Top 10 Books for Your Book Club in Summer 2020

by Heather Caliendo
summer 2020 book club picks - book club chat
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Wondering what you should read this summer? Here are 10 fantastic choices for your book club in summer 2020!

Even though summer is months away—it’s never too early to plan your reading picks! And there’s just something about summer books.  Summer has always been my favorite reading season.

Many anticipated books are typically published in the summer since more people crave out time to read as the days last longer and we all go on vacay mode. We have new ones from Emily Giffin (which I covered here in my mega book club picks 2020 list), Jennifer Weiner, Emma Straub and the sequel to the fantastic The Royal We! I’m ready to read all the books now.

Schedules do tend to fill up in the summer so it’s definitely a good idea for your book club to plan out what you all will read each month well in advance. I looked at what will publish during the summer and I narrowed down the list to 10 in a variety of genres. Be sure to check back to the site often because I’ll put together book club questions for each of these.

I originally arranged the top 10 books for your book club in summer 2020 in order of pub dates. However, in these challenging times, many pub dates keep changing to later dates so I’ll keep a watch on that and will update this list when needed.

Let’s get to it!


All Adults Here by Emma Straub

I’m such a big fan of Emma Straub. Her last book Modern Lovers was published in 2017 so it’s been a while since we’ve read a fiction book from her. Her stories are entertaining, have some humor and always feel so authentic. The characters are messy and imperfect with many different layers. Every time I start one of Emma’s novels, I end up reading it all the way through because I just don’t want to put it down. So I’m really looking forward to All Adults Here. Here’s the synopsis:

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?

Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

In All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.

The book will publish on May 5. You can order the book on Amazon here.


Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

After a couple years hiatus, Jennifer Weiner came roaring back to the fiction world with last year’s Mrs. Everything – which is such an impactful story about two very different sisters. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it yet! And in amazing news, she’s back with another story this year!! While Mrs. Everything is a story through the decades, Big Summer sounds more like her traditional contemporary fiction stories. (Also, side note—I really love her new covers). Here’s the synopsis:

Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

On a perfect summer night, as generations of Cavanaughs descend on the family beach in Cape Cod, the cute guy materializes and a family feud erupts. With rumors swirling about everything from a failing business to infidelity, it’s clear why Drue wanted Daphne by her side. When Daphne wakes up the morning of the wedding to find that her crush has vanished and that something terrible has happened to her friend, it’s up to her to dig deep into Drue’s past, to unpeel the layers of illusion, and to find out the complicated truth about perfect Drue Cavanaugh.

A sparkling novel about the complexities of female friendship, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.

The book will publish on May 5. You can order the book on Amazon here


The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

When I first read about The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, I immediately got The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society vibes! Books that are love letters to the power of reading are so special and heartfelt. I have a feeling you all are really going to enjoy this one. Here’s the synopsis:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

The book will publish on May 26. You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett’s The Mothers came out in 2016 with lots of acclaim. And she’s back this year with her latest, The Vanishing Half, which is one of the most anticipated books of the year. I absolutely can’t wait to read this one and I need to read The Mothers as well. I think your book club will have plenty to talk about with this novel. Here’s the synopsis:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

The book will publish on June 2. You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

You know I had to put a thriller on this list! Book clubs are all about the thrillers and the The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell features an interesting mystery twist that makes it stand apart. This is one of those that you’ll want to read in one sitting. Here’s the synopsis:

Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

The book will now publish on July 28. You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Chanel Cleeton’s historical fiction books are quite impactful and very well-researched. Next Year in Havana was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick (and one of the most popular book club questions for the site) and last year’s When We Left Cuba is another fantastic novel. I love her writing and can’t wait to read The Last Train to Key West. Here’s the synopsis:

For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.

After the Cuban Revolution of 1933 leaves Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a notorious American. Following her wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to her new husband, his illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.

Elizabeth Preston’s trip to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles after the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.

Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

The book will publish on June 16. You can order the book on Amazon here.


Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

J. Courtney Sullivan is an excellent writer—her stories fall in the epic storytelling format and lean more literary. I find myself completely engrossed in her novels and they always pack such an emotional punch. Some of my favorite of hers include Saints for All Occasions and The Engagements. Her novels are great for book clubs because there’s so many layers to them and lots to discuss and dissect from it. There’s a lot of anticipation for Friends and Strangers. Here’s the synopsis:

Elisabeth, an accomplished journalist and new mother, is struggling to adjust to life in a small town after nearly twenty years in New York City. Alone in the house with her infant son all day (and awake with him much of the night), she feels uneasy, adrift. She neglects her work, losing untold hours to her Brooklyn moms’ Facebook group, her “influencer” sister’s Instagram feed, and text messages with the best friend she never sees anymore. Enter Sam, a senior at the local women’s college, whom Elisabeth hires to babysit. Sam is struggling to decide between the path she’s always planned on and a romantic entanglement that threatens her ambition. She’s worried about student loan debt and what the future holds. In short order, they grow close. But when Sam finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Elisabeth’s father-in-law, the true differences between the women’s lives become starkly revealed and a betrayal has devastating consequences.

A masterful exploration of motherhood, power dynamics, and privilege in its many forms, Friends and Strangers reveals how a single year can shape the course of a life.

The book will publish on June 23. You can order the book on Amazon here.


Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld takes on interesting concepts whether it’s a retelling of PridePrejudice or writing fiction stories based on real people like she did with Laura Bush in American Wife. This time she focuses on the “what-might-have-been” if Hillary never married Bill Clinton in Rodham. This sounds intriguing and I’m curious how Curtis will reimagine Hillary’s life. Here’s the synopsis:

In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced.

In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.

But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.

Brilliantly weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterize the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel.

The book will now publish on May 19. You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

The duo behind the hugely successful fashion site Go Fug Yourself are back with the anticipated sequel to The Royal We, which was inspired by the romance of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Ever since they published that book, we’ve all been waiting for the sequel and in the meantime, much has happened with the real-life Royal Family. I’m curious where the authors will take the story in the sequel and if any of the real-life headlines will make it into the book. The Heir Affair sounds like a fun summer read for your book club! Here’s the synopsis:

After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca “Bex” Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world’s judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.

But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they’d placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick’s brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten — nor forgiven.

The book will publish on July 7. You can order the book on Amazon here.


What You Wish For by Katherine Center

By far one of the most popular book club authors is Katherine Center! Many of you visited last year’s Things You Save in a Fire book club questions. And the year before was How to Walk Away another fantastic novel by her. Her stories are so beautifully written and very emotional. The characters feel real and authentic and that goes a long way with readers. Excited to see what she came up with in What You Wish For. Here’s the synopsis:

Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

The book will publish on July 14. You can order the book on Amazon here.

Hope you enjoyed the top 10 books for your book club in summer 2020 list! Let me know which books you all are going to pick!

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2 comments

Alina March 19, 2020 - 5:19 am

Thanks for the recommendations. They all sound like good books for the summer.

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Heather Caliendo March 20, 2020 - 2:42 pm

My pleasure! Thank you for visiting Book Club Chat!

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