The 20 Best Books to Read This Summer

Don't let the "I'm vaccinated!" socializing keep you from quiet time with these winners. Edited by Kim Hubbard

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Summer books gallery
Photo: amazon
01 of 20

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Olympus, Texas

A gorgeous debut that conjures one small town and the big emotions of its wealthiest family, the Briscoes, whose saga plays out over six days of pain, rage and love. — reviewed by Robin Micheli


Buy It: Amazon,

02 of 20

Lorna Mott Comes Home by Diane Johnson

lorna Mott comes home

After leaving her French husband, Lorna Mott is eager to return to the vibrant San Francisco life she remembers. But things have changed. Can this woman of a certain age change too? — reviewed by Anne Leslie


Buy It: Amazon,

03 of 20

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu rising

High drama at the beach, starring four sexy, surfing siblings and their deadbeat, famous-crooner dad. It's like the 1983 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue came to life, but with a plot. Irresistible. — reviewed by Mary Pols


Buy It: Amazon,

04 of 20

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois

Raised in the North, Ailey spends summers in Georgia, unearthing stories of her Black, white and Indigenous ancestors that will profoundly shape the course of her life. Stunning. — reviewed by Emma Dries


Buy It: Amazon,

05 of 20

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

golden girl

Nantucket's summer shatters when local darling Vivian Howe is killed. Will her murderer be found? Will her deepest secret be exposed? This is beach-book-queen Hilderbrand at her best. — reviewed by Claire Martin


Buy It: Amazon,

06 of 20

This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan

This is your life on plants

The author of How to Change Your Mind turns his attentions to three consciousness-altering drugs — opium, mescaline and caffeine (yes, it's a drug) — in this eye-opening exploration. — reviewed by Caroline Leavitt


Buy It: Amazon,

07 of 20

Punch Me Up to the Gods By Brian Broome

Punch Me Up to the Gods

Growing up poor, Black and gay in small-town Ohio, Broome was despised by whites, some Blacks and even his father, who thought there was only one way to be a man. His memoir is a triumph. — reviewed by Benilde Little


Buy It: Amazon,

08 of 20

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart

A daughter's poignant memoir about losing her mother, filtered through the prisms of their Korean American heritage and the love they shared for the cuisine of home. — reviewed by Kim Hubbard


Buy It: Amazon,

09 of 20

Fox & I by Catherine Raven

fox and I

A woman accustomed to solitude forms something that feels like friendship with a mangy fox who keeps showing up outside her Montana home. And this was pre-pandemic! Quirky and moving. — reviewed by Kim Hubbard


Buy It: Amazon,

10 of 20

What Happened to Paula by Katherine Dykstra

What happened to paula

Investigating the never-solved murder of a young woman in 1970, the author uncovers intriguing truths about her family, her segregated community and the limits on female autonomy. — reviewed by Kim Hubbard


Buy It: Amazon,

11 of 20

The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

the photographer

Photographer Delta Dawn is one disturbing woman, especially when she inserts herself into a wealthy Manhattan family. A breathless psychological thriller about epic mind games. — reviewed by Ellen Shapiro


Buy It: Amazon,

12 of 20

The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer

The last mona lisa

After a journal surfaces in Florence, a professor obsessed with his great-grandfather's 1911 heist of the Mona Lisa is in hot pursuit — along with assassins and ruthless art dealers. — reviewed by Ellen Shapiro


Buy It: Amazon,

13 of 20

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

the other black girl

Funny and subversive, this debut about the trials of a Black assistant at a mostly white publishing house uses suspense, horror and satire to bring home the toll of workplace racism. — reviewed by Ellen Shapiro


Buy It: Amazon,

14 of 20

The Siren by Katherine St. John

The siren

A star bankrolls a film on a hurricane-prone island with his fractured family and some shady characters. Good idea? A sudsy, savvy takedown of the Hollywood dream machine. — reviewed by Ellen Shapiro


Buy It: Amazon,

15 of 20

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

A slow fire burning

The Girl on the Train author returns with a dark, intricate tale of three women tied to a bloody murder on a London houseboat. You'll be gobsmacked by the end. — reviewed by Ellen Shapiro


Buy It: Amazon,

16 of 20

Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali

Misfit in Love

An elaborate Muslim wedding — katb el-kitab — is the elegant backdrop for a teen's soul-searching about love, sexism and racism within her own community. — reviewed by Sue Corbett

(May) KIDS/TEENS, 14 and up

Buy It: Amazon,

17 of 20

How to Be an Art Rebel by Ben Street and Jay Daniel Wright

How to Be an Art Rebel

A hip cat narrates this playful, irreverent guide to all types of fine art — sculpture, surrealism, selfies (formally called portraiture). Museums, here we come! — reviewed by Sue Corbett

(May) KIDS/TEENS, 6-8

Buy It: Amazon,

18 of 20

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

The box in the woods

Teen sleuth Stevie Bell is hired to solve a gruesome, decades-old murder mystery at summer camp. Bugs, romance and near misses with death follow. — reviewed by Sue Corbett

(June) KIDS/TEENS, 14-17

Buy It: Amazon,

19 of 20

From Little Tokyo, with Love by Sarah Kuhn

From Little Tokyo, with Love

A contemporary fairy tale starring a Japanese American teen raised in L.A. by bossy relatives who becomes convinced that a Hollywood starlet is her long-lost mother. — reviewed by Sue Corbett

(May) KIDS/TEENS, 14-17

Buy It: Amazon,

20 of 20

Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

Amber & Clay

Two powerless kids in ancient Greece — the daughter of an aristocrat and the son of a slave — transcend their circumstances in this masterful blend of history and mythology. — reviewed by Sue Corbett

(March) KIDS/TEENS, 10-14

Buy It: Amazon,

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