What to Read on My Summer Vacation

What I love about this time of year is the mindset of going on summer “vacation” and reading tons of great books!  I put “vacation” in quotes because writers don’t really take vacations. Even if we’re in another country seeing the sites, or making sandcastles on the Oregon coast, we are always working on new stories.  It’s hard-wired into our brains, and more often than not going someplace new sparks more story ideas.

Anyway, it’s that time of year again, the time we plan our great escapes into many books, but how do we pick which ones to read over our summer “vacation?” I decided I’d start by asking friends.

My buddy Barb, who reads every day of her life, had two suggestions for me:  “Orphan Train” and “Glass Butterfly.”  The latter especially intrigued me because it sounds like a tight suspense with romance plus it takes place in Cannon Beach – our favorite vacation spot! That’s me on the right in purple, making a sand creation with my son’s fiancée.

Next, I was in my doctor’s office and noticed a book in the waiting room.  The title is “Brain on Fire” and my doc highly recommended it.  It’s a true story about a woman who is diagnosed as psychotic and is institutionalized, but they eventually discovered she had an autoimmune disease!  Fascinating stuff.  It sounds pretty heavy so I might read this while reading something lighter.

Since I also write screenplays, I looked at summer releases and realized I want to read the young adult novel “The Fault in Our Stars” before the movie hits theaters, so that will be moved to the top of my list.  Plus, I’ve always wanted to read “The Giver,” and never had a chance to read “The Book Thief.”

People Magazine features excellent book recommendations.  I keep a folder of their book recs and will pull one out at random.  Or maybe two.  These look great: “Picture Me Gone” about a 12-year-old girl who goes with her dad to help find his missing friend from childhood, and “The Returned” about dead people who start showing up, unchanged from the beyond. It’s the book that inspired the TV series “Resurrection” which I did not watch – just because I watch too much TV as it is -- and it sounds like a fascinating premise.  If any of you have read either of these, let me know what you think.

Do I scan bestseller lists?  Sometimes, but I figure those authors are getting plenty of attention.  I like to find the unknown, talented author with a sharp-witted voice and clever plot.  Where do I find those?  Well, one place is my local, amazing new/used bookstore.  McDonald’s Book Exchange is awesome and has tons of romance novels.  At least half of my reading list will be romances because they are positive energy for me and help balance out the more serious, depressing books.  It took me days to recover from “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” (Can you tell I’m in a YA phase?)

After stopping by McDonalds Book Exchange, I came out with half a dozen books that piqued my interest including a fiction novel call “The Blue Hyacinth” because I liked the title.  Well, I didn’t just buy it for the title.  I also enjoyed the opening pages and for me that’s the defining moment.  I crack open a book, or surf the first few pages online, and know immediately if the author has a voice I’ll enjoy.  Here’s a pic of the romance room at McDonald’s Book Exchange.  This is just one of about 10 rooms!  Bet you’re pretty proud of me for only coming out of there with only half a dozen books, eh?

And then, of course, I’m excited to check out some of our very own Beach Read authors’ books.  Oh, my head’s spinning!  But in a good way.

What’s on your list this summer?  And how do you find books?  Do you belong to a book club?  Or do you consult magazines, family or friends?  Do tell!

Pat White


  1. Ugh, can't believe I JUST saw this post...so sorry! I enjoyed it tons, and now you've got my head spinning as far as books to choose. Thank you for sharing such a wide variety of reading choices. I don't have a particular summer 'list' but I just know I never have enough time for pleasure reading, with being an editor and author. It looks like you're taking on a pretty heavy load...good luck with that. Enjoyed the pics, both places look heavenly, the beach AND the book store!

  2. Pat, I've admitted I'm lousy at keeping up with blog posts. I eventually take a day to play catch up, like today. I am a part of a book club. We meet once a month, and sometimes I even get a chance to read the book. The last one assigned was Orphan Train, which you already mentioned, and I've been too busy publishing to read.

    Good post.

  3. I drive by that book exchange all the time and wondered. Mostly I wondered if it's associated with McDonalds Fast Food.
    I loved "Where'd You Go Bernadette", "The Rosie Project" "The Husband's Secret" "Gemini" "Summerland" "The Matchmaker" "What Alice Forgot"
    I choose my next read according to bestseller lists if they are expensive uploads and by blurbs and covers if they aren't.
    Great post, Pat!