As the weather gets hotter here in central Ohio and I find myself being sprinkler support more often than not, I can’t help but think of some of the books I’d recommend for you this summer. (These novels aren’t necessarily books I’ve read recently, but they are books that I’d put together in a pile for a friend with orders to kick back and enjoy.)

1. Alex O’Donnell and the 40 CyberThieves, by Regina Doman

I lucked onto a copy of this when I stopped by a conference last weekend where Regina Doman happened to be speaking. (Oh! The joy!) I bought one of her last preview copies of Alex, the latest of her Fairy Tale Novels (oh how I love-love-LOVE them), and it does justice to the all the areas I raved about with the others books.

Did I mention the “can’t sleep til I’m done with this book, I don’t care WHAT YOU SAY?” aspect? Oh. Well. I consider that a plus, though I was a little sad to see it end.

These are some of the only books I’ve ever wanted to reread immediately. I’ll be doing a proper review sometime soon, but let’s just say this is a must-read for you, whether or not you’ve read the others. (I have read them all out of order, and they are completely OK that way. I love that!)

Perfect for summer because of the suspense and the terrific writing.

(Though, granted, those reasons make it perfect for any other time of the year too!)

2. Awakening, by Claudia Cangilla McAdam

This is another book that warrants a full review, but I can’t not include it. I’d tell you the storyline, but if you’re anything like me (and hopefully you aren’t), you’ll roll your eyes and move along to the next book. If I hadn’t received it from the publisher, and if I didn’t feel strongly about the editor’s high words for it, I might have slipped it into the parish library or the hand of one of the teens in my life.

But oh! This is a book that made me see the Passion with whole new eyes. It made me reconsider life, and I don’t say that lightly or tritely.

It’s an old sort of concept for a story, but the telling is the key.

Why do I recommend it for summer? It’s short and yet it packs a punch. Read it on the beach or in the A/C. Use it as a spiritual prod or as a light read. It’s amazingly versatile for a book I didn’t even want to open at first.

3. Maggie Come Lately, by Michelle Buckman

If I’m a fangirl of Regina Doman (I think I would wear her picture on a shirt, so that might make me scary, actually), then I’m a fanette of Michelle Buckman. Maggie is the first book I’ve read of hers, though I’ve gotten to know her a bit through interactions we’ve had in the Catholic Writers Guild.

Let’s just say that I won’t be stopping with Maggie; the next book in that series is waiting (impatiently) for me, and I have some of her other work as my motivation to get my other work done so I can do the important stuff (which is reading it, of course).

A summer book that beckons you for its handling of really difficult themes, impeccable writing, and fabulous plot twists. Her characters are impeccable and, really, seem like people you might just know. I’ll be reviewing this in full sometime in the near future.

4. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

You might think I’m including this because it’s a “TIMELESS CLASSIC NOVEL OF EXILE, COURAGE, AND SURVIVAL.” Just because my old copy has that blaring across the front doesn’t mean I found it to be true, at least at first. I’m actually including this because I’ve been thinking of rereading it myself (well, I was, before I put it in a box of fiction that I’m sharing with a book-hungry family member). Something about seeing all the wild rabbits around in various places (including, unfortunately, my yard) has had me thinking of the world Adams builds in Watership Down. It’s had me yearning for writing that’s older than I am and for a story that’s fantasy without including space travel.

I call it a summer book because it just feels like the right time of year to read it. It’s a little thicker than you’d like, I’ll bet, and it might be challenging to get really “into” (it was for me). Nevertheless, I maintain that this is a summer read. Why not challenge yourself? You might even like it!

5. The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis

Ah, here‘s an old friend. My battered old copy of Screwtape is marked and dog-eared and loved. It wasn’t mine at first, so it’s not my name written in maroon marker inside the front cover. I loved it so much after reading it (via audio) the first time that I reread it within months while leading a summer study with a group of women.

For me, it’s an examination of conscience. It’s also a good reminder that there are forces of evil working against us all.the.time.

In the summer, I love having a book that makes me think differently about the world around me. (Ignore the fact, for the moment, that this is a selling point, for me, in any book.) This book has the advantage of also inspiring a number of other works (The Gargoyle Code and The Loser Letters, to name a few of the more recent), and I am a sucker for reading source material. Besides that, C.S. Lewis is just fabulous. Need I say more?

6. The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton

In addition to the fact that you can find free audio of The Man Who Was Thursday via LibriVox, this is a puzzle of a book. It’s the first (and only) Chesterton I’ve read (though I have plans, plans I tell you!), and it sold me.

It has all the ingredients of a summer read: compelling, fast-paced, and entertaining. Oh, and I DIDN’T have it figured out (though I was sure I did!).

7. The Things that Keep Us Here, by Carla Buckley

I read this recently and reviewed it in length. I can’t tell you too much, because I don’t want to spoil it. My minimum use of adjectives would include awesome and gripping, though I’d be happy to toss in phrases like “look at the world a little differently” and “dream about the characters while you’re reading it.”

You should read it this summer, because not only will you find it on the new fiction tables at Barnes & Noble and the like, but you’ll also be cushioned from the flu scares that form the basis for the storyline. Reading it in the midst of the flu season was maybe a little too realistic for me…

You’ll find the Quick Takes fun over at Conversion Diary. Don’t miss it!