I don’t know about you, but my reading tastes have been in Summer Mode for what feels like a few months already. All I want are fun books! Bring on the young adult, fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, and romance, baby!
Here are my 10 picks to get your summer reading kicked off right. Happy summer, and happy reading!
The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
I first read The Wrath and the Dawn in 2015 and featured it in a post about “Gateway Fantasy”--books that serve as a good introduction for genre newbies. I loved it so much, I reread it recently to refresh my memory before reading the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger. This time around, I opted for the audio versions, which I recommend wholeheartedly. A riff on the familiar tale A Thousand and One Nights, Ahdieh’s novels tell the story of Shahrzad, promised in marriage to a bloodthirsty king who marries a new bride every day only to have her murdered as the next day dawns. Romance! Court intrigue! Adventure! Archery!
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
If you’ve never read a western before, this is the summer you ought to rectify that situation, and this is just the book for the job. A teenage girl disguises herself as a boy and goes on the hunt for the band of outlaws who murdered her father. She’s joined on her journey (against her will, at least at first) by two brothers who feel a sense of responsibility towards her due to their fathers’ shared past. Gunslinging and surreptitious bathing ensue (on account of they don’t know she’s a girl and all).
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
This book is probably too obvious a pick for a 2017 summer reading list--after all, who hasn’t heard of Paula Hawkins’ first novel, The Girl on the Train? Into the Water is her sophomore effort, and it’s a solid thriller for sure, even though it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as Girl on the Train. Pro tip: there’s a shit-ton of characters, which can be tough to keep track of early on. Don’t start this book if you’re already two mojitos in poolside, mmkay? Save it for that sunny Saturday morning when the coffee’s kicked in but before the kids have totally destroyed the living room and you banish them outside in desperation to dig in the dirt and ride the dog and LITERALLY ANYTHING AS LONG AS YOU GUYS STAY OUT THERE, OKAY?! Momma needs a break!
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean
I loved my first Sarah MacLean book when I read it last year, but this second installment in the series is even better. Pippa Marbury is a socially awkward plain jane with a scientific bent. She’s agreed to marry a nice, boring sort of dude, but before she does, like any good scientist she wants to do a little research, so she selects a man with a certain reputation to teach her what she needs to know. Little does she know, her chosen target Cross has a complicated past that prevents him from being on board with her plan. Her clumsy proposition is met with a forceful no, but behind Cross’s stern refusal is a man who’s been lonely and isolated for too long. Eventually his resistance will crumble! Yay! (I have to say, though, as a bespectacled oddball myself, I am annoyed that the girl on the cover isn’t wearing glasses; they're just laid next to her. Would she have been too uggo to be believable as a romantic heroine with them on or something?! Come on!)
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Noteworthy is about a girl with a low-alto vocal range who dresses up as a boy and auditions for an all-male a capella group as a tenor.
...I’m sorry, was that not enough to sell you? Because that was all I needed to hear before placing my library hold. There is a sad lack of low-voiced lady singer representation in literature today! But seriously, Noteworthy is hilarious and surprisingly thoughtful about gender and sexuality, and if you’ve ever in your life been a music nerd, it is the book you want in your hands ASAP. Also if you like books about kids attending an elite school and getting into shenanigans, which by rights should probably be its own genre by now.
Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley
Jessamyn Stanley could get anyone excited about yoga. The whole point of her book is that everyone can benefit from yoga, no matter your size, age, or ability. I have really enjoyed incorporating a home yoga practice into my weekly routine, and while I’m not super into books about fitness, Every Body Yoga was affirming and encouraging in every way. It’s sort of a how-to and memoir in one, with stories about Stanley’s life and how she came to yoga as well as instructions for basic poses and sequences. She is super irreverent and approachable; if you’ve been curious about yoga or turned off by a bad experience in the past, I promise Every Body Yoga will rinse that bad taste from your mouth and make you a fan for good.
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
A locked room murder mystery with clones in space! Six newly hatched clones wake up on a ship in deep space and have to in essence solve their previous selves’ murders. Their original mission was to journey to a distant planet and begin populating it with the humans currently in cryogenic storage on their ship, but now that the whole crew has turned up dead, the mission and their lives are in jeopardy. Further complicating matters is the fact that the crewmembers are convicted criminals with secret pasts. I believe “Shut up and take my money” is the only proper response to a plot setup that awesome. (Hat tip to my sister-in-law Belinda for this and other great recs recently!)
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
I love a good fairy tale retelling, and this reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is a lovely one. Spooner’s Beauty is more badass than bookworm, following her father into the woods from a young age to learn hunting skills that will sustain their family. But when her father starts losing his grip on reality and disappears into the woods to chase a beast he is certain is out there, Beauty has to choose between staying behind to help her more indoorsy sisters or pursuing her father’s trail through the woods in hopes of bringing him safely home. I’m sure you can guess--the beast is real, and although romance seems like the last thing on Beauty’s mind, they’re going to be drawn to each other. I mean, it’s a tale as old as time. (I had to do it!)
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
This last one’s a little bit of a cheat since it doesn’t come out until the 13th (thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for the advance copy!), but it’s the perfect summer read for people who like their fun books with a side of darkness. Lydia is happy working in a bookstore and not drawing much attention to herself, but when one of the bookstore regulars commits suicide in the store, Lydia is sucked into a mystery that involves a lot more than just finding out why her friend ended his life. Fair warning, this book is pretty sad--after all, when it starts with a suicide, you know there’s no way it’s going to magically turn out sunshine and roses. If that kinda thing will harsh your seasonal mellow, you may want to steer clear, but if you can handle the tough stuff, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore brings a lot of heart along with it, plus it has that gotta-keep-turning-pages addictive quality required for summer reading.
Want even more ideas for your summer reading list? See my previous summer reading recommendations!