Perhaps it's that extra blast of sunlight or our inherent lax attitude to the season. For whatever reason, it just feels like there's more time to read in the summer. But what to read?
Still filling out your list? Here are 10 books to keep you reading all summer long.
"61 Hours" by Lee Child (Out Now): The 14th Jack Reacher novel finds our former military man in middle-of-nowhere South Dakota, where a showdown is brewing. Of course, Reacher gets involved. Fast-paced and tense, this is ideal summer reading.
"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson (Tuesday): Antisocial genius Lisbeth Salander is fighting for her life in this trilogy-closer of the Swedish series. As vicious and disturbing as thrillers get.
"Anthropology of an American Girl" by Hilary Thayer Hamann (Today): Readers might have found their female Holden Caulfield in Eveline, a 17-year-old trying to survive high school and other indignities in 1970s East Hampton. The book was originally self-published in 2003 and has become something of a cult classic.
"The Passage" by Justin Cronin (June 8): This book's formidable length (784 pages) isn't the only thing that will remind readers of Stephen King. A secret project to create super soldiers turns men into vampirish monsters. The creatures spread the virus to the rest of America, as a small band of survivors tries to find a cure. This book could eat up your whole summer.
"The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno" by Ellen Bryson (June 22): "Water for Elephants" fans should dig this freaks and geeks love story set in P.T. Barnum's American Museum in 1865 New York.
"Go, Mutants!" by Larry Doyle (June 22): The author of "I Love You, Beth Cooper" borrows conventions of 1950s monsters movies to tell a comic tale of mutant high schoolers.
"The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" by David Mitchell (June 29): A historical novel set on an island off the coast of turn-of-the-19th-century Japan. Our titular hero arrives to clean up corruption at the island's trading station and falls in love with a local midwife, but a relationship is forbidden.
"Super Sad True Love Story" by Gary Shteyngart (July 27): Another satire from the "Absurdistan" author, this one a May-December love story set in a dystopian future America, where everyone in New York is illiterate.
"I Curse the River of Time" by Per Petterson (Aug. 3): Norwegian author's follow-up to the acclaimed "Out Stealing Horses" observes the rocky relationship between a recently divorced 37-year-old man and his terminally ill mother. Summer fun!
"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen (Aug. 31): Nine years since "The Corrections," Franzen returns with another socially conscious epic, this one about a couple settling into a troubled St. Paul, Minn., neighborhood.
And here are a few other picks from blockbuster authors
"Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer" by John Grisham (Today): Grisham's foray into YA fiction follows the eponymous 13-year-old as he tries to prove the guilt of a murderer gone free.
"Blockade Billy" by Stephen King (Today): King follows up his juggernaut "Under the Dome" with a novella about baseball and bloody ends.
"The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner" by Stephenie Meyer (June 5): A "Twilight Saga" side story of a character introduced in "Eclipse." Bree's a newly minted vampire who falls in with a bad crowd.
"Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich (June 22): Sixteenth entry in the Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series.
"Faithful Place" by Tana French (July 13): French's third novel following characters from the Dublin Murder Squad. This one takes a minor character from "The Likeness," and gives him his own mystery.
"Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen (July 27): The author takes on the high-stakes stupidities of celebrity culture. A 22-year-old pop star has a "double" for when she's too drunk to make public appearances. Then the double is mistakenly kidnapped.
"Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins (Aug. 24): Third and final book in the "Hunger Games" trilogy, which you should be reading.
Coming soon in paperback: a softer side of last year's hits
"Zeitoun" by Dave Eggers (June 15): The true story of a Syrian-born, small-business owner who decided to ride out Katrina in New Orleans. After the levies broke, Zeitoun's nightmare began.
"The Strain" by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (June 29): The director of "Pan's Labyrinth" co-wrote this gleefully grotesque vampire epic, the first part of a trilogy.
"Lit" by Mary Karr (June 29): Karr's third memoir, this one chronicling her descent into alcoholism and mental illness.
"Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger (June 29): Niffenegger follows up "Time Traveler's Wife" with a London-set ghost story.
"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins (July 6): The first installment of a trilogy about a not-too-distant future where children are forced to compete in televised fights to the death.
"Under the Dome" by Stephen King (July 6): A paperback copy of King's 1000-pages-plus opus about supernatural goings-on in a small town will be much easier to carry around the beach.
"Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel (Aug. 31): A tumultuous 16th-century Europe as seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, one of Henry VIII's closest advisers.
Journal Star staff picks for prime summer reading
"Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett. I once took "Ulysses" to a swimming pool to be ironic, but I generally enjoy more contemporary reading during the summer.
- Hilary Kindschuh
Anything by John Irving, particularly "A Prayer for Owen Meany" or "The World According to Garp." The novelist has a knack for creating unique characters and compelling stories.
- Jeff Korbelik
"Caught Stealing" by Charlie Huston. After a case of mistaken identity, a slacker bartender finds himself running from mobsters and dirty cops and everyone else for that matter. Absurdly funny and wonderfully violent.
- Micah Mertes
Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is the perfect summer read -- part suspense, part romance, lots of humor and the ultimate must-stop reading brain candy. Start with "One for the Money" and read your way to "Sizzling Sixteen" (June 22 release).
- Erin Andersen
"Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner. A multigenerational saga that threads from the East Coast to uncharted mining territory in the West and in Mexico in the mid- to late-1800s, as told by a grandson looking back on the life of his grandmother. A compelling read that makes the nearly 600 pages fly.
- Patty Beutler
"Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan. Between the lines of this novel, which fictionalizes the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney in the early 1900s, is a look at how women were trapped in traditional roles during this time. A must for Wright enthusiasts.
- Kathryn Cates Moore
Bill Bryson travel books. If your summer plans don't include enough traveling, Bryson's hilarious tales are a fair substitute. His older books with self-explanatory titles ("The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America" and "Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe") share his unique perspective with many, many laughs, and his other books take you to England, Australia or on the Appalachian Trail.
- Kathy Steinauer-Smith
David Sedaris on the front porch. Start with "Naked," and when you get the image of pubic hair on lawn chairs at nudist camps out of your mind, move on to "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim."
- Cindy Lange-Kubick
Anything by Carl Hiaasen. The Floridian's novels are hilarious crime tales with outrageous characters, and even his collected columns are highly entertaining.
- L. Kent Wolgamott
"His Dark Materials" series by Philip Pullman. Most people know of "The Golden Compass," but the final book in the series, "The Amber Spyglass," is an amazing finale to the trilogy.
- Katie Nieland