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Here’s a list of 10 book club books to read in summer 2023!
I love summertime. Warm, sunny days full of adventure, the beach and plenty of ice cream. I was just at the beach the other day and it felt like a summer day and it got me thinking—I can’t wait for summer reading season!
There is something truly special and unique about books published during the summer, aka beach reads. For some, beach reads are lighter and fun romance-type stories. While others prefer reading engaging thrillers during a summer vacation. And some feel spending time with a well-done literary fiction novel is an ideal way to spend a summer afternoon.
As such, when I put together my summer book club list, I make sure to include all kinds of genres. And I’m so excited about each of these reads! Also, BTW, if you need more book recommendations throughout the year, be sure to check out my huge must-read book club picks for 2023 list.
Alright, let’s get into the summer book club books! The following books are listed in order of pub dates.
Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune (May 2)
Following the huge success of her previous novel, Every Summer After, Carley Fortune is back with a new novel. Meet Me at the Lake is about heartbreak and second chances set at a lakeside resort. This promises to be one of those books you’ll want to read in one sitting but also not leave there characters behind when you finish it. Here’s the synopsis:
Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in the city. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn’t.
At thirty-two, Fern’s life doesn’t look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern’s back home, running her mother’s lakeside resort—something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend’s the manager, and Fern doesn’t know where to begin.
She needs a plan—a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern’s going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern’s not sure she wants to know what it is.
But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?
The Celebrants by Steven Rowley (May 30)
Steven Rowley is one of my favorite authors. You absolutely need to check out The Guncle and The Editor if you haven’t yet! His novels are so charming, funny and quite heartfelt. In The Celebrants, a group of college friends reunite as they grapple with loss, scandal, secrets and more. It sounds like a love letter to the enduring nature of lasting friendships. Here’s the synopsis:
It’s been a minute—or five years—since Jordan Vargas last saw his college friends, and twenty-eight years since their graduation when their adult lives officially began. Now Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Craig, and Marielle find themselves at the brink of a new decade, with all the responsibilities of adulthood, yet no closer to having their lives figured out. Though not for a lack of trying. Over the years they’ve reunited in Big Sur to honor a decades-old pact to throw each other living “funerals,” celebrations to remind themselves that life is worth living—that their lives mean something, to one another if not to themselves.
But this reunion is different. They’re not gathered as they were to bolster Marielle as her marriage crumbled, to lift Naomi after her parents died, or to intervene when Craig pleaded guilty to art fraud. This time, Jordan is sitting on a secret that will upend their pact.
A deeply honest tribute to the growing pains of selfhood and the people who keep us going, coupled with Steven Rowley’s signature humor and heart, The Celebrants is a moving tale about the false invincibility of youth and the beautiful ways in which friendship helps us celebrate our lives, even amid the deepest challenges of living.
Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess (June 6)
Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess is a coming-of-age novel that follows a Black woman as she navigates first job and first love. It covers race, class, politics, identity and more. Here’s the synopsis:
When Jess lands a job as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, she’s less than thrilled to learn she’ll be on the same team as Josh, her preppy, white, conservative sparring partner from college. Josh loves playing the devil’s advocate and is just…the worst.
But when Jess finds herself the sole Black woman on the floor, overlooked and underestimated, it’s Josh who shows up for her in surprising—if imperfect—ways. Before long, an unlikely friendship—one tinged with undeniable chemistry—forms between the two. A friendship that gradually, and then suddenly, turns into an electrifying romance that shocks them both.
Despite their differences, the force of their attraction propels the relationship forwards, and Jess begins to question whether it’s more important to be happy than right. But then it’s 2016, and the cultural and political landscape shifts underneath them. And Jess, who is just beginning to discover who she is and who she has the right to be, is forced to ask herself what she’s willing to compromise for love and whether, in fact, everything’s fine.
A stunning debut that introduces Cecilia Rabess as a blazing new talent, Everything’s Fine is a painfully funny, poignant, heartfelt novel that doesn’t just ask will they, but…should they?
The Whispers by Ashley Audrain (June 6)
It seems like everyone was talking about The Push by Ashley Audrain back in 2021. And I’m sure it will be the same for her latest novel, The Whispers. The novel follows four families in a suburban neighborhood as it dives into their private lives after a horrible tragedy occurs. Book clubs will have much to discuss after reading this one. Here’s the synopsis:
The Loverlys sit by the hospital bed of their young son who is in a coma after falling from his bedroom window in the middle of the night; his mother, Whitney, will not speak to anyone. Back home, their friends and neighbors are left in shock, each confronting their own role in the events that led up to what happened that terrible night: the warm, altruistic Parks who are the Loverlys’ best friends; the young, ambitious Goldsmiths who are struggling to start a family of their own; and the quiet, elderly Portuguese couple who care for their adult son with a developmental disability, and who pass the long days on the front porch, watching their neighbors go about their busy lives.
The story spins out over the course of one week, in the alternating voices of the women in each family as they are forced to face the secrets within the walls of their own homes, and the uncomfortable truths that connect them all to one another. Set against the heartwrenching drama of what will happen to Xavier, who hangs between death and life, or a life changed forever, THE WHISPERS is a novel about what happens when we put our needs ahead of our children’s. Exploring the quiet sacrifices of motherhood, the intuitions that we silence, the complexities of our closest friendships, and the danger of envy, this is a novel about the reverberations of life’s most difficult decisions.
Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan (June 6)
Annabel Monaghan is quickly becoming the go-to for beach read stories! In Same Time Next Summer, an engaged woman sees her first love again for the first time since she’s 17. It calls into question everything she thought she knew. Really looking forward to reading this one. Here’s the synopsis:
Sam’s life is on track. She has the perfect doctor fiancé, Jack (his strict routines are a good thing, really), a great job in Manhattan (unless they fire her), and is about to tour a wedding venue near her family’s Long Island beach house. Everything should go to plan, yet the minute she arrives, Sam senses something is off. Wyatt is here. Her Wyatt. But there’s no reason for a thirty-year-old engaged woman to feel panicked around the guy who broke her heart when she was seventeen. Right?
Yet being back at this beach, hearing notes from Wyatt’s guitar float across the night air from next door as if no time has passed—Sam’s memories come flooding back: the feel of Wyatt’s skin on hers, their nights in the treehouse, and the truth behind their split. Sam remembers who she used to be, and as Wyatt reenters her life their connection is as undeniable as it always was. She will have to make a choice.
Loot by Tania James (June 13)
Loot by Tania James is a historical fiction novel set in 18th Century. It’s an adventure story but also covers so much more – the premise is unlike anything I’ve read. Very intrigued by this one. Here’s the synopsis:
Abbas is just seventeen years old when his gifts as a woodcarver come to the attention of Tipu Sultan, and he is drawn into service at the palace in order to build a giant tiger automaton for Tipu’s sons, a gift to commemorate their return from British captivity. His fate—and the fate of the wooden tiger he helps create—will mirror the vicissitudes of nations and dynasties ravaged by war across India and Europe.
Working alongside the legendary French clockmaker Lucien du Leze, Abbas hones his craft, learns French, and meets Jehanne, the daughter of a French expatriate. When Du Leze is finally permitted to return home to Rouen, he invites Abbas to come along as his apprentice. But by the time Abbas travels to Europe, Tipu’s palace has been looted by British forces, and the tiger automaton has disappeared. To prove himself, Abbas must retrieve the tiger from an estate in the English countryside, where it is displayed in a collection of plundered art.
Zero Days by Ruth Ware (June 20)
For those thriller lovers, you have to put Zero Days by Ruth Ware on your TBR list. This one sounds a little different from her previous psychological thriller books—it’s said to be a blend of Mr and Mrs. Smith and The Fugitive. Sounds so good! Here’s the synopsis:
Hired by companies to break into buildings and hack security systems, Jack and her husband, Gabe, are the best penetration specialists in the business. But after a routine assignment goes horribly wrong, Jack arrives home to find her husband dead. To add to her horror, the police are closing in on their suspect—her.
Suddenly on the run and quickly running out of options, Jack must decide who she can trust as she circles closer to the real killer in this unputdownable and heart-pounding mystery.
Banyan Moon by Thao Thai (June 27)
Banyan Moon by Thao Thai is an epic family saga that follows three generations of Vietnamese women. It features family secrets, complicated mother-daughter relationships and unlikely love stories. I’m so looking forward to this one—it sounds quite impactful and insightful. Here’s the synopsis:
When Ann Tran gets the call that her fiercely beloved grandmother, Minh, has passed away, her life is already at a crossroads. In the years since she’s last seen Minh, Ann has built a seemingly perfect life—a beautiful lake house, a charming professor boyfriend, and invites to elegant parties that bubble over with champagne and good taste—but it all crumbles with one positive pregnancy test. With both her relationship and carefully planned future now in question, Ann returns home to Florida to face her estranged mother, Huơng.
Back in Florida, Huơng is simultaneously mourning her mother and resenting her for having the relationship with Ann that she never did. Then Ann and Huơng learn that Minh has left them both the Banyan House, the crumbling old manor that was Ann’s childhood home, in all its strange, Gothic glory. Under the same roof for the first time in years, mother and daughter must face the simmering questions of their past and their uncertain futures, while trying to rebuild their relationship without the one person who’s always held them together.
Running parallel to this is Minh’s story, as she goes from a lovestruck teenager living in the shadow of the Vietnam War to a determined young mother immigrating to America in search of a better life for her children. And when Ann makes a shocking discovery in the Banyan House’s attic, long-buried secrets come to light as it becomes clear how decisions Minh made in her youth affected the rest of her life—and beyond.
Spanning decades and continents, from 1960s Vietnam to the wild swamplands of the Florida coast, Banyan Moon is a stunning and deeply moving story of mothers and daughters, the things we inherit, and the lives we choose to make out of that inheritance.
Forever Hold Your Peace by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (July 11)
I’m a big fan of writing duo and best friends Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke! They cover a range of genres in their stories and each one is distinct and compelling. I’m especially excited for their latest, Forever Hold Your Peace.
The novel is promoted as Father of the Bride meets Bride Wars in which two ex-best friends find themselves shockingly entangled after more than two decades apart. It sounds fun, entertaining and the ideal book you’ll want to read by the pool. Here’s the synopsis:
When their newly engaged kids ask all four divorced parents to meet each other over brunch, everyone RSVPs yes–secretly hoping someone at the table will get to the bottom of the bottomless mimosas fast enough to say what they’re all thinking: that this engagement, coming after a whirlwind romance between two people barely out of college, is too much too soon.
But at that brunch it’s not the impulsive couple’s decisions that end up under the microscope, as it turns out June, mother of the bride, and Amy, mother of the groom, certainly do know each other–they’re ex-best-friends who haven’t spoken since their explosive falling out more than twenty-five years ago. Reeling from their unwanted reunion and eager to shift the spotlight off their past as decades-old secrets and rivalries come to light, the two moms battle it out for the prize of Most Enthusiastic About This Wedding.
But when their history—and their present-day shenanigans—threaten to crack the foundations of the happy couple’s future, June and Amy find themselves becoming unexpected allies in an all-hands-on-deck effort to get their kids (and themselves) a happily-ever-after two generations in the making.
Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo (August 1)
Family Lore is Elizabeth Acevedo’s first novel for her adults. She won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for her book, The Poet Ex. In Family Lore, the story of one Dominican-American family is told through the voices of its women as they await a gathering that will forever change their lives. Very intrigued by this one. Here’s the synopsis:
Flor has a gift: she can predict, to the day, when someone will die. So when she decides she wants a living wake—a party to bring her family and community together to celebrate the long life she’s led—her sisters are surprised. Has Flor foreseen her own death, or someone else’s? Does she have other motives? She refuses to tell her sisters, Matilde, Pastora, and Camila.
But Flor isn’t the only person with secrets: her sisters are hiding things, too. And the next generation, cousins Ona and Yadi, face tumult of their own.
Spanning the three days prior to the wake, Family Lore traces the lives of each of the Marte women, weaving together past and present, Santo Domingo and New York City. Told with Elizabeth Acevedo’s inimitable and incandescent voice, this is an indelible portrait of sisters and cousins, aunts and nieces—one family’s journey through their history, helping them better navigate all that is to come.
Hope you enjoyed this list of summer book club books. Happy reading!