Summer reading recommendations from Lucy Burdette

sunglasses on top of stack of books

By Anne Riker Garlington

Novelist Roberta Isleib, Ph.D., a 1985 graduate of the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions clinical and health psychology doctoral program, has written 23 books since she started her writing career in the early 2000s. Eight are published under her own name and 15 using the nom de plume Lucy Burdette, in honor of her maternal grandmother, Lucille Burdette, with whom she has fond memories.

Which books or series is her favorite?

“Oh, it is impossible for an author to choose a favorite,” Isleib said, “that’s like asking the mother to point out the favorite child!”

There’s something special about her first mystery series, though.

“The golf lovers’ mystery series will always hold a special place in my heart, since that was my very first experience with writing fiction and I loved writing from the perspective of a neurotic wannabe professional golfer who had too many family issues to perform at the level she should’ve been able to,” Isleib said.

The three books in her second series featured a clinical psychologist in private practice in New Haven, Connecticut.

“I felt like I could really showcase my psychology profession,” she said. “Dr. Butterman’s psychology background was perfect for a mystery, as a psychologist is naturally curious and unafraid to ask questions.”

Her third series takes readers to Key West to follow the adventures of a mystery-solving food critic. The 13th book in the series, “A Clue in the Crumbs,” will come out in August.

“The length of this series has given me the chance to really know the characters in a deeper way and show readers how they are growing and changing, based on their personal lives and interactions with crime,” Isleib said.

When asked where she finds her inspiration, Isleib said, “I am like a magpie when it comes to developing a story, shamelessly stealing whatever I see and hear.”

Psychology and writing books are a natural fit, Isleib said.

“I always tell readers that psychologists are like detectives as we listen to the story a patient tells when they first come in, then gradually, we help them understand their history and find clues to what might be blocking change,” she said. “A detective’s work is very similar: start with an inciting incident, often a murder, and try to understand the background and the characters, and finally, find a solution.”

Although Isleib is no longer a practicing psychologist, “I include wise psychologists in every book and look for inspiration in the latest psychological research and trends,” she said.

Her new book,” The Ingredients of Happiness,” features a new clinical psychology professor at Yale who is vying for tenure while trying to launch her new (unexpected) pop psych book on happiness, though she is not that happy herself.

“Lots of my psychology training was woven into that book, including Dr. Cooper Hunziker’s research which looks suspiciously like my dissertation from UF,” Isleib said.

Isleib shared the following book suggestions for choosing the perfect summer read.

Lucy Burdette with her new book,"The Ingredients of Happiness"
Dr. Roberta Isleib, a.k.a., Lucy Burdette, with her new book

“Summer is a great time for mysteries

  • “Hidden Beneath” by Barbara Ross
  • “A Stolen Child” by Sarah Stewart Taylor
  • “The Diva Delivers on a Promise” by Krista Davis
  • “A Sense for Murder” by Leslie Karst
  • “Murder on Mustang Beach” by Alicia Bessett

“Authors I’ve previously read and loved”

  • “The Daydreams” by Laura Hankin
  • “Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club” by J. Ryan Stradal
  • “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” and “Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zelvin
  • “Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano

“Sometimes I choose books by setting and two favorite places are India and Paris”


  • “The Perfumist of Paris” by Alka Josh
  • “Love Marriage” by Monica Ali


  • “The Paris Bookseller” by Kerri Maher
  • “The Paris Library” by Janet Skeslian
  • “The Paris Assignment” by Rhys Bowen

 Contemporary women’s fiction

  • “The Starfish Sisters” by Barbara O’Neal (Bonus points in my book if the plot includes chefs, restaurants and food.)
  • “Summer Reading” by Jenn McKinlay
  • “A Little Ray of Sunshine” by Kristan Higgins
  • “Wedding Girl” by Stacey Ballis

Nonfiction books in the field of psychology

  • “Emotional Inheritance” by Garit Atlas (exploring how people unconsciously carry family trauma with them)
  • “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottleib (the process of therapy)
  • “We Are the Light” by Matthew Quick (a novel about the survivors of a mass shooting, one of whom is addressing his psychoanalyst over the course of the book)