Book Nerd Club

That’s right! Am I the only one that semi-misses having required reading during the summer? Required reading always meant an excuse to just sit in a tree and read for hours on end. These days, my trees have been replaced by hammocks but I can’t complain.


I know I posted a book list a few weeks ago but I decided to expand. Or, maybe I just didn’t have anything else relevant to post about. There’s only so much I can say about oatmeal and hummus, you know? But we love books!

So here is your mission: read, read, read. Go climb a tree, get in a hammock or just hunker down on your couch with an apple and almond butter.

Then, post your reviews of the books I have listed and I’ll include them in the future “book nerd” section of the blog.

The book nerd section is coming……I promise. And it’s going to be cool. All you book nerds out there will finally have a safe haven to express your true literary feelings, however weird or uncouth they are. We won’t judge you. Only ELR love.

Can you handle 10 books this summer? I hope so.

1. My Antonia (read discussion here)

I first read this book in high school and have re-read it countless times since. It’s pretty much a modern day Little House on the Prairie and makes me want to run around outside in a petticoat and a bonnet.

2. The Help (read discussion here)

One of those books I read in 48 hours…I know. I have a problem. This book was incredibly well written and the plot held me the whole time, especially with Stockett’s amazing use of Southern dialogue and character progression. Plus, she is an Alabama alum….roll tide!

3. Sarah’s Key (read discussion here)

The best book I read in 2008. Hands down. No question. I’ve recommended this to pretty much everyone I know and just thinking about it makes me want to re-read for the fourth time. I’ll admit though, I’m a sucker for World War Two tales and period dramas. I would like to be an English teacher for the sole purpose of having my class read this book. Go find it today.

4. Those Who Save Us

Another World War Two drama with a female heroine. I loved the setting in this book (bakeries get me every time) and the two parts to the story. Family secrets + Nazi Germany. Very powerful and thought provoking as well as a page turner.

5. The Glass Castle

Read this book for no other reason other than it will shock the living daylights out of you. I read it all in a day with my mouth hanging open in uncomfortable awe. If anyone ever deserved to write a memoir, Jeannette Walls did. It will suck you in from the first page.

6. American Wife

Just finished. 577 in 48 hours. Now my mom, grandma and friends are reading it as well and can’t put it down either. The book is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush and is just fascinating and enthralling in every way. This is my number one pick so far for this year…

7. Beloved.

Oh Toni Morrison, how we love you. I read this for an undergraduate contemporary lit class in college and since then, have re-read it about three times. Every time I read it I get something new from it and am equally astonished and marveled at the book’s rich complexities and lessons. Every American should read this book. Required. I mean it did win the Pulitzer Prize.

8. The Kite Runner

I can’t believe I’m even putting this on the list. You all should have read this by now. Everyone should have read this by now. But, if for the slim chance you haven’t picked this up yet…….do it today. And then we can discuss. That is all.

9. A Thousand Splendid Suns

And then read this. I read the whole thing on a trans-Atlantic flight. But Kite Runner first. Yes….

10. The Poisonwood Bible



  • Reply
    May 11, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I love this idea!! Thank you thank you thank you..just one more reason for me to read this blog every day.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    This is such a great idea! I loved “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” they’re great additions! I will definitely be picking up “American Wife” as soon as I finish my current read.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    This makes me so happy. There is no more wonderful feeling in the entire world than looking at someone else’s list of recommended books and thinking, “Hey, I loved that, and that, and that, and that!” The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorite books ever, I’ve read it more times than I can count. And I just finished Beloved about a month ago (all in one night!) and have completely fallen in love with Toni Morrison. Have you read The Bluest Eye? It’s almost as good. I also read The Glass Castle and loved it, and The Kite Runner, and basically this list is amazing.
    Thanks so much for your list and your blogs. I love reading them both.
    – Sarah

  • Reply
    May 12, 2010 at 4:06 am

    Fantastic list and great idea!

    Though I’ve read four of the ten already, I’ve just picked up American Wife on your recommendation and can’t wait to get started!


  • Reply
    May 12, 2010 at 6:23 am

    I think I’m going to have to do one of these summer reading lists too! I have a goal to read 50 books this year but my reading was so slow at the beginning of the year that I’m only on book number 9. I’d like to get through at least 15 more between now and September so I think I shall make a list in the next couple of days.

    Oh and I’m going to pick up American Wife from the library tomorrow morning!

  • Reply
    Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)
    May 12, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I love this, Jenna. 8-10 are some of my favorite books. I live in Africa and I didn´t read Poisonwood Bible until I got here and OH MY GOSH. I couldn´t pick up another book for over a week after I finished it because it just affected me THAT much, I didn´t feel ready to emotionally commit to another book! Everyone should read it.

    I started American Wife sometime ago and never really got enthralled, but you have motivated me to pick it back up. I loved Prep!

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Balance and Blueberries
    May 12, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I love this. I’m going to start with American Wife. Can’t wait! Adding a trip to the library to my to-do list right after I push “submit”!

  • Reply
    Red Head, Yellow Dog
    May 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Just ordered my antonia and american wife from! (library around here is sketchy) let summer begin! I love your book selections – glass castle, kite runner, a thousand splendid suns, the poisonwood bible..such favorites of mine! can’t wait for my books to arrive.

  • Reply
    May 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I am reading The Help right now. I did not like American Wife I felt like there wasn’t much to it. I mean it was okay. It just was kind of long and boring. I did not like the ending either.
    Kite runner was really good!

  • Reply
    Love Duckie » Blog Archive » Summer Reads 2010
    May 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

    […] by this post by Jenna, I decided to compile a list together of my summer reads for this year. Over here in […]

  • Reply
    Ellen W
    May 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I don’t normally comment, but I just thought this was awesome! I picked up 3 of these from the library today! I just finished reading “Little Bee” which was amazing too. Read it in two days. I think I’ll start with American Wife… I love the summer!

  • Reply
    May 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Okay I can’t believe I haven’t read The Kite Runner after all this obvious hype LOL – it just seems like it’d be too sad and slightly disturbing (I’ve flipped through a few pages…I know, I know – not cool)…I’ll have to give it a go!

  • Reply
    natalie berry
    May 14, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Just clicked on this page because I finished an amazing book (Harvesting the Heart) and am soo pumped to get to go to Barnes and Noble today! I’m thinking of getting The Help. I also saw one there the other day that looked really good but can’t think of the name. I’ll keep you updated!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Thanks for the American Wife recommendation. I am in the middle of a horrible delayed flight scenario (stranded for 2 days) and this book has sucked me in! It has been a great diversion from the travel mishaps.

  • Reply
    Anne @ Food Loving Polar Beara
    May 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Number 8. & 9. are my favourite books, I’ve read them twice and can’t get enough of them 🙂

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I just came across this list today (must have missed it when you originally posted it) and I’m really excited. I just started reading Sarah’s Key for my book club and I can’t wait to discuss it =)

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Do you have a kindle? some of the links are to the kindle edition so I wasn’t sure. I love library books!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Have you read the Red Tent? It sounds right up your alley!

    • Reply
      May 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm


  • Reply
    May 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Finished “The Glass Castle” yesterday! Where will we be discussing said books on the list??? 🙂

  • Reply
    Heather @ Sugar & Spice
    May 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Right now I am reading Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard. If you have not read it yet, do so – I think you might really love it!

  • Reply
    Eat, Live, Run » Blog Archive » Tuesday Housework
    May 18, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    […] Book Nerd Club […]

  • Reply
    May 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Hi jenna,

    Love your selection of books. You should check this out-

    every year in Canada the cbc picks a group of books and narrows down the list to a single book every canadian should read. a canadian celebrity defends each of the books in a process of elimination debate series, it’s pretty cool.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Haha, you sound just like me! Once I start a good book I can’t do ANYTHING else until I finish it! So glad I found this page; I’ve been looking for book recommendations. I’ve read four of your 10 and I’m going to get started on the rest today 🙂 Reviews to come!

  • Reply
    May 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Let’s see…

    1)My Antonia…This was summer reading in high school. I remember not liking it, but maybe I should give it another shot?

    2)The Help…SO.GOOD. I read it in 3 days. I’m anxious to see how it translates into a film(they’re making a movie of it!)

    3)Sarah’s Key…I literally JUST finished this….I started it last night. I read it during my lunch break….and then in between tasks at work…so good.

    6)American Wife…I read it in 4-5 days. Great.

    I haven’t read the others…I think I’ll start with “Those Who Save Us”. That is, once I read the other 6 books I have checked out. And I’ve read 3 already this week!

  • Reply
    May 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    FYI – “My Antonia” is a FREE download for Kindle. (I use the free Kindle app on my iPhone and love it!)

  • Reply
    May 21, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Has anyone read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover (author of The Poisonwood Bible)? I saw it in the store yesterday and had to restrain myself from buying it since finals are next week and I need to focus. Anyway, just wanted to know if anyone could give me their two cents.

  • Reply
    Nomi O
    May 22, 2010 at 6:50 am

    A Thousand Splendid Suns and the Kite Runner are two of my favourites! Very few books tug at my emotions as much as those two! If you like those pleeease read ‘Prisoner of Tehran’, ‘Fall on Your Knees’ and ‘A Complicated Kindness’. The third is a little different from the rest, but it is still as great!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I love your book list, Jenna! My inner nerd approves. I keep meaning to pick up “American Wife.” There are some great books on the list and I just requested “The Help” from the library after another friend suggested it. I also loved your other list (always looking for new things to read) and picked up “Lunch in Paris” and “My Life in France” (can’t believe I haven’t read that yet).

  • Reply
    May 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I really want to read “The Help.” I’ve heard great things about it.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    my favorite WW II book is “The Tin Drum.”

  • Reply
    May 24, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    I loved The Help! It definitely takes a couple chapters to get used to the dialect, but it’s a great story.

    The Glass Castle definitely has it’s shock factor. The author has a new book, Half Broke Horses, which tells the story of her grandmother’s life. Not as shocking, but great stories!

    The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns are two of my favorites. Excellent stories, quality writing.

    I’m currently reading I Know This Much Is True. I’ve been at it for a few weeks now…it’s a bit of an undertaking at about 900 pages, but I’m halfway through and enjoying it. I am questioning if the story could have been told equally as well in fewer pages.

  • Reply
    Allison K
    May 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I just finished “The Glass Castle.” I put any of the books on your list that I haven’t read on my “to-read” list and this was the first one available from the library, I returned it today, and just picked up “American Wife.”

    Everyone, read” The Glass Castle.” it’s.amazing.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Just finished American Wife…loved it. I stayed up reading way too late until the book was finished. Thanks for the list and I hope you continue to add to the list!

  • Reply
    Suzanne de Cornelia
    May 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Love the list! Have been reading so much non-fiction lately–will read these this summer. When at UCLA in creative writing program loved all the fiction reading/discussions. The standout for me was a 1999 collection of 9 short stories, also a Pulitzer Prize winner ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ by Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri. I believe it was her first book. The theme was displacement.

    We have a fantastic library here in Carmel–luckily–am such a book nerd–need to get glasses and suck on the ends of my twirled hair!!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Are any of you ladies familiar with ?
    Check it out. It’s a wonderful resource for life-long lovers of books like us. You can review books you love, share recommendations with friends, plus see what others are reading. I’m still navigating my way around it, but so far like it.

    Thanks, Jenna, for the list of books. My birthday is tomorrow and I got a gift certificate to amazon. Score! My kindle (which I thought I’d hate, but LOVE) is going to be getting a workout!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I’m in the middle of American Wife right now and IT IS SO GOOD. It’s one of those books you just can NOT put down. I can’t wait till we discuss this!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2010 at 11:22 am

    “Sarah’s Key” is one of my favorite’s so far this summer, if this is a topic you find interesting to read about, you might try “Suite Francaise” by Irene Nemirovsky

  • Reply
    June 2, 2010 at 7:20 am

    jenna – you need to read girl in translation. it was so amazing i finished it in one sitting…

  • Reply
    June 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I bought Sarah’s Key to read on vacation and finished it in record time (such a great book which I have passed onto my mom and recommended to all my friends). I only wished I had brought more of your recommendations along with me for the trip. I am looking forward to reading the rest of your suggestions this summer. Thanks for the great list!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I’m going to admit my TOTAL nerd-dom and say: The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Yes, she’s the author of the Twilight series and yes, this book is AMAZING. Nerd right here! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I love reading, I love nerds, I think you and I would be friends if we lived in the same city. I also read books in 48 hours. I love it… I start to miss the book when I see I am nearing the end, I don’t want it to be finished but I also cannot stop.

    I will join this book club and read the ones I have not already enjoyed.

    I’ll be back to review.

    P.S…. I loved The Kite Runner… but could not did not want to see the movie. DId you see it?

  • Reply
    June 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I love reading, I love nerds, I think you and I would be friends if we lived in the same city. I also read books in 48 hours. I love it… I start to miss the book when I see I am nearing the end, I don’t want it to be finished but I also cannot stop.

    I will join this book club and read the ones I have not already enjoyed.

    I’ll be back to review.

    P.S…. I loved The Kite Runner… but could not did not want to see the movie. DId you see it?

  • Reply
    June 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I am very excited to read the help! I just finished reading the scent of rain and lighting and i LOVED IT!! i’m glad I have another great book to go to! =)

  • Reply
    Nic G
    June 9, 2010 at 9:58 am

    If you love WW2 books pick up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society set in WW2 Guernsey – an island off Great Britain. Great beach read.

    • Reply
      June 27, 2010 at 8:43 am

      I second this recommendation. I picked this book up on a whim, and never regretted it!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Hey Jenna- I just found your blog and love it (and love that you’re a huge reader too!). If you’re into foodie/French books, then you MUST read Jacques Pepin’s autobiography, The Apprentice- its wonderful! Other great ones are: The Book Thief by Markus Zussak, and, if you are in the mood for some quirky British humor, anything by P.G. Wodehouse (The Code of the Woosters is a great one!). Happy Reading!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Hey Jenna, why don’t we all go into this website where we can check out each other’s reads? it would be a great platform to share our reads.. just a thought..

  • Reply
    read, write, repeat
    June 10, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Ahh, I love this idea! I ABSOLUTELY miss required reading! I just finished American Wife and completely agree with your sentiments about it – it was just so fascinating, I couldn’t put it down. I know Alice Blackwell and Laura Bush are different people, but now I’m dying to find out more about LB! I posted some youtube interviews on my blog – it’s Curtis Sittenfeld discussing American Wife, and it’s really interesting, so if anyone want to to check it out, the URL is
    I’m also a HUGE fan of The Poisonwood Bible, it’s such a great story, and one of my recommended summer reads as well!
    I read Sarah’s Key based on your recommendation (plus my dad bought me a copy…) and I have to say that I actually despised it. I thought the idea behind it was really fascinating, and I think I want to read Blum’s Those Who Save Us, but I just couldn’t stand Sarah’s Key. I found the writing trite and the main character infantile. Did anyone else find this?
    Also, I LOVED The Glass Castle – my mouth was hanging open the entire time, just like you! I’m dying to read The Help, but it’s always out at my library, agh!!
    All in all, I’m totally a fan of this addendum to your blog – yours is one of my favs because it combines my love of reading/writing with health food/exercise! 🙂

  • Reply
    Mrs. Howell
    June 11, 2010 at 8:34 am

    I am getting ready to “read” (aka listen to while on a LONG drive) Sarah’s Key this weekend. It is my book club book for this month and I can’t tell you how many people have recommended it and/or sung its praises. I am really excited!!
    I just found your site and looking forward to reading more!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    i think EVERYONE should read She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. My favorite book ever! Also loved The Help & The Glass Castle.
    Can’t wait to read Sarah’s Key based on your recommendations:)

  • Reply
    June 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I just finished The Help and I cried at the end because I didn’t want it to be finished! I loved it. As a liberal girl from the south with not-so-liberal parents from the segregation era, I could totally relate to Skeeter. Great suggestion!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Does anyone know when these discussions start?

    • Reply
      June 17, 2010 at 7:25 am


      You’ve asked several times so I feel like you must have missed somehow the first discussion. It can be found here. The wrote on that post that the next discussion would happen at the end of June.

      • Reply
        June 17, 2010 at 9:08 am

        How kind of you to respond to my question.

  • Reply
    June 19, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Hey! I love reading your blog! I just found your book page and I have such similar books on my page as well! Let me know if you read something else that is good!

  • Reply
    Eat, Live, Run » Blog Archive » OTR
    June 23, 2010 at 9:34 am

    […] Book Nerd Club […]

  • Reply
    June 25, 2010 at 8:42 am

    jenna- read the girl with the dragon tatoo! run don’t walk to your nearest indie bookstore or better yet reserve the series from your library. it starts out slow but that’s just a tease… there’s even a movie but it’s in limited release. i absolutely will not see a movie before i’ve read the book but i’ve been told it was a thriller. book two in the series is available in paperback and book three just came out. since you need something to lighten up the thrillers, i suggest you look up fishes and dishes (available on amazon). it’s a cookbook with seafood recipes and salty stories from alaska’s commercial fisherwomen. you’ll love it!!

    • Reply
      June 27, 2010 at 8:40 am

      Yes please read this book!

      1. It’s a really good read!
      2. This is the series I have to read for my physical, “real life” book club, and I’m not caught up b/c I’m too obsessed with finishing the books on this list! haha.

  • Reply
    Kelsey @ Un-American in France
    July 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    I miss required reading, too! The BEST book I ever had to read for school over the summer and by far, my FAVORITE book was Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Don’t let it’s size scare you away. I read it in less than 2 weeks because I couldn’t put it down! The follow-up, At World’s End is also amazing. The Count of Monte Cristo was also an unforgettable summer read.

  • Reply
    Meg Wolff
    July 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I came over from Maggie’s site on a whim! Love your selections, ALL great books-you have good taste (ha!). Since I didn’t read Those Who Save Us, it’s going on my list because I totally trust you, your other recommendations are excellent. Time to go curl up with my book. I’m reading two books, Someone Else’s Daughter and Chelsea Handler’s, My Horizontal Life. I also want to read Bee.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2010 at 9:30 am

    love your site, wanted to shout “roll tide” right back at ya. i’m from alabama but don’t live there anymore, so i don’t hear my beloved team cheer all too often but i love it when i do!
    keep up the good work! salud!

  • Reply
    Jess (JessCantCook)
    July 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I’m so glad to see other people LOVE the Poisonwood Bible!! I read it a few years ago and re-read it recently and loved it all over again. Can’t wait to read the others on the list!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I’m so excited about this list. I often find myself with no time to read and then when I do I don’t know what book to read. I’m excited about tackling some of these books. I am definitely no 48 hour reader….but I have a vacation coming up that I’d like to get some reading done. Life with a 16 month old does not afford much down time, sadly. Thanks again!!!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Just finished the Help, and I am sad that I finished it. I did not finish it in 48 hours haha! But it was always hard to put down. I am a book nerd too, the characters become part of my life! 🙂

  • Reply
    Eat, Live, Run » Blog Archive » ELR Book Nerd Club: Sarah’s Key
    July 28, 2010 at 10:52 am

    […] Book Nerd Club […]

  • Reply
    July 31, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    You might also read “The Mascot” by Mark Kurzem – It’s a biography of Mark’s Father’s life during WWII – amazing!

  • Reply
    Jasmine @ Eat Move Write
    August 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    A really great one that you could maybe do for another time is Joan Didion’s “A Year of Magical Thinking.” Fantastic, fantastic book.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    How have I never been to your blog before? I LOVE this Book Nerd Club idea and have read 5 of these 10 books already. The Poisonwood Bible is one of my all-time favorites! I will definitely be back!!

  • Reply
    August 17, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Not too many people seem to have read the Poison Wood Bible. You are correct fantastic. I liked that the narrator was changing with the books chapters, made you feel more like you were there in the jungle. For a complete change of books try “Silver Hair”

  • Reply
    August 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    American Wife was great! I read it straight through, choosing it over sleep. Thanks for the suggestion! I also read Prep, because I tend to read a few books in a row by an author…umm, it’s not great. It left me with an off feeling. And I have to admit, throughout it I was thinking that it completely personified my own high school feelings, but to the n-th degree.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Can I make a suggestion? The book “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers is absolutely the best book I have ever read. She is christian writer and this book is based of the story of Hosea. Please check it out Jenna if you haven’t already!

  • Reply
    Liz @ Blog is the New Black
    August 24, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I just stumbled upon this list. I have read 5 of these and enjoyed them all!

  • Reply
    cookbooks I love — Eat, Live, Run
    October 29, 2010 at 5:50 am

    […] given you a lengthy list of my favorite novels. We’ve even talked about a few (here, here and here) and I promise, a review and discussion of American Wife coming […]

  • Reply
    Link Building Services
    December 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    You make blogging look like a walk in the park! I’ve been trying to blog daily but I just cant find writing material.. you’re an inspiration to me and i’m sure many others!

  • Reply
    Carters Enterprise
    June 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    lol missed a typo!

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