Staff Picks: The Best Books We Read This Summer

best books we read this summer banner

As September quickly approaches backpacks begin to fill-up, college campuses become bustling centers of activity, and the night starts earlier and earlier. To squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of the summer months, the library's blog team presents the best books we read this summer. We hope that you find something to keep you company over Labor Day weekend and beyond.

Book cover, Persuasion by Jane AustenPersuasion by Jane Austen (ebook)

The best book I read this summer was actually a re-read: Persuasion, by Jane Austen. Seven years after she was persuaded to break her engagement to Frederick Wentworth -- an up-and-coming Naval officer with little wealth but great prospects --Anne Elliot gets a second chance at love and happiness. - Stacy T.



Book cover, Parable of the Sower by Octavia ButlerParable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (ebook)

I've been on a post-apocalyptic/ dystopian bent this summer, I think because I get to watch characters struggle to find hope in hopeless circumstances. Parable of the Sower centers on Lauren, a teenager living in a walled community on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The U.S. economy is collapsing and climate change has caused a severe decades long drought (sound familiar?). Lauren witnesses the destruction of her community, the collapse of morality, and failure of her parent's religion but she responds by creating her own moral code, a plan for survival, and even her own religion. This book is frightening in its vision, it was published in 1993 when climate change was only beginning to enter the popular consciousness (the film An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006) and it is a YA Sci-Fi novel that came out before the term YA was even established. If you want to surround yourself with examples of resilience this year like I do, check out The Parable of the Sower. - Jason P.


Book cover, Bad Romance by Heather DemetriosBad Romance by Heather Demetrios (ebook)

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone. Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.

This beautiful, heartbreaking book explores the tough subject of dating violence, which affects 1 in 4 teens. You will laugh. You will cry. You will cheer Grace on. Plus her best friend's name is Alyssa, and she has a straightforward and funny attitude like myself. It's definitely my favorite book of 2017. - Alyssa M.


Book cover, We Are Okay by Nina LaCourWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour (ebook)

My favorite book of the summer was the YA novel We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour. After her first semester of college in New York, Marin stays alone on campus during winter break, rather than returning to San Francisco--a city she doesn’t want to face. When Marin’s best friend Mabel comes to visit, they begin to deal with the complexities of their relationship and delve into Marin’s dark past. Her mother drowned when she was a child, her father was absent, and she was raised by her grandfather, who has a literal room full of his own secrets. As the story unfolds, you learn the details of why Marin didn’t want to endure even a brief visit to San Francisco. The book is poignant and sad (really, only read it if you’re okay with crying a little bit), and provides a hauntingly realistic portrayal of grief, sexuality, loneliness and hope. - Emily S.


Book cover, Made for Love by Alissa NuttingMade for Love by Alissa Nutting

Not one to shy away from taboo subjects and absurdist happenings, Alissa Nutting's second novel Made for Love starts with a bang. Hazel has been forced to back home to Florida, specifically to her father's retirement mobile home park, in order to escape her tech CEO husband from "mind-melding" with her. Unfortunately Hazel is not welcome back home. Her father has settled into a comfortable life with his chosen partner, Diane - a life-like adult doll. Things go from bad to worse for Hazel as she attempts to outrun her husband and start a new life. Interwoven with a tale of off-putting forbidden love, this novel is surreal yet highly readable.

While Nutting's previous work Tampa was much more controversial, the overall story structure was more cohesive than this one and is also a highly recommended read. Nutting does not write likeable characters and none are to be found here, but if you like different and exciting fiction or remember enjoying Chuck Palahniuk add this to your to-read list. - Amelia VH.


book cover, the wind up bird chronicle by haruki murakamiThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (ebook)

As it turns out the Best book I read this summer was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami. The story follows a Japanese man as his life delves further and further into pandemonium. As his perspective changes, and his relationships shift, the reality that he lives in begins to blur, and the journey becomes more and more enthralling. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of contemporary fiction. - Christopher D.



book cover, going postal by terry pratchettGoing Postal: A Discworld Novel (Book #30) by Terry Pratchett (ebook)

Lord Havelock Vetinari, Patrician and tyrant of the city of Ankh-Morpork, has given con artist Moist Von Lipwig two choices: death or a job at the post office as Postmaster. Perhaps, he should have chosen death.

The mail hasn’t been delivered in decades. There are so many piles of letters. The letters speak to him in his dreams. He has some help: Junior Postman Groat, who is not so junior, Apprentice Postman Stanley, who has a fascination for pins, Mr. Pump, a Golem and Lipwig’s parole officer, and Mr. Tiddles, the post office cat.

Lipwig delivers one letter causing a chain of events which ends with Lipwig publicly challenging the Grand Trunk, a communication company, nicknamed the clacks to a two thousand mile race from Ankh-Morpork to Genua. - Monique M.


book cover, the sirens of titan by kurt vonnegutThe Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (ebook only)

Kurt Vonnegut wrote The Sirens of Titan, which centers around a Mar's invasion of Earth. While the well-known American author wrote his second novel on such a popular subject, there are elements of philosophy throughout the book that challenge the ideas of free will, knowledge, and the origin of humankind. I enjoyed this eBook from Overdrive while riding the bus. - David F.



What was your favorite book this summer? Do you have a recommendation for library staff? Tell us in the comments below.

Add new comment

Comments are expected to follow the basic rules of civility and be relevant to the topic being commented upon. Comments will be reviewed prior to posting. Blog comments represent the views of the person commenting, not necessarily those of San José Public Library. For more information see SJPL's Comment Guidelines.