18 Summer Reading Fiction Picks You Won’t Put Down!

Looking for a great summer read? Check out this list of eighteen books that you won't be able to put down. From beach reads to thrillers, there's something for everyone.
These summer reads will keep you entertained while you’re soaking up the sun. From thrilling thrillers to light-hearted comedies, we’ve got something for everyone on your list!

These summer reads will keep you entertained while you’re soaking up the sun.

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You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

https://amzn.to/3xJecVj

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by The Washington PostOprah DailyVultureHarper’s BazaarThrillistEssenceGood HousekeepingGlamourMarie ClaireParadeBustleBuzzFeedRefinery29Business Insider, The GuardianFinancial TimesPopSugarBook RiotLitHubBookishLGBTQ Reads, and more!

“A deeply heartfelt romance novel.” —Marie Claire

“A riveting and emotional exploration of grief and taking a second chance on love.” —Book Riot

New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and “one of our greatest living writers” (Shondaland) reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.

Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again. 

It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career. 

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the overwhelming desire Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits—his father. 

This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love? Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

https://amzn.to/3MSkiXS

“Full of sensory details, vivid characters, and moment after moment of gorgeously rendered ordinary life, this audiobook is a queer must-listen.”—AudioFile

This program is masterfully narrated by award-winning “Golden Voice” narrator Julia Whelan.

Yerba Buena is the debut adult novel by the bestselling and award-winning YA author Nina LaCour, following two women on a star-crossed journey toward each other.

A Most Anticipated Book (VogueHarper’s BazaarThe Washington PostVulture, NBC News, Good Housekeeping, Parade, Electric Lit, BookRiot, Bustle, Goodreads, LGBTQ Reads, Autostraddle, Veranda MagazineThe Lesbian Review, and more)

“A love story for our time.”—Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Romantics

“This book is a precious thing.”—Casey McQuiston, New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop

When Sara Foster runs away from home at sixteen, she leaves behind the girl she once was, capable of trust and intimacy. Years later, in Los Angeles, she is a sought-after bartender, renowned as much for her brilliant cocktails as for the mystery that clings to her. Across the city, Emilie Dubois is in a holding pattern, yearning for the beauty and community her Creole grandparents cultivated but unable to commit. On a whim, she takes a job arranging flowers at the glamorous restaurant Yerba Buena and embarks on an affair with the married owner.

The morning Emilie and Sara first meet at Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. But the damage both women carry, and the choices they have made, pulls them apart again and again. When Sara’s old life catches up to her, upending everything she thought she wanted just as Emilie has finally gained her own sense of purpose, they must decide if their love is more powerful than their pasts.

At once exquisite and expansive, astonishing in its humanity and heart, Yerba Buena is a love story for our time and a propulsive journey through the lives of two women trying to find somewhere, or someone, to call home.

The Mutual Friend by Carter Bays

https://amzn.to/3NK4pnB

“This is a rare thing: an original, intelligent novel that’s not just a perfect summer beach read, but one that deserves serious awards consideration as well. Put down your phone and pick it up… A major accomplishment.”—Kirkus (starred)

From the co-creator of How I Met Your Mother, a hilarious and thought-provoking debut novel set in New York City, following a sprawling cast of characters as they navigate life, love, loss, ambition, and spirituality—without ever looking up from their phones.

It’s the summer of 2015, and Alice Quick needs to get to work. She’s twenty-eight years old, grieving her mother, barely scraping by as a nanny, and freshly kicked out of her apartment. If she can just get her act together and sign up for the MCAT, she can start chasing her dream of becoming a doctor . . . but in the Age of Distraction, the distractions are so distracting. There’s her tech millionaire brother’s religious awakening. His picture-perfect wife’s emotional breakdown. Her chaotic new roommate’s thirst for adventure. And, of course, there’s the biggest distraction of all: Love.

From within the story of one summer in one woman’s life, an epic tale is unearthed, spanning continents and featuring a tapestry of characters tied to one another by threads both seen and unseen. Filled with all the warmth, humor, and heart that gained How I Met Your Mother its cult following, The Mutual Friend captures in sparkling detail the chaos of contemporary life, a life lived simultaneously in two different worlds—the physical one and the one behind our screens—and reveals how connected we all truly are.

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley

https://amzn.to/3xFsar7

Hilariously insightful and delightfully suspenseful, Cult Classic is an original: a masterfully crafted tale of love, memory, morality, and mind control, as well as a fresh foray into the philosophy of romance.

MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK of 2022 by Glamour, W, Nylon, Fortune, Lit HubThe Millions, and more!

This program is read by the author.

One night in New York City’s Chinatown, a woman is at a work reunion dinner with former colleagues when she excuses herself to buy a pack of cigarettes. On her way back, she runs into a former boyfriend. And then another. And . . . another. Nothing is quite what it seems as the city becomes awash with ghosts of heartbreaks past. 

What would normally pass for coincidence becomes something far stranger as the recently engaged Lola must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship but the fact that both her best friend and her former boss, a magazine editor turned mystical guru, might have an unhealthy investment in the outcome. Memories of the past swirl and converge in ways both comic and eerie, as Lola is forced to decide if she will surrender herself to the conspiring of one very contemporary cult.

Is it possible to have a happy ending in an age when the past is ever at your fingertips and sanity is for sale? With her gimlet eye, Sloane Crosley spins a wry literary fantasy that is equal parts must-listen and poignant portrayal of alienation.

Nuclear Family by Joseph Han

https://amzn.to/3HeUioj

Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho. Their dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across Hawai’i seems within reach after a visit from Guy Fieri boosts the profile of Cho’s Delicatessen. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved to Seoul to teach English. But when a viral video shows Jacob trying—and failing—to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, nothing can protect the family from suspicion and the restaurant from waning sales.

No one knows that Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his lost grandfather, who feverishly wishes to cross the divide and find the family he left behind in the north. As Jacob is detained by the South Korean government, Mr. and Mrs. Cho fear their son won’t ever be able to return home, and Grace gets more and more stoned as she negotiates her family’s undoing. Struggling with what they don’t know about themselves and one another, the Chos must confront the separations that have endured in their family for decades.

Set in the months leading up to the 2018 false missile alert in Hawai’i, Joseph Han’s profoundly funny and strikingly beautiful debut novel is an offering that aches with histories inherited and reunions missed, asking how we heal in the face of what we forget and who we remember.

Just by Looking at Him by Ryan O’Connell

https://amzn.to/3xs8C8a

From the star of Peacock’s Queer as Folk and the Netflix series Special comes a darkly witty and touching novel following a gay TV writer with cerebral palsy as he fights addiction and searches for acceptance in an overwhelmingly ableist world.

Elliot appears to be living the dream as a successful TV writer with a doting boyfriend. But behind his Instagram filter of a life, he’s grappling with an intensifying alcohol addiction, he can’t seem to stop cheating on his boyfriend with various sex workers, and his cerebral palsy is making him feel like gay Shrek.

After falling down a rabbit hole of sex, drinking, and Hollywood backstabbing, Elliot decides to limp his way toward redemption. But facing your demons is easier said than done.

Candid, biting, and refreshingly real, Just by Looking at Him is an incisive commentary on gay life, a heart-centered, laugh-out-loud exploration of self, and a rare insight into life as a person with disabilities.

Tracy Flick Can’t Win by Tom Perrotta

https://amzn.to/39qmXtR

Tracy Flick is back and, once again, the iconic protagonist of Tom Perrotta’s Election—and Reese Witherspoon’s character from the classic movie adaptation—is determined to take high school politics by storm.

Tracy Flick is a hardworking assistant principal at a public high school in suburban New Jersey. Still ambitious but feeling a little stuck and underappreciated in midlife, Tracy gets a jolt of good news when the longtime principal, Jack Weede, abruptly announces his retirement, creating a rare opportunity for Tracy to ascend to the top job.

Sirens & Muses by Antonia Angress

https://amzn.to/3aXizmQ

Four artists are drawn into a web of rivalry and desire at an elite art school and on the streets of New York in this magnificent debut for fans of Writers & Lovers and The Goldfinch.

“Captures the ache-inducing quality of art and desire . . . a deeply relatable and profoundly enjoyable read, one drenched in prismatic color and light.”—Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of With Teeth

It’s 2011: America is in a deep recession and Occupy Wall Street is escalating. But at the elite Wrynn College of Art, students paint and sculpt in a rarefied bubble. Louisa Arceneaux is a thoughtful, observant nineteen-year-old when she transfers to Wrynn as a scholarship student, but she soon finds herself adrift in an environment that prizes novelty over beauty. Complicating matters is Louisa’s unexpected attraction to her charismatic roommate, Karina Piontek, the preternaturally gifted but mercurial daughter of wealthy art collectors. Gradually, Louisa and Karina are drawn into an intense sensual and artistic relationship, one that forces them to confront their deepest desires and fears. But Karina also can’t shake her fascination with Preston Utley, a senior and anti-capitalist Internet provocateur, who is publicly feuding with visiting professor and political painter Robert Berger—a once-controversial figurehead seeking to regain relevance.   

When Preston concocts an explosive hoax, the fates of all four artists are upended as each is unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat New York art world. Now all must struggle to find new identities in art, in society, and among each other. In the process, they must find either their most authentic terms of life—of success, failure, and joy—or risk losing themselves altogether. 

With a canny, critical eye, Sirens & Muses overturns notions of class, money, art, youth, and a generation’s fight to own their future.

Nevada by Imogen Binnie

https://amzn.to/3HhmczY

This program is read by the author. 

A beloved and blistering cult classic and finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction finally back in print, Nevada follows a disaffected trans woman as she embarks on a cross-country road trip.

Maria Griffiths is almost thirty and works at a used bookstore in New York City while trying to stay true to her punk values. She’s in love with her bike but not with her girlfriend, Steph. She takes random pills and drinks more than is good for her, but doesn’t inject anything except, when she remembers, estrogen, because she’s trans. Everything is mostly fine until Maria and Steph break up, sending Maria into a tailspin, and then onto a cross-country trek in the car she steals from Steph. She ends up in the backwater town of Star City, Nevada, where she meets James, who is probably but not certainly trans, and who reminds Maria of her younger self. As Maria finds herself in the awkward position of trans role model, she realizes that she could become James’s savior—or his downfall.

One of the most beloved cult novels of our time and a landmark of trans literature, Imogen Binnie’s Nevada is a blistering, heartfelt, and evergreen coming-of-age story, and a punk-smeared excavation of marginalized life under capitalism. Guided by an instantly memorable, terminally self-aware protagonist—and featuring a new afterword by the author—Nevada is the great American road novel flipped on its head for a new generation.

Body Grammar by Jules Ohman

https://amzn.to/3xp4gif

A coming-of-age queer love story set in the glamorous but grueling world of international modeling—a “terrific debut…roiling with deep questions of identity and art, love, and the irrepressible need for meaning in life” (Jess Walter, bestselling author of The Cold Millions)

By the time Lou turns eighteen, modeling agents across Portland have scouted her for her striking androgynous look. Lou has no interest in fashion or being in the spotlight. She prefers to take photographs, especially of Ivy, her close friend and secret crush.

But when a hike ends in a tragic accident, Lou finds herself lost and ridden with guilt. Determined to find a purpose, Lou moves to New York and steps into the dizzying world of international fashion shows, haute couture, and editorial shoots. It’s a whirlwind of learning how to walk and how to command a body she’s never felt at ease in. But in the limelight, Lou begins to fear that she’s losing her identity—as an individual, as an artist, and as a person still in love with the girl she left behind. 

A sharply observed and intimate story of grief and healing, doubt and self-acceptance set against the hyper-image-conscious industry of modeling and high fashion, Body Grammar shines with the anxieties of finding your place in the world and the heartbreaking beauty of pursuing love. 

One’s Company by Ashley Hutson

https://amzn.to/3xmXhGA

Bonnie Lincoln just wants to be left alone. To come home from work, shut out the voice that reminds her of some devastating losses, and unwind in front of the nostalgic, golden glow of her favorite TV show, Three’s Company.

When Bonnie wins the lottery, a more grandiose vision—to completely shuck off her own troublesome identity—takes shape. She plans a drastic move to an isolated mountain retreat where she can re-create the iconic apartment set of Three’s Company and slip into the lives of its main characters: no-nonsense Janet Wood, pleasantly airheaded Chrissy Snow, and confident Jack Tripper. While her best friend, Krystal, tries to drag her back to her old life, Bonnie is determined to transcend pain, trauma, and the baggage of her past by immersing herself in the ultimate binge-watch.

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro

https://amzn.to/3xgI75K

The story of three once-inseparable college friends in Nigeria who reunite for the first time in thirty years at a lavish wedding in Lagos for one of their daughters—a sparkling debut novel about mothers and daughters, culture and class, sex and love, and the extraordinary resilience of female friendship.

“Fast-paced, glamorous, and bursting with emotion…. The bonds between women—as friends, and across the generations—are the jewels that make this story shine.” —Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

Funmi, Enitan, and Zainab first meet at university in Nigeria and become friends for life despite their differences. Funmi is beautiful, brash, and determined; Enitan is homely and eager, seeking escape from her single mother’s smothering and needy love; Zainab is elegant and reserved, raised by her father’s first two wives after her mother’s death in childbirth. Their friendship is complicated but enduring, and over the course of the novel, the listener learns about their loves and losses. How Funmi stole Zainab’s boyfriend and became pregnant, only to have an abortion and lose the boyfriend to police violence. How Enitan was seduced by an American Peace Corps volunteer, the only one who ever really saw her, but is culturally so different from him—a Connecticut WASP – that raising their daughter together put them at odds. How Zainab fell in love with her teacher, a friend of her father’s, and ruptured her relationship with her father to have him.

Now, some thirty years later, the three women are reunited for the first time, in Lagos. The occasion: Funmi’s daughter, Destiny, is getting married. Enitan brings her American daughter, Remi. Zainab travels by bus, nervously leaving her ailing husband in the care of their son. Funmi, hosting the weekend of elaborate festivities with her wealthy husband, wants everything to go perfectly. But as the big day approaches, it becomes clear that something is not right. As the novel builds powerfully toward the big event, the complexities of the mothers’ friendship—and the private wisdom each has earned—come to bear on a riveting, heartrending moment of decision. Dele Weds Destiny is a sensational debut from a dazzling new voice in contemporary fiction.

Kaleidoscope by Cecily Wong

https://amzn.to/3xHbobg

A dazzling and heartfelt novel about two sisters caught in their parents’ ambition, the accident that brings it all crashing down, and the journey that follows.

Everybody’s heard of The Brightons.

From rags to riches, sleepy Oregon to haute New York, they are the biracial Chinese American family that built Kaleidoscope, a glittering, “global bohemian” shopping empire sourcing luxury goods from around the world. Statuesque, design savant, and family pet—eldest daughter Morgan Brighton is most celebrated of all. Yet despite her favored status, both within the family and in the press, nobody loves her more than Riley. Smart and nervy Riley Brighton—whose existence is forever eclipsed by her older sister’s presence. When a catastrophic event dismantles the Brightons’ world, it is Riley who’s left with questions about her family that challenge her memory, identity, and loyalty. She sets off across the globe with an unlikely companion to seek truths about the people she thought she knew best—herself included.

Using the brightly colored, shifting mosaic patterns of a kaleidoscope as its guide, and told in arresting, addictive fragments, Kaleidoscope is at once a reckoning with one family’s flawed American Dream, and an examination of the precious bond between sisters. It reveals, too, the different kinds of love left to grow when tightly held stories are finally let go. At turns devastating and funny, warm and wise, sexy and transportive, Riley’s journey confronts the meaning of freedom and travel, youth and innocence, and what it looks like to belong, grieve, and love on one’s own terms.

Self Portrait With Ghost: Short Stories by Meng Jin

https://amzn.to/3xuOZN8

From the acclaimed author of Little Gods, whose “gift merges science, politics and art: the kind of audacity our world needs now” (Gina Apostol), comes an immersive and electrifying story collection that explores self-construction, female resilience, and migrations both literal and transformative.

Meng Jin’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Little Gods, was praised as “spectacular and emotionally polyphonic (Omar El-Akkad, BookPage), “powerful” (Washington Post), and “meticulously observed, daringly imagined” (Claire Messud). Now Jin turns her considerable talents to short fiction, in ten thematically linked stories.

Written during the turbulent years of the Trump administration and the first year of the pandemic, these stories explore intimacy and isolation, coming-of-age and coming to terms with the repercussions of past mistakes, fraying relationships and surprising moments of connection. Moving between San Francisco and China, and from unsparing realism to genre-bending delight, Self-Portrait with Ghost considers what it means to live in an age of heightened self-consciousness, seemingly endless access to knowledge, and little actual power.

Page-turning, thought-provoking, and wholly unique, Self-Portrait with Ghost further establishes Meng Jin as a writer who “reminds us that possible explanations in our universe are as varied as the beings who populate it” (Paris Review).

Other Names for Love by Taymour Soomro

https://amzn.to/3xgHQzK

A charged, hypnotic debut novel about a boy’s life-changing summer in rural Pakistan: a story of fathers, sons, and the consequences of desire.

At age sixteen, Fahad hopes to spend the summer with his mother in London. His father, Rafik, has other plans: hauling his son to Abad, the family’s feudal estate in upcountry, Pakistan. Rafik wants to toughen up his sensitive boy, to teach him about power, duty, family—to make him a man. He enlists Ali, a local teenager, in this project, hoping his presence will prove instructive.

Instead, over the course of one hot, indolent season, attraction blooms between the two boys, and Fahad finds himself seduced by the wildness of the land and its inhabitants: the people, who revere and revile his father in turn; cousin Mousey, who lives alone with a man he calls his manager; and most of all, Ali, who threatens to unearth all that is hidden.

Decades later, Fahad is living abroad when he receives a call from his mother summoning him home. His return will force him to face the past. Taymour Soomro’s Other Names for Love is a tale of masculinity, inheritance, and desire set against the backdrop of a country’s troubled history, told with uncommon urgency and beauty.

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

https://amzn.to/3xmXn0U

“An extraordinary novel, spiny and delicate, scathingly funny and wildly moving.” —Lauren Groff, author of Matrix
 
“Sarah Thankam Mathews’ prose is undeniable.” —Raven Leilani, author of Luster
 
From a brilliant new voice comes an electrifying novel of a young immigrant building a life for herself—a warm, dazzling, and profound saga of queer love, friendship, work, and precarity in twenty-first century America


Graduating into the long maw of an American recession, Sneha is one of the fortunate ones. She’s moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, grueling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner with her new friend Tig, get her college buddy Thom hired alongside her, and send money to her parents back in India. She begins dating women—soon developing a burning crush on Marina, a beguiling and beautiful dancer who always seems just out of reach.
 
But before long, trouble arrives. Painful secrets rear their heads; jobs go off the rails; evictions loom. Sneha struggles to be truly close and open with anybody, even as her friendships deepen, even as she throws herself headlong into a dizzying romance with Marina. It’s then that Tig begins to draw up a radical solution to their problems, hoping to save them all.
 
A beautiful and capacious novel rendered in singular, unforgettable  prose, All This Could Be Different is a wise, tender, and riveting group portrait of young people forging love and community amidst struggle, and a moving story of one immigrant’s journey to make her home in the world.

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

https://amzn.to/3NNYNZh

From the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, a sweeping, multi-generational saga of displacement, loss, and love, set against the brutal colonization of east Africa.

When he was just a boy, Ilyas was stolen from his parents on the coast of east Africa by German colonial troops. After years away, fighting against his own people, he returns home to find his parents gone and his sister, Afiya, abandoned into de facto slavery. Hamza, too, returns home from the war, scarred in body and soul and with nothing but the clothes on his back–until he meets the beautiful, undaunted Afiya. As these young people live and work and fall in love, their fates knotted ever more tightly together, the shadow of a new war on another continent falls over them, threatening once again to carry them away.

My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson

https://amzn.to/3zz4TZl

A fierce and riveting queer coming-of-age story following the personal and political awakening of a young gay Black man in 1980s New York City, from the television drama writer and producer of The Chi, Narcos, and Bel-Air

“Full of joy and righteous anger, sex and straight talk, brilliant storytelling and humor, Rasheed Newson’s debut novel has given us the story of Trey, set against the history of 80s queer Black New York, AIDS, and the movements that changed the era. A spectacularly researched Dickensian tale with vibrant characters and dozens of famous cameos, it is precisely the book we’ve needed for a long time. That—and a rollicking read! What more could you want?” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, Earl “Trey” Singleton III leaves his overbearing parents and their expectations behind by running away to New York City with only a few dollars in his pocket. In the city, Trey meets up with a cast of characters that changes his life forever. He volunteers at a renegade home hospice for AIDS patients, and after being put to the test by gay rights activists, becomes a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Along the way Trey attempts to navigate past traumas and searches for ways to maintain familial relationships—all while seeking the meaning of life amid so much death.

Vibrant, humorous, and fraught with entanglements, Rasheed Newson’s My Government Means to Kill Me is an exhilarating, fast-paced coming-of-age story that lends itself to a larger discussion about what it means for a young gay Black man in the mid-1980s to come to terms with his role in the midst of a political and social reckoning.

Conclusion paragraph: Whether you’re looking for a thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat or a romance that will make your heart flutter, we’ve got you covered. So pull up a beach chair, put on some sunscreen, and get ready to dive into one of these amazing summer reads. What book are you most excited to read this summer? Let me know in the comments below!

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