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15 Best Summer Books to Read

Whether you're hitting the beach or relaxing at home, the long and lazy days of summer offer the perfect time to spend more time reading. From thrillers to memoirs, from romance to historical fiction, these are the books you'll want on your reading list in the summer of 2019.


Where the Crawdads Sing

This 2018 debut novel by esteemed nature writer Delia Owens has spent more than 25 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List with no signs of slowing down. It tells the coming-of-age story of a young girl named Kyra who, after being abandoned by her parents at age six, grows up in the swamps of North Carolina. A movie version is forthcoming and will be produced by Reese Witherspoon, who chose the novel for her book club in September 2018.

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Where’d Ya Go Bernadette: A Novel

This novel by Maria Semple took the literary world by storm when it debuted in 2012 and is still one of the best books to read in 2019. It tells the story of Bernadette Fox, an agoraphobic mom who disappears shortly before a family trip to Antarctica. The novel, which is narrated by Bernadette’s 15-year-old daughter, spent a year on the New York Times Best Sellers List. It’s now being adapted into a soon-to-be-released movie starring Cate Blanchett as the title character.

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Pet Sematary

If horror fiction is your thing, fans of Stephen King may want to read or reread this hair-raising 1983 novel—and then watch the latest movie adaptation, which was released in theaters in April 2019 and will hit streaming services like Amazon Prime this summer. The best-selling novel, which was first adapted into a movie in 1989, tells the story of the Creed family, who, after moving to a new home in rural Maine, discovers a makeshift graveyard where children have buried their pets. If scary books are your thing, there are plenty more to choose from.

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The Woman in the Window

This psychological thriller by A.J. Finn was an instant New York Times Best Seller when it was released in 2018 and it is still a top book to read in 2019. It tells the story of Anna Fox, a mother and wife who lives—without her family—in a posh New York City neighborhood. Full of plot twists and turns, this book, which is reminiscent of Hitchcock’s film Rear Window, is a must-read for fans of books like Gone Girl and Girl on a Train and is being adapted into an upcoming feature film starring Amy Adams.

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The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

This brand-new debut novel by Felicity McLean has all of the ingredients of a perfect summer beach read and is one of the most anticipated books to read in 2019: it’s a beautifully written, scenic thriller that’s at once comical and darkly terrifying. It tells the story of the Ruth, Hannah, and Cordelia Van Apfel, sisters who mysteriously disappear during the Austrian summer of 1992. It’s told through the coming-of-age point of view of their friend Tikka Malloy, who was only 11 years old at the time.

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The Lemon Sisters

This new novel by best-selling author novelist Jill Shalvis is sure to appeal to fans of her previous contemporary romance novels. It tells the story of Mindy Lemon, a mom of three who is in the middle of a breakdown, and her “wild and free” sister Brooke. The sisters agree to trade places to allow Mindy time to recover and heal, while Brooke returns to the town she moved away from seven years prior. The swap forces both sisters to reflect on their lives and confront the secrets of their past. If you’re a fan of romance novels, you’ll want to also add these 10 timeless love stories to your list.

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A People’s History of Heaven

Early reviewers of this 2019 novel by writer and activist Mathangi Subramanian have called it everything from “light and lyrical” to “vivid” and “captivating.” It’s the story of the connections and lives of five girls as they come of age while living in Heaven, a ramshackle slum in Bangalore, India. While the novel is targeted toward adults, its themes of friendship and compassion also would make it a perfect summer read for young adults.

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Something in the Water

Fans of psychological thrillers will certainly want to add this juggernaut of a novel to their summer reading lists. Written by actress Catherine Steadman of Downton Abbey fame, it was a favorite of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club when it debuted in 2018. It is the story of a couple who commits the perfect crime while on a honeymoon in Bora Bora after they find—you guessed it—something in the water. Witherspoon is also on board to produce a movie version of the best-selling novel, helping it to maintain its status as one of the best books to read in 2019.

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The Darwin Affair

Billed as one of the most “inventive and entertaining novels of 2019,” this Victorian-era thriller by writer Tim Mason is a perfect addition to your summer reading list. Set in London in 1860, it details the escalation of events that occur after an intruder tries to assassinate Queen Victoria. Fast-paced and lively, this page-turner would appeal to fans of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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The Girl Before

This fast-paced thriller by the fictitiously named novelist JP Delaney was an instant best-seller when it was released in 2017. It’s now being adapted into a movie, and you’ll want to read what all of the fuss is about before it hits the big screen. With dual points of view, both past, and present, it tells the story of two women who move into an ultra-modern home designed by a quirky and demanding yet renowned architect—and the emotional fallout that occurs as a result.

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The Lightest Object in the Universe

Readers who enjoy dystopian literature will want to check out this 2019 debut novel by Kimi Eisele, which tells the story of a post-apocalyptic universe following the collapse of the global economy—and the electrical grid along with it. In between its themes of resilience and survival, Eisele weaves a love story, with main character Carson trying to find his way back to Beatrix, the woman he loves.

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Daisy Jones and the Six

Fans of rock music and of music biographies will definitely want to add this 2019 novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid to their summer reading list. Although a fictional tale, the novel reads like a true memoir and will leave readers wondering how, in fact, these characters aren’t actual portrayals of real-life rock stars. It highlights the meteoric rise of Daisy Jones in the Los Angeles music scene during the late 1960s and early 1970s, one of music’s most iconic eras of rock n’ roll. The novel is being adapted into a TV show that is being produced by Reese Witherspoon for Amazon Prime.

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Little Fires Everywhere

This novel by author Celeste Ng is a New York Times Best Seller, was named Amazon’s Best Novel of 2017, GoodReads Readers’ Choice Award 2017 for Fiction and a “Best Book of the Year” by numerous outlets including Barnes & Noble, NPR, Buzzfeed, the Guardian, and more. It’s now being made into a Hulu series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. The novel, which takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio, is the heart-wrenching tale of two families who come together—and are then divided—by a series of events involving their children.

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In her New York Times Best Seller memoir, former First Lady Michelle Obama gives readers a personal glimpse into her childhood on the South Side of Chicago; her schooling and early career choices; her marriage to President Barack Obama and, of course, life in the White House; and finally, her life after politics. Eye-opening and inspirational, Becoming gives us a microscopic and fascinating look into the life of one of the most recognized women in America.

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The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers

If you or your children grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood—or if biographies are your go-to summer reads—you’ll want this 2018 book by Maxwell King to be at the top of your list. It is the first full-length biography of Mr. Rogers and gives readers a never-before inside look at the life and career of the beloved television icon. Moreover, this book will certainly inspire readers to practice Mr. Rogers’ good-neighbor lessons.

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