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Discover the best books about summer for adults to read on lazy, hazy days this year. Summer is when many readers try to catch up on reading, which makes it all the harder to pick the best seasonal books.

That’s why I read as many summer-themed books as possible over several years and showcased the best of all time here. Browse the list to find the right book for your own Summer self-care below!

best books about summer.

Top 3 Best Books About Summer of All Time

TOP PICKS

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune: best for fans of contemporary romance

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle: best for fans of Gilmore Girls

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand: best for fans of historical fiction

Quick List of Summer-Themed Books for Adults (By Genre)

METHODOLOGY

To pare this list of the best books about summer down to a manageable size, I decided to include ONLY books I have read and recommend and ONLY books with summer in the title, so as to focus on books that have summer at their core. I’m also limiting the number of books to 25 and refining it over time as I read more summer-themed books.

Romance Novels and Rom-Coms


Light Mystery Novels


Beach Reads


Historical Fiction


Young Adult (YA) Novels Adults Will Love


Other Summer-Themed Fiction

Details of the Best Books About Summer (In Alphabetical Order)

Read these books about Summer in The Literary Lifestyle’s Summer Reading Challenge.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

  • #1 New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of “same time next year” romances

My Review: ★★★★★

28 Summers has it all: a preppy Nantucket setting. It’s light but still has substance. It has well-drawn-out characters and realistic (yet clever) dialogue. Lastly, it’s compulsively readable.

It’s a summer romance novel about two people, Mallory Blessing and Jake McCloud, who decide to have a “same time next year” meeting that lasts each Labor Day weekend over the course of, you guessed it, 28 Summers. Naturally, this becomes more complicated with age, marriage, and kids.

While I can normally be critical about books that glamorize affairs, this book did it in a really smart way. It showed that all relationships are different and complex.

Finally, my favorite part was that each “year” included a rundown of all the pop culture items we were talking about at the time. It was a really fun addition to a book set over a few decades.

28 Summers was a 5-star read for me. I read it during the beginning of the Coronavirus quarantine, and I honestly felt like it “saved” me during this dark experience.

Related Posts: Best Elin Hilderbrand Books | Elin Hilderbrand Books in Order


All the Summers in Between by Brooke Lea Foster

Best for Fans of Beatriz Williams and Kristin Hannah

My Review: ★★★★☆

All the Summers In Between transports the reader to the Hamptons in 1967 and 1977. There, the rebellious visitor Margot meets and befriends the reliable local girl Thea. But, after their music-filled summer of sun and fun, a terrible incident drives them apart.

Ten summers later, Thea is a stay-at-home mom dreaming of self-fulfillment through art. Margot secretly returns and brings with her more problems that need fixing. Thea wants to help, yet she also doesn’t trust Margot based on the past.

This is quite a complex female friendship! It shows the power some people have to force others outside their comfort zone, for better and for worse.

The book balanced many things just right. It takes the reader back in time without ever feeling too historical, and it offers a light mystery without ever feeling too much like a thriller. I also loved how the “secret” from the past unfolded methodically over the course of the novel. It kept me intrigued yet didn’t make me feel overly impatient to learn what it was. Overall, it was really finely balanced.

It’s a no-brainer for fans of Beatriz Williams and Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. I was thinking of both of these authors the whole time!


Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

  • Instant New York Times bestseller

Best for New Adults

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Big Summer is a Cape Cod wedding-turned-murder mystery involving young social media influencers. It maintains a light tone and reads very easily, making it a good beach read for New Adults.

Six years after a fallout, Daphne is surprised when her former best friend, Drue, asks her to be the maid-of-honor at her high-profile wedding. Despite their estrangement and Daphne’s new life as a plus-size Instagram influencer, she is tempted by the allure of Drue’s world.

It’s a modern tale of female friendship that explores what it’s like to live life online, and it’s an enjoyable Summer read from an author like Elin Hilderbrand.


The Edge of Summer by Viola Shipman

Best for fans of Hallmark movies

My Review: ★★★☆☆

The Edge of Summer blends a few genres, like light mystery, family drama, and romance, but overall it’s a beach read for fans of Hallmark movies. All of these genres are handled lightly and with saccharine tones, weaving themes of “buttons,” sewing, and small-town charm into the narrative.

Sutton is grieving the loss of her mother due to COVID-19 (trigger warning, but it’s handled with care) when she learns her mother may have lied when she said her family all died in a house fire.

This leads her to a charming lake town in Michigan, where she meets a handsome athlete-turned-antique shop owner (yes, really!) and “unravels” the dark secrets of the past over the course of the summer.

It’s a good choice for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Dorothea Benton Frank.


Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

  • New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of nostalgia and lake settings

My Review: ★★★★☆

Every Summer After has become one of the most popular summer love stories. It emotionally taps into the nostalgia of first love and second chances with characters you’ll root for.

Over the course of six Summers in Barry’s Bay, teenagers Persephone and Sam fall in love. Then, one Thanksgiving tears them apart. Years later, Persephone returns to Barry’s Bay for the funeral of Sam’s mother, and she must face how she feels about him after all this time.

This romance novel offers friendship, love, angst, conflict, family, and more. You’ll love it as much as everyone else does!

Related Post: Carley Fortune Books | Every Summer After Review


A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

  • New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of dramatic historical fiction

My Review: ★★★☆☆

A Hundred Summers is a salacious historical fiction book about summer in which Williams masterfully connects the hurricane of 1938, which decimated a shore town in Rhode Island, with fiction.

It’s the story of glamorous Lily Dane and her old college football-playing flame, who shows up for a summer at Seaview, Rhode Island, married to her friend (or, as one may say, “frenemy”).

That’s just the beginning of the drama and interconnectedness of these characters. A passive-aggressive summer comes to a head when the great hurricane hits.

If you are a fan of historical fiction but don’t want anything too heavy for summer, I think you will like this one.


Jackpot Summer by Elyssa Friedland

  • USA Today bestseller

Best for fans of light family dramas

My Review: ★★★★☆

Jackpot Summer is a unique summer read because it offers a family drama but maintains a light tone.

It also offers a really creative plot: four adult siblings are struggling in life and with their grief of their mother’s death. Three of them join forces to buy lottery tickets, but the wealthiest sibling declines. They win and become instant millionaires, which should solve all of their problems, right?! Wrong.

The predicaments caused by their striking gold are both humorous and thought-provoking. It’s unlike any family saga I’ve read, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!


Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez

Best for fans of the fake dating trope

My Review: ★★★★★

Just For the Summer proves that Abby Jimenez can continue to deliver everything her readers love.

Justin feels cursed. Every woman he dates finds her soulmate just after breaking up with him. In a twist of fate, he meets, Emma, who is similarly “cursed.” Together, they create a plan to date each other and break up, so they can go on to live happily ever after with someone else.

Emma gets a nursing job and rents an adorable cottage on Lake Minnetonka near Justin to bring this plan to life. There, they connect deeper than expected over their “mommy” issues. (trigger warning) But, the chaos left by Emma’s mom just may be too complicated to make the plan work.

This summer romance novel features my favorite couple in Abby Jimenez’s books. They are quirky, loveable, have great chemistry, and support each other through difficult life issues. There is also one spicy scene for steamy romance lovers!

The quirky supporting cast rounds out this “slightly more complicated than normal” romance. It’s great for those who like a little bit of realistic drama in their escape reads.


Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

Best for fans of Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

My Review: ★★★☆☆

In Last Summer at the Golden Hotel, The Golden Hotel, owned by the Goldman and Weingold families, was the hottest resort in the Catskills for more than sixty years. But the Catskills have lost their luster, and so has the relationship between the Goldmans and the Weingolds.

As everything begins to fall apart, both figuratively and literally, an offer to purchase the property brings these two families together to decide its fate.

In the process, old secrets and new drama emerge, and everyone has something to say about it. Business and pleasure converge in this light, nostalgia-filled story filled with memorable characters.

It’s a great light novel that blends Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.


One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

  • New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of Gilmore Girls

My Review: ★★★★★

Set on the Amalfi coast, One Italian Summer follows Katy’s solo “vacation” after the death of her beloved mother, who had spent the summer there just before she met Katy’s father.

Magical realism comes into play when Kary meets a woman who doesn’t just look like her mother but appears to be her mother at age 30. This changes the course of Katy’s grief and her life. Plus, there’s a twist you won’t see coming.

Serle is known for blending grief with magical realism, and she’s at her best here. It’s immersive, emotional, and memorable.

Pro tip: This is one of the best audiobooks of all-time, perfectly narrated by Gilmore Girls’ own charming mother, Lauren Graham. I highly recommend this version.


Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan

  • National bestseller

Best for fans of first love stories

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Same Time Next Summer is a buzz-worthy novel about a woman whose seemingly perfect life is disrupted when she unexpectedly runs into her first love during a visit to her family’s Long Island beach house.

Despite being engaged to her doctor fiancé and having a career in Manhattan, her surprise encounter stirs up old feelings and memories, including why they parted ways.

She grapples with the undeniable connection and is forced to reassess her life. It’s a super satisfying seasonal read that captures the magic of first love.


Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

  •  #1 New York Times bestseller

Best for American History buffs

My Review: ★★★★★

Summer of ’69  is my favorite Elin Hilderbrand book! It has so many things blended into one — historical fiction, family drama, and pop culture.

The plot follows the Levin family during a monumental summer on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

While they usually all spend the summer in Nantucket with their grandmother, this year, Blair is pregnant with twins in Boston, Kirby is working in Martha’s Vineyard, Tiger is fighting in Vietnam, and only young Jessie is vacationing with their grandmother on Nantucket.

When the Summer of ’69 heats up, Senator Ted Kennedy’s car sinks in Chappaquiddick in Martha’s Vineyard, causing the death of a woman. And, a man flies to the moon, all amidst a backdrop of civil rights and war.

Summer of ’69 immerses you in the family’s lives and transports you to the 1960s at the same time, making for an extremely satisfying read. I simply could not stop researching the book and its historical context!

Related Post: Best Books About Martha’s Vineyard


Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin

  • New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of diverse fiction

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Summer on the Bluffs takes place in my favorite summer hot spot, Martha’s Vineyard, and it’s filled with diverse characters and viewpoints.

A wealthy godmother of three twentysomething women invites them to spend one last summer with her before she chooses one to whom she will give the island estate come summer’s end.

Each of these goddaughters deals with life issues during this time. Meanwhile, their godmother also reveals the secrets behind her becoming part of their lives, which may forever change their relationships.

Read this one for a Martha’s Vineyard setting, light family drama, and diverse characters.


The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther

  • USA Today bestseller

Best for fans of Taylor Swift

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Summer of Broken Rules was inspired by Taylor Swift’s songs!

Meredith is a teen coping with the loss of her beloved sister when she visits the family’s Martha’s Vineyard island farm for a week that will culminate in her cousin’s wedding.

Prior to the wedding, the family plays a competitive game of Assassin and, in an attempt to win it all in memory of her sister, Meredith forms an alliance with a cute groomsman named Wit.

But it’s not all fun and games when their adventures around the island stir up romantic feelings. At issue are whether Meredith can still focus on the game, and what will become of this whirlwind romance when the week concludes.

It’s filled with all those warm and fuzzy feelings of lighthearted young summer love. It left me with a huge smile on my face.

Related Post: Taylor Swift Book Recommendations


Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster

Best for fans of 1960s Americana

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Summer Darlings is both historical and dramatic, like a soap opera. It made me think of what the 1960s on Martha’s Vineyard may have felt like for the Kennedys.

In 1962, Brooklyn coed Heddy becomes a nanny for a wealthy family on Martha’s Vineyard.

As she gets an insider’s look into the lives of the rich and famous and dates various island men of different classes, she comes of age as she ultimately questions whether a rich lifestyle will solve her problems or create more of them.

There’s even some suspense! Read it for a historical fiction narrative that feels juicy at the same time.


Summer Fridays by Suzanne Rindell

Best for Fans of You’ve Got Mail

My Review: ★★★★☆

Summer Fridays takes the reader back to New York City in the early 2000s. Sawyer is an engaged aspiring writer who works in publishing. Her fiance has been spending long hours at work with his female colleague, which makes Sawyer and the colleague’s boyfriend, Nick, suspicious.

Over emails, Sawyer and Nick grow to like each other, and they begin spending their “Summer Fridays” around town. Not only do they have to figure out whether their spouses are cheating, but whether what they really want is each other.

It felt so refreshing to bookishly travel back to a time when people wrote back and forth to each other with so much meaning. And, of course, New York City was the perfect backdrop for this. The story remains light and engaging throughout, but you do need to be okay with reading about cheating.


The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

  • New York Times bestseller
  • Amazon Prime TV series

Best for fans of young adult dramas

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Summer I Turned Pretty begins a trilogy that follows teenage “Belly” as she, her single mom, and her brother visit their shared beach house with her mom’s friend and her two sons.

It’s about how a young teen starts to bloom from that awkward stage to that “getting noticed” by boys stage. But, as life in the beach house takes a difficult turn, the course of Belly’s teenage life forever changes.

If you like dramatic YA romance books, you are bound to enjoy it. I also very highly recommend the exceptionally executed adaptation.

Related Post: The Summer I Turned Pretty Book Series


The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

  • Instant New York Times bestseller

Best for “coastal grandmother” vibes

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Inspired by the coastal grandmother aesthetic, The Summer Place is the story of Sarah, who is shocked when her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter, Ruby, announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend. Ruby wants the wedding to be held at Sarah’s family’s Cape Cod home before it’s sold.

As the big wedding day approaches, generations of women encounter family drama. And, when the wedding day finally arrives, secrets that change everyone forever are revealed.

It’s a big-hearted story about family sacrifice for coastal grandmothers.


Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Best for fans of second-chance romances after grief and divorce

My Review: ★★★☆☆

I would read just about anything Monaghan writes, but the title of this one says it all. Summer Romance? Yes, please!

Everything is going wrong in Ali’s life, as a single mom and divorcee whose mother had died, when her dog claims a man for her — by peeing on him.

Since summer romances are so light and non-committal, she takes a chance. As they each help each other through some “hard stuff,” though, she starts falling hard.

This book balances the light and heavy sides of life just right. The heavy stuff makes the couple feel real, and the light stuff makes the book feel romantic. It’s not spicy, and it’s super breezy to read. It’s a great choice for fans of Abby Jimenez.


Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Best for fans of light Southern mysteries

You’re either a “Saint” or you ain’t! Summers at the Saint is exactly what you’d expect from a summer mystery by Mary Kay Andrews. It offers a light mystery with a Southern twist.

St. Cecelia is a historic hotel in coastal Georgia. Traci Eddings, once an outsider, now finds herself a widowed owner striving to restore the property to its glory.

She struggles with everything from staff shortages to financial woes, family drama, and even another death that hits close to home. With the help of the summer staff, she uncovers secrets of both a past drowning and this recent tragic death. Meanwhile, her love life also heats up.

I’m calling it a cozy Southern mystery for beach read season. It reads like an episode of Southern Charm but with even more scandal and intrigue.


Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Best for fans of coming-of-age stories

My Review: ★★★★☆

Summer Sisters is a modern summer classic celebrating 25+ years of relevance. It’s the summer of 1977 and Victoria Leonard’s life forever changes when dazzling and reckless Caitlin Somers becomes her friend. Vix enters the world of privilege, which is filled with exclusive vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, where their friendship blooms.
 
Years later, Vix is working in New York City, and Caitlin is getting married on Martha’s Vineyard. Although their friendship has faded, Caitlin begs Vix to come to be her maid of honor.

Vix agrees to go because she wants to better understand what happened during their last Summer.

Summer Sisters is one book I didn’t want to end, and I have saved my copy since the late 1990s. It’s a coming-of-age story I hope to read again soon.


The Summer of Songbirds by Kristy Woodson Harvey

  • Instant New York Times bestseller

Best for summer camp enthusiasts

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Summer of Songbirds is a delightful story with all those nostalgic summer camp vibes. It mixes the depth of real-life drama and conflict with the lightheartedness of a beach read.

Three decades prior, June developed Camp Holly Springs into a summer retreat for girls, including her beloved niece, Daphne, but now its future is at stake.

Meanwhile, Daphne and her old Summer camp friends Lanier and Mary Stuart are still in touch, navigating all of life’s “hard things” together as adults.

Lanier is engaged, but she is tempted by an old flame. Daphne is keen to a business secret about Lanier’s fiance that she can’t tell. At the same time, Daphne herself reignites the spark of an old flame (Lanier’s brother), which is a relationship Lanier has not been keen on.

These conflicts, along with the demons of addiction and the hardships of single parenthood, come to a head when the women unite to save the camp.

It’s not as dark as it may seem. The characters and their friendships feel both real and mature. These are women used to coping with “hard things” together, and they do so as they work on their love lives.


The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

  • New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of historical fiction mysteries

My Review: ★★★★☆

Sometimes a book just suits you. I really felt that way about Summer Wives. This dramatic historical fiction book reminded me in different ways of great books like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Rules of Civility, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Need I say more?!

As far as I am concerned, Summer Wives doesn’t need a review or a summary. If you like the above books, just read it! It’s filled with the escapist drama of the rich and famous on an exclusive island, with some added mystery.


That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Instant New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of the #MeToo movement

My Review: ★★★★★

That Summer is not your typical narrative in the best books about summer. It starts as a teenage Diana heads to Cape Cod to babysit for the summer. I envisioned a sweet, nostalgia-filled season. Then, it happened. She was raped.

Decades later, she’s still struggling to cope with the trauma of her rape, when she begins an online friendship with another woman named Diana. But, their acquaintance wasn’t by chance after all, and there’s a whole lot more to unpack in this unlikely friendship.

Despite the difficult subject matter, it was utterly captivating and really beautifully told. I highly recommend it if the content isn’t a trigger for you.


This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune

  • Instant #1 New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of steamy secret romances

My Review: ★★★★☆

This Summer Will Be Different transports the reader to Prince Edward Island for a picturesque love story with countless nods to Anne of Green Gables.

Years ago, while visiting her best friend Bridget’s beach house, Lucy had an electrifying rendezvous with Bridget’s brother, Felix. The problem? Bridget specifically forbade Lucy from falling in love with him. Over the years, their chemistry remains both palpable and secret.

Now, Bridget is getting married, and she frantically calls Lucy and Felix to the beach house just days before the wedding to help her cope with her own secret. Lucy and Felix must confront their feelings again.

This book made me want to jump on a plane! Beyond the perfect setting and lovable couple, there is also a good deal of spice for the steamy romance readers out there. It’s an excellent summer read.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to read over the summer?

Over the summer, read light books set at beaches, lakes, and other sunny destinations. Elin Hilderbrand is known for these types of books, so her works are a good place to start.

What is a summer beach read?

A summer beach read is a light, entertaining book that’s ideal for relaxed reading outdoors. Typically, it features engaging plots, easy-to-follow narratives, and enjoyable characters, perfect for unwinding.

How to make a summer reading list?

Select a mix of genres, such as romance and mystery, that have light narratives and/or summer settings, especially at seasonal hot spots. Also consider catching up on the most popular books of the year so far.

Conclusion

Those are the best Summer books to add to your Summer reading list. To recap and help you decide what to read first or next, my top three picks are:

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