Isabel’s Summer Reading List

This post is also available in: Spanish

Book Passage, in Corte Madera, Calif., has been Isabel’s favorite bookstore for 26 years. It’s like an extension of her home and office: there she has a mailbox, she does press interviews, she meets readers and other writers, and she teaches at conferences. All her book tours start with an event at Book Passage. The staff knows her well and chooses the best books and audiobooks for her. I try to order books from Book Passage before I look elsewhere—before I look to the “river in Brazil,” for instance. Here is Isabel’s summer reading list, which was compiled with help from Book Passage owners Elaine and Bill Petrocelli.


All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr

After she lost her sight at age six, Marie-Laure’s father made her a scale model of their pre-World War II Paris neighborhood. She learned every nook and cranny with her fingers, knowledge that enabled their escape a few years later when the Germans occupied the city. At the seaside village where she and her father fled, Marie meets Werner, a German officer trained to be merciless as he searches for members of the French Resistance. Their story shows what can happen when good people encounter evil.


Love and Treasure

Ayelet Waldman

As Jack is dying, he shows his lawyer granddaughter a jewel-encrusted pendant and begs her to find the rightful owner. Jack was an Army officer in charge of guarding the so-called Hungarian Gold Train at the end of World War II–a train filled with treasures taken from Hungarian Jews on their way to concentration camps. Grounded in history, this exciting novel is full of twists and compelling characters.



Ruth Reichl

A food critic, memoirist, editor, and now novelist, Ruth Reichl brings us Billie, a young woman who lands her dream job at the revered food magazine, Delicious. When the magazine suddenly closes (remember the day Condé Nast killed Gourmet?), Billie is asked to stay on to answer questions from readers. Exploring the defunct magazine’s library, she finds a trove of old letters from a reader to the late James Beard, famous chef and food writer, and a mystery is unlocked.



Lily King

It’s the 1930s and Nell Stone, who has already written a famous book on the erotic habits of the children of a New Guinea tribe, returns to the island continue her research. The fictional characters are loosely based on Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune and Gregory Bateson. Anthropology, sex, a bullying husband and an irresistible lover make King’s Euphoria a treasure.


We Are Called to Rise

Laura McBride

Contemporary Las Vegas is the setting for this outstanding first novel told in the very different voices of two women, an immigrant boy in elementary school and a damaged veteran of the Iraq war. A marriage falls apart, the boy’s Albanian family can’t figure out how to exist in an alien environment and the veteran must confront his demons. These unforgettable characters refuse to go away even after you finish the book.


China Dolls

Lisa See

As World War II begins, three friends find themselves competing for one showgirl role at San Francisco Chinatown’s exclusive nightclub The Forbidden City. Ruby is Japanese and desperate to pass as Chinese so she won’t be sent to a Japanese internment camp, Grace has fled her abusive Mid-western family, and Helen, who grew up in Chinatown, hides her own secret. The author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan beautifully explores the intricacies of friendship.


We Were Liars

E. Lockhart (written for teenagers but adults are loving this gem)

A distinguished family is vacationing on a private Massachusetts island when something happens to the teenage daughter. Each morning when she wakes up, she can’t remember anything that happened before. One thing becomes clear: this family is living in its own mythology. We Were Liars is mystery page-turner that will keep you up all night.


Under the Egg

Laura Marx Fitzgerald  (For 8 to 12 year olds but adults will enjoy it too)

Theodora lives in a 200-year-old townhouse with her fragile mother and her grandfather’s legacy: $463 and a rather mundane painting of an egg. When Theo discovers that there is a masterpiece hidden behind the picture of the egg, she realizes grandfather, who was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wasn’t who she thought he was. This adventure into the secret world of art will fascinate kids and make them want to take you to the museum.


Cathedral of the Wild

Boyd Varty

A story of transformation that inspires a great appreciation for the beauty and order of the natural world. With conviction, hope and humor, Varty makes a passionate claim for the power of the wild to restore the human spirit. A memoir about growing up in a wildlife conservation park in South Africa and in the Varty family, who are as wild as the wonderful animals they protect.

15 Responses to Isabel’s Summer Reading List

  1. Denise Lynn Ziperski June 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Gracias Sra Allende! Ya he pedido tres: Cathedral of the Wild,Love and Treasure y All the Light We cannot See….empecé a leer dos! Me encantan! 🙂

  2. patricio June 23, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    Si Isabel Allende es una escritora de habla hispana,aun que viva en USA,creo que por respeto a nosotros los hispanos deberia tener un blog en español…o es tonto lo que estoy escribiendo??? que lastima que olvide sus origenes,pero el vil billete y el tiempo cambian a las personas…

  3. Fernando June 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Sandra Tamara wants you guys post in Castilian as you do in english with the “bucking kazakhstan” she meant that translate to Castilian is not too hard as would be to translate to ” bucking kazakhstan”.

    • Sandra June 19, 2014 at 2:50 am #

      Fernando, I figured that much about posting in Castilian
      thanx for explaining the rest

  4. Julia Norman June 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    I am reading All the Light we Cannot See right now. Great suggestions. Can’t wait to dig in.

    • Tamara June 18, 2014 at 8:25 am #

      Esta vez no hay traducción? 🙁 mmm me gustaría que todo fuera a la vez, no odió el inglés, y entiendo la importancia de ambos idiomas, pero se debieran de usar a igual importancia, el castellano parece de segunda en este blog.
      Tan sólo igualdad en tiempos y respeto y más cuando la autora a la cual seguimos es su idioma natal (que no estamos pidiendo un dialecto de kazajistán leñe)

      • Sandra June 18, 2014 at 8:34 am #

        Tamara, just had your comment translated and while I see your point but have to disagree about the ‘bucking Kazakhstan’ as for them your Castilian and my native Slovakian might be equally ‘silly’.
        If the translation didn’t get this comment right, I apologize

  5. Laura Barreiro Quiroz June 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    ¡siempre! he odiado el ingles y por consiguiente me gustaría que toda la información que aquí se maneja, sea accesible para “todos” los que nos queremos enterar, por ahi preguntan si queremos traducir la página…es una burla, la traducción horrible, lees puro caos…

  6. Jennifer June 17, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    y en español? 🙂

    • Almu June 17, 2014 at 11:50 am #

      Estoy segura que todos estos libros están traducidos en español 😉

    • Sandra June 19, 2014 at 4:22 am #

      Jennifer – Carlos Ruiz Zafon: La sombra del viento

  7. Ale June 17, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Thank you, I was searching the web earlier today for suggestions, I will check them out! (btw: I love your work Ms. Allende)


  1. Weekend Roundup! - June 19, 2014

    […] Isabel Allende’s summer reading list :: via her blog – I thought this list would have books that were . . . darker, for some reason. Based on Amazon previews alone, I’d say that I’d be mostly likely to pick up Euphoria by Lily King and We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride. […]

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