Top-Rated Summer Reads

Posted by Jessica on July 11, 2012

Need a last-minute vacation read? Whether you're looking for a juicy romance, a twisty mystery, or a prose-perfect literary novel, chances are you want a sure thing. To help you with your decision, we tried something new by looking at the top-rated and most-shared books on our Goodreads App for Facebook, which is no small data set—readers are sharing more than 10 million books per month.

What we found covered suspense, historical fiction, investigative journalism, witty memoirs, young adult fantasy, and more. Narrowing things down further, these books all have a higher than 4.0 average rating.

A book's average rating may seem like a sterile, unemotional statistic, but if you look closely, simple math can reveal the beating heart of a book and the passion of its readers. Will a book become a blockbuster best-seller, or will it remain unread on the bottom of a to-read list? Here's a tip. When a book sustains a 4.0 or higher rating after thousands of readers have devoured and reviewed it, you know that you've probably found something special. These 12 books all boast large audiences and good reviews. So grab one and head to the beach!


Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
This psychological thriller is one of the best-reviewed adult novels being shared on the Goodreads app right now. When Amy disappears on the morning of her anniversary, suspicion is cast on her elusive husband, Nick. Readers must choose sides as they read the couple's conflicting accounts.

Home Front
by Kristin Hannah (Goodreads Author)
Many Goodreads reviewers mention how hard they cried while reading this book—in a good way! The novel tells the emotionally complex story of a Blackhawk helicopter pilot deployed to Iraq, far from her husband and daughters.

Bared to You (Crossfire, #1)
by Sylvia Day (Goodreads Author)
This erotic romance about a wealthy man and his young paramour is enjoying mainstream success, piggybacking on the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. Goodreads members are gushing about the book, calling it "addictive" and "intense."

The Shoemaker's Wife
by Adriana Trigiani (Goodreads Author)
Trigiani spent more than 25 years writing this romantic saga inspired by how her Italian grandparents met and almost lost each other. One Goodreads reviewer says she "loved every word and wanted more when it ended."

The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey (Goodreads Author)
This historical novel about a married couple on an isolated homestead captures the tenacity of those who settled the Alaskan frontier in the early 20th century. Goodreads members call it "a beautiful journey" with "magical prose."


Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir
by Jenny Lawson (Goodreads Author)
Taxidermy enthusiast, irreverent mommy blogger, candid poster child for mental illness—Lawson wears many hats with pride. This top-rated memoir chronicles childhood, marriage, and motherhood in what Goodreads members are calling hysterical and inspirational prose.

Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power
by Rachel Maddow
Goodreads members are recommending this work of nonfiction by MSNBC talk show host Maddow that delves into military spending and the history of war policy. Reviews call the book "non-partisan" and sure to "fire up many discussions."

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed (Goodreads Author)
Now well known as the current Oprah's Book Club pick, this cathartic memoir has earned raves from Goodreads members since its debut. Wrecked by a divorce and her mother's death, novice backpacker Strayed impulsively hiked 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity
by Katherine Boo
This debut narrative by a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist profiles families living in the slums near the Mumbai airport. One Goodreads member lauds Boo "for her lively, un-maudlin, incisive writing."


The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
So far the most-read young adult book of 2012, Green's tale of a teen girl with Stage IV thyroid cancer has a sky-high average rating and glowing reviews that emphasize both the "great humor" and "heart-wrenching" parts of the book . Chock-full of chemo, 16-year-old Hazel wonders if her remission will last and who the cute new guy is in her cancer support group.

Under the Never Sky
by Veronica Rossi (Goodreads Author)
This adventure set on a future Earth ravaged by solar flares has risen to the top of the list for many fans of science fiction and dystopian novels for young adults. Goodreads members praise the scope of the world-building and depth of the characters.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)
by Marissa Meyer (Goodreads Author)
The classic character of Cinderella is reimagined as a cyborg with a talent for mechanics in this young adult steampunk romp. Both a handsome prince and a wicked stepmother make appearances in the story that Goodreads reviewers love for its "breakneck pace" and "completely enchanting" premise.

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)

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message 1: by Phil (new)

Phil You should add Canadian Peggy Blair's Beggar's Opera

message 2: by April (new)

April and . . .The Norseman

message 3: by Ann (new)

Ann You picked some good ones

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I'd add the two Deborah Harkness novels - A Discovery of Witches, which I've read and have recommended to everyone I know, and Shadow of Night (which I'm on the waiting list for.)

message 5: by Meg (new)

Meg This is very helpful and I appreciate the different categories represented. Something for me and something for my daughter-- perfect!

message 6: by Ellen (new)

Ellen I'm halfway through Gone Girl and loving every word. I can't put it down!

message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan I Loved The Fault in Our Stars and I'm an adult. Now my 16 year old is reading it, and loves it too. Great list Thanks!

message 8: by Brit (new)

Brit erm, no poetry. Well then.

message 9: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Brit, If you are looking for a poetry "vacation" read, you might enjoy Poetry Daily. It's been around for many years, but I read it cover to cover once a year.

message 10: by Brit (new)

Brit Ah, fantastic. Thank you very much. =] I feel that most times poetry gets a wee bit forgotten.

message 11: by Louise (new)

Louise What about "The Dovekeeps" and the "Song of Achilles"??

message 12: by April (new)

April Louise wrote: "What about "The Dovekeeps" and the "Song of Achilles"??"

Thanks! Added "The Dovekeepers"! It sounds like a phenomenal read!

message 13: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl The best summer read for me is "The Circle of Wounded Souls"

message 14: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I loved The Dovekeepers. You should add Gossip, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., The Meryl Streep Movie Club, The New Best Thing, These Girls, and The Orchid House. All were fabulous reads!

message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Hi,

My reccommendations aren't loading. I have tried and tried and tried again and it just continues to say loading.

Any suggestions?

message 16: by C.J. (new)

C.J. If you're on Cape Cod (or any East Coast beach), check out "Croaked, an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery"

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