Need suggestions for your summer reading list 2019? If you are looking for books to read this summer, check out these 25 must-read summer books.
Summer is finally here, and frankly, I’ve been too busy figuring out my summer vacation plans to spend as much time blogging as I should.
But no vacation is complete without the perfect summer books tucked into your suitcase. Before you pack your bags, be sure to check out our 2019 summer reading list.
This year’s list has something for everyone! We’ve got books becoming movies this year, hot new releases, must-read 2018 books, as well as some of our favorite summer books from years past.
I promise that with a quick scroll through our summer reading list, you’ll find the perfect summer books to fill up your to-read list for the next few months.
Summer Books Hitting The Big Screen
A. J. Finn
Imagine that Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Rear Window meets the novel The Girl on the Train. 2018’s hottest psychological thriller peeks into the life of Anna Fox, a New York City recluse who, spying on the family across the street, witnesses a shocking event. With its unreliable narrator and layers of secrets, The Woman in the Window will keep you guessing to the end. Hopefully, the movie can do the same. Release date October 11th.
Of all the books becoming movies in 2019, we are most intrigued by Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Abandoned by his father after his mother’s death, 13-year-old Theo Decker must readjust to a whole new life. His one tie to his mother – a small painting of a goldfinch – will eventually lead him into the intricate underworld of art. At 771 pages, and with a slow pace, the novel might not be for everyone’s summer reading list, but you’ll want to check out the film in September.
Nicola Yoon’s book Everything, Everything was successfully turned into a movie in 2017, so we have high hopes this one will fare just as well. Telling the unlikely romance of Natasha, desperately struggling to prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica, and Daniel, the perfect Korean son burdened by his parents’ expectations, it’s a teen romance even adults will love. The movie came out in May, so be sure to read this summer book before you rent it on Redbox.
2019 New Releases Perfect for Summer
Taylor Jenkins Reid
I think we’ve found the frontrunner for the best book of 2019. Already snapped up by Reese Witherspoon’s company to become an Amazon miniseries, Daisy Jones and the Six is making waves this year. After her highly successful novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid is back with an addictingly fun read about the rise and fall of a fictional 70s band. With sex, drugs, and plenty of drama, you’ll feel like watching a biopic on VH1 – but an extremely well-written one. Selected by Book of the Month club for March, Daisy Jones and the Six will quite possibly be the best book of the entire year and belongs on everyone’s summer reading list.
Mary Beth Keane
I love summer books with complicated family relationships and just listen to this premise. NYPD cops Francis and Brian happen to move next door to each other in the suburbs. Though their children Kate and Peter become the best of friends, Francis and his wife have learned to keep their distance from Brian’s wife due to her precarious mental health. When tragedy strikes between the two families, Brian’s family moves away in shame. But when Kate and Peter fall in love, the two families must learn to confront the tragedy that ties them together. A story of love and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes serves up the perfect blend of family drama and character study to win it all the stars in my opinion.
I can’t be the only one that thinks that thrillers make the perfect summer books. Twenty years ago, Amanda Holmes’ body was found in a rowboat at Camp Macaw. Now the McCallister siblings must figure out which of them were responsible. Each of them has lied about what happened that day. But was it out of self-preservation or in an attempt to protect a family member? A fun thriller that catches just the right insight into the complex sibling relationships. I found myself glued to the page trying to guess whodunit (which I didn’t, by the way.) The perfect murder mystery for a summer vacation.
If you’ve heard great things about Jane Harper’s novel The Dry, you’ll want to check out her newest novel. Way out in the Australia outback, brothers Nathan and Bub Bright find the body of their brother Cameron on the edge of their ranch. Did Cam end his own life walking out into the desert or did someone end it for him? More a character study than a murder mystery, The Lost Man looks at the secrets a family keeps combined with a fascinating portrayal of life in the outback.
Who needs thrillers when you have gorgeous historical fiction for your summer reading list? Eleven-year-old Ren is given one final task when his master dies: to find his master’s severed finger and return it, in the next 49 days, or his master’s soul will be doomed to wander the earth. From there, his story will mingle with dance hall girl Ji Lin who has found the finger, all while a tiger stalks the town. Mixing Chinese folklore and superstition with historical fiction, Choo brings the time period to life in this beautifully written and imaginative story.
Must Read Bestsellers from 2018
Selling more books than any other book in 2018 (even though it came out at the very end of the year!), Michelle Obama’s memoir is probably at the very top of the must-read summer books this year. Detailing her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her success as a working mother and her years in the White House, Michelle Obama shows how her past has shaped her into who she has become today. A poignant memoir of a woman trying to do her best for her family while balancing the greater good of having a husband in politics, Obama’s story is a remarkable tale no matter what your political affiliation.
Selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club, An American Marriage was one of the top fiction books of 2018. At first glance, newlyweds Celestial and Roy seem like the perfect American couple. He’s a young executive, and she’s an emerging artist. However, as life comes into play and Roy is unjustly imprisoned, their marriage begins to fall apart. Discussing love, marriage, and race, this thought-provoking read is one to add to your summer reading list.
There is no excuse to not read Tara Westover’s spectacular memoir. In our opinion, Educated was simply the best nonfiction book of 2018. Westover grew up in the rural mountains of Idaho with no formal education. Despite her extremist survivalist parents and violent older brother, Westover managed to make her way into college, eventually earning a PhD. Her amazing determination is inspiring while the circumstances of her childhood are incredibly sad. One of those summer books that will stay with you for a long time.
Considered one of the best audiobooks of 2018, Tommy Orange’s debut novels tells of the lives of urban Native Americans. Centered around the Big Oakland Powwow, There There peeks into the lives of twelve characters as each is drawn by their Native American heritage to visit the Powwow. Orange delivers a striking look at many of the issues that have plagued so many Native Americans – alcoholism, addiction, suicide, and abuse – as well as topics more specific to them. If you’ve never listened to a full-cast audiobook, you definitely should add this to your list of books to listen to this summer.
For years, Kya Clark has survived alone in the marshes of the North Carolina coast. Dubbed “The Marsh Girl” by the locals, she was abandoned by her family and has been raised by nature itself. Now, as she comes of age, she begins to yearn for something more than her loneliness – maybe even a connection with the locals. An exquisitely written tale that quickly became one of 2018’s bestselling books, Where the Crawdads Sing is one of last year’s must-reads that would be a great book to read this summer.
In Clanton, Mississippi, in 1946, Pete Banning, a war-decorated veteran and one of the town’s favorite sons, walks into church one Sunday and shoots to death his friend Revered Bell. As Banning’s trial begins and he refuses to say a word, his lawyer must delve into the past in an attempt to save his client. I love all of John Grisham’s early books, so I always take heart whenever I hear he has new books out. The Reckoning spent 22 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, which earned it a place on our list of summer books.
One of the most popular books of 2018, Rachel Hollis’s motivational book Girl, Wash Your Face, seems to be one of the most talked-about books of last year. Honestly, Hollis’s writing seems to provoke extreme reactions – you’ll either love it or hate it. Honestly, I loved it (Jaclyn not so much). It was just what I needed to hear at the time. If you ever feel like you aren’t enough or tend to be too hard on yourself, give this book a try. And if you already loved this book, then be sure to add her latest hit Girl, Stop Apologizing to your stack of books to read this summer.
Great Recent Books To Read This Summer
If you want a thriller to add to your summer reading list, try out Ruth Ware’s 2016 bestseller. Travel journalist Lo Blacklock sets out on assignment to cover a luxury cruise through Norway’s fjords. However, on her first night, she thinks she hears some fall (or be pushed) overboard from the neighboring cabin. Yet according to the crew, Cabin 10 is unoccupied, even though Lo is certain she met the woman staying there. Ruth Ware leads you through a fun little mystery that I found compelling though not realistic. This quick read would be the perfect summer book for a plane ride or a day at the beach.
Don’t thrillers just make the perfect summer books? In case you happened to miss this series, J. K. Rowling hits her stride in her mystery series about Cormoran Strike. An Iraqi war vet with a prosthetic leg, Strike decides to set up a private investigation agency. His first big break: the suicide of supermodel Lulu Landry. With the help of his temp secretary Robin, the gruff Strike makes an interesting main character, and the mystery itself doesn’t disappoint in this fun summer thriller.
Summer books don’t have to just be thrillers. If you are looking for a gorgeous novel about family relationships and feminism, try this book club favorite. Born in Boston in 1900 to Jewish immigrants, Addie Baum embraces life in America in a way her parents never truly can. She wants to go to college, find true love, and live her own truth. Told from the perspective of an old woman looking back on her life, The Boston Girl gives a magnificent portrayal of Addie’s life and her search to find her place in the world.
Similar to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, this celebrity memoir/self-improvement book chronicles one women’s year of self-improvement: in this case, of saying yes. Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and off of ABC’s Thursday night line up, realized that, though the top of her career, she wasn’t happy. When her sisters observed, “You never say yes to anything, ” Shonda discovers her sister is correct. She has let fear hold her back. You’ll find Rhimes’ account at times hilarious and at the time deeply touching. It makes you wonder what you are letting hold you back and belongs at the top of the list of great books to read this summer.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Seriously, if you are just dipping your toe into World War II novels, you should choose this one. You’ll find yourself immersed in a world of intrigue with the story of a British spy, Agent “Verity.” Captured when her plane crashes in occupied France, Verity is interrogated by the Gestapo in an attempt to learn of her mission. As she confesses under torture, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering what secrets she is willing to exchange for her life. How far is she willing to go for her mission? A brilliant and emotional read that you won’t want to leave off your summer reading list.
Summer Books You May Have Missed
Liane Moriarty always epitomizes book club pick for me, so you can’t go wrong adding her to your summer reading list. Alice Love wakes up after collapsing in spin class to discover that she is not a newly married 29-year-old pregnant with her first child. In actuality, she’s a 39-year-old mom of three children going through a brutal divorce. With no memory of the last decade, Alice must try to figure out where it all went wrong. Summer books are at their best when they are equally entertaining and thought-provoking, and What Alice Forgot provides plenty of both.
One of the most powerful memoirs of the last decade, Jeannette Walls recounts the story of her tumultuous childhood. She opens the book with the account of how at 3 years old, she ends up hospitalized with severe burns after pouring scalding water on herself when cooking hot dogs for lunch. You meet her charming father Rex, equal measures brilliant and paranoid; her mother Rose, selfish and depressed; and her three siblings, trying their best just to survive. To quote my husband, “Sometimes someone’s train wreck of a life is fascinating.”
If you’re looking for unique summer books to read, try David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Told as six different interconnecting short stories, Mitchell seriously shows off his writing prowess in this original novel. You start with the journal of an explorer in 1850, then jump from a 1930s Belgian composer to a 1970s investigative journalist, present-day England, dystopian Korea, and post-apocalyptic Hawaii. Before you can catch your breath, the stories slingshot back in reverse order, revealing an overarching narrative that’s more than the sum of its parts.
Although more often than not people reach for light and fluffy beach reads, sometimes you just want summer books that are a bit meatier. David McCullough is the king of history, and you can’t go wrong with any of his books. In this astounding work, McCullough tells of one year of the American Revolution – of the leadership of George Washington, the brilliance of Nathanael Greene, and the ingenuity of Henry Knox. Giving a fascinating look at the war that lead to American independence, McCullough brings history to life for even non-history buffs.
If you loved the BBC miniseries for North and South, you should also pick up a copy of the novel. One of my favorite romances, North and South revolves around Margaret Hale, the preacher’s daughter uprooted from her country home to live in the smog of industrializing London. There she meets John Thornton, the harsh owner of a textile mill. Throw in labor riots, social justice concerns and a dash of Victorian romance and you have a perfect long classic book to read this summer.
What summer books are you most excited to read this year?