Where would you like to travel this summer? Paris in the 1980s, Tennessee, to witness the Scopes Monkey Trial, post World War I England, or how about traveling with a group of recently emancipated slaves to establish a Happy Land in the mountains of South Carolina? Or maybe the beaches of Cape Cod will do the trick.

Books to read this summer 2024

Ahh, there’s just something about summer reading, and I’m so glad this glorious reading season is here!

When I think about what makes a good summer reading book, it’s all about the feels. Where I live in Southern California, summer is heat and ocean breezes, afternoons spent by the pool or in my backyard as it starts to cool down in the early evening.

But sometimes I want a book that will take me on an adventure or to another time and place completely.

Whatever you are looking for this summer, this 2024 summer reading list has you covered.

This list truly has something for everyone. Do you want a good romance? It’s here. Dark comedy? You’re covered. Magical realism? Historical fiction? Memoir? Or are you looking to sink into a good literary fiction book this summer?

All of the books on this list were published in 2024, and I ordered them based on their publication date. I also decided to limit the list to books published no later than July.

May this be your best summer reading season to date!

Books to Read This Summer: The 2024 Edition

The American Queen by Vanessa Miller

The American Queen by Vanessa Miller

The American Queen tells the story of a group of formerly enslaved Americans who were forced out of their homes in Mississippi. They travel northward in search of land where they can settle and establish their own community, and they do just that under the leadership of their sweet queen and king in a series of providential events. This is a beautiful and true story about loyalty, survival, trust, power, love, and forgiveness.

This book is great on audio! My favorite part was when the narrator would sing. She really brought Louella to life.

  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Publication Date: January 30, 2024
Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle

Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle

Daphne is a Jewish girl who grew up in the LA area who is normal in every way except one . . . whenever she meets a new man that she is going to date, a piece of paper appears with the man’s name and how long the relationship is going to last. But when the story opens, she gets a paper with a man’s name on it with no expiration date, which leads her to believe he’s the one. The story progresses from there as it alternates between the past and the present. What starts out as a bit of a whimsical love story starts to take shape as it slowly reveals that there’s a lot more going on in Daphne’s life than what meets the eye. I think this would make a perfect book to take to the beach.

  • Publish Date: March 19, 2024
  • Length: 272 pages / 6 hours 54 minutes
  • Genre: Magical Realism, Women’s Fiction, Romance
  • Content Notes: Open Door, but sex scenes are minimal.
You'd Look Better as a Ghost by Joanna Wallace

You’d Look Better as a Ghost by Joanna Wallace

When I was shopping at my local Barnes & Noble recently, the bookseller who rang me up pointed to a stack of books that I could get for 50 percent off because they were the monthly picks for April. She also explained that B&N tries to pick good books that are under the radar and may not be getting as much attention as others, which I think is pretty cool. This one caught my attention, so I decided to pick it up. I love books that can make me laugh, so we will see if this one lives up to my expectations.

Claire is a part-time serial killer who only kills people who deserve it. But when she has a not-so-spontaneous meeting with a man she meets in a bar with intentions for his demise, there’s someone who’s watching her and starting to catch on to her not-so-wholesome hobby. Recommended for fans of the TV show Dexter. Early readers say this is a fast-paced novel that is fun and snarky. I can’t wait to read this one!

  • Genre: Thriller, Dark Comedy
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Publication Date: March 26, 2024

just for the summer abby jimenez

Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez

Justin and Emma both have the same curse — whoever they date finds their soul mate in the next person they date after them. Justin decides to take his complaints to Reddit, and Emma DMs him to tell him she has the same problem. The two start texting and talking on the phone, and they decide they want to see if they can break the curse if they both date each other. The only problem is that Justin lives in Minnesota and Emma is a traveling nurse who is about to head to Hawaii. Will she be able to convince her best friend, who is a traveling nurse with her, to spend her summer in Minneapolis instead of Hawaii? And most importantly, will Emma and Justin be able to break the dreaded curse? I picked this book as my Book of the Month pick for April, and so far, I am thoroughly enjoying it. This book has the perfect summer feels!

  • Genre: Romance
  • Length: 432 pages
  • Publication Date: April 2, 2024

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

This book caught my attention because of the interesting plot. Helen is an author who is in Los Angeles to work on adapting her book for TV. But the real story in this novel is the backstory — more than 10 years ago, Helen’s sister died by suicide when she stepped into oncoming traffic. When in LA, Grant, the man who was driving the car when her sister died, is one of the lead screenwriters who she now has to work very closely with. To say Helen is repulsed by Grant is an understatement. This novel is about how Helen and Grant navigate the tragedy and their unexpected relationship.

If you don’t like open-door romances, you won’t like this one. I kept reading because I wanted to see what happened, but I could have done without the very prevalent and descriptive sex scenes (even though I tried my best to skip past them).

While this is a debut novel by Yulin Kuang, she’s not new to writing. Her day job is working as a writer and director in Hollywood. In fact, Emily Henry fans will be excited to learn that Kuang is currently working on adapting People We Meet on Vacation (screenwriter) and Beach Read (writer/director).

  • Genre: Romance
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Publication Date: April 9, 2024
  • Content Notes: Suicide, grief, angsty, wide open door (see note above).

The French Ingredient by Jane Bertch

The French Ingredient by Jane Bertch

Would an American woman dare to open a cooking school in Paris? That’s exactly what Jane Bertch did. Jane’s first experience in Paris was for a graduation trip when she turned 18, but she left feeling disenchanted by the famous French city after dealing with snobbish waiters and shopkeepers who were impatient and rude as she stumbled with the French language. But when she’s transferred there for work 10 years later, she not only starts to have a new appreciation for the place, she also starts to develop a dream — to open a French cooking school geared toward English-speaking foreigners and tourists who want to learn more about French cooking in a less intimidating setting. Bertch says, “The French Ingredient is a memoir about building a life in Paris one lesson at a time.” Opened in 2009, La Cuisine is now the largest non-professional cooking school in France.

  • Genre: Memoir
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Publication Date: April 9, 2024

The Evolution of Annabel Craig by Lisa Grunwald

The Evolution of Annabel Craig by Lisa Grunwald

I predict that this book will be one of my top books for the year. To say this book is a historical fiction book about the Scopes Monkey Trial doesn’t do it justice. Yes, it is definitely about that, and I loved getting this on-the-ground view of that pivotal trial, but it’s really a story about a young woman named Annabel Craig. Annabel has to navigate living on her own after both her parents died when she was a young teenager, a marriage with an up-and-coming local lawyer, the biggest event to ever happen in Dayton, Tennessee, and her faith in God in the face of it all. I thought it was all beautifully told in this book by Lisa Grunwald. Also, Grunwald can write! I will definitely try to get ahold of her backlist titles.

  • Publish Date: April 16, 2024
  • Length: 320 pages / 12 hours
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Content Notes: Miscarriage

Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth

I have read four or five Sally Hepworth novels, and this might be her best to date. Darling Girls is about three women who grew up in the foster-care system in Australia. The women, who refer to each other as sisters, all lived in the same home with an abusive foster mother. What’s interesting about the abuse is that none of it is physical. It’s all emotional and psychological. But these girls live in fear. I think this book is a good reminder that sometimes emotional and psychological abuse is almost more deceptive than physical abuse because a savvy abuser will convince you that you deserve it. This book also highlights some serious gaslighting and a surprisingly unreliable narrator. I always find unreliable narrators especially creepy.

  • Genre: Mystery & Thrillers | Women’s Fiction
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Publication Date: April 23, 2024
  • Content Notes: Emotional abuse to children

Funny story by Emily Henry

Funny Story by Emily Henry

Daphne is living alone in a small Michigan town following a devastating breakup with her fiance after he realizes he is in love with his childhood best friend, Petra. Daphne keeps to herself while she continues to work her dream job as a children’s librarian. But she is having a hard time making ends meet and needs a roommate. Who else would understand her predicament better than Petra’s ex-boyfriend, Miles, who also needs a place to live? Initially, they live pretty separate lives until a friendship starts to form, and they decide to post fake photos of themselves on social media to taunt their exes. You can only imagine what happens after that. I love the fake romance trope, which is why this one is definitely on my TBR.

Go here for more Emily Henry!

  • Genre: Romance
  • Length: 400 pages
  • Publication Date: April 23, 2024

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl

I read two Reichl memoirs a couple of summers ago, so when I saw that she was coming out with a novel, I was definitely curious. When the book opens, it’s 1983, and Stella is alone in Paris for what appears to be the first time. She stumbles into a vintage clothing store where the shopkeeper forcefully encourages her to try on a vintage Dior dress that transforms her figure, but when she asks for the price, she is so started she changes back into her clothes and flees. We are then transported back to 1957, where we start to learn about Stella’s childhood and what life was like being raised by her narcissistic mother. Early readers say this book transports you back to 1980s Paris, and the food descriptions are mouth-watering.

  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction with a bit of magical realism thrown in
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Publication Date: April 23, 2024
  • Content Notes: Child sexual abuse (The book tells about the abuse happening, but it does not describe it.)

Real Americans by Rachel Khong

Real Americans by Rachel Khong

Real Americans is a novel that explores identity and destiny through three generations of one family. The story starts in New York City at the brink of Y2K, where Lily Chen, a young intern, meets and falls in love with Matthew, an heir to a pharmaceutical empire. Fast forward to 2021, Lily’s son Nick feels out of place on a Washington island and embarks on a quest to find his biological father, uncovering family secrets along the way. This book is about class, race, visibility, and inheritance, questioning if our futures are predestined or shaped by us.

  • Genre: Asian American Literature
  • Length: 416 pages
  • Publication Date: April 30, 2024

Crow Talk by Eileen Garvin

Crow Talk by Eileen Garvin

Crow Talk tells the story of Frankie, an ornithologist, and Anne, an Irish musician, who form an unlikely friendship in the Pacific Northwest. Their bond, along with Anne’s silent five-year-old son Aiden, grows as they heal from their individual sorrows, aided by a baby crow that brings them together. This book is about love, friendship, grief, and the gift of nature during treacherous times. Early readers say that while this book has a slow start, they quickly became invested in these multifaceted characters. Great for fans of Kristen Hannah!

  • Genre: Nature Fiction
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Publication Date: April 30, 2024

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club by Helen Simonson

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club by Helen Simonson

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club offers a satirical take on the years following World War I in England. Set in 1919, the novel follows Constance Haverhill, a woman facing uncertain prospects after the return of men from World War I. She becomes a lady’s companion to a family friend at a seaside hotel and finds herself immersed in the vibrant social life of Hazelbourne-on-Sea. She befriends Poppy Wirrall, an unconventional woman leading a ladies’ motorcycle club, challenging societal norms. Amidst romance and social upheaval, Constance and her newfound friends navigate a changing England, grappling with the loss of freedoms gained during the war. The novel blends humor, romance, and historical insight, offering a captivating portrayal of a generation on the brink of change.

  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Length: 423 pages
  • Publication Date: May 7, 2024

The Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan

The Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan

A romance novel that takes place at a cottage on Cape Cod? Sign me up! This is a book about secrets, family, grief, honesty, and an unexpected friendship. Cecilia is 70 year-old-woman who has sworn she would never return to Dune Cottage, that is until she’s looking for someplace to go to escape her 70th birthday party. The cottage is full of both sweet and painful memories for Cecilia — painful memories she has never revealed to her daughter Kristen. When Cecilia arrives at the cottage, she finds Lilly, a medical school dropout turned house cleaner, who has been squatting in what she thought was an unoccupied cottage. But Cecilia invites her to stay. As the two develop a friendship, Cecilia’s grandson Todd comes for a visit, who is also Lily’s long-time crush.

  • Genre: Romance
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Publication Date: May 7, 2024

The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

The Ministry of Time mixes genres to tell a story about a civil servant who joins a government project exploring time travel and ends up falling in love with a historical figure from 1845. The protagonist works as a “bridge” for Commander Graham Gore, an explorer thought to have died in the Arctic, helping him adjust to modern life and concepts like Spotify and washing machines, leading to an unexpected romance. Alongside a quirky group of characters from different eras, they navigate personal histories and future choices in this inventive and entertaining tale. One early reader says this book has Outlander vibes.

  • Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Publication Date: May 7, 2024

The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren

The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren’s new romance novel features a grocery chain heir, Liam “West” Weston, and his ex-wife, Anna Green, who fake their marriage to claim a huge inheritance. Liam needs to prove he’s been happily married for five years to get $100 million from his grandfather’s will, but his family wants to meet his mysterious spouse. As they play the part, Liam worries if Anna can fit into his wealthy family’s world without losing her genuine nature and questions if the deception is worth risking their real love. I love the fake romance trope, and this one sounds like a lot of fun!

  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Publication Date: May 14, 2024
  • Content Notes: Fake romance, marriage of convenience

I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue

I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue

This book is a light and humorous book about corporate culture while exploring more serious issues of identity and vulnerability. Jolene finds her co-workers irritable with a serious lack of boundaries. As an admin at Supershops, Inc., the last thing she wants to do is spend more time with them after work. To survive, she lets out her frustrations by leaving a P.S. at the end of her emails that she puts in a white font so no one can read them. That is, until someone discovers one. After her exposure, she is forced to attend sensitivity training. But the tables turn when an IT error gives her a chance to read the emails and DMs of her whole department. As a result, she finds out that layoffs are coming. This puts her on a new mission — to save her job. In the process, her own walls start to crumble, and she starts to develop feelings (that she is fighting) for Cliff from HR. Early readers say this book is reminiscent of The Office and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Humor
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Publication Date: May 21, 2024

Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

From the author of Crazy Rich Asians. This is considered one of the most anticipated books of the year. Rufus Leung Gresham, future Duke of Greshambury, must restore his family’s fortune by marrying a wealthy woman. He faces the choice between three potential partners: a French hotel heiress, a venture capitalist, or the girl next door, whom he truly loves. The story unfolds across various exotic locations, with a volcanic eruption and a hot mic scandal threatening the Gresham family’s plans and reputation. Early readers say this is a fun read.

  • Genre: Asian American Literature
  • Length: 448 pages
  • Publication Date: May 21, 2024

Same As It Ever Was Claire Lombardo

Same As It Ever Was Claire Lombardo

This is considered one of the most anticipated books of the year that fans have been looking forward to since the release of The Most Fun We Ever Had. And early readers say it does not disappoint. This is a book about marriage, motherhood, friendship, identity, and how the past can still influence all these areas, no matter how well we’ve tried to ignore it.

Julia is a middle-aged woman with two adult children who seems to have an enviable life in the Chicago suburbs. But as is true in real life, there’s more going on beneath the surface. This becomes apparent when she runs into someone from her past at an upscale grocery store, and the holes in her seemingly perfect existence start to form. This happens in the backdrop of her son’s pending wedding and her teenage daughter, who is about to leave for college.

Many early readers say this book’s ending had them in tears. Even though this one is long, most readers say they didn’t mind the length and that this is one of those books that will stay with you.

  • Genre: Literary Fiction, Family Saga
  • Length: 512 pages
  • Publication Date: June 18, 2024

Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Rocky has cherished her family’s annual trips to Cape Cod for twenty years, where they’ve created many fond memories despite occasional challenges. This year, as she experiences menopause and reflects on past summers, Rocky must confront her secrets amidst the evolving dynamics of her family life while coping with aging parents. This is a book about family, parenting, love, and growth, full of imperfect characters in the beautiful beachy backdrop of Cape Cod.

“Sandwich is joy in book form. I laughed continuously, except for the parts that made me cry. Catherine Newman does a miraculous job reminding us of all the wonder there is to be found in life.” —Ann Patchett

  • Genre: Literary Fiction, Family Life, Women’s Fiction
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Publication Date: June 18, 2024

The Phoenix Ballroom by Roth Hogan

The Phoenix Ballroom by Roth Hogan

This is one of those novels that is like comfort food in a book. Venetia is a 74-year-old woman who has just lost her husband of 50 years. Venetia was a dutiful wife whose life was centered around her husband. She is now a wealthy widow. Before her marriage, she was a ballroom dance instructor who had dreamed of opening a dance school. As she begins to transform her life with a makeover and a new dog, one day, while taking a walk, she sees the Phoenix Ballroom, which is now used as a church and a community center. She decides to buy it, and through it she not only gains a dance school, but an entire community. This is a multigenerational, feel-good novel about forgiveness, redemption, and hope.

  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Found Family
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Publication Date: June 21, 2024

The Summer of Yes by Courtney Walsh

The Summer of Yes by Courtney Walsh

Kelsey and Georgina form an unlikely friendship during a hospital stay. Kelsey is 32. She has a dream to become a writer, but instead, she’s an overworked and underappreciated junior book editor helping other writers’ dreams come true. Georgina is an older woman and a well-known successful businesswoman with just a few months to live due to her failing kidneys. While Georgina is looking back on her life and her many regrets, it gets Kelsey thinking about her own ambitions. Together, they decide it’s time to start saying “Yes” to all of the opportunities they think they are too busy to fit into their working lives. And there may be a couple of romances that come because of it. Early readers say to expect to cry “happy tears.”

  • Genre: Clean Romance
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Publication Date: July 2, 2024

The Lost Story by Meg Shaffer

The Lost Story by Meg Shaffer

Jeremy and Rafe were best friends who disappeared as boys and returned with no memory of their time away. Fifteen years later, Jeremy, now a skilled missing persons’ investigator, and Rafe, a scarred reclusive artist, are drawn back into the mystery when Emilie Wendell seeks Jeremy’s help to find her sister in the same forest. They must confront their past and return to the enchanting world they once knew to uncover the truth and find what they’ve lost. This book is inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia.

“This wildly imaginative book speaks to every reader who yearns for a more magical world.” — Author Thao Thai

  • Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Publication Date: July 16, 2024

What are you going to read this summer? I would love to know what caught your eye.

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