The weather is warm, the sun is shining, the cicadas are finally dying – it’s the perfect time to sit outside and enjoy a good book! (Because God knows I can’t actually focus when I have to worry about cicadas dive-bombing me).
If you are searching for the perfect summer read, look no further! I’ve compiled a list of fun books that are perfect for reading under the summer sun.
Also please note that although I wrote down trigger warnings as I remembered them, it’s been a long time since I read some of these, and I definitely could have missed some things.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Look, Beach Read is one of my favorite books, it had to make the list. I happen to think it’s the perfect mix of fun beach read and thoughtful narrative and characters. I love everything about it, so I’m not going to ramble too much other than just to tell you to read it if you haven’t already, because it is so wonderful.
Trigger warnings: death of a parent, cancer, mentions of domestic abuse, vomiting
Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour
A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.
I listened to the audiobook of Everything Leads to You last summer, and instantly fell in love! It is a super fun summer romp; full of mystery, movies, and romance. I thought Emi was a great main character, and I loved reading both the treasure hunt style of the beginning of the book, and the short film making process of the latter half. This is a super fun, Sapphic summer romance!
Stay Sweet by Sioban Vivian
A summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.
Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…
This was a really cute YA book that I read in the middle of winter. But thankfully, you can learn from my mistakes and use it as an easy summer read! I really loved the way it interwove the history of the ice cream shop and the town into the book, and I was so invested in the success of Meade Creamery! I also really liked how the conflict between Amelia and her best friend Cate was handled. Honestly, I wasn’t that into the romance (and the synopsis claiming it’s about feminism is definitely a stretch), but like I said, I just really liked reading about Amelia and her work at the creamery.
On Little Wings by Regina Serois
Jennifer is an only child, and so were her parents—at least that’s what she thinks, until she finds an old photo in the back of one of her mother’s books. The woman in the photo looks just like Jennifer, down to the smattering of freckles across her nose. And her mother refuses to talk about it.
Compelled to find answers, Jennifer embarks on a quest that takes her from the wheat fields of Nebraska to the fishing town of Smithport, Maine, home to the one person who can help her solve this family secret—the woman in the photo. But Jennifer learns that it takes the entire village of Smithport to piece together the story of her mother’s hidden past. She needs help from Nathan, the genius with the reluctant smile from across the cove; Little, the elderly town matriarch and former movie star; and The Jacks, three weathered fishermen who dabble in pyrotechnics. As Jennifer discovers the lost chapters of her mother’s life, she unwittingly begins to write a few chapters of her own.
Elegantly written, On Little Wings is an evocative debut novel about self discovery, first love, and the power of family.
So I have to admit, it has been more than a few years since I’ve read this (probably time for a re-read), and my standards have definitely changed in that time. However, it is one of my favorite books of all time. I think it’s a beautiful book about, well, self discovery, first love, and the power of family. I think that is the perfect description for this book. And if you read it and don’t like it, you can blame it on fifteen-year-old Delaney.
Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud
Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She’s excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she’s definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who’s an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming…and undeniably cute. Zora can’t ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother’s big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora’s not sure it’s something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy? Find out in this charming romantic comedy that’s like The Princess Diaries for a new generation.
It’s a cute love story! Royalty trope! Positive mom and daughter relationship! Black girl love! Black hair love! It was FUN just like it was meant to be and I enjoyed it. This is a quick and easy, cute read, featuring an interracial romance.
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border—unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and—best of all as far as Elliot is concerned—mermaids.
Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.
It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.
A lot of the other books on this list are fun. And I would say that In Other Lands is also a fun book. However, more than that, In Other Lands is funny – ridiculously funny. Elliot’s voice is sardonic and sarcastic. The book manages to poke fun at our world, and at portal world and magic school tropes. Also, it’s queer! Although the book spans many years, and thus many seasons, I think it makes a great summer read.
Trigger warnings: homophobia, bullying, death, violence
The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding
Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Pérez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.
Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?
But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?
Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Pérez (and the Best Burger in Los Ángeles)?
What’s that? Did I hear you say you wanted ANOTHER Sapphic summer romance? Well have I got the book for you! I adored this book when I read it last. Like basically every book I’ve mentioned so far, it is really fun and cute.
Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour
Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.
But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.
Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the Northern California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.
Watch Over Me is another stunner from Printz Award-Winning author Nina LaCour, whose empathetic, lyrical prose is at the heart of this modern ghost story of resilience and rebirth.
Oh, you were bored with the fact that all I had to offer were cute, fun books? Here, have a book about grief and trauma. Yes, I am putting a second Nina Lacour book on this list, because she is that good. It takes place during the summer on a farm, so I definitely think it counts as a summer read.
Trigger warnings: fire, death, discussions of trauma and grief
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
For me, Felix is what really made this book. I wasn’t super invested in the romance plotlines, and the whole scholarship thing felt super contrived given that BROWN GIVES OUT 100% NEED BASED FINANCIAL AID but I just fell in love with Felix and his voice, so I ended up giving it 5 stars anyway.
Trigger warnings: forced outing, mentions of deadnaming, transphobia, queerphobia
Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Okay, I promise this is the last one you guys. I didn’t realize just how many summer books I had to recommend. Alex Approximately is a sex-positive, enemies to lovers YA story that I absolutely loved.
So that’s it! It turns out there are just so many good books set in the summer that are perfect for reading on a lazy summer afternoon. I hope you can find at least one book on this list that interests you! Tell me your favorite summer read below and have a lovely day!
P.S. Also let me know how you feel about the lack of book cover pictures in this post. It seems bare without them, but I can never get them to line up right anyway. Plus it seemed like a lot of work to do since I put so many books in this post.