It's officially summer and lots of us are starting to peek our heads out after a long spring quarantine. One of the places we can usually feel safe is the great outdoors, and there's nothing better for summer than finding your way to a beach with a great book in hand.
Whether or not an actual beach getaway is in your future, I've got a list of titles you're sure to want on your summer reading list. Grab a lawn chair, a patch of sun, and your favorite cocktail (or mocktail!) and settle in. (BTW, my fave hot weather drink is tonic water, fresh lime juice, and lots of ice. Add gin or vodka if you're into that sort of thing. It's SO refreshing, totally tangy and not sweet.)
- Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause. I finished this book in two days flat because I was so invested in the characters and couldn't put it down! This book pulls off that unusual feat of having characters who aren't totally loveable, but have just enough charm that you're still pulling for them to get it together and get what they want. There's a ton packed into this story, including two crazy mysteries that keep the characters butting up against each in ways that drive each other insane. It's labeled a "humorous dark comedy" by Amazon. Here's the one line description: "A poignant and heartwarming novel about friendship, ghosting, and searching for answers to life’s mysteries." I'd say it's darker and funnier than that description gives it credit for, but there are definitely some poignant moments along the way. It also has a reader's guide at the end which makes it a great book club pick.
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. If you want a book that's recently been turned into a smash Hulu series by none other than Reese Witherspoon (an incredible feminist producer in addition to being an amazing actress and voracious reader), this is a good bet. The story puts into stark contrast different types of motherhood, and calls into question what "counts" as motherhood. There are a ton of loveable teenage characters that are growing and exploring life as the mothers around them deal with their own struggles. The book went places I never expected and asked questions with no easy answers. Read this one with your bestie so you have someone to talk about it with!
- The Stranger by Harlan Corben. Maybe this is dark for a beach read, but it's a thriller that you won't be able to walk away from till you know all the secrets. This is a peek behind the curtain of well-to-do suburban life. A mysterious stranger shows up and tells someone a secret about their life, causing them to start pulling threads maybe they never wanted to pull. A mother goes missing under bizarre circumstances, someone is embezzling from the local boys lacrosse team, and the stranger is telling secrets and leaving behind people with shattered expectations about the life they thought they knew. Filled with mystery and conspiracy, The Stranger is a classic page turner.
- All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. Here's a line from the description: "A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives." The story centers around a young girl being raised by drug addict parents who barely notice her existence. When she strikes up a friendship with someone from the periphery of her parents' lives, she begins to see a path to a world wholly different than what she's known. Their relationship is unusual, testing the boundaries of what we think of as appropriate. The magic of this story is how closely the line is toed between "this is so wrong" and "this is weird but beautiful and maybe right." A complicated, gorgeous story with rich, 3-dimensional characters, it will have you questioning what you know about love.
- There's Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Ok, this book is probably the lightest in my beach read list. Now you know something about what I gravitate toward in my reading life! The story is about a woman whose old college friend calls her to help take care of her "troubled" stepkids - twins that spontaneously catch fire when they're agitated. Fire children simply don't fit into the picture-perfect life of an up-and-coming politician and his new wife. The premise sounds insane, right? While it's true that the kids' storyline is surreal, you won't even notice because you're drawn into the deep, dark realness of the complicated relationship of the college roommates. I can't think of another book I've read that managed to combine surrealism with a touching, funny, unexpected cast of characters living an otherwise perfectly ordinary life. Don't be put off by the weirdness. This book deserves your attention!
I hope this list gives you as much joy as it brought to me! I am a crazy reader and never go anywhere without a book. I read nonfiction, fiction, and all points on the spectrum in between. Paperback, hardback, library, and Kindle, I'm never without a book or three. So channel your inner Coach Cari, order one of these from your local bookshop, and settle in to work on your tan!