Summer summer summer tiiiiime…
For most of us, summer no longer means months of uninterrupted reading time. (And if you’re still enjoying that perk, know that I’m glaring at you.) We’re all grown up and stuff now (allegedly), with the same old responsibilities we have every other day of the year. But while summer may have lost a bit of its magic, those perfect Beach Books haven’t.
So whether you’re spending your summer reading time sneaking pages at the office, lazing by the pool, or with your toes in the sand, we’ve got the perfect book for you.
Wendy’s Books of Summer
This southern gothic takes place in a crumbling manor during the sweltering days of summer, when temperatures run high and emotions spiral out of control. It’s full of questionable ethics and pretty crazy scenarios, and it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to Tennessee Williams for teens. If you like this one, you’ll probably also enjoy Kat Rosenfeld’s Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, a weird and dreamy mystery with mature themes that doesn’t always give you the answers you crave.
For summer romances, I really Sixteenth Summer, a sweet, light vacation romance that will make you crave walks on the beach and barbecues and baby sea turtle rescues and a boy to share them with; A Ring of Endless Light features a formative summer when Vicky learns to swim with dolphins and deal with her grandfather’s illness; a lot of Sarah Dessen books are set during the summer, too, including my favorite The Truth About Forever. Sa-woon!
While You’re Away by Jessa Holbrook
Oh, I so enjoyed this serialized novel about a girl finding the difference between the comfortable but unsatisfactory, and the unknown but wildly exciting and right. This story had me casting furtive glances around Panera, making sure no one was noticing my blush. The chemistry between the protagonists zings right off the page and had me rooting for them from the start. Sure, there’s a some relationship angst and some “What am I to do with my life?” uncertainty that comes with entering one’s senior year of high school. But it’s almost a perfect summer read: romantic, magical, and hot.
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
The magic of one night in a youthful summer when anything is possible. Can you meet the elusive graffiti artist whose work you adore? Can you reconcile dreams? Well, it’s all okay even if you don’t. It’s all about the journey anyway, right? But sometimes, just sometimes, everything falls into place. Humor, swoons, poetry, and beautiful prose. There’s a lot to love here. Plus, it has that whole magical Aussie vibe going on. You know what I mean.
Second a Helpings by Megan McCafferty
Perhaps I’m biased. This and the first Jessica Darling book are two of the few YA books I actually read as a teenager. (This was over ten years ago. YA was a totally different landscape back then!) But I remember thinking I’d never related more to a character or found one so realistic as Jessica. This story takes place in summertime but I also read it in the summer and my own memories of sitting on the front stoop devouring this book along with a root beer float are indelible. I did mention the bias thing, right? I laughed, I swooned, I got angry about former swooning, and I got downright teary. There are so many moments that run the range of human experience: grief, new love, breakups, newfound friendship…all wrapped up in one comically delivered package. No one does humor, charm, heartbreak, and love quite like Megan McCafferty.
Tonya’s Books of Summer
I’ve obviously gotta mention Anna and the French Kiss, and add Lola and the Boy Next Door because man alive does Stephanie Perkins know how to bring the swoon. Hot damn. Along those same lines, Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door is a slightly more angst-ridden summer romance, with perhaps the nicest YA boy to date. (Well… aside from Tucker.) The relationship between Samantha and Jace is a slow, sweet burn and the underlying themes of family and friendship make it a perfect read for a sunny day.
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is a fast paced and not-so-slightly batshit crazy summer read. When perfectionist Kiri is left alone for six weeks during the summer, she has her summer pretty much mapped down to the minute. Piano practice. Band practice. Maker her best friend/secret crush fall in love for her. But when she stumbles upon secrets related to her older sister’s death, she spirals into a manic kind of passion that is as freeing as it is destructive.
I feel like I’m constantly reccing Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff regardless of the context, but I really feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it in this list in particular. It’s a gorgeous, layered, and gritty story of Kid, a genderless homeless teen bouncing around the streets of Brooklyn. Though s/he doesn’t have a home, but has no shortage of places and people that are her own. It’s the story of two summers on the sweltering streets of New York, of music, and loss, and love that defies definitions. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking for some #DiversityinYA this summer, this is the perfect choice.
Kate’s Books of Summer
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna attends a boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school and falls in love with a charming, adorable french dude who has a girlfriend. This is the first book in a really lovely series that follows a group of friends as each of them finds love. It’s a classic romance trope, and it works great here.
The Eight by Katherine Neville
I read this book about twenty times between the ages of nine and fifteen. God, I loved it. Still love it. It’s not YA–it’s definitely written for adults–but it’s a really fun story about chess (But not in a boring way. I mean, who gives a shit about chess?) and international intrigue that spans from Charlemagne to the French Revolution to the modern day (1990). I cannot recommend this book highly enough; if you’re a fan of thrillers by Ken Follet or Robert Ludlum, but would prefer a more feminine sensibility (badass nuns, sexy chess masters, etc), you’ll love this book. I re-read it at least every other year.
Romance novel-wise, I would also recommend: anything written by Ruthie Knox (her Camelot series is a good starting place), Julie James’s FBI/US Attorney series, and the Travis Family books by Lisa Kleypas.
Quickie Open Road Summer Giveaway!
To kick off your summer right, we’re giving away THREE COPIES of Kate’s favorite summer read ever–Open Road Summer, along with special postcards. (Here is Kate’s review!) All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you’re excited to read the book and/or what your favorite summer reads are.
Bloomsbury is also inviting our winners to send the enclosed postcards back with a simple note saying what they liked best about the book. In return, the publisher will email the winners exclusive excerpts from Emery Lord’s next book, The Start of Me and You, which isn’t out until March 31, 2015.
Open to U.S. and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. This giveaway ends in just one week, so take advantage of the extra points you can earn for tweeting about the contest, pinning it on Pinterest, etc!