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Summer Reading List

by habituallychic

07 . 08 . 09

I’m more than halfway through My Life in France and I am already starting to think about what I’m going to read after I’m finished. Vogue.com has a list of their Top 10 Summer Books that I am going to check out but I’d like to know what you’re reading. You all had some great suggestions for me last year when I asked so I thought I would try it again. What should I read next???

Photo by Liam Goodman for Vogue.com

Comments Closed

  1. sophiedahydesigns July 8, 2009 | 2:26 pm

    I’m glad you reminded me! I just ordered my copy of My Life in France .

  2. Jana Marie July 8, 2009 | 2:35 pm

    You could always go with the Classics…Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice ect. (:

  3. Cher July 8, 2009 | 2:45 pm

    I agree, stick with a classic. There is a sense of accomplishment when you finish a great book. I would suggest Anna Karenina. There is a newer translation of it by Pevear and Volokhonsky and it is fantastic! It’s not masquerading as a Victorian novel or so difficult to read and understand that you lose the plot. Oh, it is definitely a loooong read, but completely worth it. Enlightening, but realistic.

  4. Habitually Chic July 8, 2009 | 2:51 pm

    Sophie – you’re going to love it!

    Jana Marie – I was thinking about that. I really enjoyed rereading The Great Gatsby and The Fountainhead in summers past.

    Cher – Funny that you mention Anna Karenina. I had started reading it a few years ago but put it aside when my roommate at the time’s Russian boyfriend gave away the ending. Maybe I will try to forget that I know what happens and try it again!

  5. David Toms July 8, 2009 | 2:57 pm

    For some light reading, May I suggest some of Mary Stewart’s romantic mystery novels of the late 1950’s early 1960’s. They are a lot of fun, fabulous European locations, such as Greece, South of France etc, and her heroines are so likaeble and stylish.Not drippy or sappy at all.

    Some titles are:
    “Madam, Will you Talk”
    “The Moonspinners”
    “My Brother Michael”
    “This Rough Magic”

  6. Anonymous July 8, 2009 | 3:10 pm

    the classics are great, but there are so many great new works out there by interesting new voices. i would recommend sag harbor by colson whitehead.

  7. mary July 8, 2009 | 3:22 pm

    Maya Angelou–anything she writes. I have just read “Letters To My Daughter” for the 4th time. So much wisdom–and easy to put down as the chapters are rather like short stories.

  8. Blue July 8, 2009 | 3:41 pm

    I’ll be reading Georgette Heyer – borrowed from my sister-in-law who has everything she has written and terribly romantic it all is- once across the pond. (Good old-fashioned historical fiction.) Also, The English Assassin by Daniel Silva will get me across the Atlantic as will Some Place Like Home: Using Design Psychology to Create Ideal Places – found in the office and looks very interesting.

  9. An Aesthete's Lament July 8, 2009 | 3:43 pm

    Violet: The Life and Loves of Violet Gordon Woodhouse by Jessica Douglas-Home (Harvill Press, 1996). Fascinating book about a fascinating woman of great charm, taste, mystery, allure, and talent.

  10. Anonymous July 8, 2009 | 4:05 pm

    The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Can’t recommend it enough — best book I’ve read in ages.

  11. Anonymous July 8, 2009 | 4:49 pm

    “What I Loved” by Siri Hustvedt. The story centers around an artist in Soho and his life, love, and family all seen through the eyes of his creative soul. It’s a novel that I’ve read several times already and absolutely adore!

  12. GRAYSONFAVOUR July 8, 2009 | 5:07 pm

    Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, Mapp and Lucia by EF Benson and The Perfect summer by Juliet Nicolson…All about England between the Wars…Each great to read again and again

  13. ArchitectDesign™ July 8, 2009 | 5:31 pm

    Little Augury has been having blogposts based on interviews with different bloggers and what is on their reading lists ( I was one of them ). Check it out for some great recommendations!

  14. Southern Aspirations July 8, 2009 | 6:11 pm

    The Help is on my list as well! I”m doing a few Southern Classics- Eudora Welty, namely, and trying to toss in a few non-fiction books, like Lady Cliquot and a historical look at South Africa.

  15. TheBambinaBlog July 8, 2009 | 7:08 pm

    I just picked up a copy of My Life in France last night and started reading it on a flight this morning. Thank you for the recommendation!!! I am LOVING it.

  16. bluehydrangea July 8, 2009 | 8:27 pm

    I second “The Help” so, so, so good. I was sad when it was over!

  17. Anonymous July 8, 2009 | 8:33 pm

    Anything by Vendela Vida

    Anything by Jhumpa Lahiri (The Namesake in particular)

  18. Me July 8, 2009 | 8:47 pm

    One that I have on my summer reading list is Commencement by J.Courtney Sullivan.
    Also would recommend fun chic-lit by Marian Keyes and Jane Green: Jemima J is such a great summer read!

  19. Emily July 8, 2009 | 9:12 pm

    I am reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is very interesting and relatively light summer read. I also recommend anything by Jhumpa Lahiri or Alice Munro. This summer, I’ve also taken a new foray into some science fiction with Ursula Le Guin, whose a smart, entertaining writer.

  20. stylewannabee July 8, 2009 | 9:58 pm

    I am reading Undress Me In The Temple of Heaven. Not sure who it by, but so far it is interesting. Two co-workers have read and enjoyed also. I will have to check out what has been recommended by everyone else.

  21. Diane Dorrans Saeks July 8, 2009 | 10:22 pm


    Love your blog and have loved it for years.

    Summer reading: do not hesitate to dash out right now while you still have time to ARCHIVIA or another chic New York bookstore and grab THE BOLTER…and dash back home and start reading! You won’t put it down. I just finished it, and have passed it on to a friend and she can’t put it down. It’s aristocracy in England in early 20th C, lots of style and chic, and then East Africa (they run in to Karen Blixen, Out of Africa) and setting up house, and then lots more decorating and parties and balls and…bed-hopping…(how they passed time before tv and DVDs…)…Question solved! Enjoyment, definitely. And all the characters in it turn up in other books–so it will inspired you to read other biographies later.

  22. The People's Business July 8, 2009 | 11:52 pm

    I’ll nominate The Age of Innocence; New York in another stylish era.

  23. Anne July 9, 2009 | 12:34 am

    I was going to say The Help also- seems to be the “it” book this summer ;). But I can also recommend The Bolter by Frances Osborne- lots of fun!

  24. style chronicle July 9, 2009 | 3:21 am

    I am going to have to second Anna Karenina and The Help. I just finished The Book Theif by Marcus Zusak, an astounding, beautifully written book set in WWII Germany.

  25. Alice Olive July 9, 2009 | 12:05 pm

    I definitely second “What I Loved” by Siri Hustvedt. Hard to put down and very moving. Have a tissue nearby and a phone to call a loved one to tell that’s what they are.

  26. Sarah (Matters of Style) July 9, 2009 | 12:32 pm

    I agree with the recs for Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help.” It is really good! You’ll fly through it!

  27. barbara July 9, 2009 | 12:40 pm

    My number one recommendation of contemporary fiction to all my friends is, CROW LAKE, by Mary Lawson. It is a fast read that grabs you on page one. It was Lawson’s debut as a novelist – a truly beautiful and captivating story of a family that you will not be able to put down and will be compelled to insist that your friends read. ( I annoy people until they read it, and then they thank me!)
    Also, I agree that if you haven’t read Edith Wharton’s, THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, you must. Wharton may have been the precursor to bloggers on stlyle and decorating. She was an expert on decorating 9wrote the book), NY aristocracy and the plight of women at the turn of the century. You must also enjoy her, THE CUSTOM of the COUNTRY, and one of my favorites, THE HOUSE of MIRTH. Lily Bart is a character you will not forget! Then, when the leaves turn golden, and you are done reading those, take a lovely trip to her beautiful and newly renovated estate, THE MOUNT, in (or near) Lennox, MA. Bring Your camera, you will love to blog about it all! Lenox also has some really first rate restaurants too, so it’s a great day trip. After all of this settle down in the winter and watch Michelle Pfiffer in THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, beautiful! I’ll look forward to seeing your posts!
    How’s that for a plan?

  28. Lisa Borgnes Giramonti July 9, 2009 | 1:55 pm

    Heather: I’m with Diane. I think we both read “The Bolter” at about the same time and traded an email about how decadent and chic it was. Idina Sackville-West was not a great mother, but she was a great character: a self-obsessed adventurer led by lust and a complete disdain for social conventions.

    The book was just featured in last month’s Vogue, so you can read an excerpt if you like before you buy.

  29. CB July 9, 2009 | 2:46 pm

    Not sure if you are a fan of dance, but I couldn’t put down “Somewhere”, the Jerome Robbins biography. Also, for a giggle, if you can get your hands on any of the old Marjorie Hillis books (“Orchids on Your Budget”, “Live Alone and Like It”, “Cornbeef and Caviar”), go for it. I think they might have been reissued in the last few years, but I have vintage ones that are just adorable.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of the Julia Child book…I loved, loved, loved it! I liked “The Help”, too, and well, anything by Fitzgerald.


  30. Anonymous July 9, 2009 | 2:48 pm

    Well my suggestions are so much less high brow…. 🙂
    The Reliable Wife – Robert Goolrick, its a bodice ripper set in rural 1909 Wisconsin.
    Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You – Peter Cameron, 18 year old coming of age in NYC.

  31. home before dark July 9, 2009 | 2:58 pm

    Wharton’s House of Mirth is a favorite. I also enjoyed Olive Kitteridge. Regarding being tipped off about the ending of Anna Karenina. Wait a few more years (maybe 15 or so) and I can almost guarantee you will have forgotten what you learned you didn’t want to know. I think it is Nature’s way of helping us not be bored while we age.

  32. Kerstin July 9, 2009 | 3:34 pm

    Hi Heather,

    I follow your blog regularly, but it’s the first time I am commenting.

    I have just published the latest book review on my blog http://www.wallflowerdispatches.com in which I am recommending the brilliant historical novel LONDON by Edward Rutherfurd.

    You can check out other ideas in the left column “it’s just a book” – all books that travel well and are good summer reads – Serena Vitale’s “Pushkin’s Button” is another favourite….

    And if you are interested in more Life in France impressions; the Charming Mountain Goat documents our life in the South of France, but for that you have to log on which is not what you want to do on holiday.

    Anyway – keep up the good work and enjoy the summer


  33. Dabney July 9, 2009 | 5:02 pm

    If you are up for something very writerly, might I recommend “Under the Net” by Iris Murdoch, which I just finished and it absolutely blew me away. She has a masterful way with language, her descriptions just fix you in a moment in this very precise way and nothing about the way she chooses words ever feels stale or familiar. Under the Net is a fun romp compared to some of her other darker material, and it takes place in this very stylish boho London of the 1950s. Next on my list, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” a mash up of Jane Austen’s classic, but with zombies…

  34. Jen @ GreetQ.com July 9, 2009 | 6:57 pm

    I just published my summer reading list and I’m about a 3rd of the way through reading: http://tinyurl.com/kwgpt7. There are some good ones there!

  35. avant garde July 9, 2009 | 7:22 pm

    oooh, i’m currently reading a fabulous read, fabulous right from the start. “the birth of venus” by sarah dunant. new york times best seller. grabs you from the introduction, seriously. 🙂

  36. CHICKDOWNTOWN.COM Brooke July 9, 2009 | 8:48 pm

    I’m reading Lolita right now and loving it. There’s nothing like a little Nabokov to really get your summer going. Next I’m either going to move to some Kerouac or possibly some Vonnegut, either way I’m sure it’ll be good. I’m more into the contemporary classics, I guess.

  37. Kim July 10, 2009 | 1:41 am

    I, too, just finished My French Life. Dreamy.

    For a real-life adventure story, I would suggest The River of Doubt by Candice Millard. A riveting account of Theodore Roosevelt’s trip up the Amazon. Brilliant.

  38. .::The Coolture Report::. July 10, 2009 | 1:51 am

    I’m reading The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik =)

  39. M. Spencer Franklin July 19, 2009 | 12:31 am

    Since you will be visiting France, Versailles in particular, some books you might want to look into include: Versailles by Jean-Marie Perouse de Montclos – it has beautiful pictures with a history of Versailles. Also, Queen of Fashion (What Marie Antoinette Wore To The Revolution) by Caroline Weber; and Marie Antoinette, The Journey by Antonia
    Fraser. Have a great time!