17 Best Summer Reads

In honor of the “Summer of ’17”, and being halfway through July, we’ve compiled a list of 17 Summer Reads that are perfect for the beach! Whether you’ve got your toes in the sand, or are curled up on a stormy night, these books are the perfect summer recipe. Sweet or dark, they’re all engrossing. Believe us, you won’t be leaving the beach until you’re through with this list. As always, make sure to tell us your favorite summer reads!

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The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian: We had to start off our list with this book, a favorite of both of ours. Meg and I went to the beach together last summer, and both read this in the same week – and adored it. It’s perfect for sitting next to the ocean, laying by the pool, or lounging on the porch. It’s also somewhat based on a true story! It’s romantic, emotional, and tugs at your heartstrings in all the right places.

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins (Editor): What would this list be without this anthology? Perkins put together a wonderful array of stories featuring some of our favorite authors, and you can even check out our story-by-story review here. If you love summer, romance, and short stories, this is the perfect collection for you!

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas: I’m a huge crime buff, and when I picked up this book, I was immediately drawn in by the similarities to the Amanda Knox case. It’s an incredibly engrossing, readable book. It’s a novel built on anticipation, and the ending will throw nearly everyone for a loop – even if you saw it coming. Part psychological thriller, part contemporary, it’s perfect for anyone looking for something a little darker, but still deeply entrenched in a summer vibe.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith: This is the quintessential summer contemporary romance. When two people get stuck in an elevator on a hot NYC night, they find a connection they desperately want to take outside the confines of their predicament. What I loved the most was that it’s not insta-love, it’s insta-connection that wants to become something more, with hard work and time. My only complaint? I wanted the whole thing to take place in the elevator! Either way, it surprised me, and in a very good way.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness: Ness can never disappoint me, and I’ve wanted a novel like this for a long time. Dystopian, fantasy, “chosen one,” novels are great, but haven’t we all thought about what everyone else’s lives must look like? When your heroine burns down that decrepit building, what do the people who work next door to it think? Ness tackles all this and more, focusing on the outsiders with his own personal brand of humor, but still engaging with the sci-fi elements he crafted. It’s a wonderful, lighthearted read.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: I’m sure everyone in the world has recommended this book, but I had to add myself to the ranks. This book is beautifully written, emotional, and just incredibly special. If you haven’t picked it up yet, you’re severely missing out. It’s a wonderful coming of age novel, and focuses on family and miscommunication in previously unheard of ways. It’ll make you laugh, cry, and fall in love within the span of one page. If you’re looking for complexity in an easy to read novel, this is the perfect recipe.

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach: If you’re looking for an easy end-of-the-world novel, this is it. It’s not too deep, but still very philosophical. The cast of characters is diverse, and all represent overlooked aspects of life. It’s enjoyable, fast-paced, and comprehensive. Also, the author ties the novel to music very closely, and even wrote an entire album for it, which is a very special, interactive method of writing I hadn’t seen before. Definitely pushes the boundaries a bit on what “classic contemporary” is.

The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter) by Marissa Meyer: I devoured the first three books in this series on the beach over the span of one week. I seriously could not put them down. They’re all retellings of classic fairytales in a sci-fi, highly technologized world. As the series builds on itself, characters begin to interact and build in complexity too. Once the characters latch on to your heart, you’ll only want more and more from them, making the series as a whole highly engrossing. Seriously, they just get better and better. I know this series is already well loved and recommended, but if you haven’t checked it out yet, the beach is the best place to do so.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver: Meg read this on the beach this summer, I last summer. Lauren Oliver’s writing is addictive, but this is the first book of hers that could really be described as a rollercoaster. It was engaging, surprising, and fast-paced. You’ll be flipping through it, desperately trying to find out all its secrets, in no time at all. Kidnapping, carnivals, and romance, this book truly offers it all on the thriller/contemporary sphere.

Survive the Night by Danielle Vega: I’m no stranger to young adult horror novels, and am a huge fan of Vega’s work. While I didn’t love this as much as I wanted to, I think I simply went in with the wrong expectations, and that it would be perfect for the right crowd. If you’re a fan of parties, monsters and atmospheric, suspenseful books, this is perfect for you. Vega crafts her tone perfectly, and your heart will be in your throat every time the characters hear a noise. For fans of summer horror, this is perfect. Beware: if you’re afraid of dark, damp tunnels, this may not be your cup of tea.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider: This is a sadly overlooked book, but a brilliant one. When Tuberculosis becomes a major threat again, teenagers who have contracted it are sent to glorified summer camps for treatment. Along the way, friendships form and are torn apart, and romance blooms. If you’re a fan of The Fault in Our Stars, this should be your next read. It’s full of love, loss, and a whole host of emotions. You’ll be laughing, crying, and filled with hope.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Trilogy by Jenny Han: There’s only so much the YA community can continue to say about these books. They’re heartfelt, romantic, and beautifully written. What begins as a love letter gone wrong ends with a beautiful romance, but with enough trial and error to really tug on your heartstrings. If you haven’t read these books yet, do so immediately. It’s a journey you want to take, and one that makes sense to start over the summer.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: This book is all about summer, making it the perfect beach read. It’s very short, and I devoured it in about 6 hours. It’s surprising, twisty, and emotional, with just enough romance without that becoming the focus. It is a very human novel, and the ending genuinely shocked me. While I wish some things had been different, upon further reflection I found I loved the outcome. Cape Cod, mysterious illnesses, and a band of family friends? Sign me up.

The Starbound Trilogy (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: If you’re looking for the perfect sci-fi series, this is it. I stand by my belief that this is the most original YA sci-fi I’ve ever read, and it’s an incredibly engaging one at that. You meet two different characters in each book, and each crafts their own individual story before intersecting with the previous ones. These books are dense, but have a whole heck of a lot to say about humans and their exploitation of technology and other beings. And to top it all off, the romances are spectacular. I read the first book one summer, and enjoyed it immensely. I couldn’t put the rest of the series down.

Dorothy Must Die Series by Danielle Paige: I still remember starting this book at 5am while binging books non-stop for a week. I was running on no sleep, and I knew this had to be my next read. I was not disappointed. It’s a highly imaginative, unique retelling of The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy has come back to Oz and is now ruling with an iron fist, and one normal girl from Kansas gets swept up in trying to stop her. Each book felt new and interesting, and it’s a perfect return to the world of Oz that never feels overdone.

The Fever by Megan Abbott: If you like heady, dark, captivating novels, this is the one for you. It fits perfectly into the summer atmosphere, but on the dark side of it. Based on a real case of mass hysteria, this book delves into the lives of teenage girls trying to deal with a strange outbreak of seizures and tics, while also touching on family issues. When I think “dark summer,” this book immediately comes to mind.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: I’m finishing this list with a summer classic! This is objectively one of the cutest novels out there, and the perfect romance for a summer afternoon on the beach. When Anna gets shipped off to a boarding school in Paris, she expects to hate everything about it. But when Etienne St. Clair walks into her life, she starts to rethink her position. It’s an adorable romance filled with film references, all the best things about Paris, and great writing. How anyone could miss out on this novel I don’t know, but if you have, get to it.

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