Skip to main content

The Ultimate Reading List (For Summer or Whenever)

Sadly, summer is starting to come to a close... but we still have one more month! This week I wanted to share some of my favorite titles to read in this last week of summer and going into the start of school. Even though I write about YA books, I wanted to share some of my favorite Elementary and MG titles as well. For those age groups, these are my favorite titles of all time, and for my YA picks they are the winners of the summer thus far. Hopefully everyone can find a book they love. This is kind of a part two to my article: "Unpopular Opinion: Summer Reading Does More Harm Than Good" (http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/unpopular-opinion-summer-reading-does.html) I would definitely put all of these books on summer reading lists (and I've even seen some of these featured which made me so happy) or use them in schools. For more recommendations, check out our other articles and follow us on social media (Twitter: @readwriteandme Instagram: @readingwritingandme and Facebook) for update on my weekly reviews and other special posts. Enjoy!


Elementary School

  • The Chronicles of Narnia- This series is fun and exciting. It makes a great bedtime story to read with or to your kids that will leave everyone wanting more.
  • Classic fairy tales and Greek mythology- I have always loved and been fascinated by these tales. They are great stories to expose your kids or siblings to because there are so many allusions in our culture to these stories. 
  • Catmagic by Holly Webb- This series probably takes the cake as my favorite elementary school book. I can't tell you how many times I read these books. The first book starts when Lottie moves in with her Uncle Jack who owns a magic pet shop where the animals can actually talk and starts going on adventures with the adorable, talking dachshund, Sophie.  
Older Elementary School/ Middle School (MG)

  • The Mixed Up Files of Ms. Baisl E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg - This is one of my favorite books of all time. When two siblings run away from home and into New York to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart- These are fun (and lengthy) chapter books about a group of hand selected kids brought together by a mysterious aptitude test. 
  • Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library Series by Chris Grabenstien - This is a great series about a library themed adventure that unfolds when famous boardgame maker Mr. Lemoncello comes back to town with a new game.
  • The Candymakers by Wendy Mass- This was my favorite book for a long time. It is about a group of kids selected to try to create the most delicious candy in an intriguing competition. 
  •  The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer- This is a great series for fairy tale lovers bringing all your favorite characters together with a fresh spin.
  • Eleven Birthdays by Wendy Mass (and all the other books in the series)- Have you figured out my favorite Middle Grade author yet? Well, these books are great ones about growing up. This book takes on a bit of a Groundhog Day feel as Amanda is forced to repeat her disaster of a birthday over and over until she can get it right. 
  • Anything by Stuart Gibbs- These are some of my favorite Middle Grade books. From Spy School to Funjugle to Moon Base Alpha, these series never disappoint. Each of these books feature male protagonists, which can sometimes be hard to find in kids books, but also have strong female characters that are very important to the success of the adventure.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith- I read this in sixth grade and loved it. It's a good challenge for readers who aren't ready for YA but need a harder book. It's also a great, accessible classic. 
Older Middle School (Intro to YA)
  • Anything by Ally Carter- She's probably best known for her Gallagher Girls series about an all girls spy school, but while those were good, I liked her Heist Society books a bit better. These are fun, fast paced, and a good intro to the world of young adult.
  • Everland by Wendy Spinale- If you loved the characters from Neverland, look no farther than Everland, a fresh twist on the beloved Peter, Wendy, and Captain Hook that's very different than the Disney movie. 
High School (YA) 
*Full Reviews of these books can be found here http://www.readingwritingandme.com/search/label/Standout%20Book*
  • Misquitoland by David Arnold- This book has a captivating plot told through one of the most unique voices in YA. 
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee- The world building in this book is phenomenal and makes it a worthy read.
  • Anything by John Green (especially Looking For Alaska) His books are truly amazing. Each is great for its own reason. The voices of the characters and the writing in general makes these books irresistible. 
  • American Girls by Alison Umminger- This was a great read about a teenage girl escaping her crazy family to spend the summer in LA with her older sister. With a gripping plot and plenty of twists and turns this book has depth and entertainment value. 
  • Under The Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall- This book captures a compelling and accurate picture of mental illness. Readers get to see Norah cope with her OCD and agoraphobia as well as navigate first love. 
  • Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow- Beyond being an amazing person, Kathleen Glasgow is an amazing author. The storytelling in the story of Charlie is like none other.
  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Wanga- What started off as a plan to end their lives together grows into a romance that might save them. This emotional story is beautifully written. 
  • Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman- This was an amazing story of personal growth and coping with the past through an unusual set of circumstances, wilderness camp. 
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour- This short read stuns with beautiful storytelling that is a great reminder about how even the simplest things can be so complex.
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King is a great portrait of an evolving friendship that comes to an abrupt end when Vera's best friend Charlie dies. Told in the past and present it shows both the aftermath and how it ultimately happened. 
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord- Probably tied for my second favorite book of all time (with Looking For Alaska). I found the portrayal of bipolar disorder in this book quite well done. The relationship between Vivi and Jonah is also wonderful. I would definitely read this title a second time. 
  • All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven- This is, and probably always will be my favorite book ever. It really introduced me to the emotional depth and amazing storytelling of the world of YA and also books that address mental health. I will also probably always have a crush on Theodore Finch. 
  • Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt- If there is one book that encapsulates everything reading a book should make you feel, it is this one. It is a compelling story about a bright, young undocumented woman who was brought to the states when she was two having to face the harsh realities of the ICE crackdown on undocumented immigrates. As her country club boyfriend and nephew of a conservative senator learns more about her realities, so do the reads. This book humanizes an issue so often reduced to numbers and stats in the news and creates deeper empathy and understanding. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stone (210 pages)
Overview: When Justyce is put in handcuffs after trying to get his drunk ex-girlfriend home safely, his world is shaken. He knows that being African American means that some will look at him differently, but it's never been so terrifying or... personal. He tries to sort his out with the help of his friends, teachers, and by writing letters to Martin Luther King asking for advice. Right when he's finding his footing at school again, he and his best friend Manny are shot in a traffic altercation with a white, off duty cop. Justyce never thought that some loud music would put him in a sling and deprive his best friend of the rest of his life. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 4.5 Justyce is an awesome POV character. He's very introspective and into understanding the many layers that make up his views of the world. He grew up in an underprivileged neighborhood and was well aware of gang violence, but since getting a scholarship to a private boarding …

Truly Devious

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (420 pages)
Overview: There was a murder in 1936. Not just a murder, but a kidnapping and a double homicide. One victim was a student at the elite boarding school on a mountain, Ellingham Academy. One was the wife of the school's illustrious billionaire founder, Albert Ellingham. The second kidnapping victim who is still missing is his daughter. Despite the cold case and the lingering fear of the Truly Devious who sent a poem foretelling the murder a few days before, the school continued to attract the best and the brightest with the allure of a free, prestigious boarding school.
Stevie's dream is realized when she gets accepted to pursue a criminology curriculum tailored to her because her main case of interest took place on the very grounds she's moving to. Though her original mission was to solve the Ellingham cold case, when a student mysteriously dies on campus, her attention is shifted. Did Truly Devious strike again? Overall: 4 

Charac…

Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (385 pages)
Overview: Eliza is regarded as a freak at school. Sweatpants and oversized clothes with her lanky frame must mean she's dangerous. Kids avoid her like the plague, and that's fine because that's who Eliza Mirk is. Even Eliza Mirk doesn't like being Eliza Mirk, but she loves being LadyConstellation, beloved creator of the online webcomic Monstrous Sea. No one knows LadyConstellations real identity (not for lack of trying) and the online world and fandoms gives Eliza a chance to be the invincible person she can't be in real life. And then Wallace transfers into school, and he's a Monstrous Sea fan. Though weary at first, Eliza hides her identity as she bonds with Wallace and realizes that the world outside of her screen might not be as poisonous as she believed. But with each day, the truth creeps closer and closer to the surface, and disaster strikes when it comes out. Overall: 5+++++++++ (I'm still so in …

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…

Amy And Roger's Epic Detour

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (2010)
Overview: Amy needs to get the family car from California to Connecticut where her mom has moved. The only problem is that she doesn't drive. Enter Roger, a forgotten neighbor and childhood friend who needs to get to Philadelphia. With him behind the wheel, and Amy in the navigator seat, they begin their cross country journey that turns out to carry a few extra twists and turns. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I enjoyed Amy and Roger. They balanced each other well and created an interesting dynamic to fill the long stretches of empty roads. Roger's ex-girlfirend and Amy's family add extra dimension to their journey.

Plot: 4 In the most indirect way, Amy and Roger weave their way across the country. They experience bits of culture, new fast food, and awkward hotel situations that fill the pages with laughs and thoughtful moments. Though it was a bit long, for the most part, it kept me entertained.

Writing: 4 The writing didn'…

What I Want to See More of In YA

As the year comes to a close, I'm reflecting on the books that I read (and loved) this year, and I'm eagerly putting my TBR together for the next. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting about my favorite books of the year, what I'm looking for next year, and a deeper look into some of the statistics behind my reading. While I've been working on those posts, though, I've seen trends in books that I'm drawn to and underrepresented areas in YA that I want to see more of. This post is my ultimate future wish list as well as a call for other readers to speak out about the kinds of books they want to see represented more on the book shelves. Let me know in the comments if some of these are on your list, or if there's other books you want to see!

College YA I'm starting off with my main wish. I absolutely love YA set in college, and there's absolutely not enough of it. Publishers seem to be scared of venturing that murky space after the summer before fre…

Little White Lies

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (390 pages)
Overview: Sawyer Taft is not a debutant... yet. For now, she works at a car garage making money to keep her and her mom afloat as runs off with new guys she meets at the bar. It's the only life she's known, and she wouldn't have it any other way. And then Lillian Taft walks through the front door, uninvited and announced, contract in hand. Lillian is her estranged grandmother who she's barely heard anything about, and she gives Sawyer a chance she can't refuse: Come live with her for nine months to complete a debutant year in exchange for half a million dollars toward her education. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 4.5 I loved Sawyer. She's sarcastic and blunt. She can't take anything in her new, rich, Southern world seriously, and so she provides the setting both with a Mars like feeling and one of a grounded world. Sawyer meets her new family including true matriarch, Lillian Taft, her aunt, Olivia, her uncle, …

Ultimate Halloween Book List

At the beginning of October, I unconsciously started reading murder-thriller books. It started with finally reading One of Us Is Lying and then I went to Lauren Oliver's book event for her new book, Broken Things, so I decided I would pick up a few more to read on the many plane rides I've taken recently and make a list for you. I've ranked them by the books I enjoyed most, but I'm also throwing a scariness ranking below too.

1. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
I loved The Cheerleaders. Even if I wasn't narrowing this to just thrillers, this would still be up there. While there's no immediate threat, there's still a sinister feeling five years after five cheerleaders die in a year in three accidents. One of the girl's sister, who investigates, also has a complicated life of her own. Thomas did an awesome job of sprinkling the mystery clues and bringing us a story through such a strong voice. Here's my full Review Here (4.5 stars overall, 2 scare fact…

Neverworld Wake

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl (327 pages)
Overview: When Beatrice goes back to Wincroft to meet up with her four former best friends for the first time since their sixth member, and her boyfriend's death, something nearly unexplainable happens. They wake up from a car accident to find that they're repeating the same day over and over. At first, they struggle to understand their fate, but after a few wakes, they realize that they must use this time to discover what really happened when Jim died if they ever want to break the wake. The answer to the question will reveal who will get the groups unanimous vote to be the lone survivor of the Neverworld. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Each character was interesting with their own quirks and distinct personalities. They filled out to requisition parts of any good, dynamic group. It's unfortunate that each of these characters didn't really have a huge chance to be explored. The setting of the Neverworld was the main character in t…