Let’s face it, we have big expectations for the summer months. We shed layers of clothing for longer hours of daylight, exchange hot toddies for margaritas, and leave our couches for the great outdoors. Plan your next adventures with these novels—whether the destination is a flight away or hidden in your own hometown.
Plan Your Summer Activities with These 15 Fabulous Books
Staying local? Spend time getting to know the neighbors—or hiding things from them.
If I’ve learned anything from reading thrillers or watching movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer, it’s that the past will always come back to haunt you. This rings true in THE NEIGHBORS, where a 20-year-old secret connects two families living across the street from one another.
There’s peace to be found in a day at the vineyard, especially if you’re with the right company. Visit a winery or set up your own tasting in a backyard or park. Add cheese and jazz and Spanish family drama for some real good vibes.
Travel to Mexico, Cuba, and Spain during the 1860s with THE VINEYARD. The novel follows a man down on his luck, who hopes to find solace and renewed wealth as he fixes up a promising vineyard. An atmospheric family story scarred by gambling, tragedy, and questions of fate, these memorable characters will have you questioning their toughest decisions, considering their motivations, and likely rooting for them all the same.
They say love is a canoe. Don’t believe me? Take your family and friends into the wilderness and have them row down a stream together. Then we’ll talk.
I’ve always loved books centered around books. Ben Schrank’s novel LOVE IS A CANOE is a captivating trek through the perils of life as a fictional bestselling self-help author prepares to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the novel that put him on the map, MARRIAGE IS A CANOE. Only his editor has some radical ideas for promotion. . .
Take it easy and fill your hours in the shade with a book—or stock up on new reads for upcoming vacations. I’m sure there’s a wise bookseller or two in your local bookstore to help you choose.
I read THE BOOKSELLER when it was first published in 2015, and I still think about it often. In one life, Kitty runs a bookshop with her best friend; in another, she’s married with children. The dueling years and perspectives are so vividly told and contradictory in their fates that attempting to reconcile the two is an immersive experience like no other. Which life is real, and why is she caught between both?
Is the heat stifling your will to move? Consider kicking it by the shore—maybe there’s a beach house for rent.
Who doesn’t want a beautiful beach house of their own, even if it has to be rented out during the best beach weather of the year? In BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT, two women’s lives overlap in unexpected ways when renter and owner end up cohabiting after a series of unforeseen circumstances. In other words, owner desperately needs to return to her idyllic beach house, and renter refuses to get out.
There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist. Sure, you know the area where you live, but are you familiar with absolutely everything it has to offer? Take another good look at your surroundings and experience a new restaurant, activity, patch of nature, event, or whatever your heart desires.
Ironies run amok in THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, which follows a grief-stricken travel writer who despises travel and instability, and his accidental love interest in the form of a dog trainer. By the end of the first chapter we’re sitting in a car with a man who has suffered two losses and yet, it’s the inexplicably compelling way he sees the world and his situation that drives us forward with him into his unknown.
Join the ranks of ice-cream makers around the world and whip up your own tasty batches using an ice cream machine or the resourceful plastic bag method. You may not start an ice cream dynasty, but you’ll certainly beat the heat in a sweet and affordable way.
THE ICE-CREAM MAKERS is an international bestseller featuring an Italian family-run ice-cream business. Nothing sweeter than creating frozen treats in Italy, that is until Giovanni decides he'd rather start off on his own path as a poet instead. Of course, he can’t manage to rid himself of his roots entirely, inextricably linked by love for his family.
There’s nothing better than a summer sail, with the wind in your hair and a drink in your hand.
I dare you to look at the cover of THE SUMMER SAIL by Wendy Francis and not want to hop aboard a cruise ship, spending your days lounging on deck with a book, a drink, and a backdrop of endless ocean. If you grab two of your college roommates for a reunion trip to Bermuda, you’ll be living out the plot of this perfect summer novel that will entertain and surprise you.
Watch the sunset from a rooftop or an open field, when the air temperature turns acceptable and life’s busyness seems to settle. Even better if you can catch it after a storm or over a body of water.
THE BRIGHTEST SUN paints such a vivid depiction of the Kenyan landscape, you’ll feel the red sun on your skin as it sets in the distance. The novel seamlessly weaves together the lives of three women from very different backgrounds as they each learn what it means to be a mother.
Anything can happen inside a Paris apartment, especially one that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. This summer, travel somewhere you’ve never been. Bonus points if you make it outside of the country.
What happens when an apartment in the heart of France hasn’t been opened for 70 years? Believe it or not, A PARIS APARTMENT is based on a true story of such an incident. In the novel, a Sotheby’s specialist marvels over the uncovered artifacts and becomes fascinated with a woman in a painting, whose letters and diary are stored nearby.
There’s nothing like a little sweet tea to chase away the hot-summer-day blues. Picnic by a lake or barbeque in a yard with a pool so you can float the afternoon away.
The cover for SWEET TEA AND SYMPATHY speaks volumes, a picture of cold goodness easily swallowed by the pitcher on a scorching day. Sit back with this small-town romance that finds a desperate event-planner newly employed by the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop.
Have yourself a firefly summer by spending a weekend outdoors, watching these insects light up the sky. Roast marshmallows, hike nature trails, and sleep under the stars.
Fireflies first unite five siblings and then later remind them of a tragic event in FIREFLY SUMMER. Filled with secrets and regrets, love and loss, and family bonding in a Cape Cod setting, this emotional novel will have you longing for beach-filled evenings with the people you love.
Let’s not forget that summer is prime wedding season. While you’re people-watching at beer gardens, parks, or some other unconventional venue (let’s say, an elevator), make sure to keep an eye out for your perfect wedding date—or one for a friend.
I’ll bet you’ve never imagined getting stuck in an elevator could end well. Meet Drew and Alexa, who get trapped together and emerge having agreed to a fake one-day relationship in THE WEDDING DATE. Alexa will accompany Drew to his ex’s wedding, and then they’ll go their separate ways. Of course, these kinds of connections can never really end that easily.
Explore a wide, open city. Roam outside of the tourist area, ask locals for advice on what to see and where to eat, and take time to really observe and absorb. You’ll thank yourself later, even if you don’t hit every single stop on your To Do list.
OPEN CITY by Teju Cole is more than one Nigerian immigrant’s reflection on his life and his place in the world. The people Julius meets and the observations he makes as he walks familiar and unfamiliar Manhattan streets culminates in a beautiful mix of appreciation for being present and aware and for the freedom of introspection and discovery.
In this haunting and powerful novel, Julius, a young Nigerian doctor, walks the streets of Manhattan between shifts, reflecting on his present, his past, his relationships, and the choices he has made that have led him to Morningside Heights. Along the way, he meets people from different cultures and classes who help him understand the deepest parts of his own soul.
Indecisive? Don’t fret, because summer is the perfect time to choose your own adventure. Go out there and get a piece of the world. It doesn’t need to be big, but it’ll be yours.
If you aren’t familiar with Andrew Wyeth’s painting, “Christina’s World,” take a good look at it before picking up A PIECE OF THE WORLD. But don’t spend too much time imagining the circumstances and emotions behind the artwork because this is the subject of Christina Baker Kline’s novel. Follow the protagonist as she struggles through illness, handles complex family relationships, and navigates a coastal town setting before ultimately becoming Wyeth’s muse for an iconic portrait.