Looking for some great summer reads? Whether on the beach, in the mountains or just hanging out at home, there are some great books, new and old that shouldn’t be missed.

We’ve been binging on historical novels, memoirs and biographies about pioneering women, leaders, legends and survivors. Here are five standouts:

grandma_gatewoodGrandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail – by Ben Montgomery (Biography)

In 1955, Emma “Grandma” Gatewood was a 67-year-old woman, whose 11 children had grown up and left home when she decided that she was going to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Mt. Oglethorpe, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine. And so she did. Grandma Gatewood became the first woman to hike the entire trail alone, as well as the first person – man or woman – to walk it twice and three times. If you loved Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, you will love Grandma Gatewood’s Walk. Prepare to be inspired.

remarkable_creaturesRemarkable Creatures: A Novel – by Tracy Chevalier

Recommended by several WYSK readers, Remarkable Creatures is a stunning historical novel about the discoveries of fossils in the 19th century by Mary Anning and her friend and mentor Elizabeth Philpot. The two fossil hunters rocked the world and opened the minds of scientists to the planet’s unimaginable age and the extinction of species, changing the scientific world forever.

AmericanahAmericanah – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Novel)

A powerful story of race and identity. Smart, irreverent, and outspoken, Ifemelu reluctantly left Nigeria for America on a college scholarship. Despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time in her life and launches a provocative, and instantly popular blog in which she explores what she calls Racial Disorder Syndrome. “Americanah is a courageous, world-class novel about independence, integrity, community, and love.”

Maya_Angelou_booksThe Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou

The recent loss of legendary poet and author Maya Angelou has inspired us to revisit the triumphs and tragedies of her life. Dr. Angelou chronicled her remarkable journey and inspired people of every generation and nationality to embrace life with commitment and passion. For the first time, all six of her autobiographies – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, The Heart of a Woman, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, and A Song Flung Up to Heaven – are available in a one-volume edition.

hard_choicesHard Choices – by Hillary Rodham Clinton

In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, Hillary Rodham Clinton expected to return to representing New York in the United States Senate. To her surprise, her former rival for the Democratic Party nomination, newly elected President Barack Obama, asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. This memoir is an account of the crises, choices, and challenges she faced during her four years as America’s 67th Secretary of State, and how those experiences drive her view of the future. Available June 10.