As a bookseller, I see countless readers come into the store searching for a book that’ll take them on their next adventure. They want their spirits to be lifted and feel linked to the characters and setting. They may scour BookTok and Instagram for recommendations, but feel overwhelmed at all the options. Books that have a summer vibe can make your day in the sun even better. This list spotlights the 14 best books to read this summer.
1. The Unhoneymooners, by Christina Lauren
If you’re looking for a light read set in a tropical destination, then look no further. I adored this book and laughed out loud while reading it, which is rare for me.
After food poisoning strikes the entire wedding party, maid-of-honor Olive and best man Ethan are the only ones unaffected. Rather than let an all-expenses-paid honeymoon to Hawaii go to waste, the two lifelong nemeses agree to go together and enjoy a vacation apart. When a white lie brings them closer, however, they begin to realize that there’s a thin line between hate and love.
Olive’s antics and awkwardness are hilarious and relatable, and this book is a delight to read. Get your copy here.
2. Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt
This unique story will wriggle its way into your heart! Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus, narrates this mystery novel and has a special relationship with the nightly aquarium janitor, Tova. Marcellus attempts to uncover what happened to Tova’s son, who disappeared over 30 years ago. You’ll love Marcellus’ curmudgeon attitude as well as his snark. Start reading this story here.
3. Book Lovers, by Emily Henry
This recent release is flying off shelves, even being dubbed as Henry’s best work yet. The banter between Nora and Charlie will grab your attention and make you smile, and the sister relationship woven throughout the story will warm your heart. Henry somehow encapsulates all of these complex relationships and even includes a picturesque small town and a nod to the literary world all in one book. Get your copy of this beloved book here.
4. The People We Keep, by Allison Larkin
This coming-of-age story follows April as she tries to expand her horizons. After a fight with her father, April leaves home when she’s 16 and tries to survive on her own. The book follows April over three years as she travels up the East Coast, and she realizes that she’s most at home when singing in front of a microphone. Though she makes friends, April never stays around for long. As she grows, she realizes that it’s okay to trust people and wrestles with trying to do just that.
This book gets points for a memorable main character and fun music components, and it’ll reaffirm your faith in humanity. Get your copy here.
5. Something Wilder, by Christina Lauren
Hidden treasure, first loves, an adventure romance – these elements that are present in Christina Lauren’s newest book will suck you in. The literary duo’s most recent work is immensely popular, and Leo and Lily are reader favorites! You can order it here.
6. The Layover, by Lacie Waldon
Not only has Waldon set her story in Belize, but she combines her love of writing with her former career as a flight attendant. You’ll dive headfirst into this story, relishing Ava’s trip to an exotic location, and you’ll swoon over her nemesis, former pilot Jack Stone. Watching Ava transform into a lighthearted, bold character who learns who she is and what she wants will remind you to seize the day and not be afraid to embark on new adventures. Grab your copy here.
7. Beach Read, by Emily Henry
This book can easily be a one-sit-read type of story. Augustus and January are as unique as their names. January writes happy rom-coms, a stark contrast to Gus’ realistic, and sometimes depressing, novels. When the two wager a deal to write in the other’s preferred style, they learn more about the other’s past and present, and their walls are slowly torn down.
January’s and Gus’ stories go deeper than your typical romantic comedy, and you’ll appreciate the witty dialogue, the complex characters, and the messy and complicated family issues January and Gus have to work through. To be immersed in their story, get your book here.
8. Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury
This classic takes place in summer 1928, during a season where rocking chairs were occupied and dandelion wine was bottled and drunk.
Douglas Spaulding is a typical 12-year-old boy who craves adventure and believes that summer is magical. He’s shaped by the places and people around him, and Bradbury’s artful writing is enchanting. This book will remind you what it’s like to be a kid and live in a simpler time. It’ll make you slow down and stop to smell – or, rather, taste – the dandelions. Buy your copy here.
9. One Italian Summer, by Rebecca Serle
If you want to travel this summer, but won’t be able to, pick up this book to be transported to the Amalfi coast. One Italian Summer follows Katy after her world is rocked by her mother’s death. In an attempt to reconnect with her mom and find closure amidst her loss, Katy decides to go by herself on their planned mother-daughter trip to Positano, Italy. When she arrives, Katy comes face to face with her mother as a young, vibrant woman in her thirties. Katy has the chance to get to know this version of her mom as she picks up the pieces to her life and has the adventure of a lifetime. Read it here.
10. Shipped, by Angie Hockman
Who doesn’t love the enemies-to-lovers trope? Even better, who doesn’t love a book that’s set on a cruise ship to the Galápagos Islands? Shipped has both, and readers will get a front seat to the relationship that unfurls between Graeme and Henley. You’ll love Henley’s competitive spirit in what is at first a battle between the sexes, and you’ll find her day job on a cruise line fascinating. Pick up your copy here.
11. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid has a knack for crafting diverse and distinct stories, and Malibu Rising is no exception to her rule.
The Rivas are notorious in Malibu, and everyone wants to be a guest at Nina’s end-of-summer party. One night, one party, changes everything, and by the time the sun rises, the Riva house is engulfed in flames. This book is chock-full of surfing, siblings, and secrets, and TJR has done a great job building the family dynamics that are present.
If you love Malibu Rising, one of the characters in it has her own book coming out August 30, 2022! Read Malibu Rising here.
12. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy this book the first time I read it for my required reading in high school. But I gave it another chance and ended up loving it! The key to really liking this book is to look for the deeper themes and symbols in the story. Santiago’s resilience and tenacity, his admiration for the marlin even though he needs to kill it, his overall relationship with nature, and the reclamation of himself all make the story worth your time. Read it here.
13. A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, by Laura Taylor Namey
If you like England, dabble in baking, or you simply appreciate a cute love story, then you’ll enjoy this book. The author describes the food so well, it will feel like you’re right there, sampling England’s finest with Lila. Her character is passionate about what she loves, is authentic and hardworking, and it’s fun to watch her relationship with Orion develop. Order the book here.
14. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
If you haven’t read this book, then you’re missing out. As soon as the novel opens, your heart will go out to Kya, and then you’ll be in awe of her resilient and courageous spirit. Growing up in the marshlands has left Kya secluded and eager for human contact, and she’s drawn to two different, but very alluring guys. When the infamous Chase Andrews is found murdered, fingers automatically point to Kya, the “Marsh Girl.”
Not only does this story have mysterious elements, but it’s also a coming-of-age story about a girl who’s trying to survive and make a place in the world. Owens’ characters are well thought out and expertly delivered. A movie based on the book is coming out July 15, 2022. Get your copy of the book here.
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