I was sitting there, minding my own business (read as: nursing the baby and playing Trivia Crack), when the text came in.

Hey reading mama! I need a recommendation for a lighthearted novel. Any suggestions?

Does the pope have a prayer he likes? Would my kids like more candy? Is it summer?


And in fact, I think that particular friend was both overwhelmed and also cracked up by the rapidity and size of my response.

This particular friend makes me look like I have nothing to do. (No, really.) And that got me thinking that there are probably some other busy moms out there who are looking for a summer read.

Summer Reads for Busy Moms - SnoringScholar.com

So here you go. This is my off-the-top-of-my-head texted-back-to-my-friend summer reads recommendation list.

The Rosie Project

I picked up The Rosie Project (Simon & Schuster, 2013) after hearing about it on the “A Good Story Is Hard to Find” podcast. The discussion about it intrigued me, so I downloaded it and saved it for a weekend.

It’s a good thing I did, too, because, though it’s not a really “edge of your seat” kind of read, The Rosie Project is a compelling story. I didn’t want to stop reading.

As the reader gets to know Don, we get an inside glimpse at some of those people who may have been mysteriously distant to us before. Don has Aspergers Syndrome, and the author neither belittles this nor makes it too much. Instead, it’s a backdrop of Don’s approach to life. And maybe, if you’re anything like me, it’s a glimpse at the black-and-white person you’d like to be.

Getting a glimpse at Don’s thought processes and seeing them in action starts out as possibly pathetic (I might have muttered, “Are you for real?”) and then becomes empathy-inducing (I found myself cheering for him). How many times have I assumed that I knew better than the other person, only to find out, cough-choke-gag, that maybe I didn’t? Or how often have I thought that someone should have known better, only to find out later that…they just didn’t (or maybe couldn’t)?

As I read, my opinion and image of Rosie, the other main character, morphed. At first, I had an image of her that was quite different from the final character I got to know by the end of the book.

Simsion really does a great job of debunking the myth that people can’t change, but also upholding the truth that people can really only change if they’re the ones behind it.

(from the review I posted at my blog at the National Catholic Register last summer)

Note: I loved this book so much I preordered the sequel. I haven’t read the sequel yet, but plan to soon. (By “soon,” I mean “sometime in the next ten years.”)

Crimson Bound and Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty was my guilty pleasure postpartum reading and OH, what delightful wonderful great reading it was! I actually bought this book, and then I hunted down the author because I’d heard she had a new release (out in early May 2015, which I finagled as a pre-release review copy).

Both of these books are wonderfully written, tightly plotted, and a delight all around.

In both, Hodge took

They’re YA, and I’d call them good for your 8th grade and up kids, and maybe for kids younger than that, too, but I always hesitate on age recommendations. I think my fourth-grader is a bit young for both of these.

The Fault in Our Stars

I read it for the same reason many others probably read it: I was curious. (That, and a few of the trusted teen readers in my life told me it was THE BEST BOOK EVER IN THE WHOLE WORLD, which made me raise my eyebrows with nothing short of doubt. However, I cannot rebut these crazy assertions until I have read the book, so read it I did.)

I’ll be honest: I laughed. I cried. I enjoyed reading it.

I did not, however, find my life changed.

One of the things that fascinates me about reading YA is hearing the teens in my life tell me what they find compelling and experiencing it with them. I remember the turmoil of my teen years, and I wouldn’t go back for anything. (And yet, I read YA. Go figure.)

What Green’s done in this book is tap into a truth of human dignity that isn’t conditional. He wrote characters we can’t help but love (and possibly be annoyed by, depending on your age), and put them in a setting and a storyline that’s so believably distant as to be possible. And then, then, he weaves in a theme of human dignity, of the importance of each individual. It’s not over-the-top and it’s not shoved down your throat. It’s just a good story.

For some people, it’s incredibly sad and almost horrifying. For others, it’s a story of hope.

Everyone who read this ahead of me warned me that I would cry. And yet the teens also shoved it into my hands as one of the best books I should read. Is that because they just aren’t reading enough good literature these days? Or does it speak to a need this generation has, to be told and shown their worth in an unconditional way?

I enjoyed this book, and I’d share it with the older teens in my life (except that they’ve already read it).

(from the review I posted at my blog at the National Catholic Register last summer)

Shannon Hale

When I told my friend to look for Shannon Hale, I was thinking of how much I enjoyed reading The Actor and the Housewife a few years ago (rave review here) and how much the Princess Academy books delighted me (link goes to the first book in the trilogy). I would read anything else by Hale, though maybe her Ever After High stuff wouldn’t be my style… (My ten-year-old has read one or two of them, though.)

Dad Is Fat


Thank you, oh local library, for stocking books such as this. It’s not fiction, but it fits into summer reading in a way that few other nonfiction titles do.

I don’t know, though, if I should thank Jim Gaffigan for having written it.

You’re guaranteed to laugh, but the laughing may come at a high cost: the fast expulsion of air may cause your body to rebel and make noises that other people in the room are sure to translate as “MOM’S FART-LAUGHING.” Which is, I’d like to add, COMPLETELY INACCURATE.

In a few pages per chapter, Gaffigan managed to make me both want to turn the pages and want to stop reading so the book wouldn’t end. It reminds me of reading Susie Lloyd: you’re up late laughing and making a racket and it’s all good, clean fun. (Or that’s the THEORY. Reference earlier comment regarding “special” laughter.)

I’ve never seen Gaffigan’s stand-up routine, but now that I know he’s one of “my people,” maybe I will check him out.

Then again, the side effect of the laughter he seems to produce in the room is…not so great.

(Read as: highly recommended.)

(from my review at CatholicMom.com)

What’s on YOUR “text back off the top of your head” reading recommendation list?