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Summer Reading List - Books on my TBR | www.kelseysmythe.com

This summer was the first time that I picked out a bunch of books to read over a season. I found that I really enjoyed it! Picking books to read over a certain season can direct your reading life and ensure that you get to the books you want to read most, not just the most convenient or first ones you thought of. Here’s my summer reading recap. 

Fiction/Fluff

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I heard about this book from the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide. I love love loved this book. It was a bit dark, a bit twisty. But it definitely had that dark fairy tale feeling that I love. It’s been compared to this book that I also really enjoyed, so I think I’ve found myself a new genre. If you’re looking for some good fall reading, this book definitely feels like fall.

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

Because I loved this series and this series by Rick Riordan, I had really high hopes for this one as well. I read the first two but then decided that it wasn’t worth reading the last book in the series. It felt like he put less effort into this series. The characters weren’t as vibrant, the plot not as twisty and well-developed. It’s rare that I don’t finish a series, so this shows how little this one caught my interest.  

Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

The audiobook of this book is fantastic. The narrator does such a great job with the different characters and accents, which made this really fun. I had to brush up on my Star Wars knowledge before reading, but once I did it was really enjoyable. 

The Dry by Jane Harper

This book came out last year and was really popular. I don’t read a lot of this genre so it was a fun experience. I’m a sucker for criminal investigative tv shows, so this book was certainly enjoyable. I was reminded why I don’t read a lot of this genre when I stayed up way too late and neglected my responsibilities to figure out what happened. I was somewhat dissatisfied with the ending, to be honest. But this is a spoiler-free zone so I can’t tell  you why.

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

I decided to read this book purely because of the cover and because Anne Bogel recommended it. Obviously that kind of decision-making can sometimes steer me wrong. But Anne Bogel knows what’s up, because this book was wonderful. It’s a debut novel for this author, but her writing style was a delight. I’ll definitely be reading any future books she comes out with. This book sort of felt like Grey’s Anatomy (for the drama and medical setting) mixed with Where’d You Go Bernadette? (for the word choice and some of the writing style). Definitely read this book.

Non-Fiction

Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam’s first time management book completely changed my life, so I had high expectations for this one. It felt like it was a deeper look into 168 Hours and how the application of those principles played out for her and others over the years. There was definitely a lot of food for thought, especially for how I can put more time into what makes me feel happy and cope with spending time on what doesn’t make me feel “off the clock” but is still necessary and good. 

I didn’t love it as much as 168 Hours, so if you haven’t read any of her books, start there. If you’re a time management junkie like me, definitely read Off the Clock for some philosophical musings on time management. 

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

I’ve known of Cait Flanders for a couple years but haven’t actually followed her blog much myself. I was pleasantly surprised by how vulnerable and authentic she was with her issues with alcohol, changing family dynamics, and her spending. I think she has a pretty great philosophy about money and I love how she wrote it as a memoir rather than just a how-to. Oddly enough, I get so much more out of the financial memoir books than the “12 step process” books. 

If for no other reason, read this book if you’re curious to see if someone can not buy any new clothes/home goods/other random miscellany for an entire year and still survive. 

Drive by Daniel Pink

I just finished this book and it’s given me a lot to think about. The book is very research heavy, which I appreciate, but still manages to be interesting and engaging. Daniel Pink discusses what actually motivates people, and how that differs from the things businesses put into practice. It’s definitely geared toward people in business, but certainly applicable if that’s not you.

My biggest takeaway: Think about what I find challenging and engaging and try to stay in jobs that have plenty of that. Don’t take a job just because of how much money it offers. 

Christian Non-Fiction

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

Y’all. This book. I’ve heard so many great things about it for a couple years now and I’m so thankful I finally decided to read it. I think I was so hesitant at first because I didn’t want to be convicted about how little effort I put into Bible study these days. But Jen Wilkin doesn’t shame you AT ALL, and has so much practical advice that you can actually put into practice even if you don’t have 3 hours of free time to study the Bible every day. 

Read this book.

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke

Sadly, I didn’t actually get to this one. I was bummed to discover that they didn’t have it at the library, either the physical or the digital copy. Since I’m trying not to buy more books until I read the ones I already own, I decided to wait on this one. I requested it from the library, so maybe if I’m lucky they’ll get it in stock. Fingers crossed. 

Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs

I love, love, love Annie’s podcast so was really looking forward to reading this book. To be honest, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. Whether that’s because of my season of life, because I listen to her podcast all the time, or I just didn’t absorb it as much as I should have, I’m not sure. I think she’s a woman full of wisdom though and you would probably benefit from checking this book out. 

Books I read that weren’t on my list:

And because I’m an INTP, I just couldn’t help but deviate from my own guidelines. Here are the books that weren’t on my reading list but that I read this summer anyways.

Creative You by Otto Kroeger and David B. Goldstein

This was a wonderful, wonderful book. If you know youre MBTI, I would definitely recommend reading this. I love that they get rid of the notion that only certain types of people are creative and give practical examples of what creativity might look like for you. One of the most interesting tidbits I read was that extroverted artists often paint people whereas introverted artists often paint landscape scenes. Do you think that’s true? What’s your preference? Interestingly enough, I’m an introvert who strongly prefers landscape paintings 🙂

Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry

This is such a great book for figuring out money basics. I shied away from it at first because I didn’t feel like I wanted to engender the stereotype of being a broke millennial, but after reading so many raving reviews, I picked it up anyways. I love that she’s promoting financial literacy, which is sorely lacking. The book is also helpful because you don’t have to read the whole thing from front to back. You can jump around to different chapters based on what you’re curious about.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Brene Brown is a legend at this point, so I knew I would get a ton out of this book. I’ve started and stopped it for a couple years (getting my English degree was rough on my reading life). I think everyone needs to read this book.

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

I’ve never read any work by Emily Giffin so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I basically only knew that she was a popular author and that people were really excited about this book. She’s a great storyteller and the characters felt real and dynamic. She addressed an important topic in our society, rape culture, which I really appreciated. I think it’s certainly a topic worth examining and discussing and seeking to make better. 

What I didn’t love is that every single character in the book that was bad was rick and politically conservative and every single character that was good was poor or at least grew up poor. I felt like this was a disservice to the topic she was most trying to address. She muddied it by making it a political and/or socioeconomic statement when it didn’t have to be. If we’re going to address the problem of sexual ___ in our culture, we need to acknowledge that it spans ALL political divides and socioeconomic statuses. 

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

This was an excellent book. I picked it up on a whim when I saw it on the shelf because I’ve never read anything by Jeff Goins. He shares the story of different people who have found their life purpose, their callings, and breaks down how that process works for everyone. I think this is a book that everyone should read, whether they feel like they’ve discovered their life purpose or not.

All the Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam

I started this one while waiting for Off the Clock to come out. It was a really enjoyable book with some insightful ideas about money. I enjoyed the random research tidbits like how many parents who only had two children wish they had three. What I didn’t love is that it felt like Laura was writing from the perspective of someone who makes a lot of money. Her husband is a successful lawyer and she’s a successful author, so a lot of the advice she gives about using money to make your life happier doesn’t apply to the majority of people (like her advice to just higher a second nanny or outsource all your laundry). That being said, it’s a thought-provoking book if you can think about the principles behind the specific advice rather than getting caught up in the details of how much more money she makes than the average person. 

I’d love to hear your summer reading recap! Did we read any of the same books? Any books I should check out next?

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