It’s summer time, which calls for a specific vibe in your reading line up.
This isn’t assigned summer reading, so you deserve to have some fun!
Here’s a mix of books that might suit you, and not in the bathing suit kind of way. (Ok, I had to…)
Really, though; this list does have quite a bit of romance (it is THE summer genre, after all), but there is also a mix of serious and thrillers mixed in with summery atmospheres. Some are older releases, while quite a few are newer. There is a variety here for anyone to explore the genre of fiction in these summer months!
*All synopses come from Goodreads. The Goodreads page for each book is linked after the synopsis.
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Synopsis: “Sally Milz is a sketch writer for ‘The Night Owls,’ the late-night live comedy show that airs each Saturday. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love… But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actor who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women…
Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder whether there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy; it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her…right?” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Synopsis: “They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.
Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.
For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.
When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Young Adult / Romance / LGBTQ / Fantasy
Synopsis: “Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.
No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernwehs what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.
No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm. No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year. A summer that will become legend . . . When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Synopsis: “Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t. They broke up six months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.
Which is how they find themselves sharing the largest bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade… Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show… After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week… in front of those who know you best?” (Find out more here)
Genre: Historical Fiction / Coming-of-Age
Synopsis: “Hi’i is the youngest of the legendary Naupaka dynasty, only daughter of Laka, once the pride of Hilo; granddaughter of Hulali, Hula matriarch on the Big Island. But the Naupka legacy is in jeopardy, buckling under the weight of loaded silences and unexplained absences, most notably the sudden disappearance of Laka when Hi’i was a child. Hi’i dreams of healing the rifts within her family by becoming the next Miss Aloha Hula–and prove herself worthy of carrying on the family dynasty. She demonstrates her devotion to her culture through hula–the beating heart of her people expressed through the movement of her hips and feet.
Yet she has always felt separate from her community, and the harder she tries to prove she belongs–dancing in the halau until her bones ache–the wider the distance seems to grow. Soon, fault lines begin to form, and secrets threaten to erupt. Everyone wants to know, Hi’i most of all: what really happened when her mother disappeared, and why haven’t she and her grandmother spoken since? When a devastating revelation involving Hi’i surfaces, the entire community is faced with a momentous decision that will affect everyone–and determine the course of Hi’i’s future.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Magical Realism
Synopsis: “After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.
Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Synopsis: “Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession… or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails…
Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.
But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all… Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Synopsis: “Hattie Kavanaugh went to work helping clean up restored homes for Kavanaugh & Son Restorations at 18; married the boss’s son at 20; and was only 25 when her husband, Hank, was killed in a motorcycle accident.
Broken hearted, but determined to continue the business of their dreams, she takes the life insurance money, buys a small house in a gentrifying neighborhood, flips it, then puts the money into her next project. But that house is a disaster and a money-loser, which rocks her confidence for years to come. Then, Hattie gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: star in a beach house renovation reality show called The Homewreckers, cast against a male lead who may be a love interest, or may be the ultimate antagonist. It’s a question of who will flip, and who will flop, and will Hattie ever get her happily-ever-after.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Humor
Synopsis: “Twenty-one-year-old Tanner Quimby needs a place to live. Preferably one where she can continue sitting around in sweatpants and playing video games nineteen hours a day. Since she has no credit or money to speak of, her options are limited, so when an opportunity to work as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman falls into her lap, she takes it.
One slip on the rug. That’s all it took for Louise Wilt’s daughter to demand that Louise have a full-time nanny living with her. Never mind that she can still walk fine, finish her daily crossword puzzle, and pour the two fingers of vodka she drinks every afternoon. Bottom line — Louise wants a caretaker even less than Tanner wants to be one.
The two start off their living arrangement happily ignoring each other until Tanner starts to notice things—weird things. Like, why does Louise keep her garden shed locked up tighter than a prison? And why is the local news fixated on the suspect of one of the biggest jewelry heists in American history who looks eerily like Louise? And why does Louise suddenly appear in her room, with a packed bag at 1 a.m. insisting that they leave town immediately?
Thus begins the story of a not-to-be-underestimated elderly woman and an aimless young woman who—if they can outrun the mistakes of their past—might just have the greatest adventure of their lives.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Thriller / Contemporary
Synopsis: “After a rough year at NYU, aspiring writer Lora Ricci is thrilled to land a summer internship at ELLE magazine where she meets Cat Wolff, contributing editor and enigmatic daughter of a clean-energy mogul…
As a friendship emerges between the two women, Lora opens up to Cat about her desperate struggles and lost scholarship. Cat’s solution: Drop out of NYU and become her ghostwriter. Lora agrees and, when the internship ends, she moves into Cat’s suite at the opulent Plaza Hotel. Writing during the day and accompanying Cat to extravagant parties at night, Lora’s life quickly shifts from looming nightmare to dream-come-true. But as Lora is drawn into Cat’s glamorous lifestyle, Cat’s perfect exterior cracks, exposing an illicit, shady world… Composed of diary entries, emails, FBI correspondence, and more, [this] novel… takes readers deep into the codependency and deceit found in a relationship built on power imbalance and lies.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Magical Realism
Synopsis: “In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.
Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods – a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.
When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawaii – with tragic consequences – they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.” (Find out more here)
Synopsis: “Two sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, his younger daughter. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, her older sister, Edith, struggles to make what most people would call a living. So she can’t help wondering what her life would have been like with even a portion of the farm money her sister kept for herself.
With the proceeds from the farm, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: “Drink lots. It’s Blotz.” Where Edith has a heart as big as Minnesota, Helen’s is as rigid as a steel keg. Yet one day, Helen will find she needs some help herself, and she could find a potential savior close to home. . . if it’s not too late.
Meanwhile, Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, grows up knowing that the real world requires a tougher constitution than her grandmother possesses. She earns a shot at learning the IPA business from the ground up–will that change their fortunes forever, and perhaps reunite her splintered family?” (Find out more here)
Genre: Thriller / Mystery / Suspense
Synopsis: “There’s a cottage on a cliff. Gabe and Pippa’s dream home in a sleepy coastal town. But their perfect house hides something sinister. The tall cliffs have become a popular spot for people to end their lives. Night after night Gabe comes to their rescue, literally talking them off the ledge. Until he doesn’t.
When Pippa discovers Gabe knew the victim, the questions spiral…Did the victim jump? Was she pushed?
And would Gabe, the love of Pippa’s life, her soulmate…lie? As the perfect facade of their marriage begins to crack, the deepest and darkest secrets begin to unravel.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Time Travel
Synopsis: “On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it’s her dad: the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Humor / LGBTQ
Synopsis: “Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is honestly a bit out of his league.
So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of ‘Guncle Rules’ ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting—even if temporary—isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Magical Realism
Synopsis: “When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.
But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Mystery
Synopsis: “Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news… Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to by finding the sister who’s been living a lie. After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives. Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Historical Fiction / Feminist
Synopsis: “Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman… But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking… proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Synopsis: “For Samantha Gale, a summer on Martha’s Vineyard at her family’s tiny cottage was supposed to be about resurrecting her career as a chef, until she’s tasked with chaperoning her half-brother, Tyler. The teenage brainiac is spending his summer at the local library in a robotics competition, and there’s no place Sam, who’s dyslexic, likes less than the library. And because the universe hates her, the library’s interim director turns out to be the hot-reader guy whose book she accidentally destroyed on the ferry ride to the island.
Bennett Reynolds is on a quest to find his father, whose identity he’s never known. He’s taken the temporary job on the island to research the summer his mother spent there when she got pregnant with him. Ben tells himself he isn’t interested in a relationship right now. Yet as soon as Sam knocks his book into the ocean, he can’t stop thinking about her.
An irresistible attraction blossoms when Ben inspires Sam to create the cookbook she’s always dreamed about and she jumps all in on helping him find his father, and soon they realize their summer fling may heat up into a happily ever after.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Synopsis: “Belle likes to think herself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth. But when her best friend, Summer, invites her on a glamorous getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend’s yacht, the only sensible answer is yes. Belle hopes the trip will be a much-needed break from her stalled acting career and uniquely humiliating waitressing job, but once she’s aboard the luxurious Lion’s Den, it soon becomes clear this jet-setting holiday is not as advertised.
Belle’s dream vacation quickly devolves into a nightmare as she and the handful of other girls Summer invited are treated more like prisoners than guests by their controlling host-and in one terrifying moment, Belle comes to see Summer for who she truly is: a vicious gold digger who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Belle realizes she’s going to have to keep her wits about her — and her own big secret closely hidden — if she wants to make it off the yacht alive.” (Find out more here)
Synopsis: “A mother and daughter unpack a lifetime’s secrets while on vacation in Paris.
Every daughter has her own distinctive voice, her inimitable style, and her secrets.
Laurie Ormson is an artist, a collector of experiences. She travels the world with a worn beige duffel bag.
Every mother has her own distinctive voice, her inimitable style, and her secrets.
Laurie’s mother is the famous ‘Dr. Liz.’ An elegant perfectionist. She travels the world with a matched set of suitcases.
When Laurie invites her mother on a trip to Paris and Norway, she sees an unexpected sparkle in her mother’s eyes…” (Find out more here)
Genre: Humor / Contemporary / Mystery
Synopsis: “Jesse Braddock is trapped in a tiny cabin deep in the Everglades with her infant daughter and her ex-boyfriend, a wannabe reality TV star who turned out to be a lot prettier on the outside than on the inside. Broke and desperate for a way out, Jesse stumbles across a long-lost treasure, which could solve all her problems—if she can figure out how to keep it. The problem is, some very bad men are also looking for the treasure, and they know Jesse has it.
Meanwhile, Ken Bortle of Bortle Brothers Bait and Beer has hatched a scheme to lure tourists to his failing store by making viral videos of the “Everglades Melon Monster.” The Monster is in fact an unemployed alcoholic newspaperman named Phil wearing a Dora the Explorer costume head. Incredibly, this plan actually works, inspiring a horde of TikTokers to swarm into the swamp in search of the monster at the same time villains are on the hunt for Jesse’s treasure. Amid this mayhem, a presidential hopeful arrives in the Everglades to start his campaign. Needless to say, it does not go as planned. In fact, nothing in this story goes as planned. This is, after all, Florida.” (Find out more here)
Genre: Literary Fiction
Synopsis: “Allison Brody is thirty and newly arrived on the east coast after just managing to flee her movie producer boyfriend. She has some money, saved up from years of writing and waitressing, and so she spends it, buying a house on the beach. But then a Category Three hurricane makes landfall and scatters her home up and down the shore, leaving Allison adrift. Should she follow the strange camera man home from the bar and stay in his guest room? Is that a glass vase he smashed on her skull? Can she wipe the blood from her eyes, get in her car and drive to her mother’s? Does she really love the brain surgeon who saved her, or is she just using him for his swimming pool? And is it possible to ever truly heal emotionally without seeking some measure of revenge?” (Find out more here)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Synopsis: “A story of a couple from two very different restaurant families in rustic Minnesota, and the legacy of love and tragedy, of hardship and hope, that unites and divides them
Mariel Prager needs a break. Her husband Ned is having an identity crisis, her spunky, beloved restaurant is bleeding money by the day, and her mother Florence is stubbornly refusing to leave the church where she’s been holed up for more than a week. The Lakeside Supper Club has been in her family for decades, and while Mariel’s grandmother embraced the business, seeing it as a saving grace, Florence never took to it. When Mariel inherited the restaurant, skipping Florence, it created a rift between mother and daughter that never quite healed.
Ned is also an heir—to a chain of home-style diners—and while he doesn’t have a head for business, he knows his family’s chain could provide a better future than his wife’s fading restaurant. In the aftermath of a devastating tragedy, Ned and Mariel lose almost everything they hold dear, and the hard-won victories of each family hang in the balance. With their dreams dashed, can one fractured family find a way to rebuild despite their losses, and will the Lakeside Supper Club be their salvation?” (Find out more here)
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