The 9 Best Books to Read this Summer

Posted on 06.24.2015

I LOVE lists. Especially lists about books. But in the summer, it can be a pretty mixed bag. What is a “beach read” anyway? And who’s to say that your beach read is going to be the same as mine? As far as I can tell, beach reads can be anything from “ohmygod I can’t put this down” to flippant, easy reading. Well, my ideal beach reads fall somewhere on this spectrum, maybe, but I’m also primarily interested in good writing, and I think others are too. So, because there are about nine weeks of summer left, here are my recommendations for nine books you don’t want to miss out on reading this summer.

stationelevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – Okay, maybe if you’re traveling anywhere by plane to get to said beach this isn’t the best beach read, but I effing love this book. You. Can’t. Put. It. Down. There is sickness, death, love, survival, gossip magazines, paparazzi, graphic novels, Hollywood. I mean, this thing has it all. Do it.

hausfrauHausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum – Not for the faint of heart. This novel is devastating from start to finish. But it is SO GOOD. I’ve never felt so frustrated, yet at the same time so empathetic toward a character. Even now I feel desperately sad for Anna, and it has been over a month since I finished this thing.

AmericanahAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Every summer reading list needs a good love story. And since I read this book when it came out in 2014 I’ve been saying it is the best love story of our generation. Plus, it is just whip smart and funny and cutting and important and all of the things you want out of a good book.

allthebrightplacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Once you get past the way too coincidental way Violet and Finch, our two characters, meet, this book grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. It is heartbreaking, intense, lovely, complicated, and reaches depths in both story and character development not often seen in YA. This book shows that teenagers are just as messy and complex in both thinking and emotion as adults. Plus, it’s a killer love story. You won’t put it down.

2amatthecatspajamas2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino – This book is FUNNY. And who doesn’t love laughing on a beach? I will say that I think that the ending takes a bit of a misstep, and perhaps that is why this book wasn’t on like every bestseller list out there when it came out, but I think the story, and Madeline the protagonist, make it worth it.

skippydiesSkippy Dies by Paul Murray – Okay, two funny ones in a row. How isn’t this book on like every best of list out there? The world of this book is so vast, and all of the characters so vivid, that I didn’t want to leave it. But, as with most funny things, on one page you’ll be laughing out loud, and by the next page something awful will have happened and you’re devastated. In other words, it is complicated and real and brilliant.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Okay, I’m not sure this is the best mystery/thriller I’ve ever read, but there was something about it that stuck with me. It has a ton of hype already, so on the off chance that this isn’t in your beach bag already, go get yourself a copy. It’s fun and a little creepy and will keep you guessing for a while.

eleanorandparkEleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – For the three people out there who haven’t read this book, do it. You’ll fall in love with these two, and while I think some of the secondary relationships in the book are a bit simplistic, the main one between Eleanor and Park won’t disappoint.

biggirlsmallBig Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin – Did I mention I like funny books? Dudes, this book is FUNNY. It is also gut wrenching and devastating and maddening and will make you hate humanity for a while, but that is part of what makes it so vivid and real and true. Do yourself a favor. Read it.