Happy Memorial Day weekend!!! It’s the unofficial start to summer and a weekend I’ve been looking forward to since March! If I equate anything with summer, it’s reading. I hated summer as a kid because I’m a huge nerd who loved school, and the best way I could entertain myself was to read everything in the YA section at the library (and/or re-read Harry Potter a thousand times). The summer reading challenges at the library every summer? Best. Thing. Ever.
With a vacation on the horizon and (hopefully) warm beach days ahead, I’m on the hunt for some great summer reads. I could think of no one better to ask for great summer book recommendations than my friend Heather. Heather reads more books than anyone I have ever met. To put this into perspective, I thought I read a lot, when I average around 40-50 books per year. Heather has already read 90 books this year and it’s not even JUNE! She’s a phenomenon. I always check to see if Heather has read a book on Goodreads before I bother picking it up at the library or buying it in a bookstore because I trust her judgment. If you have a Goodreads account, you should definitely befriend her.
If you’re looking to stock up on some books for summer, find some suggestions from a super reader below (followed by a few from yours truly).
When We Collided by Emery Lord
I’m starting off with a heavy-hitter. Emery Lord is my favorite contemporary author; she writes stories about flawed girls who are trying their hardest, and her stories involve female friendships that are just as important as romantic relationships. She also tackles issues like grief, sexuality, feminism, and mental health, writing about them realistically and in a way that demonstrates that they’re things we should be talking about. When We Collided is Lord’s latest, but her other two books are wonderful as well. Plus, she’s my favorite person on Twitter (well, besides Cher).
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Another one of my favorite YA authors, Morgan Matson takes “typical” YA settings–summer vacations, road trips, etc–and fills them with adventures, great characters, and emotional moments. Second Chance Summer made me sob, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour hooked me right away, and I’m really excited for The Unexpected Everything. I grabbed a copy at LA Times Festival of Books after seeing Morgan speak at a panel (with Emery Lord!), because the premise intrigued me: a girl who thinks she has everything planned out needs to reevaluate when her family is hit by a scandal. And there’s a strong group of female friends, which I obviously love.
Dear Emma by Katie Heaney
Katie Heaney writes for Buzzfeed, and she’s also written a memoir of sorts about how she’s always been single. I just started Dear Emma, and Heaney’s voice and tone is light and realistic and perfect for summer. Dear Emma follows Harriet, who writes an advice column and finds out the guy she likes is dating someone else. The girl he’s dating writes to the advice column, and Harriet has to decide whether or not she should take revenge. Harriet’s narration sounds like an email you would send to a friend; she overanalyzes everything, checks the crush’s Facebook all the time, and does everything we’ve all done while having a crush. Definitely a fun read so far.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies has gotten a lot of attention since its 2014 debut, and for good reason. It’s a murder mystery surrounding a group of women in a relatively small town, with a tone that alternates between heavy and light. I couldn’t put this down when I read it—it’s great for a plane ride or a day at the beach, constantly remaining interesting without getting convoluted or confusing. It’s also in production as a comedy series at HBO, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, so it will continue to garner attention in the next year.
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Vol. 1: Hooked On A Feline by Kate Leth and Brittany Williams
For any comics fans out there, Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Volume 1 comprises the first five issues of Hellcat into one volume. It’s a really fun, lighthearted comic about a girl who is trying to make it on her own in NYC and figure out her own autonomy while also being a superhero. It’s got some great moments, great art with lots of fun details, and appearances from some of my favorite Marvel females, including America Chavez (my all time favorite comics character), Kate Bishop/Hawkeye, Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, and Doreen Green/Squirrel Girl. Lots of female empowerment, and a quick read.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a satirical novel that follows a teenager, Bree, whose mother disappears, and Bree has to track her down. It’s told through emails, letters, and documents, and is the story of a mother and daughter, but also a deeper commentary about privilege and wealth. The tone will draw you in, and the story and characters will keep you hooked. It’s hard to describe without giving too much away, but I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this. Just keep in mind it’s a satire!
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
I include this book on every book list, because it’s one of my favorite books. It’s not a light read–it involves death, grief, racism, sexism, you name it–but it’s a beautiful book about family and identify, and is the best account of biraciality I’ve ever read. It tells the story of a mixed race family in 1970s Ohio, after the body of the seventeen-year-old daughter is found. There are flashbacks to when the mother was the only woman in her career field, the father’s experiences as a Chinese American, and the importance of strength and family. If you’re looking for a deeper read, maybe for a rainy day or just because, this is a good choice.
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes is the showrunner for shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, and is famous for being the first black woman to showrun an entire block of primetime broadcast television. This book is her memoir, documenting her experiences during a year in which she decided to say yes to everything. She talks about work, about being a mother, about being a black woman in an industry dominated by white men. She talks about the importance of saying yes, about how to prioritize, and she is so lovely and smart and great with words. This is an easy but wonderful read.
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
I read Dangerous Girls while on vacation a few years ago, and it’s one of those books that you can devour in a morning by the pool and then you’ll be thinking about it for the rest of the day. Dangerous Girls tells the story of a group of rich socialite teenagers who travel to Aruba for spring break. When one of the girls is brutally murdered, main character Anna finds herself being framed for the crime and fighting for her innocence in a foreign country. It’s a true page-turner with a WTF ending.
Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
If you’ve read Sarah Dessen’s collection of YA novels, allow me to introduce you to Stephanie Perkins. Her trilogy mirrors Dessen’s writing style in that her characters exist in the same universe and occasionally make appearances in the other novels. You should read these books in order if you can (I read Lola first and Anna last and enjoyed them all the same). Anna and Isla both follow the girls as they make their way through boarding school in Paris, while Lola takes place in San Francisco. The characters are lovable, the teenage boys beautifully unrealistic and the writing imaginative and wonderful.
Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger
An oldie but a goodie. This book is such a great summer read. From the author of The Devil Wears Prada, Everyone Worth Knowing follows the story of 27 year old Bette, who quits her corporate America desk job and happens upon a career in PR with the hottest company in New York City. With a job that pays her to party, Bette finds herself part of the socialite and celebrity crowd, and she has to ask herself how far she’s willing to immerse herself into their world for her paycheck.
Nantucket Blue and Nantucket Red by Leila Howard
Cricket Thompson can’t wait to spend a summer away from home. When she sets off to Nantucket for a summer with her best friend Jules, she can’t think of anything that would be able to ruin their plans. But when tragedy strikes Jules’ family, Cricket quickly has to reevaluate her priorities and her friendships. This book makes me miss everything about my summer spent in Boston. Its sequel is equally delightful, and both books are quick, feel-good reads.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
For the nonfiction lovers out there, Gretchen Rubin’s latest novel discusses how we form habits and more importantly, why it’s so difficult to change them. In the year since reading the book, I find myself automatically sorting people I know into Rubin’s personality types: Upholder, Obliger, Rebel and Questioner. If you have an interest in psychology or a secret love for self-help books (guilty as charged), Better Than Before is an excellent read.
What books are on your to-read list this summer? We’d love to hear your recommendations!