It’s the time of year when I start scouring summer reading guides for news of new releases, books I might have missed in the past year, and old favorites. If reading has seasons, then my favorite is definitely summer when the new releases are aplenty. I get a thrill from seeing new books on the Lucky Day shelf in my library and seeing my holds roll in. (See the end of this post for a tip on requesting books that haven’t been released yet.) I’ve created my own 2019 Summer Reading Guide based on the books that I’m most excited to read, the books that I’ve had a chance to read in advance, and a handful of books from the past year that you might have missed.
*Now that we are midway through summer, I am updating this post with reviews of the books on this list as I read them, and adding additional books I have read this summer. Books I’ve read are marked with an asterisk.*
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New Summer Releases
*Things You Save in a Fire– I have fallen in love with Katherine Center novels, and her latest book – that I was able to read in advance thanks to NetGalley – continues that tradition. This is a tale of feminism, patriarchy, resilience and love. Read it and then pick up everything else by Center from the library.
*The Stationery Shop– I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of this book via NetGalley and it will easily be one of my top books of the year. This is a love story told over a span of a lifetime, much of it set it Iran. It was a history lesson wrapped up in beautiful storytelling with a small stationery shop at the heart of it. I’ll tell everyone to read this.
*The Rest of the Story – A few years ago I made it a mission to read everything that Sarah Dessen had written, and now whenever she has a new book I immediately add it to my list. I heard her interviewed once and she made a comment to the effect of “Like a lot of Young Adult writers, I married my high school sweetheart…” For me, that really sent home the idea that she believes in the happily ever afters that she writes. I enjoyed this book about a girl who spends the summer with her late mother’s family, a family that she didn’t get a chance to know very well before this summer. Of course, there’s the love story that’s at the heart of all of Dessen’s novels, but I loved that the family story was as strong or stronger than the romance.
The Testaments – Margaret Atwood is back with a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale narrated by three female characters. It’s important to note that this is not related to the Hulu adaptation. Atwood has publicly supported the show, but the second season told its own story that diverged from the original. I love that we’re getting a sequel from Atwood herself.
Mrs. Everything – A new Jennifer Weiner! This book tells the tale of two sisters from the 1950’s to present day. The description feels like a departure from her typical story, but I’m looking forward to adding this to my list. (Update, I had this on audio, but after several disappointing reviews I never made myself listen to it. If you’ve read it and don’t regret it, let me know!)
The Nickel Boys – This is where I admit that I own, but haven’t yet read, The Underground Railroad. I’m challenging myself to finish reading it by the end of this month. I definitely need to break out of my YA/breezy reads and read something of a little more substance every once a while.
Summer of ’69 – Well it wouldn’t be summer without a new Elin Hilderbrand. I’ll admit to not finishing her last book, Winter Paradise. After reading nearly half of the book I realized that I found it a chore and abandoned it. That was a rare experience for me with Hilderbrand, and it won’t stop me from making sure this new book makes the cut for me this summer. (I’m currently reading this one!)
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered – I’m not a murderino, but Wendy is, and I bet a lot of you are, too! Part memoir, part self-help, I think the reach of this book will go beyond their (admittedly enormous) podcast audience.
Recursion – I actually gasped when I came across this book while browsing on Amazon. I loved Dark Matter and the way it absolutely twisted and bent my mind. I am so excited to dive into Blake Crouch’s newest novel about a “mysterious disease that afflicts people with vivid memories of a life they never lived.” (Update: My library hold on this book came in while we were on vacation and now I’m all the way back down to the bottom of the list.)
I Wish You all The Best – This YA book about a non-binary teen already has my heart. The author Mason Deaver calls this “the book of my heart” and says “This book may be the closest I get to writing myself.” That alone makes me excited to read this.
Lock Every Door – Did you know that Riley Sager is the pen name of a man who chose this gender-ambiguous name so that readers (like me!) would maybe (hopefully?) assume that the writer is, in fact, a woman? Honestly, this chaps my ass but Sager can spin a mystery tale with the best of them, so onto the list this book goes.
Additional Books I’ve Read This Summer
Red, White and Royal Blue If you’ve missed this book this summer you truly are missing something. I don’t reread many books, but I think this book I might have to buy just so I can have the pleasure of rereading it after a terrible day. This story is about the unlikely romance between the First Son and the Prince of Wales and it is a delight. That’s all I’ll say. Read it and thank me later.
From Twinkle, With Love – I loved When Dimple Met Rishi a couple of years ago, so I grabbed this book before our vacation because it was immediately available via the library. Some times book choices work that way. I enjoyed this a lot, although When Dimple Met Rishi reads a little older, this book is FIRMLY high school drama. There were points in this book where I wanted to sit Twinkle down and both shake her and also calmly explain exactly why her choices SUCKED. Ultimately, I’m a sucker for an adorable love story and this one worked for me.
The Mother In Law – When Lucy’s mother-in-law turns up dead, some of the signs point to suicide, but others suggest she was murdered. This book flashes back and forth between the present day and Lucy and Diana’s shared family histories. I read this book in a day, unable to put it down. Anyone with a family can appreciate the challenges that complex family relationships bring. I loved the multiple perspectives and loved that this book was more than I expected it to be, which was a tale about a villainous mother-in-law.
Books You Might Have Missed
Summer new release season is GREAT, but if you’re counting on the library for all of your books, you’re going to need to add a few older reads to your list, so you don’t end up in library hold purgatory. Here are some books I’ve loved over the past year that I would recommend if you haven’t read them yet.
Educated – This is easily one of the most compelling books I’ve read in a long time. This is the sort of book that people tell you they’ve read and you both gasp and try to find the words to describe how you felt while reading it, and mostly just give each other big, knowing eyes.
Where the Crawdads Sing – Okay, full disclosure, I haven’t read this yet, but I haven’t seen a single review from a friend that wasn’t glowing, so I’m going to go ahead and suggest that you add this one to your list as well.
From the Corner of the Oval – If you haven’t read this yet, what are you waiting for? Beck Dorey-Stein is a great writer, but she also tells an incredible story of her time working in the Obama administration, peppered with a healthy dose of anecdotes from her personal life.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Nothing about this book says light beach read, but you should absolutely make an exception here. This is a beautiful story of a son and a mother who spend their whole lives crossing paths without fully realizing it. The story focuses strongly on the son, on his path through life and I can’t recommend it enough.
Tip for library holds: If you want to get a jump on library holds before these books are available, you have a couple of options. Search for the books in your library. Often they will show as pending or on-order, and allow holds, which will begin to roll out as the book is released. If the library doesn’t own the book, you might have the option to recommend it. If you use Overdrive for ebooks, using the “recommend” feature will automatically add you to the wait list if the library purchases the book! I love using this set-it-and-forget-it method and I love getting the notification that my library has purchased a book that I’ve recommended.
You can keep track of your summer reading progress with this list that includes every book in our guide, as well as space for you to add your own choices!
Summer Reading Giveaway!Video voting contest