Even though my kids go back to school in less than a month, I feel like summer is just getting started. The days are still hot and sticky, the idea of cooler weather and fall leaves seems impossible.
So here are eleven books you should read this endless summer. You have plenty of time.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
I listen to a lot of audiobook in the summer. Between afternoon walks, hours on the lawn mower, and working in the garden, I have a lot of time to listen to stuff. People We Meet on Vacation was such a fun way to fill some time. Henry is great at writing dialogue which, I think, can make or break a story, and even though you know this love story will work out in the end (it has to! that’s the way the genre works!), it’s still engaging and interesting. Emily Henry writes good beach reads so she has to be on a summer reading list.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb
I finished this book on the way back from a camping trip and sobbed as we rolled down the highway. At one point, Chris asked if I wanted him to pull over. Why would I tell you to read a book that gutted me in the end? Because you have to meet Kalb’s grandma. You have to learn about her family. You have to listen to her stories. You have to. And in some powerful-yet-inexplicable way, you learn about your own family in the process.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Okay, so I know it says “erotic” in the title, but I assumed it wasn’t literal because it’s followed by “for Punjabi Widows” but I was kinda wrong. This one is a little spicy so if that’s not your thing, go ahead and skip this one. But for everyone still reading, this book about women living in an oppressive culture who find their own footing and change their community is beautiful to read.
The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri
Don’t judge a book by its cover or you’ll assume this one is boring. I picked it for book club a few months ago and someone said it was probably going to be lame because it had some fiction prizes noted on the cover. But they were wrong and this book was really good. Definitely not one I’d normally be drawn to, but Lahiri’s story of two brothers born in Calcutta in the 1960s. Their relationship and family life is, like most peoples, complicated. When obligation and secrets make them unknown to each other, one brother spends the rest of his life wondering who his brother really was and how he still has so much impact on his life. (I listened to the audiobook version of this and it helped with all the names and places; I think I would have struggled a little more with it if I had read it.)
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
So this one is labeled young adult, but it’s definitely something I’d want to read with older teens because there is so much to talk about. Grown is loosely based on the R. Kelly child abuse cases and follows the story of Enchanted Jones as she’s groomed and abused by a hip hop star. This one is hard to read in parts because you can see the danger and abuse, but Enchanted is a naive teenage girl who doesn’t understand what’s happening. Grown is a powerful story about a topic we can’t shy away from because it could literally save young women.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Foley writes modern Agatha Christie books and I’m here for the thrills and mystery. There’s a creepy island, a wedding with lots of strangers, and so many secrets. I read this one in less than 24 hours—it’s a great stay-up-late story for vacation, a long weekend, or a Tuesday night.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
You could probably read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill if you’re really committed and don’t want to leave the couch this weekend. I liked this story of a quirky woman obsessed with books who doesn’t see how her mother’s death has made her lonely and unable to trust people. Of course, a cute guy shows up to help her see the error of her ways. But in the end, she saves herself, which is really the only way. (This one gave me about five other books I wanted to read too; she references so many books and they all sound good. So have your reading list handy while reading this one.)
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Set in 1950’s India, The Henna Artist follows the story of a women who flees her marriage to live on her own in a new city. At a time when women were only as important as the men they were married to, she learns a trade and become self-sufficient while refusing to become attached to a man. Eventually, some people from her past arrive to the remind her of who she is and things start to fall apart. I loved this immersion into Indian culture, food, and clothing. The descriptions are wonderful and vivid. This book comes with a big dose of the travel bug. Just a heads up, there is a storyline that involves babies and loss, so if those are tender spots for you, this is one you might want to skip. (I listened to the audiobook version of this one, and it helped with names and places I would have stumbled over.)
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Hi, this one will make you cry. But it’s so beautiful and well written and lovely that you should read it even though you know it’s gonna break your heart. The Nightingale is set in France during World War II and follows the story of two sisters and their very different, but still heroic responses to German occupation. Hannah is a master storyteller and, while some of her books feel like they’re made to manipulate our emotions, this one feels different.
Evie Drake Starts Over by Lunda Holmes
Evie Drake was loading the car to leave her abusive husband when she gets the call that he’s died in a car wreck. A year later, she’s still playing the grieving spouse while keeping the secret of her unhealthy marriage when Dean, a baseball player who lost his magic, comes back to town. Of course, they fall in love. But—and here’s the best part—the way she handles her pain and secrets to make things right before going forward is why I loved this book. I’ve had enough therapy to no longer enjoy codependent romances where all the problems “suddenly” go away because people are in love and being healthy has ruined a lot of chick lit for me. But this one holds up.
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
I don’t watch reality TV and I’ve never seen the Bachelorette or the Bachelor (I know, *gasp*), but I really liked One to Watch, a book about a plus-size blogger going on a reality dating show. The story is fun, but also addresses body images, the lies we tell ourselves about fat people, and the confusing/icky way we have turned love into an entertaining game. I read this one on vacation this winter and it was a perfect vacation read.
What are you reading right now? Anything I need to add to my list for this endless summer? Lemme know!
DISCLOSURE: Affiliate links used