Beach Reads and Beyond: 50 Reads for Summer

All weather is reading weather, but there’s something special about a summertime read. There’s the usual beach read type of book, and we sure are fans of those, but our booksellers are here to say that any book can be a summer read! They put their heads together to come up with a list of fifty books, new and old, that will suit anyone’s summer reading tastes. (Please refer to the picture above to see that fifty books equates to approximately a Barney and a half. Which would surely be two and a half Barnabuses. Barnabi?) We broke it down into seven different categories: contemporary fiction, historical fiction, romance, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, nonfiction & poetry, and young adult. Wherever your summer takes you, we hope a book (or two, or three) will follow you there.

Recommended by Ann

The Pursuit of Love; Love in a Cold Climate: Introduction by Laura Thompson (Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics Series) Cover ImageThe Pursuit of Love; Love in a Cold Climate

Hooray! Two of my favorite novels are together in one snappy volume. The only bad thing about these books is that you’ll always be trying to find something this great again, and you won’t.

Recommended by Karen

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev: A Novel Cover ImageThe Final Revival of Opal & Nev: A Novel

For fans of Daisy Jones and the Six, this book may at first seem similar: A dynamic female singer joins forces with a talented musician-songwriter. Keep reading. Opal is a Black rock singer in a time when that was relatively rare and the relationship between her and Nev is complicated. This is a smart, entertaining read.

Recommended by Lindsay

The Summer Book Cover ImageThe Summer Book

By Tove JanssonKathryn Davis (Introduction by), Thomas Teal (Translated by)

If you’re not won over by the charming illustrations from Tove Jansson (creator of the wonderful Moomin comics), then the gorgeous vignettes of a nostalgic summer on an island off the coast of Finland should do the trick. I re-read The Summer Book every year and it captures my heart each time.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Blush Cover ImageBlush

Family drama at a winery where a book club saves the day! A fun summer read.

Recommended by Lindsay

French Exit: A Novel Cover ImageFrench Exit: A Novel

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my beach reads with a healthy dosage of dark humor. No one does that better than Patrick DeWitt–French Exit is my personal favorite of his!

Recommended by Aly

The Girls: A Novel Cover ImageThe Girls: A Novel

A former member of a Manson-style cult reflects to discover exactly how she was lured in that summer all those years ago, and just how easy it was to fall in deep.

Recommended by Ashby

The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel Cover ImageThe Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel

Things. Their stories. People. Their stories. This book reminds us of the joy we find in reuniting people with what they have lost. Tangible or intangible.

Recommended by Lindsay

Cassandra at the Wedding Cover ImageCassandra at the Wedding

Originally published in 1962, Cassandra at the Wedding has everything: a deranged family reunion, twin sisters dealing with the trauma of having been child prodigies, a batty grandmother with the best one-liners, and one of the absolute greatest unlikable female narrators I’ve ever come across.

Recommended by Marcia

Reunion Beach: Stories Inspired by Dorothea Benton Frank Cover ImageReunion Beach: Stories Inspired by Dorothea Benton Frank

A beautiful tribute to Dorothea Benton Frank, this is a treasure trove of compilations of many of my favorite summer authors. You’ll be reading this one until sunset.

Recommended by Ashby

Miss Benson's Beetle: A Novel Cover ImageMiss Benson’s Beetle: A Novel

Two VERY different women head off on an expedition in search of a beetle. It reminded me that friendship and adventures take different forms. Take risks and embrace adventures!

Recommended by Heath

The Imperfectionists: A Novel Cover ImageThe Imperfectionists: A Novel

A glimpse inside the lives of the quirky characters that run an international English-language newspaper in Rome.

Recommended by Ashby

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets Cover ImageThe Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

By Eva Rice

This novel brings 1950s London to life. Following the war, the characters must find purchase. Penelope and Charlotte make their way to London’s parties in a changed world. What they might have wanted or been able to achieve before the war isn’t the same.

Recommended by Heath

The Rocks: A Novel Cover ImageThe Rocks: A Novel

A sixty-year saga set at a hotel on the Mediterranean. Think Mamma Mia! without the singing and a lot more drama.

Recommended by Marcia

In Polite Company: A Novel Cover ImageIn Polite Company: A Novel

This debut novel is full of Charleston high society but offers us way more than debutante balls and silver tea sets. I love it!

Recommended by Ashby

Cinnamon and Gunpowder: A Novel Cover ImageCinnamon and Gunpowder: A Novel

By Eli Brown

The premise tells you all you need to know. A female pirate kidnaps a chef. The chef gets to stay alive as long as he makes an amazing meal for her each week. Cooking. Love. Adventure.

Recommended by Marcia

Malibu Rising: A Novel Cover ImageMalibu Rising: A Novel

Malibu. 1983. Four rich siblings. One epic party that ends in a literal blaze. Order a frozen adult beverage – you won’t be able to tear yourself away from this one.

Recommended by Ann

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Novel Cover ImageJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Novel

It’s 1024 pages long and you will wish it were 1024 pages longer. England! Magic! Faeries! I love this book so much.

Recommended by Lindsay

City of Girls: A Novel Cover ImageCity of Girls: A Novel

Everyone deserves a little treat and City of Girls is so delectable!

Recommended by Elyse

Eternal Cover ImageEternal

Set against the backdrop of the Nazi invasion of Rome during World War II, Scottoline draws you in with characters you will think about long after you read the last page. A book of loyalty, loss, family, and food. Best read while eating a bowl of pasta.

Recommended by Chelsea

A Tip for the Hangman: A Novel Cover ImageA Tip for the Hangman: A Novel

An Elizabethan spy thriller that features Christopher Marlowe at its center. I forced myself to read slowly so it wouldn’t end.

Recommended by Lindsay

My Policeman: A Novel Cover ImageMy Policeman: A Novel

If you want a great historical novel with a captivating love triangle–this book! The longing! The tension! Do yourself a favor and read it before it becomes a critically acclaimed film starring Harry Styles.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Lost Apothecary Cover ImageThe Lost Apothecary

A contemporary woman in London seeks the identity of an 18th century apothecary who served women looking for revenge.

Recommended by Marcia

We Came Here to Shine: A Novel Cover ImageWe Came Here to Shine: A Novel

Set at the 1939 World’s Fair in NY, two ambitious young women – one an actress and the other a college student – form a lasting friendship over a summer they will never forget.

Recommended by Ashby

The Golden Hour: A Novel Cover ImageThe Golden Hour: A Novel

WWII Bahamas. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Lulu, a New York society magazine writer, and Benedict, a scientist and spy. Intrigue. Espionage. Love. A page-turner from the first pages when Lulu and Benedict cross paths on a plane to the Bahamas.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Birds of California: A Novel Cover ImageBirds of California: A Novel

Two former Hollywood child stars meet again when their show is up for a potential reboot. Witty banter and complicated characters give this romantic comedy many layers.

Recommended by Sissy

Sari, Not Sari Cover ImageSari, Not Sari

Our heroine is the CEO of a company that helps people break up with a significant other via email. Manny has few connections to her Indian roots, but an Indian wedding brings all kinds of surprises into her life.

Recommended by Hannah

Hook, Line, and Sinker: A Novel Cover ImageHook, Line, and Sinker: A Novel

What happens when two platonic best friends catch feelings for each other? This is Tessa Bailey’s hilarious, charming new rom-com set in a summery fishing town. The chemistry between these two is off the charts – a must read for the rom-com lovers!

Recommended by Chelsea

Winter Counts: A Novel Cover ImageWinter Counts: A Novel

Virgil is a vigilante on his reservation, doling out justice when the system fails. When his nephew is drawn into the drug trade, Virgil does anything in his power to help, including having to face his own demons.

Recommended by Sarah

The Verifiers Cover ImageThe Verifiers

By Jane Pek

No, I will not stop talking about this book, and I will find a reason to include it in every possible Musing post we do. It’s a locked-room mystery and a commentary on our fascination with data and how it impacts our lives. Plus it has great queer representation!

Recommended by Chelsea

Blacktop Wasteland: A Novel Cover ImageBlacktop Wasteland: A Novel

A heist novel with a complex protagonist that will suck you in from the first page.

Recommended by Jenness

Stormy Weather Cover ImageStormy Weather

Carl Hiaasen is a master of the quirky beach read: bumbling bad-guys, crazy crimes, tacky tourists, and a one-eyed vigilante hero set in the Sunshine State – a character in itself. Come for the wit, snark, and humor, stay for the corporate takedowns and ecological realness. And then devour EVERYTHING else he’s written.

Recommended by Sissy

Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel Cover ImagePlain Bad Heroines: A Novel

By Emily M. DanforthSara Lautman (Illustrator)

Did you love Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl? Were you disappointed in Night Film? This is the book you wanted. Ghosts (real? imagined?) are flitting between 1902 boarding school girls and 2020 writers and film starlets. Haunting, funny and gripping.

Recommended by Chelsea

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky) Cover ImageBlack Sun

Inspired by pre-Columbian civilizations, this novel has prophecies, political maneuvering, and secret magic. This is fantasy at its best. The second book is out now!

Recommended by Hannah

The House in the Cerulean Sea Cover ImageThe House in the Cerulean Sea

By TJ Klune

Is there anything better than a book that feels like a warm hug? Linus Baker finds the family he never knew he needed on a sunny island in the cerulean sea. Filled with humor, whimsy, charm, and a hint of romance, this is a story I’ll always delight in rereading.

Recommended by Ashby

Einstein's Dreams (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover ImageEinstein’s Dreams 

What would Einstein’s dreams have looked like? In these possibilities, Lightman comes up with the ways Einstein might have thought about time and how it could be manipulated. Want to live longer? Then move to the highest points. Time moves slower the higher up you are…

Recommended by Sissy

The Book of Accidents: A Novel Cover ImageThe Book of Accidents: A Novel

This is the best Wendig yet. There are hints from his older novels everywhere, which is fun, but this work is his most heartfelt. Generational abuse and regret scar a family who moves to the country. Escaping the city may not be the answer, but they strive for a better life. Ghosts from the past threaten them immediately. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book, and was very surprised by the ending.

Recommended by Sissy

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir Cover ImageThe Sound of Gravel: A Memoir

If you watched Under the Banner of Heaven (or read it years ago) and are wanting more fundamentalist Mormon insanity, you’ll really enjoy this gripping first-hand account.

Recommended by Sydney

Calypso Cover ImageCalypso

Ludicrous, candid, compelling—Calypso is the perfect anti-beach read. Pick this up for your inner cynic.

Recommended by Chelsea

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland Cover ImageSay Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

This starts focused on a mother’s disappearance and then expands to cover the entire history of The Troubles while never losing focus on the humanity affected. I devoured this at the beach last year.

Recommended by Sissy

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith Cover ImageUnder the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

If you’re enjoying the mini-series, please read this excellent true story of a double murder committed by two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers who insist God commanded them to kill.

Recommended by Jenny

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver Cover ImageDevotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Gentle, loving, and inspirational, this curated collection of Mary Oliver’s work is timeless and perfect for the summer season.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Electric Kingdom Cover ImageThe Electric Kingdom

If you liked Station Eleven, pick up this YA post-apocalyptic novel.

Recommended by Chelsea

Last Night at the Telegraph Club Cover ImageLast Night at the Telegraph Club

This was a huge award winner for a reason. Pick this up before Malinda Lo’s new book comes out!

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Light in Hidden Places Cover ImageThe Light in Hidden Places

This WWII novel is based on the true story of the 16 y/o girl who protected 13 Jews in her attic while Nazis lived in her home.

Recommended by Aly

The Summer I Turned Pretty Cover ImageThe Summer I Turned Pretty

By Jenny Han

This is the perfect summer series. Every moment is heart-achingly nostalgic for all the summers we wish we could have.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Tokyo Ever After: A Novel Cover ImageTokyo Ever After: A Novel

A girl finds out her father is the Crown Prince of Japan. Princess lessons and a cute royal bodyguard make this a perfect summer read.

Recommended by Ashby

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes Novel #1) Cover ImageA Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes Novel #1)

Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, teen kids of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, are the new generation. The two end up at the same boarding school, and, guess what? There is a murder!. Their partnership isn’t easy; their personalities are developed to get at the difficulties of two such people having to work together!

Recommended by Aly

Since You've Been Gone Cover ImageSince You’ve Been Gone

Morgan Matson’s summer stories are always full of adventure, playlists, and friendship. The mystery element of this one kept me hooked until the very end.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Enigma Game Cover ImageThe Enigma Game

In 1940 Scotland, a girl discovers a code-breaking machine that may turn the tide of the war.

Recommended by Aly

Along for the Ride: (Movie Tie-In) Cover ImageAlong for the Ride

Do yourself a favor this summer and dive into the beachside town of Colby. Here you’ll find love, laughs, family, and friends to keep you warm on those cool summer nights. But remember, just say no to the Tally-Ho.