After a year and a half of autumn, the sun and the warmth are beginning to show their faces, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier! For me, summer is the ultimate reading time: the sunlight, the long days, the birdsong – it all whispers “find a shady spot, wiggle your bare toes in the grass, relax and read” to me. But read what, exactly? To help you find the perfect summery book I asked my colleagues for help, and here are their suggestions:


My perfect summer read has to be Lie With Me by Philippe Besson (very well translated by Molly Ringwald). It is French, thus somewhat intellectual, but very emotional and dramatic as only the French can be, and the memory of a first love story through the eyes of the man who is now in his sixties. Très magnifique!


When I think of “light and funny” I think of The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s dramatic, too, but I laughed out loud so often! One of her funniest books.

A little more highbrow but also funny and light is The English Understand Wool by Helen DeWitt. You’ll finish it in a day, but definitely a book to reread every summer.


I read Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens at the end of last summer, and it has a very nice vibe. We follow Blanca, a ghost living in an abbey in Mallorca, Spain. She hunts the place for centuries, but everything changes when the writer George Sand and the pianist Frédéric Chopin come to stay in the abbey for a season. Full of sensory and poetic descriptions of the island and Blanca’s feelings and memories, the book is a real delight.


I think for me Milk Fed by Melissa Broder fits the bill. Just because it has this sort of joyful, expansive, Summerish quality. It’s about enjoying the sensuality of everything, the way you feel when the sun first comes out, about giving into the things you want and how delicious that can feel, but also about time passing and things changing, so you can enjoy the summer but it’s inevitably going to take itself away from you at some point. You can either enjoy it while it’s here or worry the whole time that it’s impermanent. Your choice!


I had a very good time reading Funny Story by Emily Henry and it’s set in the summer so it’s a perfect match for the coming season! The setting of the story is in a charming small town by Michigan’s lakes. The main characters get to know each other by spending their warm Friday evenings in chic wine bars and Sundays on the local farms eating fresh cherries. I visioned myself being there with them and experiencing those lovely summer nights as well. A perfect summer romance with some depth!


Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Four famous siblings, children of an arguably even more famous father, throw a legendary end-of-summer party every year. By the end of the night, the house will have gone up in flames. Almost all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books are perfect summer reads, but something about the feverish pacing of this one made it stick with me for quite a while. I might have to revisit it this summer!

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau: This author was a guest on one of the early episodes of ABC Staff Picks, and after talking to her I really wanted to pick up her book. A teenager coming of age in the seventies, escape her straight-laced home to find refuge with the progressive family she nannies for… who just so happen to be hiding a famous musician and his famous wife for the summer. This is a perfect summery read for those of us who aren’t all that interested in the stereotypical summer romance.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers: Not a typical summer read, but I want to include it anyway! When a freak accident halts traffic to and from a tiny, faraway planet, three travellers find themselves stranded with along with their host and her child. Forced to shelter in place, this group of strangers is forced to get to know each other for better or worse, and confront some truths about themselves while they’re at it.


These are my summery, cozy vibe books: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (as well as the rest of the Wayfarers series), Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, and Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff.


If you want escapist summer material, I can tip the new Kevin Kwan, Lies and Weddings. Jet-set your way around the most gorgeous and outrageous locations in the world with all the beautiful (and crazy) rich, who turn out to mostly be human, after all. I love Kwan’s breezy, gossipy style! :-)

If you want a summer read that is broody, suffocating and uncomfortable, try A Brief History of Seven Killings or Black Leopard, Red Wolf, both by Marlon James. The first is set mostly in Jamaica and explores the assassination attempt on Bob Marley. The second is epic fantasy set in Africa. Both will wow you with immersive story-telling; James has a real knack for writing horrible things incredibly well.

If you want summer reads with a light touch, which lead with kindness and curiosity, I recommend the Singing Hills Cycle by Nghi Vo. The first book is The Empress of Salt and Fortune, but you don’t really have to read them in order. Cleric Chih is such a wonderful human to spend time with, I can see why everyone wants to tell them their tales!