9 Books That Will Make Great Summer Reads

Summer Reading List - woman next to bookcase smiling as she turns pages of a book

Add These Books To Your Summer Reading List

Summer is just around the corner, and if you need some ideas for your summer reading list, I’m here to help! I’ve got 9 book picks from various genres to share with you, each of which will transport you to another time or place.

Even if you don’t have a vacation or trip planned this summer, any of these books can provide an escape! You can check out all the books featured in the list below in my Books list on Amazon.

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I’ve also written a post about my favorite historical fiction books, so if you love that genre, be sure to check it out!

9 Books You Should Read This Summer

Summer Reading List - Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a coming-of-age story about a reclusive young girl named Kya, but it’s also a mystery, a drama, a romance, and an ode to nature and the coastal marshes of North Carolina.

I didn’t know very much about the plot when I started reading this book, and by the time I finished it I was very glad I didn’t! It’s one of those stories that is best experienced by simply diving in, but I will say that it captures both the harshness of abandonment and survival, and the wonder and beauty of being alive. (Also, the movie based on this book that came out last year is currently streaming on Netflix!)

Summer Reading List - West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

2. West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

If you love stories about the bonds formed between animals and humans, you’ll love West with Giraffes. The book is loosely based on an incredible true story about a pair of giraffes who survive a hurricane as they’re shipped across the Atlantic. Once in New York, the giraffes are loaded onto a truck and driven over 3,000 miles to their new home at the San Diego Zoo.

The story is seen through the eyes of 17-year-old Dust Bowl native Woody Nickel, who is charged with driving the truck across the country. The author perfectly blends history, fiction, zoology, romance, intrigue, and heart into this story, which is sure to make you laugh, cry, and fall in love with giraffes.

Summer Reading List - Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

3. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Having grown up in the ‘70s, reading Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was like getting into a time machine. Reid perfectly captures the genius, decadence, and wild creativity of the music scene in that era, and getting to “experience” it through this story was utterly captivating.

Being set during a time of “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this book depicts those things. But it doesn’t depict those things in detail (and I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book as much if it had), and I thought Reid handled that aspect well.

One final note: if you like audiobooks, this one is excellent — it’s narrated by a full cast that does an amazing job (especially Jennifer Beals as Daisy!) There’s also a TV show based on the book out now on Amazon Prime.

Summer Reading List - The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille

4. The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille

The Gold Coast, set in 1920’s New York, centers on the lives of the super-rich living on the “Gold Coast,” a famous stretch of the North Shore of Long Island. The status quo among the residents is upended when a Mafia Don moves into the neighborhood and brings his world of criminality and violence with him.

Despite the book being more suspenseful than romantic, I definitely developed a “book crush” on the main character John Sutter. Sutter’s delightfully dry wit is a mainstay of both his inner monologue and his dialogue throughout the book.

Summer Reading List - The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

5. The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

The Gate House is the sequel to The Gold Coast, and as with many other sequels to a bestseller, it was highly anticipated and had a lot to live up to. In my opinion, this book and its author didn’t miss a beat.

While the suspense of the first book was thrilling, what I enjoyed most about it was DeMille’s characters. More specifically, it was John Sutter, the brilliant, snarky, and fearless protagonist. After reading The Gold Coast, I mostly wanted more John, and I’m glad that’s what I got!

The story takes place 10 years after the events in the first book, after John has done some soul searching and settled down in London. But when a funeral brings him back to the infamous Gold Coast, the relationships and lifestyle he left behind threaten to pull him back in.

Summer Reading List - Book Lovers by Emily Henry

6. Book Lovers by Emily Henry

With each book she writes, I love Emily Henry’s writing more and more. Book Lovers is the third title of hers I’ve read (People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read being the first two), and I think it’s her best one yet!

Book Lovers is the perfect romance for bookish, independent women, as its lead female character is cut from the same cloth. Nora is a literary agent who bumps into Charlie, a book editor she knows and dislikes, while vacationing with her sister in a small town in North Carolina.

As they continue to run into each other, Nora and Charlie exchange a metric ton of snarky repartee, and I loved all of it. To be sure, this is a classic enemies-to-lovers romance teeming with additional tropes (career woman from the city visits a small town, etc.), but it also subverts its tropes in unique and delightful ways.

Summer Reading List - Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

7. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Despite being published way back in 1958, Nine Coaches Waiting still manages to feel thrilling and fresh all these years later. The story features familiar elements from literary classics like Jane Eyre and Rebecca, as well as a dash of Cinderella in the way Linda, who spent years in an orphanage, encounters the tall, dark, and handsome Raoul.

It’s impossible not to hold your breath alongside Linda as she attempts to unravel a potentially sinister plot. Can she separate the facts from her feelings of suspicion and attraction? If you enjoy a good page-turner, this one won’t disappoint.

Summer Reading List - Thank You For Listening by Julia Whelan

8. Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and one of my favorite narrators is Julia Whelan. A while ago I learned Julia Whelan is as talented an author as she is a narrator when I read her novel My Oxford Year. When I realized she had a new book out, Thank You for Listening, it immediately went to the top of my list.

The story centers on Sewanee, a former actress turned audiobook narrator who loses sight of her dreams after an accident. She agrees to narrate one last romance novel, and the process takes her on a journey of self-discovery that challenges her cynical outlook.

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a romantic comedy novel more than I enjoyed this one! I was laughing out loud from the get-go, and once Sewanee met Nick, I was hooked and couldn’t bring myself to stop listening.

Summer Reading List - The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

9. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Emily Henry, author of Book Lovers and one of my favorite contemporary rom-com writers, summed up the appeal of this book perfectly: “Katherine Center’s The Bodyguard is my perfect 10 of a book. As funny and sweet as all the very best nineties rom-coms, but with Center’s signature heart-tugging depth. I wish I could erase it from my mind just to read it again for the first time.”

The story centers on Hannah, the titular bodyguard who looks more like a librarian than anything, and Jack, the A-list celebrity she’s assigned to protect. As Hannah guards Jack from the threat posed by a stalker, she learns that he’s more than a handsome face — he’s also a nice guy whose painful past mirrors her own.

This is a “closed door romance,” which I actually found quite refreshing. This story’s lack of steamy scenes feels like a natural choice, rather than any sort of statement. If you enjoy fun rom-coms with emotional depth, you’ll love this one too!

How do you choose books to read on vacation?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • I am reading book 25 of a 26 book series by Jana DeLeon. It is the Miss Fortune Series. 1st book is Louisiana Longshot. You will fall in love with all the characters in the first book. I read the first one and was hooked! Mystic Cove series by Tricia O’Malley is a great series also. (along with many other series she has) Enjoy!

  • I am so disappointed in many of the new books that are presented as a “cozy, romantic read”. The use of the “F” word is so prolific throughout many of these offerings. I reserve & check out many books; however, most of them lately have been returned unread because of this. Goodness! However did authors write a book without this particular word?!
    Hopefully the books on this list will give us all some better options. Thank you for the ideas.

  • If you like mystical books, Tricia O’Malley has several great series. I love her books! Mystic Cove Series is one of my favorites. :)

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