Ah, summer. To me, it’s the season of reading.
My friend Bethany and I have been chatting about our summer reading lists lately — I’m naturally drawn to non-fiction, she’s naturally drawn to fiction.
But it’s always fun to shake things up!
So this summer, we’re expanding our book horizons. She’s been introducing me to wonderful new fiction books, and I’ve been sharing my non-fiction favs with her.
And today we’re sharing both with you!
(Side note: In case you haven’t seen Bethany’s Instagram and YouTube channel yet, you’ll want to check ’em out like right now. Her minimal, almost vintage aesthetic inspired me to bits and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way. Plus! She’s a petite gal and has plenty of tailoring + fit advice for fellow petite sisters.)
In this post, I’ll share five of my favorite non-fiction books, and Bethany will share five of her favorite fiction books. Between the two of us, there’s plenty to add to your summer reading list!
Recommendations by Caroline
Looking to add more compassion and peace to your life? Pick up Meditations on the Mat.
Formatted into 365 short essays, Meditations on the Mat is how I start and end my day right now. While it’s absolutely a book about yoga, it’s less about the postures themselves, and more about the philosophy behind it, so it’s appropriate for anyone who is interested in living a life of balance and compassion towards others.
Want a journaling prompt? Grab your journal and a copy of Mandela’s Way.
This book isn’t a traditional, chronological biography, but rather, it’s a fascinating portrait of Mandela and his outlook on life. It’s formatted into 15 easy-to-read life lessons. I’m currently using it as a journaling prompt, reading a chapter and then journaling out a response to that particular life lesson — it’s becoming therapeutic.
Ready to lighten up and have some fun? Spend an afternoon reading Improv Wisdom.
This book brought me to life! It isn’t a how-to book on becoming an improv artist. Rather, it invites us to apply 13 principles of improvisation to our daily life. While clearly rooted in improv, the book nods to ideas you might find in yoga — compassion, mindfulness, and being fully present in the moment — and I loved seeing those familiar ideas through a playful lens. As the author herself says, “The world of improv is a portal into mindfulness and magic!”
Need a kick in the pants? Read The Compound Effect.
The Compound Effect is based on the principle that little, everyday decisions shape your destiny. It’s all about self-discipline, taking ownership of our choices, and finding success through consistency. It was a life-changing book for me, and I reference it often when I’m lacking direction or motivation.
Learn to worry less with The Power of Now.
This fascinating book invites us to tune in to the present moment, and break the habit of worrying. Fair warning: it’s definitely on the woo-woo side. But to me, reading a book is like going into a grocery store — you don’t have to buy everything you see. I’ve happily picked up some special nuggets, I’ve happily released parts of it, but I’m absolutely glad I read it.
Recommendations by Bethany
Need a New Book Series? Outlander will have you begging for the 9th book to be finished.
In 1945, Claire Randall is honeymooning with her husband in Scotland when she falls back in time to 1743 through a circle of stones. She can’t get back, must marry another, and adapt to a new life…and the rest is histor…ical fiction . When I first watched the TV series on Starz, I became hooked on the books as well; it is the deepest depiction of love and sacrifice I’ve ever read in a novel.
Having Downton Abbey Withdrawals? Read The Last Summer.
Quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, Judith Kinghorn seamlessly mixes Downton Abbey and The Notebook. This is the “last summer” that Clarissa Granville will spend in her sprawling estate before World War I takes away everything she loves, including the romance she shares with the housekeeper’s son, Tom. I stayed up all night with a box of tissues reading this one.
Need an escape to Provence? Read A Good Year.
Even if you have watched Russell Crowe’s depiction of Max Skinner in A Good Year circa 2006, you must read the book! He inherits a Provence estate in need of much repair to both the house and the vineyard. This book transported me to France: food, wine, beautiful houses, and friendship. An experiential read all around.
Unleash a Little Fury with Vengeance Road.
If you’re feeling a bit angry at the moment, you might take on Vengeance Road. Kate Thompson is tracking down a group of men who killed her father and burned her home in search of a gold mine. She teams up with a young Apache girl and two brothers to follow the trail across Arizona. The inside is just as lively as the cover, which looks gorgeous on display.
Feel the Magic Up Close with The Night Circus.
Cloaked in black and white, The Night Circus surprises towns by popping up as if by magic under the night sky. Celia and Marco have special gifts that allow them to act as illusionists in the circus. They find out they are pawns in a game and one must win. It’s a love story that reminds me of Water for Elephants and The Hunger Games set in the early 1900s.
• • •
And there you have it!
Your turn! Read any books recently that are just too good not to share? I’d love to hear about them — and I’d love to hear what’s on your summer reading list! Share away in the comments. And please join me in thanking Bethany for contributing to this post — she’s a ray of sunshine!
See you next Thursday! :)