By Heidi Simmons

It’s that time of year when we are encouraged to relax and travel.  And a great way to do that is to escape into a book.

This summer is filled with new books.  Here are some of the books on my summer reading list.  Whether on a beach or in the mountains or in the comfort of your own home, I encourage you to make your own list and enjoy some quality, summer entertainment with the printed word.


To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee’s old but new book, Go Set A Watchman (HarperCollins, 288 pages) is the sequel (?) to the beloved classic.  Written in the mid 1950s, this book is what Lee first submitted (first draft?) before it became the Pulitzer Prize winning bestseller.  No matter what Watchman turns out to be, it will be great to spend time with Scout once again.  This book debuts mid July.

Stephen King’s Finders Keepers (Scribner, 488 pages) is the sequel to last year’s Mr. Mercedes.  Not sure if psycho Brady will rear his bashed head again, but certainly we should see Retired Detective Hodges along with his unlikely side-kicks Holly and Jerome as they pursue some kind of hideous criminal.  Out this week.


Elon Musk is a hero of mine, so I can hardly wait to read Ashlee Vance’s biography Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Ecco, 400 pages).  Vance had full access to Musk so I’m eager to discover the real man and if he is indeed the guy who can save the planet and the human race with technology and space travel.   Fingers crossed!  This book is available now.

Over the years, I have enjoyed and been amazed by neurologist turned author Oliver Sacks’ fabulous oeuvre.  Oh the places I have gone with this man!  In On The Move (Knopf Doubleday, 416 pages) Sacks recounts his own story and personal journey.


Mark Hasskell Smith’s Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World (Grove Atlantic, 320 pages) should be loads of fun as the author shares his experience blending in as a globe-trotting nudist.  Always smart and super witty, Smith will certainly deliver a revealing and provocative subculture with insights and self-deprecating laughs.

David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 336 pages) tells the story of the brave and ingenious men who brought flight to the world.

Both these non-fictions books are in stores now.


I love short stories and they make for terrific summer reading.  You can read one while floating in the pool and then read another while drying off.

On my list are David Gates A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me (Knopf Doubleday, 336 pages), Amelia Gray’s Gutshot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 224 pages), and Karen Joy Fowler’s Black Glass (Putnam, 304 pages).  It’s great to get so many provocative stories in one book.  All of these books are available now.


Oh the beautiful universe of fiction.  Like a vacation in a foreign land, getting lost in a novel is a wonderful and sometimes terrifying experience.

On my list are:  Nell Zink’s Mislaid (Ecco, 256 pages), Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife ( Knopf, 384 pages) and Laura Lippman’s Hush Hush ( HaperCollins, 320 pages).

Also on my fiction list: Aleksander Hemon’s The Making of Zombie Wars (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 pages), Diana Wigman’s Life #6 (Ig, 296 pages) and Andi Teran’s Ana of California (Penguin, 368 pages).

From girlie to gross, I can hardly wait to dig in and find my way through these eclectic and colorful stories.


It’s exciting to read new talent and Putnman’s literary debuts look intriguing and perfect for a summer escape.

On my list are: Michelle Miller’s The Underwriting: Get Rich, Get Laid, Get Even, (available now) Brian Panowich’s Bull Mountain (out first week of July) and Louise Walter’s Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase (in stores August 4).  I’m looking forward to reading a new voice of fiction every month.


Skilled storytellers return with series that can be read without reading their previous novels.  The nice thing about these books is, if you like one, you can indulge in the series.

On my list are: Ace Atkins’ The Redeemers (Penguin, 384 pages) and Alex Kava’s Silent Creed (Putnam, 336 pages).  Both are available the later part of July.

Ian Caldwell’s The Fifth Gospel (Simon & Schuster, 448 pages) is available now.

Yes, this is an ambitious list.  And I hope yours is too.  After all, isn’t summer all about over planning and getting as much done as possible, but in a relaxed, stress-free manner?

Look for my reviews of these books over the next 16 weeks.

What are you reading this summer?  If you would like to share your list and favorite summer reads with me, please email

Let summer begin.  Enjoy!