Summer Reads to Stay Up Late With

Teachers, we are SO close.



The end of the school year is nigh.  Perhaps it’s this week, maybe it’s next, but either way, it’s nearly time to treat yo’self with what all teachers love to do in the summertime:

Take 84 naps, and then start binge reading.

This is what I did when my school year ended a few weeks ago, and after several days of excessive sleep, I started staying up late to finish books guilt-free.

Please forgive me for what I’m about to do to your Amazon carts while I gush over the titles that’ve kept me up until the wee hours, and their friends on my TBR list:


The Circle by Dave Eggers – This book was so plausible that it creeped me out.  It’s the tale of an ambitious college grad who lands a job at one of the tech industry’s premier companies, The Circle, who so slowly ingratiate their surveillance, social sharing, and health-tracking apps into her life (and others’) that it seems like no big deal at all–until it is a big deal.  This one kept me in suspense until 2 am, when I breathlessly finished it.  Similar titles on my TBR include The Handmaid’s Tale, Dark Matter, and The Dinner.  Creeptastic!


A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain – I’ve been anxiously awaiting this title since I read the first book in the series, A Murder in Time.  Now that it’s here, I’ve already devoured half of its 600-page bulk, most of that on my wedding anniversary, no less.  Kendra Donovan is a modern day FBI agent, a genetically-engineered genius who’s an outcast even amongst her fellow elite criminal profilers…or so she thinks, until she’s transported through time to the 1800s and really feels like an outcast.  Now, she’s stuck there solving murders without the help of forensic equipment and techniques readily available to her in the 21st century…or any hope of getting home.

I think McElwain’s writing is a great blend of period-accurate details and modern, funny asides, and the story only further serves to suck me in.  If you, too, find yourself craving a tale of time-traveling modern women, check out Outlander or the National Book Award finalist News of the World.


Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – I’ve been wanting to read this book since I read Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, but then got even more desperate to do so when I read Rosenthal’s heartbreaking essay in the New York Times, and then about her subsequent death.  It’s impossible not to read this book through those lenses, and while it’s amazing on its own, it’s even more powerful as a magnum opus.  I also want to check out similar memoirs like The Rules Do Not Apply, Hallelujah Anyway, and Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things




Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentzler – I read this one in two days over Memorial Day weekend, largely ignoring our company to finish it that Sunday.  I was sucked in on page one by the beautiful writing and the premise–a teen dealing with the fact that he sent a text message that led to the deaths of all three of his best friends–and I asked my friends if they’d read it.  “I did,” Amy volunteered.  “It ripped my guts.”  And boy, did it.  This was one of the first YA reads I’ve picked up lately that I really just couldn’t put down.  I’d love to see how The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, A List of Cages, and The First Time She Drowned can measure up to this book.


Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers & Bob Probst – Lisa has been so effusive about this book that I just had to go ahead and start reading it, even though I’ve been trying to wait until everyone else in the Book Love Summer Book Club dives in.  But it’s so darn readable, and such a great refresher of a lot of the research I’ve read and loved.  I always enjoy Beers and Probst for helping synthesize their wide reading into a crucible of new ideas.  Other fabulous pedagogical reads on my TBR list this summer are Joy Write, No More Telling as Teaching, and Write What Matters.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – This book hit home for me, and at quite a short length, I read it in one day–about half of it while on a treadmill!  It’s the memoir of a neurosurgical resident who, near the end of his grueling training, finds out he has advanced stage cancer.  My husband is entering his fourth year of orthopedic residency, so I read this book with a blend of horror at its possibilities and admiration for its author’s poise and eloquence.  My gushing over it led to lots of our resident friends reading it with similar amounts of waterfall-like tears.  After reading it in an afternoon, my hubby asked for some more books like it, so I ordered him Being Mortal, The House of God, and The Buddha and the Borderline.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I listened to this now-famous (in teacher circles, anyway) book on audio, and found myself driving or walking in circles so I could hear more faster.  What impressed me most about this book wasn’t its nuanced treatment of the topic of police shootings, or its awesome one-liners, or its many layers of issues faced by its narrator, Starr.  No, what impressed me most was how authentic to Angie’s life and personal history it seemed.  After reading Between the World and Me, I learned a great deal about the roots of African-American empowerment and efforts for equality.  Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, James Baldwin, and more had been strangers to me before that book, but I saw them come up again and again in The Hate U Give.  

This terrific book definitely broadened my worldview, and to help it grow more, I’d also like to read American Street, All-American Boys, and Allegedly.

What’s kept you up late reading lately?  What’s next on your TBR?  Please share in the comments…so we can all go broke buying books!!

Shana Karnes teaches sophomore, junior, and senior preservice teachers at West Virginia University.  She finds joy in all things learning, love, and literature as she teaches, mothers, and sings her way through life…and in the new knowledge that she has ANOTHER baby girl on the way!!  Follow Shana on Twitter at @litreader.


14 thoughts on “Summer Reads to Stay Up Late With

  1. […] several lists of books on this blog:  Coach Moore’s list of books he read this summer, Shana’s Summer Reads to Stay Up Late With, Amy E’s Refresh the Recommended Reading List, and Lisa’s Going […]


  2. Amy Rasmussen June 12, 2017 at 8:15 pm Reply

    I used AKR’s Textbook — the pre-assessment at the beginning — as the first mentor text in the PD I started facilitating last week. Generated some fun and insightful writing, a great way to quickly build a community of readers and writers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shana Karnes June 12, 2017 at 8:54 pm Reply

      This sounds delightful. Wish I were there in that community of readers and writers! Lucky teachers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy Rasmussen June 13, 2017 at 9:35 pm Reply

        We are having the best of times. Such a wonderful community of learners! The best way to start my summer.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Shawna June 2, 2017 at 6:43 pm Reply

    The Hate U Give was amazing! I want to read Disrupting Thinking as well.
    I finally read 13 Reasons Why and couldn’t put it down. Now I’m reading This Is Where It Ends by M. Nijkamp and it is so good! Play by play over the course of 42 minutes. Another book I want to read is Alex and Eliza while making sure I realize it is historical fiction. Also we are reading Adoration of Jenna Fox as a whole class novel next year so I will be reading that as well. I love your suggestions though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shana Karnes June 2, 2017 at 7:29 pm Reply

      Whoa! A 42 minute book…I’m intrigued. I feel like I want to see Hamilton before I read A&E, and I’ve had Adoration on my TBR for years. Sheesh! So many books, so little time.

      Can’t wait to read YOUR book and suggest it!! 😍


  4. Ashley Pociask June 2, 2017 at 1:44 pm Reply

    I just want to say congratulations on the baby!! And these books – most were on my to read list, now they all are

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shana Karnes June 2, 2017 at 7:27 pm Reply

      Thanks, Ashley! My husband will be outnumbered 5 to 1 now–so many girls! 🙂 Glad I could length your TBR. 😉


  5. Margaret Egler June 2, 2017 at 11:01 am Reply

    I devoured The Hate U Give, too — it’s changed how I see the world. I signed up for Penny’s Book Love book club this summer, so I’m looking forward to reading A Prayer for Owen Meany — I’ve read other John Irving books, but not that one. Dark Matter was awesome — I’m making my husband read it. Another great read was The Sun is Also a Star — liked it even better than Everything, Everything. Thanks for your column!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shana Karnes June 2, 2017 at 11:24 am Reply

      All goodies! I can’t wait to read Dark Matter. Thanks for reading, Margaret!


  6. Gary Anderson June 2, 2017 at 8:04 am Reply

    Yeppers. I stayed up late last night with The Circle, and I’m looking forward to doing the same soon with Goodbye Days. Happy summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shana Karnes June 2, 2017 at 8:56 am Reply

      Yes! It’s such a guilty pleasure to stay up late in the summer with a good book. 🙂


  7. Karry Dornak June 2, 2017 at 7:53 am Reply

    I was lucky enough to receive an advanced and autographed copy of Textbook last summer. ❤ Disrupting Thinking is AMAZING, as is The Hate U Give. I have about 12 books on my summer reading list, many from Penny Kittle's book clubs list. I am currently reading Evicted by Matthew Desmond. Next is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Then Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shana Karnes June 2, 2017 at 8:56 am Reply

      Karry, ahhh I’m so jealous!!! AKR books are awesome. Your TBR sounds great. I loved Nicola Yoon’s other book, The Sun is Also a Star, too!


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