Summer Reading 2023: 7 Hot Book Recommendations for You (plus bonus!)

2023 Summer Reads with 8 Recommended Books to Read

Skip straight to the list of books >>

I’ve really enjoyed creating this Summer Reads blog post! You’ll find 4 fiction & 3 non-fiction books that I loved (plus an all-time favourite).

NOTE: The links below go to (USA), so you can learn more about the book—and purchase online. I am now an affiliate for! It’s a great alternative to Amazon as they give money back to small booksellers—and they also have a UK site.

Although if you can I recommend directly supporting your local bookstore or buying second-hand through AbeBooks which is also good for our planet.

Do you love reading—or listening to audio books?

I’ve been an avid reader since I was young, and love to read every night in bed. My favourite time of the week is still a weekend morning, reading in bed with a great book and a good cup of tea. What about you?

Books teach us about our world—and the people in it!

Not only entertainment, pleasure or an escape from the stresses of life, stories offer us insight into other worlds: different cultures, different times (past or future) or an entirely different world. The characters, situations—and their societies teach us something. And non-fiction gives us knowledge, ideas and inspiration! What’s not to love?

In particular, if you want to make a difference in our world, it helps to understand how our world came to be the way it is. And if you’re wondering about big topics like addiction, colonization, racism or what it’s like to be gay or queer, one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to educate ourselves is to read novels written by people with personal experience—or stories that explore our collective history.

Here are my Summer Read Recommendations

Starting with 4 Fiction Books!
The Lost Wife Book

Genre: Historical Fiction

1) The Lost Wife

by Susanna Moore

This novel is loosely based on the true story of a woman (Sarah F. Wakefield) taken captive by the Dakota 1 in the Great Plains, USA for 6 weeks in 1862 2. The author uses many of the details from this true accounting to write an atmospheric novel about an intelligent, self-educated and complicated woman who travels west to the prairies, marries an enigmatic doctor (our protagonist never does understand why he married her) and gets caught up in the uprising.

It’s a beautifully written, thought-provoking novella that feels very personal—and makes for a captivating read.

Important: this novel does briefly describe violent and unpleasant scenes…

This book is also a thought-provoking introduction to colonization and how negative stereotypes of First Nations were formed.

Skyward Book

Genre: Science Fiction

2) Skyward

by Brandon Sanderson

These days I like to read Science Fiction and Fantasy by female writers (I got so tired of the way female characters are represented!). However, I make an exception for Brandon Sanderson as he writes strong women leads. And I love that we have not only a female lead, but that she’s a budding pilot too.

This (technically YA fiction) mysterious story is about a race of humans set in another galaxy. It’s the first of a series of 4 novels where humans have been isolated because they’re considered dangerous. And there are lots of mysteries to be solved as our heroine, Spensa discovers a ship deep underground with an amusing personality and an obsession for a specific type of fungi. And it’s all complicated by the fact that her father, a star pilot, is considered a traitor.

This is the lightest of all the recommended reads and I thoroughly enjoyed this story about (ultimately) what it means to be human—and belong.

Demon Copperhead Book

Genre: Coming of age, Historical (1990s)

3) Demon Copperhead

by Barbara Kingsolver

Winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize (women’s prize for fiction).

In this modern re-telling of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield we learn what it’s like to be young and growing up in dirt poor southern Appalachia. Our plucky hero Damon (Demon) becomes an orphan, braves foster care, child labour, becomes an addict and tries valiantly to understand his world and be a good person, while doing all the usual teenage stuff (and a bit more).

The author introduces us to how we end up with an opioid epidemic and how poor, rural Americans live—and see themselves. Damon is helped along the way by a feisty schoolteacher (one of the few Black people is his town), a football coach and his feisty daughter, distant relatives—and yes, there is a “happy” ending.

This is a riveting read. Barbara’s usual evocative prose paints a picture of the beauty of nature, as well as explores what it means to be “family” and look out for each other.

The Vanishing Half Book

Genre: Women, Coming of Age

4) The Vanishing Half

by Brit Bennett

This novel is set in various eras from the the 1940s to the 1990s in the USA. It’s based around two light-skinned Black identical twin sisters who, as children, witness their father’s lynching. At 16 they run away from their small town of Mallard together, but eventually take very different paths.

The issue of colorism3 is important throughout the book. The town of Mallard for example, was set-up by a ex-slave for light-skinned people. And this obviously leads to a hang-up about lightness and a disdain for dark-skinned people in the town.

Stella decides to “pass” as White and marries a White man to whom she tells nothing of her past, severing ties with her sister and family. Desiree however marries a dark-skinned man (who turns out to be abusive). Both sisters have children. And eventually Desiree decides to search for her sister.

This is a novel about race, but also about family, identity and desire. The novel debuted at number one on The New York Times fiction best-seller list and was on the list for 42 weeks.

A couple of non-fiction light reads:
The Tao of Pooh Book

Genre: Spiritual, Humour, Work-Life Balance, Self

5) The Tao of Pooh (link to Audio CD)

by Benjamin Hoff

Need a life lift? Try The Tao of Pooh! And summer is the perfect time to read it.

This charming book, published in 1982, is available as a book and audio CD and was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 49 weeks! (The book picture is my own copy, with coloured tabs for all my favourite bits!)

The Tao of Pooh is a humourous look at the wisdom of the Tao (pronounced Dow) through the eyes of Winnie the Pooh (and words of the author A.A. Milne).

But make no mistake, this is not a children’s book! Instead this is a light, yet extremely deep look at a philosophy of life: what it means to live, why we should rest and do less, how to be ourselves and to love and respect our own inner nature. And it’s literally a delightful read, full of wonder and good cheer.

The first (short) chapter is a teeny bit dull as the author introduces Taoism. But after that Winnie the Pooh characters are beautifully used to illustrate helpful philosophical ideas, that should have you laughing along and wondering why on earth you’re working so hard!

Belonging Book

Genre: Spiritual, Dreams, Memoir

6) Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home

by Toko-pa Turner

This book explores what it means to find ourselves—and belong—from the author’s unique perspective. She weaves in Sufism and Jungian dream analysis, as she shares her perspective on life, self, belonging through telling her own story and challenges.

Toko-pa’s heart is evident throughout as she encourages the rebels, misfits and black sheep of this world to learn to love—and be—who they are, without apology.


And lastly, a self-help read if you’re looking for something more serious:
The Happiness Trap Book

Genre: Psychology, Personal Growth

7) The Happiness Trap

by (Dr.) Russ Harris

I have the first edition and apparently the second edition has 50% more material. I assume this is a good thing 😉

This book is a great explanation of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) by an ACT Trainer, physician turned therapist and coach.

It has many practical tools and exercises, teaches us the 4 walls of the happiness trap, the 6 core principles: Defusion, Expansion, Connection, the Observing Self, Values and Committed Action and much more.

I love the focus on feeling all of our feelings (this is something so important that I still occasionally struggle with). I love that we both take action and allow what is. That we live our values (so important to be content with ourselves and our lives) and learn to see ourselves (compassionately) from the outside in.

An extremely practical self-help book with tools and new ideas to help you find inner peace and contentment.

And if you haven’t read this yet (from last year’s summer reads), I thoroughly recommend:
Book Circe by Madeline Miller

Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy

8) Circe

by Madeline Miller

This is a feminist re-telling of a Greek myth, and a powerful story of living your values and becoming yourself.

Circe is a nymph (goddess), daughter of Helios god of the sun. But she is not beautiful and bewitching like the other nymphs and she dislikes the disdainful, uncaring and pleasure-seeking gods who toy with mortals—and each other. Drawn to mortals, and after ‘accidentally’ turning a fellow nymph into monster, she is banished and begins to discover who she truly is, find her strength, love and accept herself and ultimately find the power to choose her own life.

Madeline’s prose is so simple yet evocative—a truly beautiful read. One of my Top 10 books of all time, and the only book I have read twice within a year!

Get the Summer 2023 Reads on

Wrap-upFierce Kindness Logo

So, what books are you reading? Which books on this list have you read or inspire you?

Share your book thoughts & summer read recommendations in the comments below!

Liked these Summer Read Recommendations? You may also like:

Change the world. Start with you!



  1. Ryan

    Thank you for this list. Fantasy fiction is one of my favorite genres, so it was nice to see an author who has been recommended to me before, but haven’t started yet.
    Try Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series. It has (in my opinion) one of the strongest female lead characters in it. Then you have V. E. Schwab’s A darker shade of magic that has another strong female lead that is well written.
    Also, Terry Pratchett’s discworld series has several strong women, aside from the very strongest witch characters, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and a few others. Try Tiffany Aching while you’re on this entire series. You will not be disappointed.

    • Emma-Louise Elsey

      Hi Ryan,
      If you like fantasy fiction I think you’ll find Brandon Sanderson a great new addition. I love his Rhythm of War Series (still in progress) and his Mistborn series. Skyward is his YA stuff!
      And thank-you so much for your suggestions – I’m always (very) excited to have new authors to try.
      And being from the UK orginally I am very familiar with Terry Pratchett…
      Warmly with thanks, Emma-Louise


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.