Summer Reading (There won't be a test, we promise)
Looking for some suggestions as you fill your beach bag for the summer? We've got some!
Long day sunny days. Backyard barbeques. Trips to the local ice cream place. Vacations—and reading on the beach with your toes in the sand and the surf in your ears. Oh yes. It’s that time of year again!
While for some the words summer reading might conjure dread and the memory of dragging yourself through Great Expectations or Beowulf, for me they bring giddy excitement. Somehow, in the summer, I seem to have more time for leisure reading than I do in other seasons, or I just feel less guilty indulging my reading habit on those long afternoons in the hammock in the yard than I do at other times. The to-do list is just as long, but I am better at letting it go.
If you’re looking for some great books to get lost in the summer, look no further! Here are some of my top picks. They aren’t necessarily new titles, just things I’ve read recently and recommend. I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them, and please share your own recommendations in the comments so I can fill my own beach bag!
(Most of the links below go to the online bookstore of our favorite local bookseller, Root & Press, through the platform bookshop.org. We’re not getting any kickbacks—we just like supporting indy bookstores.)
Hot off the best-seller lists:
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai. I absolutely loved Makkai’s last book (The Great Believers), so I was very excited to dive into her latest, which tackles issues are the #MeToo movement as well as our culture’s obsession with true crime podcasts. Throw in systemic racism and 90s nostalgia and you’ve got the makings of a literary page-turner.
The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz. A sci-fi/romance told mostly through email exchanges, this fun read includes alternate dimensions and the Mandela Effect and may be the best book I’ve read so far this year.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. With a title taken from a famous soliloquy from Macbeth, I couldn’t resist this book (which has absolutely no other connection to Macbeth at all that I could discern). It starts with 90s nostalgia and takes us up to the present day as we follow the main characters and their complex relationships across the decades.
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. With a loveable cast of characters up against improbable odds, this book absolutely stole my heart. I couldn’t put it down.
Newish Titles You Might Have Missed:
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys. Tackling the fall of the communist dictatorship in Romania, this book kept me guessing and kept me up late at night. It’s technically YA, but don’t let that deter you if you aren’t usually a YA fan, as it definitely crosses over into general fiction territory.
Normal People and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. The TV adaptations were good, but the books, the books, the books! So good. These intimate portraits of relationships are so compelling, and the sun-drenched Mediterranean getaways the characters take in each (while only small subplots) make them feel like perfect beach reads.
Olive, Again and Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. These short story collections are so gorgeous. Strout is a brilliant master of the short story. I highly recommend for anyone who can’t quite commit to a novel but still wants a great read.
A Series You Can Spend the Summer With:
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. The series starts with a novel of the same name and continues for more than twenty volumes, and if you haven’t tried these, let me assure you, they are not what you expect. Set in Botswana, this series is about good people trying to do good things for their rapidly changing African community. Post-colonial strife and the AIDS epidemic provide a backdrop, but not a focus, as our fearless private investigator—Botswana’s first and only female detective—helps her clients. The riddles she must solve are secondary to the relationships between the characters. I find these to be delightful, feel-good reads.
And of course, you can always enjoy Christmas in July with my winter novellas, Inn Love by Christmas and The Christmas Bargain, indulge in some romance with The Love Game, or take a little Southwest vacation with Las Vegas for Valentine’s Day. Check out my books here. And don’t forget Stephanie Monahan and Diane Mulligan, the Adele duo, have some great beach reads under their own names, too!
Tell me—what are you reading this summer? Have you read any of my picks? If yes, what did you think? Tell me in the comments, and happy reading!
Spreading a little joy is part of Adele’s mission. So if you’re like us—afraid to read the news to see what fresh hell the day has brought—we invite you to skip the doom scrolling and settle in with one of our stories. Because you know there’s gonna be a happy ending. And if you enjoy our books, please take a moment to leave a rating or review on Amazon. It really helps us out!