This summer, my TBR is stacked to the brim with sandy escapes, summer mysteries, and heartfelt stories to enjoy by the ocean. With a summer of reading ahead, I’ve rounded up a list of beachy book club picks I’ll be discussing with my literary friends. And if the bright weather persists, I may just be taking my book club discussion to the beach! If any of these picks pique your interests, join the Book Club Favorites group and hop into our conversations. Happy summer reading, book-clubbers.
Growing up in the coastal Atlantic City in 1934, Florence developed a fondness for swimming. Her ultimate goal: to swim the English Channel. Florence is set to train for this mission in France on this particular summer while her sister Fannie is nearing the birth of her third child, after the tragic loss of her second. The commotion among the Adler family kicks off an unusual summer, and then, tragedy strikes as Florence suffers an unimaginable accident. Her mother makes the authoritative decision to keep this a secret from Fannie, to spare her the anguish while pregnant. But as the months pass and the mourning becomes unbearable, the concealment starts to unravel.
Start your book club off with this video from the author:
“The perfect summer read” (USA TODAY) begins with a shocking tragedy that results in three generations of the Adler family grappling with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets over the course of one summer.
*A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice * One of USA TODAY’s “Best Books of 2020” * One of Good Morning America’s “25 Novels You'll Want to Read This Summer” * One of Parade’s “26 Best Books to Read This Summer”
Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.
Now, Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.
Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.
When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.
“Readers of Emma Straub and Curtis Sittenfeld will devour this richly drawn debut family saga” (Library Journal) that’s based on a true story and is a breathtaking portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.
Amy Ashton, a recluse and an artist, is keen on hoarding. Beautiful objects that spark her eye find a way into her home some way or another. To her, objects bring more joy than human interactions—which is likely why her collection has spiraled out of control. Things take an interesting turn for Amy when a new family moves next door, including two young boys, one of whom has a collection of his own. With the help of this little boy, her nosy neighbors, and a few other quirky characters, Amy begins to question why she was ever so closed off in the first place. As life begins to open up for Amy, she realizes that sometimes it’s okay to let things go.
For fans of The Keeper of Lost Things and Evvie Drake Starts Over comes a funny and tender debut about a reclusive artist whose collection has gotten out of control—but whose unexpected friendship with a pair of new neighbors might be just what she needs to start over.
Amy Ashton once dreamed of becoming an artist—of creating beautiful objects. But now she simply collects them. Aquamarine bottles, bright yellow crockery, deep Tuscan red pots (and the odd slow-cooker) take up every available inch of space in her house. Having suffered a terrible tragedy—one she staunchly refuses to let herself think about, thank you very much—she’s decided that it’s easier to love things than people. Things are safe. Things will never leave you.
But when a new family moves in next door with two young boys, one of whom has a collection of his own, Amy’s carefully managed life starts to unravel, prompting her to question why she began to close herself off in the first place. As Amy embarks on a journey back into her past, she has to contend with nosy neighbors, a meddlesome government worker, the inept police, and a little boy whose love of bulldozers might just let Amy open up her heart—and her home—again.
Quirky and charming, big-hearted and moving, The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton proves that it’s never too late to let go of the things that don’t matter...and welcome the people who do.
In this gripping, edge-of-your-seat mystery, Hannah Hall’s new husband, Owen, disappears, leaving her with his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, and a note reading, “Protect her.” Hannah understandably panics, and incessantly calls Owen, but receives no answers. When the FBI arrests Owen’s boss and federal agents arrive at Hannah’s home unannounced, it becomes abundantly clear that Owen is not the man she thought he was. As Hannah and Bailey set out to uncover truths, an evocative family drama unfolds. This riveting novel and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick is the perfect read to slide into your beach bag.
From internationally bestselling author Laura Dave comes a riveting new suspense novel about a woman’s search for the truth about her husband’s disappearance—no matter the cost.
We all have stories we never tell.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.
As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.
Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.
With its breakneck pacing, dazzling plot twists, and unforgettable characters, The Last Thing He Told Me is bestselling author Laura Dave’s finest novel yet, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn. This propulsive thriller with a heart is for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes.
Fifteen-year-old Miriam is the daughter of one of the South’s most famous Baptist preachers. Every summer, her family joins her father on his journey through the South while he holds massive healing services. This summer, Reverend Horton’s revival season does not go as planned, and Miriam witnesses a shocking act that puts her father’s powers into question. As Miriam reassesses her faith and her shaken trust in her father, she realizes that she also might have the power to heal—despite her church’s insistent belief that women cannot hold this power. Miriam grapples with her faith, family, and emerging ability to save others throughout this coming-of-age story.
The daughter of one of the South’s most famous Baptist preachers discovers a shocking secret about her father that puts her at odds with both her faith and her family in this “tender and wise” (Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth) debut novel.
Every summer, fifteen-year-old Miriam Horton and her family pack themselves tight in their old minivan and travel through small southern towns for revival season: the time when Miriam’s father—one of the South’s most famous preachers—holds massive healing services for people desperate to be cured of ailments and disease.This summer, the revival season doesn’t go as planned, and after one service in which Reverend Horton’s healing powers are tested like never before, Miriam witnesses a shocking act of violence that shakes her belief in her father—and in her faith.
When the Hortons return home, Miriam’s confusion only grows as she discovers she might have the power to heal—even though her father and the church have always made it clear that such power is denied to women. Over the course of the next year, Miriam must decide between her faith, her family, and her newfound power that might be able to save others, but, if discovered by her father, could destroy Miriam.
Celebrating both feminism and faith, Revival Season is a story of spiritual awakening and disillusionment in a Southern, black, Evangelical community. Monica West’s transporting coming-of-age novel explores complicated family and what it means to live among the community of the faithful.
If your club chats up a storm over memoirs and captivating nonfiction picks, GROUP is the perfect summer read for you all. Christie Tate is the top of her law school class with a successful life trajectory in motion—but beneath it all she struggles with an eating disorder and severe intimacy issues, leaving her feeling entirely alone. Through the strange and terrifying mental counseling of “group therapy,” Christie is forced to lay out all her traumas to a group of complete strangers. Guided by brilliant, brash, but soothing Dr. Rosen, Christie is instructed to face her issues head on in the most obscure ways. If nothing else, this memoir will teach you that you’re never alone and things will eventually fall into place—that putting the work into your own mental health is essential to living your fullest life.
A REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK * NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The refreshingly original and “startlingly hopeful” (Lisa Taddeo) debut memoir of an over-achieving young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to group therapy and gets psychologically and emotionally naked in a room of six complete strangers—and finds human connection, and herself.
Christie Tate had just been named the top student in her law school class and finally had her eating disorder under control. Why then was she driving through Chicago fantasizing about her own death? Why was she envisioning putting an end to the isolation and sadness that still plagued her despite her achievements?
Enter Dr. Rosen, a therapist who calmly assures her that if she joins one of his psychotherapy groups, he can transform her life. All she has to do is show up and be honest. About everything—her eating habits, childhood, sexual history, etc. Christie is skeptical, insisting that that she is defective, beyond cure. But Dr. Rosen issues a nine-word prescription that will change everything: “You don’t need a cure. You need a witness.”
So begins her entry into the strange, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing world of group therapy. Christie is initially put off by Dr. Rosen’s outlandish directives, but as her defenses break down and she comes to trust Dr. Rosen and to depend on the sessions and the prescribed nightly phone calls with various group members, she begins to understand what it means to connect.
“Often hilarious, and ultimately very touching” (People), Group is “a wild ride” (The Boston Globe), and with Christie as our guide, we are given a front row seat to the daring, exhilarating, painful, and hilarious journey that is group therapy—an under-explored process that breaks you down, and then reassembles you so that all the pieces finally fit.
Book two in Signe Pike’s Lost Queen Series continues with more of Languoreth’s outlandish and heroic adventures. This queen of sixth-century Scotland claims her throne as war looms. After one of the bloodiest battles in early medieval Scottish history, its survivors are subjected to the wild lands of Scotland. Her brother, Lailoken, and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while her daughter, nine-year-old Angharad, must summon all Lailoken has taught her to follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts. In the wake of this battle, old political alliances also begin to come apart. Packed with rivalry, magic, and historic allure, THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM is a must-read with your club.
From the author of The Lost Queen, hailed as “Outlander meets Camelot” (Kirsty Logan, the author of The Gloaming) and “The Mists of Avalon for a new generation” (Linnea Hartsuyker, the author of The Golden Wolf), a “rich, immersive” (Kirkus Reviews) new novel in which a forgotten queen of 6th-century Scotland claims her throne as war looms and her family is scattered to the winds.
AD 573. Imprisoned in her chamber, Languoreth awaits news in torment. Her husband and son have ridden off to war against her brother, Lailoken. She doesn’t yet know that her young daughter, Angharad, who was training with Lailoken to become a Wisdom Keeper, has been lost in the chaos. As one of the bloodiest battles of early medieval Scottish history abandons its survivors to the wilds of Scotland, Lailoken and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while nine-year-old Angharad must summon all Lailoken has taught her to follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts.
In the aftermath of the battle, old political alliances unravel, opening the way for the ambitious adherents of the new religion: Christianity. Lailoken is half-mad with battle sickness, and Languoreth must hide her allegiance to the Old Way to survive her marriage to the next Christian king of Strathclyde. Worst yet, the new King of the Angles is bent on expanding his kingdom at any cost. Now the exiled Lailoken, with the help of a young warrior named Artur, may be the only man who can bring the warring groups together to defeat the encroaching Angles. But to do so, he must claim the role that will forever transform him. He must become the man known to history as “Myrddin.”
“Intrigue, rivalry, and magic among the mists of old Britain—The Forgotten Kingdom is an enchantment of a read” (Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network).
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