Certain books are so summer-y, sand practically falls out of their pages. Which novels best evoke the smell of sunscreen, the ocean’s spray, the soaring temperatures? Check out these 17 novels set in summer, perfect for reading on the beach, the back porch, or your favorite air-conditioned reading nook!
1) I love that HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE shows Harry doing something fun in the summer time. The opening, set at the Quidditch World Cup, is one of my favorite parts of the whole series. Despite the fact that it’s also the beginning of Voldemort’s return, it was refreshing to read about Harry getting the chance to just be a normal wizard, cheering for his team and hanging out with friends.
Christina June, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, HarperCollins/Blink, May 9, 2017
2) Jenny Han’s SUMMER series is one of my favorites. The books, starting with THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY, have Han’s trademark sweetness and innocence while tackling bigger issues. And the romance? One of my all-time favorites.
Tracey Neithercott, GRAY WOLF ISLAND, Random House/Knopf, Fall 2017
3) I really liked ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. Two college roommates-to-be, currently living on opposite coasts, get to know each other long-distance as their home lives (and love lives) become unexpectedly complicated.
Kate Hart, AFTER THE FALL, FSG/Macmillan, January 24, 2017
4) Emery Lord’s OPEN ROAD SUMMER is one I absolutely adore. Best friends, music, fame, adorable boys, and the open road–what’s not to love?
Kate Watson, SEEKING MANSFIELD, Jolly Fish Press, Spring 2017
5) THIS LULLABY by Sarah Dessen. It’s probably my favorite book ever.
Tiffany Pitcock, JUST FRIENDS, MacMillan/Swoon Reads, March 14, 2017
6) I love Cynthia Lord’s HALF A CHANCE. It combines so many of the things I love about summer books and middle grade books: kids exploring nature by themselves. Trying to live up to a parent’s expectations. Trying to establish an identity outside of those parents. A new home. A summer away. A quest to save someone or something. The power of self-expression. Adventures on the open water. A tear-jerker. So good.
Jen Petro-Roy, P.S. I MISS YOU, MacMillan/Feiwel & Friends, Fall 2017
7) I know I’m always quick to jump aboard the Judy Blume love train, but this list wouldn’t be complete without Blume’s 1974 middle-grade classic, IGGIE’S HOUSE. In this groundbreaking novel, which takes place during the last two weeks of August, Blume tells the tale of Winnie, a gum-cracking tomboy, who makes it her mission to welcome the new neighbors to town. The problem is, the other residents of Grove Street aren’t as welcoming. In fact, they’re working on a petition to send the Garbers packing, ASAP. Why? Because the Garber family is black. What follows is an honest, albeit dated, exploration of race relations in white 1970s suburbia. Classic, not-to-be-missed Blume.
Melissa Roske, KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN, Charlesbridge, May 2, 2017
8) Weirdly I have to say TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I think the beginning, at least, is set in summer – but it’s firmly entrenched in my mind as a summer book because I read it for required reading, sitting by the pool the summer before my freshman year of high school. And I FELL into this book so hard. I felt like I WAS Scout, running around freely in the childish innocence of summer – feeling that same Alabama heat and that sense that I was aging out of childhood and about to meet head-on the harsh, unfair realities of the adult world. That book hit home for me because I was living in this same state where these things had really happened to black people and were still happening; it was like a call to action for me and each new generation of Alabamians to stop repeating this history. Every time I re-read it I’m transported back to that time in my life and all those feelings are still there, as harsh and fresh as the first time.
Heather Kaczynski, DARE MIGHTY THINGS, HarperCollins/HarperTeen, Fall 2017
9) Meg Medina’s recent young adult novel BURN BABY BURN is set in the summer of 1977 in New York. It’s the time of disco, punk, polyester suits, and the serial killer Sam Berkowitz. What I loved about this novel is that Meg writes about the monsters outside (Son of Sam) and the monsters that live within your own family. Her protagonist Nora is trying to navigate conflicting feelings of being loyal to her family when it’s no longer safe for her to do so.
Lilliam Rivera, THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ, Simon & Schuster, February 21, 2017
10) I love A.S. King’s EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, which takes place over the summer after Lucky’s sophomore year. Lucky’s left to deal with a father who’s checked out, a mother who pretends everything’s fine, a grandfather who never came home from Vietnam, and Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying. The only place Lucky feels like a real man is in his dreams, where he meets his grandfather in POW camps in Laos. It’s funny, and painful, and beautiful, and honest, and I love that you’re never quite sure what’s real and what isn’t for Lucky.
Jared Reck, YOU’RE THE NERDS, Knopf Books for Young Readers, Fall 2017
11) I really loved Rebecca Maizel’s BETWEEN US AND THE MOON. It tackles some complicated relationships really beautifully and the whole reading experience just *feels* like summer.
Laurie Devore, HOW TO BREAK A BOY, Macmillan/Imprint :: January 31, 2017
12) The twist at the end of WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart will make you spit your lemonade (or other summer beverage of choice)! The evocative private island on which the drama unfolds over several summers perfectly compliments this haunting story.
Jennifer Fenn, FLIGHT RISK, MacMillan/Roaring Brook Press, Spring 2017
13) I loved loved loved Lindsay Eagar’s , HOUR OF THE BEES set in a sweltering southwest desert. I feel like I need a drink of water just writing that!
Wendy McLeod MacKnight, IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG-FACE!, Sky Horse/Sky Pony, February 7, 2017
14) Corey Ann Haydu’s RULES FOR STEALING STARS is not only one of my favorite summer books, it’s one of my favorite recent books, period. The story is heartfelt and honest, and the characters are heartbreakingly real. I couldn’t put it down (which also makes it perfect to read IN summer)!
Jilly Gagnon, #famous, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, February 14, 2017
15) When I was ten years old, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to read anything involving a female protagonist. I was also darn sure I didn’t want to read anything that might even tickle the edges of what one would call a “love story.”
And then a teacher shoved Bette Greene’s SUMMER OF MY GERMAN SOLDIER into my hands, and my horizons as a reader broadened. I’m so very glad they did.
Jake Burt, WE ARE (SO NOT) THE TREVORS, MacMillan/Feiwel and Friends, Spring 2017
16) I have two favorites. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (the end of that book made me bawl and I just don’t do that), and The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud (also one of my favorite movies. Mostly because of Zac Efron…)
Gwen Cole, COLD SUMMER, Sky Pony/Sky Horse, May 2017
17) When I was a kid I read Lois Lowry’s A SUMMER TO DIE about a girl whose older, perfect sister gets sick and eventually (you guessed it) dies. OMG, I cried buckets, and I know people who lost siblings that said that book was just perfect as to how they felt. I’m glad I never had to personally find out, but from that heart-breaking book I have a pretty good idea.
Erin Beaty, THE TRAITOR’S KISS, MacMillan, Fall 2017