Summer Reading: What’s on Your List?

Editor’s Note: Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer and with it thoughts of summertime reading. The following is a guest blog by my friend and strategic planner, Rebecca Henderson. Rebecca is one of the most avid readers I know so who did I turn to for ideas for vacation reading? Rebecca, of course!  Please share your favorite summer reads with us in the comments section. 


Southern California beaches are a great place to read and relax.

Carlsbad Beach in Southern California is a great place to read and relax.

For about 25 years, around this time of year, I’ve been asked for book recommendations for vacation reading.  Loving to read as I do, it’s hard to pare a list down to just a few titles, while at the same time remembering  the interests of whomever is asking. I hope you’ll find at least one of these suggestions to your liking; I think their appeal is broad.


Carolyn Jourdan’s memoir,  Heart in the Right Place is one of the 25 books I’d take if I thought I’d be stranded on a desert island.  I’ve read it at least eight times.  The range of emotions Jourdan portrays have me crying tears of laughter and sadness. Another of Jourdan’s books,  Medicine Men: Extreme Appalachian Doctoring,  is another great read.


And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer is a long novel, but worth the time, especially if you’re interested in small-town life from yesteryear or membership based organizations. I’ve enjoyed all of Nicholas Sparks books, as well as those by Richard Paul Evans.  The romantic Sparks novels are set in North Carolina.  The Evans works  are set more broadly and most are romantically inclined.  His Michael Vey novels are for youth, but also enjoyable for adults.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, was nearly impossible for me to put down.  Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In  proved fascinating;  its appeal is especially to women in corporate environments.  To Lead is To Serve by Shar McBee is a quick, easy read, and the ideas put forth are terrific, yet timeless.  Don’t let the subtitle, “How to Attract Volunteers and Keep Them” fool you, because the book will be helpful in all walks of your life.


My mother  read cookbooks like some people read novels.  If this describes you,  you can’t go wrong with  a Southern Living or Taste of Home cookbook.  Any Junior League cookbook is sure to be a winner, too, as will most community cookbooks.

Happy reading!

Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson has an M.S. in Community Leadership from Duquesne University.  Rebecca loves strategic planning, organizational development, and “geeky things” like bylaws and parliamentary procedure.  Her company, Strategic Priorities Consulting, specializes in helping clients grow from where they are to where they want to go.  She is currently working on a book about being an effective leadership level community influencer. On a personal level, Rebecca is an active member of her church and Rotary Club, Vice Chair of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians,  loves to read, and is “Mom” to her five Newfoundlands.



  • I thought I was only one who liked to read cookbooks! Glad to know there is someone out there like me! The other books sound great too! Nothing better than a good read while sitting by the pool or on vacation!

  • Rebecca Henderson says:

    @Sarah-I wish I’d inherited Mama’s love of reading cookbooks. Instead, I inherited her cookbook collection (approximately 5,000). No kidding!

  • Sue Painter says:

    Summer reading lists – yummmmm. Haven’t had one in a while – thanks for the suggestions.

  • I’ve never thought of having a summer reading list. That’s a great idea! I typically read a book every 1 or 2 weeks. Right now I’m reading Quiet by Susan Cain and Fascinate by Sally Hogshead.

    • maryellen says:

      Tiffany, I am so delighted to hear you say that you read books on a regular basis. I recently had some friends tell me that they didn’t read business books because they thought they went out of date. Yikes! Great books are timeless.

      • Rebecca Hendersoan says:

        Tiffany, I love that you’re reading 2 books at a time – I’m always reading at least 2 all the time!

  • Bill Painter says:

    I like mysteries James Patterson or David Baldacci. I am also going back and catching up on some internet business and how to articles that I bookmarked but haven’t read

  • Rebecca Henderson says:

    Bill, I enjoy some mysteries as well. I know both Patterson and Baldacci are very well know, but I can’t recall that I’ve ever read any of either.

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