After reader/listener voting has been completed, these are the official best summer reads, as determined by NPR's devoted followers (Along with my own prejudiced notes – titles bolded if I've read them, asterisked if I want to but haven't yet):
1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling – Loved these; wept when Dumbledore died.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee – Definitely. A great novel of social justice.
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini – Difficult subject matter, fantastic novel.
4. Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding – Hmm. Okay, but surprised to see it rate so highly.
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – A read for any time of year.
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald – One of the best ending lines ever written.
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams – H.S. read – don't remember!
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg – BLECH.
* 10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
11. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger – Timeline a little confusing.
12. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel – Wonderful, imaginative read.
13. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan – Barely remember it.
14. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien – A thousand times, YES!
15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger – Overrated.
16. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell – Read this one at least twice as a teen.
17. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett – Agreed, a great summer read.
18. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien – See: The Hobbit!
19. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides – Brrrrilliant.
* 20. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain – A little heavy for summer?
22. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
23. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith – Love these!
24. The World According to Garp, by John Irving – Again, dense and heavy for summer.
25. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
26. The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy – Good read.
27. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel - Forgettable.
28. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
29. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler – Not a Tyler fan.
30. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer – Writing atrocious!
31. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole – Strange, but in a good way.
32. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck – One of the best novels of all time.
33. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
34. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy
35. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – MASTERPIECE.
36. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier – Perfect for summer, or anytime!
37. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
* 38. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
39. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough – Sex with a priest? Does it get better?
* 40. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon
41. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
* 42. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
43. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice – Louisiana… perfect summer setting.
44. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier – A two hankie read.
45. Empire Falls, by Richard Russo – Another I found heavy for summer.
46. Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes – Dreamy…
* 47. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
48. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins
49. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb
50. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie – H.S. Christie phase.
51. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott – Louisa in a hammock.. Sigh.
52. The Stand, by Stephen King – SCARY AS HELL! But a great read.
53. She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb – Forgettable.
54. Dune, by Frank Herbert
* 55. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Shaffer and Barrows
* 56. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
57. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll – Read this one over and over…
58. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov – Subject matter unbearable, writing superb.
59. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
60. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith – Wonderful, beautiful for any age.
61. Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver
62. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
63. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner
* 64. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
65. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson – Good enough read.
66. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway – Nearly killed me from boredom.
67. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
68. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
69. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
70. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
* 71. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
72. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
73. Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns – Funny and sweet.
74. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding – A little depressing/violent for summer?
74. Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe [tie] – Great read.
76. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte – Sigh! A lifetime favorite of mine.
77. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
78. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
79. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
80. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
81. Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck – Good choice. Short and substantive.
81. The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve [tie]
* 83. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
* 84. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
85. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery – So, so sweet! Another two hankie.
* 86. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
87. One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich
88. Shogun, by James Clavell
89. Dracula, by Bram Stoker – Different than you'd think. Slow moving and melodramatic.
* 90. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
91. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
92. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
* 93. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
94. Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris
95. Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume
96. The Shining, by Stephen King – Again, scary as hell!
97. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan
98. Lamb, by Christopher Moore
99. Sick Puppy, by Carl Hiaasen
100. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Tough choosing 100 best summer reads. They did okay, kind of, but as always there are some goodies left out and some weird ones chosen. But that's always the way when you let the public vote -a little too much of the same old/same old, not enough newer, more inventive stuff. A pretty conservative list, weirdly enough.
Don't tell them I said that…
I'm surprised there are so few mysteries. I love a well-written mystery, something in a Barbara Vine. But I am thankful for the lack of Danielle Steel, et. al.! You can tell this is the NPR crowd. No Grisham, no Steel, no Dan Freaking Brown.
I think some of these are "show off" reads. Surprised no one said "Ulysses." I'd rather stick my head in a blender than try that one again. Actually, the results would be about the same. Ditto "Gravity's Rainbow," to a lesser extent. Barely.
Lists are fun, but this one's not particularly inspiring.
Anyone else want to play along? You can nab the original list from: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106983620