The best season has begun. School’s out and summer is fully upon us. I know people generally think about reading a good book curled under a blanket, warm mug of hot chocolate, and rain softly falling outside for the perfect soothing sound background. I want to argue for summer reading! Yes, of course, reading on the beach is ideal, but not all of us have easy access to beaches. Or want to get sand between the pages of our next favorite read.
Summer reading outside under the shade of a tree on a blanket is underrated. If you want to take it to the next level, hang a portable hammock under that tree and sway in the breeze while reading. The great thing about reading in the summer is that it’s a sitting still activity. You won’t overheat quickly and still get to enjoy the outdoors. Or if you live in a place where that’s unthinkable because it’s scorching outside, reading in the air conditioning or under the ceiling fan is also a still activity. It won’t make you sweat any more than any other thing.
Now that you have the perfect summer reading spot, it’s time for the perfect summer read. The list I’ve created has a variety because I know that not everyone wants to read light and fluffy stuff all season. This list has some gruesome stuff, a lot of friendships, and I did throw some romance on there because it’s my favorite. Get ready for your TBR list to grow!
Chloe and the Kaishao Boys by Mae Coyiuto
Chloe, a Chinese Filipina girl who lives in Manila, just got the news that she’s off USC’s waitlist and on her way to becoming an animator. She can’t wait to get started chasing her dream, but her family wants her to stay closer to home. Her auntie is planning a huge debut on her 18th birthday before she leaves, and her father inundates her with lots of kaishao — or arranged dates — the summer before she starts college. Her dad never took much of an interest in her love life before, and Chloe’s not sure she wants to fall in love right before she leaves, even if she is starting to catch feelings for one of her dates.
Liar’s Beach by Katie Cotugno
A retelling of queen of mystery, Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles, where the detective is a girl named Holiday. When Michael Linden is invited to spend the summer in Martha’s Vineyard by his prep school roommate, Jasper, he accepts even though he doesn’t belong in the wealthy world of August House. Linden tries to fit in with little white lies, but he’s not the only liar on the property. Then an accident happens and someone is found unconscious in Jasper’s pool, and everyone is trying to keep their secrets hidden. Enter Holiday Proctor, Linden’s childhood friend and trusted confidant. The two of them aren’t so sure it’s an accident. Once Linden tells her, Holiday is determined to find the killer. But they have to do it before anyone else turns up dead.
I’m Not Here To Make Friends by Andrew Yang
Sabine Zhang is thrilled when she’s picked for Hotel California, a teen reality show with an all-Asian cast. She’s one of a handful of Asians at her Midwest high school, and has always felt like a supporting character instead of the lead in a great story. Yoona Bae, on the other hand, is just trying to get a break from her life and her unearned bad reputation. When she’s invited to appear on Hotel California, she sees it as a chance to chill out and have a fresh start. When they get there, it’s not what they assumed. The producers are pushing for ultimate drama, pitting the teens against each other.
Viva Lola Espinoza by Ella Cerón
Lola Espinoza is going to Mexico City to spend the summer with her grandmother. She expects to spend time with her abuela, eat delicious food, learn more about her culture, and more Spanish. What she doesn’t expect is to find out that her bad luck in love is actually a curse, because magic is real. But two boys, who are total opposites, are determined to help her break the curse. Now she’s caught in the middle but doesn’t want to hinder anything that might help.
What She Missed by Liara Tamani
Ebony has to move from Houston to small town Alula Lake, Texas, where her grandmother is from, and this town is not it. It gets worse: Ebony’s grandmother’s ghost is everywhere after her mysterious death in the lake. One good thing, though, is that Ebony gets to reconnect with her friend Jalen from way back. As she settles into a routine and life in her new town, she finds herself being drawn more to Lena, Jalen’s older sister. Lena is rebellious and chaotic, not at all the kind of friend Ebony usually has. But she’s able to help Ebony with her loss in a way no one else can.
Northranger by Rey Terciero, Bre Indigo (Illustrator)
This graphic novel is inspired by Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s gothic romance. Cade loves horror movies. To him, they are an escape, especially because for a queer Latino boy who isn’t out, the real world can be much scarier. When he’s sent to work at a ranch all summer to help his family financially, he thinks it’s his nightmare come to life. Cade hates working on the ranch. One plus are the two other teens who live there, especially quiet Henry, who is cowboy handsome. When the chemistry between Cade and Henry heats up, things get even more complicated, and Cade doesn’t know if he can trust him.
Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan
Fallon and Chloe were best friends until the summer before Chloe left for college. They took their friendship to the next level and hooked up, then things got weird. It’s been a year. Chloe is home from school for the summer, and Fallon is trying her hardest to ghost. There’s a problem though. Their moms own an ice cream truck together, and both girls are expected to work there over the summer. More than that, after a lucrative business opportunity pops up for the truck, they have to drive it to Texas to seal the deal. There’s not much space in a food truck to begin with, but add in all this drama and things heat up real quick, in good and bad ways.
This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham
Climate change caused the arctic to melt, and as it did, permafrost released a pathogen that infected some people, making them unable to consume food. Instead, they could only survive on human flesh. If they went too long without eating, they went feral and virtually uncontrollable. Luckily, scientists came up with a synthetic alternative, and now humanity is mostly back to normal. But there’s a distrust of the people called ghouls, which Zoey, Celeste, Valeria, and Jasmine are. They’ve just graduated and want to go to a music festival in the desert before starting college in the fall. They have a cooler full of SynFlesh and are ready to have a good time. But the first night, Val turns feral and a boy dies. Then other festival goers start to disappear, too. Turns out someone is drugging ghouls to make them go feral. The girls have to figure out what’s happening before anyone else gets hurt.
If you liked this list, be sure to check out 10 of the best fantasy books this summer. Also, here are 12 of the best reading programs of 2023, and if you’re still catching up on last year’s reading this summer, check out this guide to summer 2022 YA.