Books We Love for Your “To Read” List

Good rainy morning, my friends. It’s a good morning to hunker down with my cup of tea for some book chat. I mentioned in my book party post that I would round up all the suggestions from that event in a books-and-nothing-but-books post. I feel as if your “to read” list is going to magically grow today.

Country Garden by Karen Arnold.
Not my garden, but “Country Garden” by Karen Arnold. source

Before I get into the book talk, I wanted to mention that I am now affiliated with I discovered them a few weeks ago and was quite excited. They support local and independent book stores with a percentage of their sales, and you can ask that your favourite independent book shop be added to their list. I thought that was very cool. Here’s what they say about themselves.

Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. We believe that bookstores are essential to a healthy culture. They’re where authors can connect with readers, where we discover new writers, where children get hooked on the thrill of reading that can last a lifetime. They’re also anchors for our downtowns and communities. As more and more people buy their books online, we wanted to create an easy, convenient way for you to get your books and support bookstores at the same time. If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support, find them on our map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop). Bookshop is a B-Corp – a corporation dedicated to the public good. is just getting started, and at moment they only ship to customers in the States. I hope that those of you who don’t want to support Amazon will find this affiliation more palatable. I’ll still include Amazon links for those books which aren’t listed on Bookshop, and for those readers who are in Canada or elsewhere, or who prefer to access Kindle books. If both sites sell the book, I’ll put the Bookshop link in the text, and list the Amazon links at the end of the post.

Now on with the list of books which we thought were worth sharing at the big party last week. Books which moved us, affected our life or our world view, or which are simply a comforting read in a crazy time.

Annie’s choice is Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Other classic novels Annie suggests include: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, Brideshead Revisited by Evelen Waugh, and Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.

Ros is another fan of the classics with her suggestion of Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.

Nancy suggests Jamaican writer Marlon James’ Black Leopard Red Wolfe. A tough read, she says, but worthwhile.

Liz says that The Dollmaker by Hariette Arnow had a long-lasting effect on her. Joyce Carol Oates apparently agrees.

Frances/Materfamilias recommends Thomas King’s Medicine River and Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach. Both books are by Canadian indigenous writers.

Ellen suggests two of her all time favourites. De Avonden (The Evenings) by Gerald Reve. On Bookshop, The Evenings is described as “the first English translation of a post-war masterpiece.” Ellen also suggests The Waves by Virginia Woolf.

The Return of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Not our boating party… but “The Return of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir source

My friend Marina recommends My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante. I know that several of you have mentioned this book in previous book post comments.

Wendy says that the books of Jean Plaidy ignited her love for history, although she hasn’t read them in years. Here’s a link to Plaidy’s The Lady in the Tower, about Anne Boylen

Sue D. wants to recommend The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Frances T wants to share Kate Atkinson’s brilliant novel A God in Ruins. One of my favourites as well.

Elaine recommends Samra Zafar’s book A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose.

Mary suggests Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. And also includes Chinua Achebe’s classic Things Fall Apart.

Ali credits her reading of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence for taking her back to France every year.

My sister Connie loves The Red Tent by Anita Diamant but instead chose to bring The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Lisa brought with her Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

Julie recommends Alice Hoffman’s new book The World That We Knew.

Christine brought along Anne Youngson’s Meet Me at the Museum.

Hot Summer Moonlight by Tom Thompson
“Hot Summer Moonlight” by Tom Thompson source

Heather and Pat are both Jane Austen fans. Pat’s particular favourite is Pride and Prejudice. Heather prizes her compilation collection.

Chris wishes to suggest All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

Mary G. suggests one of my perennial favourites, Linda Grant’s The Thoughtful Dresser.

And Louise and I recommend David Richard Adam’s Mercy Among the Children.

That’s it for the book party books, folks. How’s your “to read” list looking so far?

You know, I haven’t written many dedicated book posts during the pandemic. Too busy filming Hubby cooking, helping him build garden structures, or moaning about my hair, I guess. The last one I wrote was about Anne Glenconner’s memoir Lady in Waiting. You can read that post here. Here’s another old post which updates you on some of the books I loved early in the spring. Or this one on some much needed gentle reading. Of course, as usual, they all have lots more book chat and book suggestions in the comments. As I looked at these old posts I realized that there are several suggestions from you, dear readers, that I never acted upon. Gad. What was I thinking? Where’s my “to read” list?

What a treasure trove of good reading we have in front of us this summer, eh? As we continue to shelter in place. Or venture tentatively out in society again. Masks in place, hands sanitised, no hugging allowed.

I’m saving all my hugging for Hubby. And, ironically, he’s not a big hugger. In fact, I’ve noticed lately that he’s begun to look as if he wants to run away when I approach him. He adopts a kind of sidelong look as if seeking an avenue of escape. Ha. Like that old Looney Tunes cartoon of Pepé le Pew and the cat that doesn’t like to be cuddled.

Sigh. You know, I think that cartoons played way too big a part in my childhood development. So many of my life’s problems can be related back to Looney Tunes. What does that say about me, I wonder. And just in case you thought otherwise, I did mean that as a rhetorical question. 🙂

Ah, I see the sun has come out at last. I have to rush off and hang my laundry on the clothesline. Nothing like the smell of fresh, line-dried sheets.

So, it’s your turn. Any more summer reading suggestions you can add to our growing “to read” list? Have at it in the comments.

P.S. Here are the Amazon links to the books above:

Pickwick Papers. Our Mutual Friend. Lucky Jim. Brideshead Revisited. Far From the Madding Crowd. Black Leopard Red Wolf. The Dollmaker. Medicine River. Monkey Beach. The Evenings. The Waves. My Brilliant Friend. The Lady in the Tower. The Night Circus. A God in Ruins. A Good Wife. The Year of Magical Thinking. Things Fall Apart. A Year in Provence. The Red Tent. The Little Prince. Fleichman Is In Trouble. The World That We Knew. Meet Me at the Museum. Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen Compliation. All the Light We Cannot See. The Thoughtful Dresser. Mercy Among the Children.

P.P.S. I have affiliate relationships with both Amazon and If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.


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12 thoughts on “Books We Love for Your “To Read” List”

  1. A lovely list-I’ve read a lot of them,and liked them as well. After your party post,I’ve decided to agree with your sister’s choice-I would choose The Little Prince myself .
    This summer,among many others,I’ve read Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Part,about twin sisters where one has chosen to connstruct a whole new identity and live as a white woman,in a white community,while the other one returns to their home town
    The storytelling ,detailed settings during different periods of time,following their daughters as well-it was an interesting read indeed
    We have a rainy afternoon,I’m reading Jo Spain’s The Confession

    1. I read about Brit Bennett’s book. Maybe I’ll have a second look now. Hope you are managing to enjoy summer even if not at the ocean. 🙂

  2. Recommendation from the Slightly Foxed literary magazine Spring Issue – To War with Whitaker – The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly 1939-1945. Loved this book.

  3. I love your book posts! All The Light We Cannot See is a favorite of mine that I gave to all my nieces and nephews for Christmas the year I read it. I’ve devoured all of Kate Atkinson’s work too. Pulling books together now for my beach trip next week- yay!

  4. I love your affiliation. We have a lovely local bookstore called Booklore in Orangeville, so much nicer an experience than Amazon, and long may they survive with our support.
    I have three mysteries lined up now, written by three of my favourite mystery writers. Sarah Stewart Taylor has just released a new book, her first in several years, titled The Mountains Wild. Elly Griffiths has just released the latest in her Ruth Galloway series, titled The Lantern Men, and Mark Douglas-Home also has a new release, The Driftwood Girls. These are all mysteries with meat, but not a butcher shop approach. I am looking forward to some entertaining and informative hours of reading this month.

    1. Thanks, Cosette. I was pleased to be able to find Bookshop. It sounds like a great organization. Lantern Men is on my to read list as well.

  5. So much of my sense of humor and irony can be related back to Looney Toons…
    I actually don’t think that’s a bad thing at all!
    Thanks for the great recommendations – so many books… so much time.
    XO Donna

  6. Your fantasy book party was my idea of heaven. There is one book only that I have been reading this Summer and that is Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson. It consists of 13 novels and the writing is superb. Happy reading to all.

  7. The Mitford series of books by Jan Karon is a favorite of mine – have actually read twice.

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