For me, summertime was the greatest, because not only could I run around outside in my bare feet and ride my bike to the neighbor's houses and jump on the trampoline until it got dark, but when I wasn't doing that, I was sitting on my favorite hill at my house reading everything I could get my hands on while basking in the sunshine. Goodreads gave Romper an exclusive nostalgic summer reading books list that will 100 percent for sure give you all the feels. Anyone else already being reminded of reading all summer and late into the night under the blankets with a flashlight until you thought your eyes would bug out? Same.
As a child of the '80s and '90s, of course I was reading all the Baby-Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, Harriet the Spy, Matilda, and Goosebumps books so I could talk about them with my friends when school started again. And as I got older, my love for summer reading didn't end, and I loved all of the coming-of-age stories that were around back then — even those that were coming-of-age stories back when my parents were angsty teens. Teen angst never seems to change does it?
These books saved our lives back then and made us feel like we weren't alone in our angst and they validated our feelings. Someone got us — even if it was a fictional character in a novel. But at the very least, the author seemed to understand what we were going through, and that definitely accounted for something — especially in the summer. So even if it has to be between nap times or even late at night after the kids are asleep, at least one of these nostalgic summer reads should be on your nightstand to devour. Remember why Holden Caulfield; Charlie; Maya; Margaret; Mia; Esperanza; or Claudia, Kristy, Stacy, and Mary Anne really spoke to you, and how it felt like they were the only people in the world who did.
1. 'Kristy's Great Idea' by Ann M. Martin
I remember one summer I read every single Baby-Sitters Club book. Every. Single. One. Oh, to have the time to spend an entire summer reading about the shenanigans of babysitting, growing up, and being a teenager again. If you're like most adults and don't have free time over a summer to read more than 200 books, maybe just start at the beginning with the classic Kristy's Great Idea — the one that started it all.
2. 'The Princess Diaries' by Meg Cabot
According to Goodreads reviewer "Lola," The Princess Diaries is a unique story. "An unpopular high school girl becomes a princess overnight? A dream come true for many girls… just not Mia." This summer is the perfect time to reread the classic tale about the girl who must of us in high school could relate to, and how even princesses are "just like us." Love the movie? The audio version of this book and the other books in this series are narrated by Anne Hathaway. How fun is that?
3. 'The Catcher in the Rye' by J.D. Salinger
I feel like I relate to Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye more and more these days — just like I did in high school. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a bad or good thing, but I am noticing quite a lot of "phonies" in my wake and I'm not liking it. Relive Holden's angsty coming-of-age story and watch it unravel again. Maybe you'll feel the same understanding and camaraderie with Holden as you did when you read it as a teen?
4. 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' by Stephen Chbosky
This book literally changed my life in high school. I think I reread it at least 20 times and I found something new and something else to relate to every time. The ending shocked me (as I'm sure it did most people), but this book was so fantastically written through the pen of a teenager's diary entries. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been compared to The Catcher in the Rye time and time again, probably because of all the teenage angst, but it's a quick read and something definitely worth reading again as an adult.
5. 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' by Maya Angelou
Angelou's powerful memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was a must-read when I was in school. And I think a lot of people should read it now as an adult — especially with the political climate these days. It may do some enlightening when folks need it most.
6. 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' by Judy Blume
I think any Judy Blume book would be a fantastic read for a throw-back summer reading extravaganza. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret seems to be everyone's favorite, though. She's trying to fit in with new friends and they're shocked she isn't "religious," but she has her own special relationship with God. Remember why you loved this book as a preteen as it talks about boys, kissing, bras, and periods.
7. 'The House on Mango Street' by Sandra Cisneros
I'm so sad to say that I have never read this book. However, as soon as I sign off from my shift here I'm going to go purchase it and read it. According to the Goodreads description, The House on Mango Street, "Told in a series of vignettes — sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous — it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers." This book is another coming-of-age story that simultaneously gives a glimpse into the lives and important voices of hispanic women.
8. 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' by J.K. Rowling
So much to say about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and the series in general. I think I have reread this series at least five times, and it gets better and better each time. Relive the magic again and again this summer, even if you only have time to read the first book in the series. However, I bet you'll be hooked and want to continue reading on about the young witches and wizards of Hogwarts, Muggles, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, The Boy Who Lived, and the incredible battle between good and evil that unfolds in the series.
9. 'Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging' by Louise Rennison
This was the first book I ever purchased with my own money I earned while teaching karate at my karate studio when I was 13. It was so relatable, even though it was told from a British point of view. Georgia Nicholson's journal is a riot and it perfectly captures life as a teenager. You'll remember how you felt and what it was like reading this for the first time when you read it again this summer, even if it's in between extra curricular activities for your kids.
10. 'The Outsiders' by S.E. Hinton
I was obsessed with this book, y'all. I still hate those damn "socs," too. The Outsiders is an important look at the difference between right and wrong, socioeconomic differences, and teen angst on top of all of that stuff. I remember reading this in the 5th grade and everyone in the entire class cried at the end. Make sure the kids are put to bed before finishing this book if you don't want them to see you cry.