As a child who spent hours with my nose in a book, I felt a sense of adventure at the mention of summer reading. School was on pause and I had the freedom to meander the public library picking and choosing, limited only by how many books I could check out.
As an adult my job isn’t on hiatus and responsibilities don’t stop just because the temperatures rise, but as the daylight hours seem to last forever I still yearn for a summer journey in a book.
So, whether you’re searching for an escape from the daily grind, leaving for a much-needed vacation or just enjoying the warm weather in your own backyard, here are 10 reads that can transport you anywhere your heart desires this summer.
Salty family drama
“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Riva siblings have surfing in their veins with a glamorous family history to boot. With a Malibu setting in the 1980s, this family drama delivers a salty breeze with a feeling of nostalgia. With the story spanning only 24 hours, this clan throws a beach party at the family mansion only to have it all go up in flames – literally. The theatrics leading up to the fire are a fast-paced ride much like catching the perfect wave.
“The Guncle” by Steven Rowley
Gay Uncle Patrick – or GUP, as his niece and nephew lovingly refer to him – is holding onto a Hollywood lifestyle in Palm Springs after his sitcom-star career has taken a dive. Tragedy hits when Patrick’s sister dies, and he suddenly realizes his life is about to take a turn when he takes temporary custody of his 6- and 9-year-old niece and nephew. With a mix of humor, grief and family bonding, the pages will continue to warm your heart just like the sunny setting.
“The Identicals” by Elin Hilderbrand
What’s better than being transported to an island? Being transported to two islands of course. Identical twin sisters have been living separately for years: one on Nantucket and one on Martha’s Vineyard. Only separated by a short ferry ride, they finally put their sibling rivalry aside when a family crisis forces them to come together. With enough drama for a reality TV show, these sisters will keep you entertained well into those long summer days.
“Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson
Immerse yourself in a story of heritage that begins in the Caribbean and eventually journeys to California within the pages of “Black Cake.” When Eleanor Bennett dies, she leaves a voice recording full of history and a traditional black cake behind for her children, Benny and Byron. As the two of them try to decipher what all this means, they start to learn there was much more to their mother than meets the eye. If you’re daydreaming of a globe-trotting vacation but can only manage a staycation this summer, Wilkerson’s novel will serve up exactly what you need.
by Christina Lauren
For fans of the “stuck together” and “enemies to lovers” romcom tropes, this one is hilarious and heartwarming all in one. After Olive’s sister gets married and the reception ends in food poisoning peril for almost everyone (including the newlyweds), the non-refundable Hawaiian honeymoon is up for grabs. Somehow Olive ends up with the groomsman – who also happens to be her sworn enemy Ethan – on a tropical trip destined for disaster. As you laugh your way through the comical chronicles of their vacation shenanigans, you’ll feel like you’re sitting poolside watching it all unfold.
“Dial A for Aunties” by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Packed full of laugh-out-loud moments with an island resort setting, this one dials up some major summer fun. Meddelin Chan has four meddling aunts that jump at the chance to help her avoid disaster after she accidentally murders a blind date. Once this Chinese-Indonesian family sets their minds to something, nothing gets in their way – even when they have to cater a huge wedding off the coast of California. When the corpse accidentally ends up in a catering cooler and an old flame happens to attend the wedding, Meddelin is starting to feel the heat. Loaded with hysterical high jinks, this one is a refreshing splash of slapstick fun.
“Beach Read” by Emily Henry
Side-by-side beach houses are the temporary homes for two authors who are struggling through writer’s block with their next novels. It may be obvious where this summer romcom is going, but Gus and January aren’t your typical friendly neighbors. She’s full of hope and he’s the resident curmudgeon. As they challenge each other to swap writing genres, things get interesting and the beach isn’t the only thing they end up sharing. If an “opposites attract” trope is your idea of paradise, then “Beach Read” will definitely float your boat.
“The Summer of Broken Rules” by K.L. Walther
Every time you open this YA (young adult) book set in Martha’s Vineyard, it will transport you to times of simpler summers spent in charming bungalows with fireflies lighting up the balmy nights. Meredith’s family comes together for her cousin’s wedding in what feels more like a raucous family reunion with games of assassin and all-day beach outings. Dunked in young love, small-town feels and a touch of family drama, this one is like a mini vacation on every page.
“An Unwanted Guest”
by Shari Lapena
If you need to cool off during those dog days of summer, imagine retreating to a snowy mountain lodge among the woods in the middle of the Catskills. A resort complete with cozy fireplaces, old-style charm and its own wine cellar, it seems like the perfect place to spend a weekend away – until a blizzard traps the guests and staff, stranding them in the remote inn. The electricity goes out, and one by one the guests turn up dead. What was supposed to be a wintry getaway for all turns into a game of survival sure to give you chills that will beat the heat.
by Sarah Pearse
Care to venture to the Swiss Alps when the humidity is starting to stifle your love for these hot months? Elin, an overworked detective, is invited to celebrate her brother’s recent engagement at a five-star hotel – that used to be an abandoned sanatorium. (Still want to take the trip?) Even with her hesitations, she realizes she can’t say no. As a storm threatens to close off the resort set high up in the mountains, guests start to panic. Once her brother’s fiancée goes missing, Elin is forced to switch from vacation mode to work mode in order to figure out what’s going on in this icy thriller that may cool you down more than a dip in the pool.