Summer is the season of catching up on reading, which makes it all the harder to pick the right books for both you and the season of sun. That's why I read as many books with Summer in the title as I could, and I and sharing the best books set in Summer below, with lots of personal thoughts and comparisons for you to make the right decisions for yourself.
Happy beach reading!
Best Books with Summer in the Title
- 28 Summers
- Big Summer
- Hello, Summer
- A Hundred Summers
- Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
- The Lost Summers of Newport (new for 2022)
- One Italian Summer (new for 2022)
- Our Italian Summer
- Park Avenue Summer
- Summer of '69
- Summer on the Bluffs
- Summer Darlings
- The Summer Job
- Summer Love (new for 2022)
- The Summer Place (new for 2022)
- A Summer to Remember
- Summer at Tiffany
- The Summer I Turned Pretty
- That Summer
- The Summer Wives
28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
28 Summers lived up to all my expectations of a classic Elin Hilderbrand book -- preppy Nantucket setting, light but still has substance, well-drawn-out characters, realistic but still clever dialogue, compulsively readable ... I feel like I can go on forever! It just may be the best of these books with Summer in the title, in my humble opinion.
It's about two people who decide to have a "same time next year" meeting that lasts each Labor Day weekend over the course of ... you guessed it ... 28 Summers. Naturally, this becomes more complicated with age, marriage, and kids.
And I would be remiss not to mention my favorite part -- each "year" came with a rundown of all the pop culture items we were talking about at the time. It was just a really fun addition to a book taking place over a few decades.
This was a 5 STAR read for me.
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Big Summer is a Cape Cod wedding turned murder mystery, yet it still maintains a pretty light tone and reads like a YA.
It has a couple of aspects you may either like or dislike: the main characters are influencers and the young main characters take solving the murder mystery into their own hands. I think college-age people will like it, as it reads really well for that age group particularly.
I thought Big Summer was an enjoyable Summer read.
Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews
Conley is about to take a fancy new position in Washington, D.C., but when her new job goes up in smoke, Conley ends up working for her sister, who is trying to keep The Silver Bay Beacon afloat in small-town Florida.
She is given the unenviable task of overseeing the local gossip column, “Hello, Summer.” But after witnessing an accident that ends in the death of a beloved local congressman, she starts digging into his past and uncovering his secrets, all while her own love life heats up.
I think so many people will find Hello, Summer to be a really satisfying Summer beach read that is quick but holds your intrigue.
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
New York Times bestseller
A Hundred Summers is a quick, historical beach read. I love how Beatriz Williams connects historical events, like the hurricane of 1938 that decimated a shore town in Rhode Island, with fictional stories. This one is the story of glamorous Lily Dane and her old college Football playing flame, who shows up for a Summer at Seaview, Rhode Island, married to her old college friend -- or one may say, "frenemy."
As with many of Williams' novels, that's just the beginning of the drama and interconnected lives of the characters, and a passive-aggressive summer amongst them all comes to a head by the end of Summer when the great hurricane hits. If you are a historical fiction lover but don't want anything too heavy for Summer, you may like this one.
Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
The Golden Hotel was the hottest resort in the Catskills for more than sixty years, owned by the Goldman and Weingold families. But the Catskills have lost their luster, and so has the relationship between the Goldmans and the Weingolds.
As everything begins to fall apart, both figuratively and literally, an offer to purchase the property brings these two families together to decide the fate of the Golden Hotel.
In the process, old secrets and new drama emerge, and everyone from the traditional grandparents to the millennial grandchildren have something to say about it.
Business and pleasure converge in this light, nostalgia-filled story filled with memorable characters.
The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White
The Lost Summers of Newport brings together a group of bestselling authors to tell a story about money and secrets spanning over a century beginning in the Gilded Age in the impressive mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.
In 2019, Andie has landed her dream job on a popular reality show about restoring luxurious historic houses. Her latest project is Sprague Hall in Newport, but the reclusive heiress who still lives in the mansion, Lucia, demands that no one speak to her or touch the mansion’s ruined boathouse.
In 1899, Ellen Daniels was hired to give singing lessons to Miss Maybelle Sprague, a naive mining heiress whose stepbrother poured their new money into a Newport mansion. He's determined to see Maybelle marry an Italian prince, and Ellen will help her launch into high society.
In 1958: Lucia Sprague and her grandmother—the American-born Princess di Conti—fled Mussolini’s Italy for her former Newport home, where Lucia marries Stuyvesant Sprague, the alcoholic scion of her Sprague stepfamily.
But one fateful night in the boathouse uncovers devastating truths and, as the cameras roll on the present-day reality show, these dark secrets rise to the surface.
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
New York Times bestseller
Magical realism comes into play when Kary meets a woman who doesn't just look like her mother but actually appears to BE her mother at age 30. It's a meeting that changes the course of Katy's grief and her life, with a twist you won't see coming.
It's one of my favorite books of 2022. And the audiobook is so perfectly read by Gilmore Girls' own charming mother, Lauren Graham.
Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst
Our Italian Summer is a story of healing for three generations of American women in one family. Sophia is the eldest, mourning the death of her husband and wishing she had managed her time with him better. Her daughter, Francesca, is a workaholic drowning in anxiety. And Francesa's daughter, Allegra, is a teen, angry at the lack of a father figure in her life, and engaging in youthful acts of rebellion.
Together, they take a breather and head on a whirlwind Summer in Italy, filled with tourism, food, and even some romance. This escape book is what I like to a great "palate cleanser."
Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen
Park Avenue Summer is a different kind of Summer read, but it's still so on point. It's about a glamorous Summer job in NYC in 1965.
Alice leaves her small Midwestern town and lands her dream job working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a failing Cosmopolitan Magazine. Alice comes of age as Brown shocks America by talking directly to women about "off-limits" topics and someone tries to pull Alice into a scheme to sabotage her boss.
If you liked the aforementioned tv shows and/or books, I think you will like Park Avenue Summer as well.
Summer by Ali Smith
Summer is the fourth novel in the Seasonal Quartet by the renowned Man Booker Prize Finalist.
In the present, Sacha knows all about trouble: Her brother Robert is trouble. Their parents are having trouble. And the word is melting.
It's a story about those who are on the brink of change discovering the meaning of family.
Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand
#1 New York Times bestselling historical novel
Summer of '69 is one of my favorite Elin Hilderbrand books to date, as well as one of my favorite books of 2019 and one of the best books set in Martha's Vineyard. It's one of the best books with Summer in the title because it just perfectly marries a historically and culturally eventful Summer with the light Nantucket beach setting readers all love so much in her books.
It's the story of the Levin family during a monumental Summer in Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Although they usually spend the Summer in Nantucket with their grandmother, this year, Blair is pregnant with twins in Boston, Kirby is working in Martha's Vineyard, Tiger is fighting in Vietnam and only young Jessie is vacationing in Nantucket.
While the Summer of '69 heats up, Senator Teddy Kennedy's car sinks in the water of Chappaquiddick, killing a woman, and an American man flies to the moon, all amidst a backdrop of civil rights and the Vietnam war.
Summer of '69 will keep you immersed in the family's lives and transports you to the 60s, all at the same time. I ADORED this book.
For more, read my full review of Summer of '69.
Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin
Summer on the Bluffs takes place over the course of one Summer in our favorite place -- Martha's Vineyard! It's also filled with diverse characters each of whom brings unique viewpoints to the island.
A wealthy godmother of three twentysomething women invites them to spend one last Summer with her at the Martha's Vineyard estate before she chooses one to whom she will give the home come Summer's end.
Each of these goddaughters deals with life issues over the course of the Summer, and beyond that, their godmother reveals the secrets behind how and why she became part of their lives. These monumental secrets may forever change their relationships.
This Summer book combined a lot of things I love: Martha's Vineyard, light family drama and diverse characters.
Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster
Summer Darlings, is what I call "soap opera historical fiction" -- both historic and dramatic. This one is great for fans of Mad Men and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as well.
In 1962, Brooklyn coed Heddy becomes a nanny for a wealthy family in Martha's Vineyard. As she gets an insider's look into the lives of the rich and famous and dates various island men of different classes, she comes of age as she ultimately questions whether a rich lifestyle will solve her problems or create more of them. There's even some suspense!
The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
Named a Best Beach Read by Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, New York Post, Bustle, Country Living, Parade, Fortune, and more.
The Summer Job is a fun and engaging story about a position that can go horribly wrong. Birdy takes the job (and namesake) of her sommelier friend Heather at a highland Scottish hotel.
And sure enough, she falls for the chef while pretending to be Heather.
This is a lighthearted story with Scottish charm that's really delightful, as the reader waits to see if Birdy will be "found out" while attempting to be a world-class wine expert.
Summer Love by Nancy Thayer
Summer Love is for those who love a good Nantucket setting, as four friends gather for a life-changing reunion of self-discovery.
Twenty-six years after their first Summer as friends, Ariel, Sheila, Wyatt, and Nick reunite at the hotel where they met. Now it’s called The Lighthouse and Nick owns it with his wife and daughter. Ariel and Wyatt are married and bring their son. Sheila also arrives with her daughter.
Over the years, life hasn’t worked out as they hoped. Together again, they confront their pasts as the next generation discovers Nantucket.
The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner
In The Summer Place, Sarah is shocked when her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter Ruby announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend. What's more is that Ruby wants the wedding to be held at the Cape Cod home of Sarah's family before it's sold.
As the big wedding day approaches, the generations of women encounter family problems along the way. And when the wedding day finally arrives, secrets that change everyone forever are revealed.
It's a big-hearted story about family sacrifice.
A Summer to Remember by Erika Montgomery
A Summer to Remember is a light mystery and romance book with Summer in the title that really keeps you intrigued, and has fun movie quotes at the beginning of each chapter.
Frankie is a young woman who sells movie memorabilia in the shop she opened in Hollywood with her late mother. When she received a package containing a photograph of her mother and famous movie stars at a Cape Cod film festival the year before Frankie’s birth, she begins to question her past.
She travels to Cape Cod and uncovers buried secrets amongst friends and family, all while a NewEngland romance heats up.
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
Summer at Tiffany is another book with Summer in the title that's about a Summer job in New York City -- this time in 1945 and a memoir.
Marjorie and her best friend Marty Garrett arrive fresh from the University of Iowa hoping to find summer positions as shopgirls, and they become pages at Tiffany & Co. -- the first women to ever work on the sales floor.
Summer at Tiffany is a fun tale of meeting the rich and famous (like Judy Garland), as well as some handsome suitors, and changing the course of their lives over one Summer in which the Second World War ended.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
New York Times bestseller
The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first in a young adult series by the popular author of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series (a great escape read and love story). The story follows teenage "Belly" as she and her mom and her brother visit their shared Summer beach house with her mom's friend and her two sons, who are both like brothers and crushes to her.
It's about how a young teen starts to bloom from that awkward stage to that "getting noticed stage." And as life in the beach house takes a difficult turn, the course of Belly's teenage life changes.
That Summer by Jennifer Weiner
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
That Summer is not your typical book amongst the best books with Summer in the title. It starts as a teenage Diana heads to Cape Cod to babysit for the Summer, and I envisioned a sweet, nostalgia-filled season. Then, it happened. She was raped.
Decades later, she's still struggling to cope with the trauma of her rape, when she begins an online friendship with another woman named Diana. But, their acquaintance wasn't by chance after all, and there's a whole lot more to unpack in this unlikely friendship.
Despite the difficult subject matter, it was utterly captivating, and really beautifully told. It's a book I'll continue to think about for a long time, and I highly recommend it if the content isn't a trigger for you.
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
New York Times bestseller
Sometimes a book just suits you. I really felt that way about The Summer Wives -- my first, but definitely not last, Beatriz Williams book. What was I waiting for?! This "soap opera historical fiction" book (I made up that genre) reminded me of so many great books:
- The rich dialogue of Breakfast at Tiffany's (one of my all-time faves)
- The nostalgic tone of Rules of Civility and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
- The movie star dealing with complicated past relationships of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (an amazing escape read).
Those are the best books with Summer in the title.