20. 39
    Karen Fleming says:

    Thanks for the book suggestions. I love reading and always looking for new authors to try out

  21. 40
    Kellie Damron says:

    cant wait to try some from your list! Thanks so much for doing this for us! I love love love Kristin Hannah!!! She’s one of my all time / long time favorite authors :-)

  22. 41

    Adriana Trigiani! Start with Big Stone Gap, the finish the trilogy. The movie comes out in October. It’s a fish out of water story of a single pharmacist from an Italian family in far southwest Virginia. It’s witty, full of heart and so accurate in its descriptions and language. Next, move to the Valentine trilogy. Set many in the Greenwich Village shoemaking shop of an Italian family. The Shoemaker’s Wife is also beautiful. All of her books are. She writes the creative process like no one else. She has you crying, then makes you laugh in the next paragraph. And there’s food!

  23. 42

    If you are an animal lover, James Herriot is amazing!!

  24. 43

    “The Hidden Hand” (or Capitola the Madcap) by EDEN Southworth. I try to read it once a year, along with Jane Eyre and A Tale of Two Cities. The Hidden Hand is loads of fun, if you love a fun and spunky heroine. It’s mystery, adventure, redemption, romance (without all the sap!). I cannot express how much I have enjoyed this book. Whenever I try to describe the story to my husband, he gets a dizzy look :)

  25. 44

    I was going to suggest the Mitford series if you didn’t have it. I am reading the latest right now Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good and eagerly awaiting for the next to be released. It is a series that brings my heart peace and I don’t get that often enough. I’m sure you have but any of your readers who haven’t read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts needs to get on that asap. I think I should come up with a list as well and write about it since we can learn about so many new books this way.

  26. 45

    Have you read Francine Rivers? Atonement Child, Redeeming Love, and more recently Bridge to Haven.

  27. 46

    The Mitford series is my summer reread. I love it so much. I. Read. It. Every. Year. I teach kindergarten and I need the peace! Haha I also love love love Lauraine snelling’s series set in North Dakota. It’s an amazing set of books that tell the story of a family that came to America from Norway and their battle to survive. Thanks for telling me some new authors to read!

  28. 47

    If you enjoy books written in letter format like Mr. Knightley, try The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. There are elements of Mitford lurking in Gurnsey, and it’s a love story that catches the characters unawares.

  29. 50

    The other Jim Gaffigan book, “Food, a Love Story” is also hilarious! all humans should read “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Just sayin’.

  30. 51

    I loved the Mitford series. Just finished “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton, it’s a great read.

  31. 52

    Anything by Francine Rivers. Redeeming Love is my all time favorite, but anything by her is absolutely wonderful. Charles Martin is one of my new favorite authors. Wrapped in Rain is one of my favorites of his, but you really can’t go wrong with anything he writes. Same Kind of Different as me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore is also very good. What a gift the love of books truly is. We get to go to far away places with all kinds of people learning, laughing, crying … all while snuggled under a blanket, or waiting in a doctor’s office, or sitting in an airport, etc. Blessed.

  32. 55

    i am currently rereading my favorite series by Deborah Crombie. Her series is about 2 Scottland Yard detectives. Now, don’t think police procedural…..think part mystery, life’s daily struggles, romance and a tour through Great Brittany. Lovely series! Check them out!

  33. 56
    MaryMargaret says:

    The Mark of a Lion series (Christians in Ancient Rome) , A Wrinkle in Time (don’t tell me it’s a children’s book either! I weep EVERY TIME) and the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. My grandmother got me hooked on them!

  34. 57

    Wow- so good to find another mom who stays up to the wee hours not only when kiddo needs it, but WHEN READING A GREAT BOOK!!! I just finished Jennifer Wiener’s All Fall Down about a mom struggling with being a parent, aging parents, and addiction/recovery…I love all of her books.
    I also really liked The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King (series about a woman who becomes apprentice, the colleague, then wife to Sherlock Holmes)
    and Hillbilly Gothic (memoir about surviving PPD)
    Thanks for the suggestions!!! Writing them down!

  35. 58
    Vanessa Nordenberg says:

    On Which Side of the Road Do the Flowers Grow by Wendell E. Mettey
    The heartwarming stories of real Christians: This inspirational account from an inner-city pastor teaches that God has a special plan for every one of us, no matter what hardships we may face. A touching memoir about faith and everyday people
    LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

    Free on Amazon for your kindle

  36. 59

    I read To Kill A Mockingbird almost every summer! It’s one of my favorites, and I can’t wait for Go Set a Watchman to come out next month!

    Also, the Intervention series and Restoration series by Terri Blackstock are great! Her books are full of suspense and faith!

  37. 60

    Yay, books! Time to refill my library hold list! When my first son was born, I discovered the wonderful magic that is the library drive-up window . . . no more hauling an infant carrier into the building! I order my books online and drive up to get them in my car! It is the BEST. I recently finished An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Super interesting and well written. My husband can’t believe that after reading books at work all day I still want to come home and read all night!

    Oh, and everybody, don’t forget the wonderful Surprised by Motherhood! ;)

  38. 62

    I love this list! Definitely going to look into these as I start compiling a reading list of my own :) If you haven’t heard/read her yet, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a great book out called Americanah. has some language, but not overwhelming and the story is really great!Also loved Mirta Ojito’s Finding Manana – a memoir of her life in and exodus from Cuba.

  39. 63

    So many great suggestions! I’ve read a few on your list and in the comments, but there are many I haven’t, so yay!!! Amelia Peabody sounds like a series my daughter would love; any concerns in terms of romance? She is a voracious reader and I gave up pre-reading everything long ago, but I still try to be careful in what I hand her. ;) Thanks!

  40. 65

    You would love Brooke Moss! She writes women’s fiction and YA. Her characters are real, and messy and I love every one of them.

  41. 66

    Thanks for the reminder of the Mitford books! I’m in need of a summer read and I think it’s time to reread these beloved books! The Father Tim series is also good if you are already a fan of his. :)

  42. 67

    I loved loved loved The Mitford series!!! I have quotes of Father Tim’s written everywhere. Had never heard “and there’s the rub” until he said it.

    As a mother who has lost a son I’m not sure I could handle reading Rare Bird, but then again I wonder if it might help me through my seemingly non-ending grief.

    One series I would recommend is the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz. Really enjoyed them.

    • 68

      Hey Lynette,

      I’m so sorry to hear you also lost a son. I’d say Rare Bird would be a very difficult read. But maybe on the days you feel like no one understands, Anna would be a safe place to take that kind of grief? But not reading it, that’s also a strong good choice. Sending much love, Lisa-Jo

  43. 69
    Elizabeth Ankeny says:

    oh! you must read the Elm Creek book series by Jennifer Chiaverini! Stories about a lovely group of women, each with their own unique personality, friendship mentorship, some romance, and quilts! Start with The Quilter’s Apprentice!

  44. 70

    Lovely list! I haven’t seen Mrs. Prolific on a list in forever. I adore Mrs. P. The audio books narrated by Barbara Rosenblatt are excellent. Ms. Rosenblatt also narrates the Amelia Peabody series which is so much fun. I second the above recommendation for Lisa Samson books as well as Adrian Plass. Again, great lists, I love seeing what everyone is reading, it makes for such a rich reading life! Happy summer.

    • 71

      No way! They have a narrator in common? Because I’ve always thought they must be related somehow. I love that there is at least this connection. They’re my all time favorite heroines!

  45. 72
    Nicole Johansen says:

    LisaJo,

    This was an excellent post idea! I love to read and then talk about it!! I love Jim Gaffigan too! We actually got this one as an audio book which is perfect because he reads it himself. Lots of drives full of laughter!! I tried At Home in Mitford for book group last year but I didn’t get very far. It was almost too sweet? Maybe my timing was off and I should try again. The rest are all new to me so hooray for new recommendations!!!! You made my day.

    So to return the favor, my recent favorites:
    1. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. Beautiful novel about friendship and becoming adults. Amazing character development, picturesque scenery, real real life – lots of wonderful, but some difficult times too, and SUCH beautiful language! That man can write a metaphor. He makes me want to write!! Can’t wait to pick up another one by him. My mom says Angle of Repose is even better.

    2. Wonder by

    • 73
      Nicole Johansen says:

      R J Palacio. Children’s Lit so you’ll read it in a day or two (or one late night), but plenty of meat for adults. It’s about a disfigured boy going to public school for the first time in 8th grade. You’ll cheer and cry and want to parent like the hero’s.

      3. Regret-free Parenting by Catherine Hickam. Easily my favorite parenting book so far. My biggest critique is that she should have titled it Intentional Mothering. She doesn’t so much tell you how to parent as tell you to stop and think about how you are parenting and how you want to parent and some aids in bridging the gap between the two. A very nice balance between scripture, social science & anecdotal stories.

    • 74

      YES, I can totally see how you’d think the Mitford books were too sweet. But truly, that passes. They get deep and gritty and yet, at the heart hold tight to the true sweetness of Christ. They’re phenomenal and really worth pushing into I think to see how Father Tim’s life and world are upended and how it’s so good for him. And for us really. Which I guess is the whole point of the series :)

  46. 75

    Here’s a one-off book for you that I just finished reading: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. It is based on a true story of a condemned woman in Iceland in the early 19th century. Soooooooo good.

  47. 76

    LOVED Dear Mr. Knightley! ;)
    Just finished one called As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti, my review is on my blog today. I’m beginning to really adore what’s known as “women’s fiction” which essentially means it doesn’t necessarily have a romance, or that’s not the main point of the story. This one fits that category. (also, I loved finding that one of the characters had my daughter’s exact name – Hope Elizabeth)
    Jaded, by Varina Denman. The next one is called Justified and it’s sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read this summer! LOVED the first one, can’t wait for the second.
    Aaand if you like princess diaries type stories at all I have loved all three of Rachel Hauck’s Royal Diaries series. :)
    Non-fiction, I Have Seen God, about a missionary doctor to Peru. Awe-inspiring!
    (and those are just the most recent ones I can think of!)
    My MIL introduced me to Father Tim. Those books are gold.

    • 77

      Oh, I almost forgot. One of my newest favorite authors that I will buy, sight unseen. Tessa Ashfar. She’s an Iranian born author writing about characters from the old testament. Her story about Rahab was amazing!

  48. 78
    Carolyn says:

    I absolutely love the two Scottish historical fiction series by Liz Curtis Higgs! Christian romance, so well written, very real and flawed characters! They are very hard to put down!!
    In reading order: Thorn in my heart, Fair is the Rose, Whence came a Prince, Grace in Thine Eyes.

    The other series is Here burns my candle, followed by Mine is the night. Enjoy!

  49. 79

    My favorites are Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, The Baxter series by Karen Kingsbury (this one is in several series because there are so many books…Redemption series is the beginning of the Baxter family), the O’Malley series by Dee Henderson, and I’ve recently discovered Tracey Higley’s books. They are all Christian fiction and I’m a sucker for a good romance so they all have that woven into them to some degree. I love them all and reread Redeeming Love and the O’Malley series once a year or so. Highly recommend!! :)

  50. 80
    Janet Williams says:

    I just wanted to tell you, I started reading from this list because I wanted to step out of my typical book selections. I began with Dear Mr. Knightley, and I could NOT put it down! Thank you so much for your suggestions, I cannot wait to read the rest!

  51. 81
    Susan Elledge says:

    Did you know Dear Mr. Knightley is an updated version of Daddy Long Legs? The main character was raised in an orphanage and picked by Daddy Long Legs to receive a college education. It’s old fashioned, but still a sweet read.

    • 82

      Yea, I did actually. It’s one of the reasons I especially enjoyed it. I read Daddy Long Legs off my mom’s book shelf as a teen and LOVED this revised/Jane Austen-ized version of it so so much :)

  52. 83

    Charles Martin is a wonderful author and all his books are great! He creates characters and stories that are so rich and full. Also, The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure is a wonderful story about an architect who designs hiding spaces for Jews during the German occupation of France. All the Light We Cannot See is wonderful, and also The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

  53. 84
    evelyn k says:

    Loved most if those, too! I am a die-hard Elizabeth Peters fan. Have you read anything by Dorothy Cannell? I found her through an Elizabeth Peters’ recommendation online. The Thin Woman is great. Also, the Miss Julia series reminds me of the Mitford series with a side of sass.

  54. 85

    I love, love, love, Rainbow Rowell! If you’ve not read Eleanor and Park, I BEG you to find time to read it this summer. It will take you right back to the butterflies-in-the-tummy feelings of first love. The Attachments was also fantastic, as is Landline. I echo your opinion of Jim Gaffigan and The Mitford series, and I will take your fervent recommendation to heart and finally read Dear Mr. Knightley, since Karrilee is also going on about it. I love your list so much that I might just have to write one myself!

  55. 86

    Have you read “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”? Hi-LARIOUS. You will laugh out loud.

    It was written by Jonas Jonasson, who is Swedish. It’s an international bestseller but I feel like the US hasn’t gotten into yet. Soon enough…

  56. 87

    I really love the Miss Julia series by Ann Ross. She is a spunky lady, and it’s fun to read about the South, which is a somewhat foreign culture to me! It’s an ongoing series, up to maybe 14 books now.

  57. 88
    emily floyd says:

    not sure if these have been mentioned…

    but, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Cheesy title, yet inspiring, true girl power, YA novel!

    also, Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah; Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen; American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin; and Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis if you’ve never read it!

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