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What makes a book perfect for summer reading?

While no books are off limits for any time of the year, there’s something about reading a book in the summer that is set in the summer that just feels so right for the season. Just like cuddling up with a cozy mystery in the fall feels so right for that season. Or a Christmas novel in December.

While some authors, like Elin Hilderbrand, are known for writing books set in summer, there are others that may not be quite as obvious at first glance.

This post is all about books set in summer that will be perfect for your Summer Reading List.

Let’s dive in!

Books Set in Summer


The Great Gatsby

This classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald is set in the summer of 1922. The heat is so intense in parts of this book, it feels like a character. It follows the life of Jay Gatsby, who is known for his extravagant parties and mysterious past, which attracts the attention of his neighbor, Nick Carraway.

Nick becomes friends with Gatsby and learns about his obsession with Daisy Buchanan, a woman he loved before he went to war.

Gatsby believes that he can win Daisy back, despite the fact that she is now married to another man.

This is one of those books that will make you ask a lot of questions: Is wealth really worth it? Can you buy love? How far are you willing to go to get what you want? And more. There’s a reason this book is a classic.

If you’re looking for a shorter book to add to your summer reading list, The Great Gatsby is only 180 pages.


The River

The River was one of my favorite books of 2019. As the name implies, it takes place while two college students take a canoe trip down a river in the wilderness of northern Canada during their summer break. This book starts off as a very quiet and peaceful trip down a river. It reminds me of the calming effect you get when you’re in nature.

As they move down the river, events take place that turn this book into an intense thriller as they are faced with various challenges. This book is ultimately about friendship and loyalty. If you love being in nature, this book is for you.


Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising is a novel that unfolds over one hot summer night. It tells the story of four siblings who are also the children of a legendary rock star in the 1980s. The book explores family dynamics and relationships between siblings while covering events from the 1950s to the present day. Malibu Rising was the Read with Jenna pick for June 2021.

Although I have not read this book, I am intrigued by a story that takes place over one hot August night and ends with a Malibu mansion burning to the ground. It sounds like a perfect addition to any summer reading list.


Now is Not the Time to Panic

Kevin Wilson tends to write quirky books about quirky characters, and I have yet to read one I didn’t like. Now is Not the Time to Panic is no exception. This book is about friendship, coming of age, and how to face the past. If you’ve ever been curious about how teenagers spent their summers in the 90s, this book is a glimpse into that.

As a 90s kid myself, this book felt like a throwback for me. Now is Not the Time to Panic focuses on two teenagers who are looking for something to do. Out of boredom, they decide to create a sign that they post anonymously all over town.

What starts as innocuous fun turns into so much more. Wilson does a great job writing about female heroines. At 256 pages, this book is a quick read, and I thought it was great on audio.


Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web is a children’s classic that is totally worth re-reading as an adult. This book is about friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice. You can’t help but fall in love with all of the characters, especially the animals and the beloved spider, Charlotte. The story starts in spring when the pig, Wilbur, is born. When Wilbur is born, the farmer is about to slaughter him because he is a runt.

That’s until the farmer’s daughter, Fern, intervenes and promises to take care of him. When he starts to get too big to live in the house, Wilbur is then taken to live on Fern’s uncle’s farm where he meets the other animals who inform him that his fate is to become the Christmas ham.

That’s when Charlotte decides to help him by weaving messages into her web that praise Wilbur’s virtues. The whole town sees this as a miracle, which saves his life. There’s something almost magical about this book.


Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club

loved The Lager Queen of Minnesota, so when I saw that J. Ryan Stradal was coming out with another book, I knew I wanted to read it. Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club covers four generations of women and dives into the complex mother-and-daughter relationships that go with them. This book just felt like summer in the Midwest.

In fact, I would say Stradal’s books often feel like a love letter to the Upper Midwest states.

Don’t let the bright yellow cover deceive you. This book deals with some very heavy topics. If you love books with a strong sense of place, the Lakeside Supper Club and the town where it’s located definitely become a character.  Content Warning: Death of a child.


Surviving Savannah

Have you heard of the Southern Titanic? Well, I hadn’t either until I read Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan Henry. Surviving Savannah tells the story of the steamship Pulaski that sank off the coast of Georgia in the summer of 1838. Wealthy Georgians boarded the Pulaski to escape the grueling heat of a Southern Summer that was supposed to take them to upstate New York.

Unfortunately, the Pulaski never made it to its destination. The book details the events that led to this disaster and the journey that the survivors went through to get back to shore. It also explores the issue of slavery, domestic violence, and the positives and negatives that can result from intense trauma.


Beach Read

Beach Read by Emily Henry is a story about grief, forgiveness, love, and vulnerability. The story begins when January Andrews, a best-selling romance author who is having financial problems and a serious case of writer’s block, inherits a beach house from her recently deceased father. She decides to spend the summer at the beach house, hoping to find inspiration for her next book and possibly sell the property to make ends meet.

To her surprise, January discovers that her next-door neighbor is none other than Augustus “Gus” Everett, a literary fiction writer who also happens to be her college rival. Despite their differences, they strike up an unlikely friendship and unexpected romance. Note: This book includes open-door love scenes.


Evvie Drake Starts Over

I don’t read a ton of romance, but this is one I really enjoyed a few summers back. For me, romance novels need depth to keep my interest, and this one definitely has that. Evvie is a young widow whose husband recently died in a car crash. As a result, she’s become a bit of a recluse. While she is struggling with grief, she is also struggling with guilt because before her husband died, she was getting ready to end the marriage.

Evvie lives in a house in Maine that has an apartment in the back that’s for rent. Evvie’s best friend invites Major League Baseball pitcher Dean Tenney to rent the apartment after he starts struggling with something called the “yips” that keeps him from throwing straight.

The small Maine town makes it a great setting where Dean can regroup. The book explores the friendship that develops between the two as they both grapple with their struggles. Content Warning: Grief.


The Soulmate

I was immediately hooked by this book from the very first chapter. It starts with an intriguing premise about a family living in a beach house on a cliff with a steep drop – a dream house, except for one problem: it’s a popular suicide spot. But that’s all I’ll reveal about the plot. The Soulmate explores themes of marriage, parenting, and mental illness while also exploring perception and reality and how well we truly know someone.

The story is told through alternating points of view and timelines, which could potentially confuse readers, but Hepworth presents it in a way that makes it easy to follow. With its beach setting, The Soulmate would make for a perfect summer read.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

I have been hooked on Agatha Christie ever since reading this book. I picked up this book as part of the Reading Through the Decades Reading Challenge as a book that is set in the 1920s. If you’ve never read any Agatha Christie, this is the perfect book to start with because this is the first book in the Hercule Poirot series.

This book is also set in summer, and the heat of summer ends up playing an interesting role in the case. Poirot is a Belgian refugee turned detective, who investigates the poisoning of wealthy Emily Inglethorp at Styles Court. The case is filled with red herrings, family secrets, and an ingenious use of a will. Poirot is that sleuth that you miss when he’s not on the page.

Where to Buy:

What are You Going to Read Next?

I know. There are so many books to choose from! That’s why I only gave you 11. Hopefully, that makes it a little easier to choose.

Have you read any of these books? Are you adding any of these books to your TBR? I want to hear all about it!

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  1. Lots of fabulous book inspiration for the summer! I have never actually read The Great Gatsby, this might be the year I do. I have piles of charity shop finds, mainly John Grisham and Lee Child books that I really do need to make a start on first though! Sim x

  2. I absolutely love summer reading! Give me a good book and some sunshine and I can enjoy it for hours! I’ve read a few on this list already, will have to check out the ones that I haven’t yet!

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