If you’re like me, you are thrilled to be out of the house (probably for the first time in months)! Our community pool is open and because everything else is canceled, we’re there four to five days a week. Armed with sunscreen and a book to read poolside, I’m ready to go!
I’m loving the family time, and I’m loving that my kids are outside and getting exercise in the fresh air. My kids are loving that I’m playing with them. And we are all loving the quiet pace of life without commitments.
But let’s get real a minute. Even the very most hands-on mom can’t hang with her kids in the water every minute of the day. We need to get out of the water and take a break sometimes, and then what? Just stare into space?
We need to keep an eye on our kids in the water (that goes without saying). But sitting poolside is a wonderful time to get lost in a good book.
I am a voracious story devourer and I mostly listen to audiobooks while I walk around our neighborhood. But I also take my AirPods to the pool and listen poolside. That leaves my eyes free to watch the kids, and I still get to enjoy my story. Sometimes I take my Kindle, but I typically just listen.
Below are some of my most recent favorites and I hope you’ll include them in your pool bag.
The Water Keeper – This book is captivating, and once you start, you will NOT want to stop. A former priest gathers a motley group of people (and a dog) to rescue a girl from human trafficking. The cast of characters include the girl’s mother, a mysterious orphaned runaway and a convicted murderer. It sounds heavy, but it is a wonderful story with many lighthearted moments. Behind all the action, there is also a beautiful love story that makes it a perfect poolside read. This book was my introduction to Charles Martin and I can’t wait to dig into his other books.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – I listened to this one in three days because I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened, and then I went back and listened to it a second time over a period of two weeks, just to savor the brilliant writing and the lush natural backdrop in which it is set. The main character is abandoned by her mother at age six and abused by an often-absent, alcoholic father. This resourceful, wild girl raises herself and grows to be a woman fascinated by nature and suspicious of strangers. It has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, and the ending will blow you away. Where the Crawdads Sing is my new all-time favorite book, and I’m sure I will listen again many more times.
The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton – This book is the perfect summer read because it’s light even while dealing with the very real issues of love and loss. Centered around two women and the two men who try to mend their broken hearts. This one will renew your faith in the power of love and good men.
Closer Than She Knows – I didn’t know that Christian thriller was a genre before I found this book. A crime enthusiast witnesses the murder of police officer – and the killer then sets his sights on her! Stalked with menacing notes signed by other famous killers, she has to stop the murderer before it is too late. This one is edge of your seat good!
One Little Lie – This is another perfect for summer reads that is light and romantic with substance and suspense. It’s about a woman who is appointed Chief of Police in a quiet Alabama town when her father retires. But then two murders rock the town! While she works the crime, nw evidence threatens to reveal secrets about her own family’s past. This book is the first of a trilogy that’s supposed to be released over the next year. I can’t wait for the other two!
Sweetbriar Cottage – This sweet romance is about a couple who thought they were divorced, but find out that they’re still married. Shattered by the failure of their marriage, they’re both living with serious hurts. Stuck together in a freak snowstorm, they are forced to cooperate and open up to each other. You’ll have to read the book to find out the rest! This is the prequel to the Blue Ridge Romance trilogy, so there’s plenty more to read when you finish this one.
A Nearly Normal Family – This book explores the question, what would you do to protect someone you love? It’s about a family whose teenage daughter is arrested for murder. The father is a pastor, and the mother is an attorney, and they both do things they never would have predicted in order to save her from conviction, bending and breaking the law and their own ethics. I loved this book because it made me pause and think about the characters’ choices and what I would do in those situations. And the ending! Talk about a shocker. Read it and find out.
The Dressmaker’s Gift – This book is about three young women in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II. It starts out that one of the women is the mistress of a Nazi, one is involved with the French Résistance, and the third is a mysterious figure. The characters develop and grow through the course of the book and their situations change in ways that I found to be unexpected. This book was my second favorite on this list.
The Cuckoo’s Calling -Written by Robert Galbraith (a pseudonym used by Harry Potter’s JK Rowling) this is the first in a series of four (soon five) mysteries featuring a down-and-out private detective and his assistant. They work together to find out whether a famous model committed suicide or was murdered. As was the case with Harry Potter, these books get longer as you go through the series, and by book three, I was totally binge listening at every possible opportunity. I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I was wholly unsatisfied by the ending of the fourth book and was delighted to find out that a fifth book was coming in September 2020. If you like mysteries, this series will keep you busy all summer long.
The Giver of Stars – This book is about a young English woman who falls in love and moves to rural Tennessee in the 1930s. She is in a loveless marriage to one of the wealthiest men in town, but she’s looking for something more. She volunteers to become a traveling librarian to take books to the impoverished residents of the surrounding mountains. Her father-in-law beats her up for attempting to kindle some sort of spark with her husband, and she has tough choices to make. That’s all in the first third of the book! Set mostly in the mountains as she delivers her books, this story is charming and real and emotional. I really loved it.
A Serial Killer’s Daughter – I almost always listen to fiction, and this one is a real-life memoir, but it reads almost like fiction. It’s written by the daughter of the notorious BTK serial murderer. (He called himself BTK because that’s how he attacked his victims – bind torture kill.) She does not describe his crimes in detail; she only tells her story as she tries to reconcile her loving father with the heinous criminal she heard about from the police and in the media. It’s a story of redemption and peace as she comes to terms with his double life and heals herself.
Note: I intentionally chose books for this list that have a minimum of bad language (only 3 instances that I remember in all the books) and no sex scenes. They won’t interest your kids, but you wouldn’t have to worry about the kids hearing or seeing any of them.