What's On Your Summer Reading List?

With summer just around the corner (eight days to be exact), it seems I'm adding to my summer lists all the time.  I have plans to spend at least one day a week curled up with a good book and a Starbucks frappuccino in the back corner of the book store or lib before taking an afternoon dip in the pool with Cruz.  And since this is the first summer in a very long time that I don't feel obligated to read something for a Master's class or a new unit for my students, I'm looking forward to a summer of reading books that don't require a pack of post-its and a highlighter.  But, since my reading lists have long been consumed with my favorite classics --- Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and the latest educators on the map --- Linda Darling Hammond, Tony Wagner, and Kelly Gallagher, my knowledge of the current, contemporary chart toppers is a little rusty.  I like good reads that are hard to put down - reads I can learn from - and writers who cause me to stop, think, and just about grab that highlighter.

Here are a few titles I've been tossing around.  Have you read them?  Are they worth it?  What else do you suggest?   

1.  Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins) - Although I like to think I was one of the original Hunger Games fans, and used the book in a 9th grade unit on dystopias for three years, I have yet to make it through the second book in this trilogy.  While I loved The Hunger Games, and got geeky when it came to the love triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta, I am about sixty pages into Catching Fire and have been for about a year.  I'm not sure if it's the mainstream appeal of it all, or the fact that it's been 'tainted' by Hollywood, but I just can't seem to get into it.  I'm determined to finish it before the next movie comes out, though, or at least before one of my students ruins the ending for me!

2.  Fifty Shades of Grey (E.L. James) - If anything, I'm tempted to read this one out of pure curiosity.  It seems you can't turn on a morning show without one of the female hosts confessing her secret love affair with this page-turning, salacious series.  Some readers say it's all a hype, others say it is moving, magical, and unforgettable.  I've been reading it's very split reviews on Amazon and it sounds to me like another Twilight saga --- I've never ventured into Stephanie Meyer territory and I'm not sure I will be joining the Grey fanatics either...

3.  1,000 Gifts (Ann Voskamp) - My mom (also assistant librarian in my hometown) recommended this one.  She said it's off the shelves constantly and that no one returns it without going on and on and on about it's message.  It has excellent reviews on Amazon, and seems to focus on cultivating a life that embraces the everyday blessings in it.  Who knows, maybe Voskamp will be my modern-day Thoreau or Dillard? 

4.  James Patterson, Nora Roberts, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help?  All authors and titles I've considered starting, yet chose Kelle Hampton's blog, student research papers, or Green Eggs and Ham instead.  I've seen the movies, loved the movies, but wonder if the books would be redundant now that I know the plot.  For being an English teacher, I'm a little hard to please.  I love the read, but it takes a lot to join the ranks of my all-time and most recent faves --- John Green and The Fault in our Stars is currently sitting at the top (sorry, J.D., but Augustus Waters is far easier to love than your phony Holden Caulfield).  

That brings me to you!  I need some help from the blogosphere!  What are your recent favorites?  Page turners that are almost impossible to put down, that pick you up and take you on a voyage to another world, with characters you ache to know in real life?  My taste is really quite versatile; I like fiction or nonfiction, adult or young adult, hardcover or paperback.  And I need something that will go well with my toes in the sand and in a drink in my hand... ;) 

Thanks for your help.  Can't wait to hear what you're reading :)