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11 Great Books for Your Summer Reading List

Image of Books on Sand with Words 11 Great Books for Your Summer Reading

by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)

I am eagerly gearing up for summer this year! I know it's just now the beginning of May, so maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself, but in my opinion, it's never too early to start getting a TBR stack together.

We've had a good but very busy and challenging school year, and I am looking toward a change of pace as my daughters get ready for summer. We wound up with crazy school commutes this year, and I will be very glad to put that behind me (though I know my audiobook consumption is sure to suffer!).

I'm sharing a wide range of genres today, but I focused my selections on books that I found compelling and fun, which I consider key components for a summer reading list. Some of these books I've shared in other lists because they are favorites of mine, but others I read recently or haven't had a chance to feature. Because the genres vary widely, I did note the genre beside each title.

Abby Collette’s A Deadly Inside Scoop ( | - COZY MYSTERY

This is one of my favorite cozy mysteries, centering on Bronwyn (Win) Crewse who is back in her hometown of Chagrin Falls, revamping the family ice cream shop and hoping to breathe it into new life. She did not expect to stumble upon a dead body shortly after opening her shop, nor did she think that the situation, which seemed like an accident, would result in a murder investigation. When attention turns to the Crewse family, Win gets involved in doing some investigating of her own. I talked about this one as my cozy mystery pick in Episode 215; I loved Win's amateur sleuthing and the way that the story also focuses on her role as a business owner.

Laura Dave's Eight Hundred Grapes ( | - ROMANCE / CONTEMPORARY FICTION

I stumbled across this one when looking for a book set on a vineyard for the Uncorked Reading Challenge last year, and I was immediately engrossed in the story. The story opens with protagonist Georgia fleeing a pre-wedding scene in her wedding gown, which certainly gets the reader's attention. The unpacking of what led to that moment and the turn of Georgia's attention to her family's vineyard and the way that it is crumbling is all very compelling. This is very much about the balance of family responsibilities with personal happiness and what that can look like in a family full of secrets.

John Green's The Anthropocene Reviewed ( | - NONFICTION ESSAYS

This was one of my favorite reads of 2022, and although it is a very different kind of book from many of the books on this list, I think it's perfect for summer reading because you can dip in and out of it easily, and I found it very compelling. In this collection, which is based on John Green's podcast series of the same name, Green focuses on specific topics -- ranging from scratch-and-sniff stickers to the bubonic plague to sunsets -- and gives them a thorough review complete with a rating. Sara talked about this one during Episode 196 about versatile authors. I absolutely loved this collection and think of it often.

R. J. Jacobs's Always the First to Die ( | - THRILLER

I'm not a big reader of thrillers, but I chose this one for the Uncorked Challenge (this one is set in the Keys), and I listened to the audio thanks to I was surprised to thoroughly enjoy this one! It has two timelines - one in the present day amid a horrific hurricane that has rendered travel almost impossible, and another about 20 years prior during the filming of what would become a wildly successful horror film. I was swept up in the way that the story unfolded, and I appreciated the nod toward common horror movie tropes and the way things play out in "real" life.

Emiko Jean's Tokyo Ever After ( | - YA ROMANCE

You might have heard me talk about this longtime favorite before; this is one that comes to mind whenever I think of a fun, happy read. This one centers on Izumi Tanaka, a Japanese American teenager living in Mount Shasta, a small town in northern California. One of her friends, in an effort to help Izumi learn more about herself, starts digging into Izumi's paternal side of her family. For Izumi's whole life, it has only been her and her mom, and her mother had always refused to share anything at all about Izumi's father. But as her friend discovers through some sleuthing, Izumi's father is none other than the crown prince of Japan. I loved the second book in this series, too! I shared my review of this one a while back; check it out here!

Maureen Johnson's Truly Devious ( | - YA MYSTERY We've talked about this series a few times on the podcast. This one has a boarding school setting that I absolutely loved and alternating timelines (the 1930s when a crime first occurred and present day when a student works to figure out the unsolved mystery). To be completely honest, I wasn't sold on this series until book 2, but after that, I was totally hooked, and I've wanted to re-read book 1 now that I know the series and characters so well. (For me, switching to audio made a big difference! The timing when I read the first book was also a factor; I think I was in a bit of a reading funk.) I look forward to reading more of Johnson's work! You can see Jen's review of this series here.

Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue ( | - NEW ADULT ROMANCE

It's been a while since I shared this one, but it continues to be one of my favorite romances and is a perfect summer read. This is a steamy open door romance with outstanding banter. I absolutely loved the characters in this one, including some fun, well-developed secondary characters. The son of the president in a feud with the prince of England? Yes, I am here for that and the shenanigans that come with it. This is enemies-to-lovers at its finest, and I loved seeing the way the story unfolded.

Deanna Raybourn's Killers of a Certain Age ( | - COZY MYSTERY

Oh my goodness, I was swept up in this story that focuses on four women assassins who, after a lifelong career of missions, are finally ready to retire. However, things quickly go awry on their cruise celebrating retirement when they realize that someone from "the Museum," their former employer, is also on the ship and seems to be on a mission. This story alternates between the present day cruise-gone-wrong situation and the history of their missions together over the years. I absolutely adored this one, which Jen shared on a Bookish Check-in a while back.

V. E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue ( | - YA FANTASY

I found this story, which sucks you in and takes you on quite a journey, to be very compelling. This fantasy novel centers on the young Addie LaRue who, in a moment of desperation to get out of a terrible situation, makes a deal with the Darkness. She binds herself to an everlasting life in which she will be free in a way she was not as a young woman in 1714, but in exchange for that freedom, Addie will never be remembered by anyone she meets. Jen shared a review of this one when it first came out in 2020. Check out her thoughts!

Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project ( | - ROMANCE

I recently read books two and three in this series and rediscovered just how much I love the protagonist Don Tillman and the life he has made for himself. The first book focuses on Don in his pursuit to find a suitable partner to be his wife. Along comes Rosie, who does not possess a single trait on his (meticulously crafted) list, and yet, emotions get in the way of plans, as they tend to do. I love Don, and I also appreciate the way that Simsion explores complex questions through the series.

Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties ( | - COZY MYSTERY

I was surprised to discover just how much I loved this over-the-top romp exploring what happens after an accidental murder of a catfisher turned perpetrator of sexual assault. (How could this premise be funny, you wonder? Just check out Sutanto's book to find out!) When Meddy finds herself in this horrible predicament, she calls upon her mother and three beloved (and meddling) aunts, and chaos (along with a crazy plan) ensues. Jen shared about this one as her cozy mystery pick in Episode 215 (though we talked about whether it qualifies as a mystery!), and I knew I had to read it! I loved book two in this series, too, and am excited to read more of Sutanto's work very soon!

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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