Whether you’re looking for beach entertainment or simply books to read in the summer, here are the ones I’ve gathered over the years I hope you’ll love as much as I do. We’ve downsized many times, and will again, but there will always be room for these books on my shelves.

Some are affiliate links to later editions than the ones I have, but if you have time check out thrift books and eBay before you purchase. I always keep an eye out for any House Beautiful or Alexandra Stoddard book in thrift stores and used book shops.

Fiction

My fiction collection is a tiny fraction of the books I keep in my collection. I loved Margaret Mitchell when I was a child, Stephen King as a teenager, then John Grisham, Dickens, and Shakespeare as a young adult. I spent time with Faust and the requisite Kafka as needed for college soul searching. Pat Conroy spoke to me as I began to wade through adult relationships, and the past ten years Larry McMurtry has been my favorite storyteller. Here are the ones I have left on the shelf; I don’t make much time for fiction but these I will read again and again.

Great Expectations Charles Dickens Cover

Dickens makes me feel melancholy in the best possible way and Great Expectations is my favorite of his works. It’s also one of those rare cases where I enjoy the films almost as much as the book. (To wit, I spent my 20s trying to find the black shoes Gwyneth Paltrow’s Estella wore in the ’98 version.)

John Grisham The Pelican Brief Cover

I blame The Pelican Brief for the crush I had on my criminal law professor; in fact, I blame John Grisham for practically every romantic notion I had about law school. This is another case (see what I did there?) where the movie (thanks to the incomparable duo of Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington) does not disappoint.

Beach Music Pat Conroy Cover

When I feel like I need to be sad to feel better, Beach Music is my go-to story. My mom gave it to me somewhere in the Keys on vacation, I’ve carried the dog-eared paperback around ever since.

Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry Cover

My all-time favorite book (and movie, for the record), Lonesome Dove stands alone for me. I’m certain nothing could replace my affection for it. My husband (then-boyfriend) introduced me to Larry McMurtry and it’s truly one of the best gifts he’s given me.

Texasville Larry McMurtry Cover
The Last Picture Show Larry McMurtry Cover

I picked up McMurtry’s Texasville the first time I stayed at my in-laws’ ranch in Nevada and got lost in it for the week we were off the grid. I’ve always had an affection for Texas and Texans and had recently discovered Lonesome Dove, so it was perfect timing. I read them out of order, I recommend you read The Last Picture Show first, then Texasville, then Duane’s Depressed. The latter pales in comparison to the first two of the trilogy but finishes off the story so you can’t leave it undone, (though you may find yourself wishing you had).

Nonfiction

As I mentioned, I have a massive nonfiction, how to, and cookbook collection (you can check out my favorite cookbooks here). These are the books among the hundreds I would grab if I could only choose what I could carry.

Remodelista Book Cover

There are two books I go to if I’m looking for inspiration for my own house, Remodelista is one. The photos alone are reason to buy the book, but it’s well written and beautifully organized as well.

House Beautiful's Decorating with Fabric Book Cover

House Beautiful’s Decorating with Fabric is the second book I use for inspiration in my homes. If you love fabric, and especially classics like toile, you will keep this book forever; it features the most beautiful interiors anywhere, in my opinion.

Alexandra Stoddard Daring to Be Yourself Book Cover

For some reason, this image is odd but the book is Alexandra Stoddard’s Daring to Be Yourself. This book was more than what piqued my interest in interior design as a college student, though it did do that. More importantly, Stoddard’s lessons about how to be yourself and find beauty and grace on any budget, and within yourself, changed my life. I started to see myself as something of beauty and value in the process. I highly recommend this to anyone who’s feeling in a funk creatively or otherwise.

Monet's House Book Cover

Impressionist interior design is not necessarily my taste, but the colors of Monet’s House in Giverny are just so delicious I keep this beautiful book around for regular inspiration.

Gary McCord's Golf for Dummies Book Cover

Neither food nor fabric – Golf for Dummies is still one of my favorite books, nonetheless. I don’t play that much golf, but the inimitable Gary McCord is so fun I never get rid of the book. I keep meaning to pick up the clubs again, and before I do, I’ll reread this book.

Postitive Discipline Parenting Tools Book Cover

I’m very pragmatic when it comes to parenting, I believe there are straightforward answers for most parenting dilemmas and questions (not all…most…some are just a mystery). Positive Discipline helps chart a path with its well organized, alphabetical-by-subject format that makes it a quick read and useful reference.

Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of Crafts Book Cover

When I need inspiration for a product or an afternoon of creating, Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts is my first stop. There’s so much information, it could easily fill 10 books.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I have over the years. Let me know what fills your nightstands, pool bags, and library shelves, I’d love to add to my collection.

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