Summer Reads That Will Stay With You Longer Than a Suntan

July  5, 2016

For a token beach read, you know where to look. But this year, when we asked folks what to read for the summer, their answers didn’t have pink covers.

Nancy said it best over on the hotline:

More common, and in some ways more relaxing, is to read anything you want, popular, recent, good-trash or really-good. Probably rarer is to use a chunk of time to read something that you always say you want to read and don't have time for. Just for pleasure. Or to grow in your professional, personal or family life.

The summer is an opportunity to sit back—with that book you’ve always wanted to read. Maybe it’s darker or deeper or different than you planned your summer to be, but chances are its story might stick around for a little longer than your suntan.

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Here are some of the books our community hopes others finally get to this summer:


For my I-wish-I-had-more-time project, I'm rereading Anna Karenina, last seen the year after I finished college (not yesterday).

Another idea to keep in mind: No obligation to finish a book. Life's too short. If it doesn't catch you, give it up and find something you like.

Annie Colquitt

Work your way through Pulitzer Prize fiction winners. My favorite from that list that I've read recently is The Orphan Master's Son.

For me, summer reading is about classics. So I might throw a couple of those on the list, too.

Dorie Greenspan

I’m spending the summer with Bruno, Chief of Police, who lives in an imaginary village in the Dordogne region of France. Bruno and his friends know food and wine and happily cook for one another at a moment’s notice. When the author of the series, Martin Walker, who is best known for writing about international relations and the Cold War, describes what his characters are cooking, I want to race into the kitchen and make those dishes myself. Yes, there’s murder and mayhem in the books, but there’s also friendship, romance, and truffles.

I’ll be dipping into Calvin Trillin’s The Tummy Trilogy, which comprises Trillin’s three major works on food: American Fried; Alice, Let’s Eat; and Third Helpings. Trillin is an extraordinarily good writer, the kind of writer we all can learn from, and even though I’ve read every short piece in the trilogy before (some several times), each time I pick up the book, it's with the anticipation of pleasure … and I’m never let down.

Eric Werner of Hartwood (the Restaurant and Book)

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz is a very special book that's not only essential addition to your kitchen, but it also explains the meaning behind the practice of fermentation. Katz is a genius and each paragraph brings you into a new world of ideas.

I purchased Managing Yourself by Milton Wright (copyright 1938 by McGraw Hill Book Company) at a garage sale and it has never left my side since. It is a daily, in-depth look on how to manage your day and stay on schedule. I live and work in the jungle, so when the heat starts to melt my brain, this book is cold glass of discipline for the mind.

The Modern Maya by Macduff Everton demonstrates the culture and legacy of the Maya peoples. It has helped me to better understand the community that we are so grateful to be living amongst.

Margaux Kent

Andrea Wulf! Founding Garders, Brother Gardners and The Invention of Nature. All wonderfully researched and written, loaded with information that shrinks the world and also puts into perspective how the repetitive cycle of human interaction with nature is, as well as the possibility of adventure wherever passion resides.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, gosh, this is super dark (Lord of the Flies-type dark) but despite that, a heartwarming tale of human beings not quite making sense of the world. Reminiscent of Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, which is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a long time.

Book of Ages, about Jane Franklin, Ben’s sister. Jill Lepore does an incredible job building the story of Jane’s life with the remnants of the life of the men who surrounded her. (As a women, most of the details of her life had been discarded.)

Allison Robicelli

I've been reading Cookwise and Bakewise again. I try to read them at least once a year. It's review: I like to stay on top if my game, and relearn any concepts I've forgotten or haven't used in a while. Fall is a big season for us creating new recipes, so a late summer refresher on technical aspects of the job helps out a lot.

Aside from that, I've had my head in my vintage collection. I collect cookbooks, and have a huge fondness for anything written before 1950. My current favorite is one my staff bought me for my birthday: "The Glamor Girl Cookbook" from 1934. It's a thick hardcover book that was self-published by an aspiring actress who was ALSO a psychic. It's magical.


Just plain good reading and writing: anything by Alice Hoffman, but I am currently reading The Marriage Of Opposites, LOVED The Museum Of Extraordinary Things, and if you haven't yet, RUN don't walk to get The Dove Keepers.


Not exactly breezy beach reading but if you like murder mystery meets psychological analysis almost anything by Elizabeth George. I have only read Inspector Lynley books, I think she has a new series now also.


The Tao of Pooh, first chapter. You can read the rest of the book, but it basically covers the same concepts as the first chapter. I've read Tao of Pooh cover-to-cover once, now I can't get past the first chapter because I know it's all the same.

It's like reading Tao Te Ching. Open that book randomly and whatever you read will teach the same basic concept as whatever you read previously in that book and whatever you will read next in that book.

For more summer readers, check out our other lists of recs: in parts 1, 2, and 3.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mark Reiter
    Mark Reiter
  • Ali Slagle
    Ali Slagle
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


Mark R. July 12, 2016
"a" Castle?
Ali S. July 12, 2016
Thank you—I've fixed.