There’s something magical about summer reading. Maybe it’s basking in the warm air and turning the pages in sync with the crashing waves, but curating a summer reading list is one of those luxurious things people look forward to all year.
While exact definitions of what constitutes a perfect summer read will differ depending on who you ask, it can essentially be anything whether it’s a standout from that year, something that makes you think or a classic chick lit option. Part of the beauty in reading throughout the holiday break is that you have the luxury of time that you don’t typically have for 355 days. It’s that perfect period where you don’t have deadlines or places to be, and you can spend hours lazing around working your way through that never-ending stack of books that have been gathering dust on your bedside table. Or, if you’re the kind of person who can practice restraint and not purchase books throughout the year, it’s the ideal time to buy a few that you’ve been hearing great things about.
Whatever your MO when it comes to the wonderful world of books, it’s time to start curating that book bucket list now. Below, nine books that deserve a spot on your summer reading list.
My Policeman by Bethan Roberts
Given that it’s now a major film starring Harry Styles and Emma Corrin, My Policeman is likely to be talked about heavily in the coming months. Following the life of a policeman who finds himself simultaneously in love with his wife, and a man who works at Brighton Museum, he must try to navigate the intricate complexities of his situation, until someone inevitably breaks.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
One of Dua Lipa’s summer picks, this beautiful book is a coming-of-age story about a little boy trying to find his place in the world, while navigating a foreign country. The central voice, a Vientman-American man, is speaking to his mother who cannot read, recounting his experiences of love, life and the lasting impact of the Vietnam War upon his family. It is a deeply moving story that will stay with you long after you’ve read it.
Swimming In The Dark by Tomasz Jędrowski
Set in 1980s Poland against the backdrop of social unrest and a national crisis, two boys meet at an agricultural camp where they spend the summer swimming, reading and falling in love with one another. When summer is over, they must return home and face their undesirable reality, but their differing approaches threatens to tear apart the beautiful relationship they’ve created as they begin working for opposing sides. In the end, it asks the ultimate question of whether love truly can conquer all.
Dear Dolly: On Love, Life and Friendship by Dolly Alderton
Dolly Alderton isn’t a name that needs introduction, and for anyone who became obsessed with her debut book, Everything I Know About Love, her third book is naturally a must-read. A collection of her favourite Dear Dolly agony aunt letters and answers from her Sunday Times Style column, you can expect to laugh, cry and learn a thing or two from the woman who has singlehandedly saved women in their twenties and thirties everywhere.
Luster by Raven Leilani
Edie is your typical twenty-something woman who has no idea what she’s doing with her life. She hates her job, sleeps with all the wrong men and is completely unsure of what she wants. All that changes when she meets Eric, a middle-aged man whose wife has approved an open-marriage arrangement. Quickly finding an affinity with the couple’s adopted black daughter, Edie finds herself falling deeper and deeper into their world and inevitably dealing with the fallout of doing so.
My Summer Darlings by May Cobb
Three women in their forties who have been friends since childhood find themselves incredibly bored of their mundane, suburban lives. When Will Harding, a handsome and mysterious man, moves into one of the houses in their street, each woman becomes obsessed with him in her own twisted way. It doesn’t take long however, before their fascination turns deadly, and when Will pulls away from each of them, they scramble to figure out why that could be. The answer is unlike anything they could have expcted.
Seeing Other People by Diana Reid
If you tore through Love & Virtue last year, you’ll want to add Diana Reid’s second novel to the top of your reading bucket list. Unpacking a topic that we’re all incredibly familiar with (lockdown relationships), this book follows Eleanor and Charlie as they try to prioritise their relationship while managing to juggle work, friends and life. It feels very of the moment, particularly as romantic endeavours that might’ve served us at one point in our lives may not be doing so now.
Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood has been a defining voice in literature for several decades, so this book, which is a collection of essays exploring some of life’s biggest questions, is one to be treasured. From why we tell stories to the climate crisis and rise of Trump, this is Atwood’s take on major events that have shaped the world as we know it, and what it all really means.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
Don’t let the title deter you from this incredible autobiography from one of Nickelodeon’s most prominent child stars. McCurdy, in her tell-all memoir, unpacks the incredibly complex relationship she had with her own mother and the network, coming to terms with the abuse and power imbalances that she fought against for her entire life. It’s heartbreaking, witty and one of the most-talked about books this year, for good reason.