There are some books that are just better during the summer. They’re good all the time really, but they’re all the more memorable if you’re reading them on the beach with an ice cold lemonade in your hand.
These are my favorite books for summer, as synonymous with the season as the smell of sunblock or the taste of watermelon. (Yum!)
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall; Yearling Books (Random House); 6.99; Ages 8-12
Four sisters spend the summer on a grand estate and have all sorts of adventures! There’s plenty to discover and plenty of mischief to get into, especially when there’s a boy next door who’s ready to play and a rambunctious dog frolicking about. I like to compare this delightful read to a modernized version of Little Women with younger characters. It’s got that kind of winning, classic feel that’s impossible to resist! And, with four sisters, there’s sure to be a heroine for every reader to identify with. Indiebound says: “Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.”
Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker; Balzer & Bray/Harperteen (HarperCollins); 15.99; Ages 9-12
When unexpected events leave Stella and Angel alone for the summer in a house on Cape Cod, the girls must work together to stay afloat. As the summer progresses, they make surprising discoveries about themselves and each other. At the end of the day, this is a novel about family, the family we are born into and the family we choose. I love Gary Schmidt’s (Okay for Now) description: “Beneath the comedy and the suspense and the horror and the wit of this remarkable read lies the deepest secret of all: that we can learn to love each other.” Read my full review here.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han; Simon & Schuster; 9.99; Ages 12+
You’ve gotta love a heroine with a quirky nickname. Our central character in this charming novel is Isabel, but she’s known as Belly. See? You want to read it already, don’t you? Every summer is the same for Belly, spending the season with her family and best-friends-who-are-boys in their beach house. But this year is different. This year, Belly isn’t a little girl anymore. This summer, as the title hints, Belly has turned pretty. You may think you know what happens next, but you’d be surprised by the poignant twists Han gives this coming of age novel. And, lucky for you, there are two more books in the series: It’s Not Summer Without You and We’ll Always Have Summer. This is a great adult/teen crossover book for the beach this year!
The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder; Razorbill (Penguin); 17.99; Ages 14+
This book is seriously good. Seriously well written, seriously hilarious, seriously awesome. I laughed out loud more times than I could count. And, yes, the main protagonist has cancer. Don’t run away! Debut novelist Wendy Wunder has created a wondrously creative, hilarious, and ultimately satisfying read that will keep you glued to the very last page. Heartfelt without being sappy, sarcastic without being rude, Wunder’s characters are brimming with energy and warmth. This is most emphatically not a book about cancer–instead, it’s a book about family, first love, baby flamingoes, Polynesian dancers, and the small miracles of everyday life. I loved every moment. Read it read it read it!
BONUS PICK FOR GROWNUPS: Pure by Julianna Baggott; Grand Central Publishing (Hachette); 25.99; Ages 14+
I’m sort of cheating with this one. It doesn’t take place during the summer. At least, Julianna Baggott never indicates that. But it’s made of pure awesome. And isn’t that what you want to read in your hours and hours of summer leisure time? I know I do. Give me fantastic dystopian world building (check), non-stop action (check), multiple perspectives to keep me interested (check), and some shocking twists and turns (check, check). And while you’re at it, make sure this dystopian world is super creepy and weird and unsettling. In a good way. I dare you to put this book down without finishing it. Give yourself some uninterrupted time, because you’ll want to tear from cover to cover in one sitting!
Come by the store anytime and ask our other booksellers for their favorite picks for summer. If there’s anything we love doing, it’s matching people up with the perfect book!