You know summer’s here when the shades become non-negotiable and Starbucks put out an exotic seasonal menu.
It’s like a switch has flipped, and suddenly everyone’s wearing shorts and flip flops, regardless of whether the sun’s out. Summer means no school, holidays, road trips, beach days or just some good old-fashioned putting your feet up. Bibliophiles, you are in luck because it’s warm enough to take your books outside and claim reading is an outdoor sport.
Summer is just as important inside the pages too.
It’s the season of possibilities when characters can step out of their everyday lives and discover new things about themselves.
Here are ten great books that are set in the summer:
The Girls by Emma Cline
Cline’s debut novel takes place one fateful summer. Evie’s summer stretches ahead of her, long and impossibly blank. Her best friend Connie has ditched her in favour of a new friend, and her mother is preoccupied with the latest lifestyle trends. Evie has nothing to do while she waits to start boarding school in the fall, until she encounters a group of mysterious girls.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of America’s most iconic novels. Scout and Jem meet Dill in Maycombe one fateful summer and he plants an idea in their head: Get Boo Radley to come out of his house. Their childhood games are soon overshadowed by their father’s involvement in a local court case.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Every year, the Sinclairs spend their summers on a private island, but that was before summer fifteen. That summer, Cadence is found off the beach in just her underwear. She doesn’t remember what happened before or after the accident, but her family do and they are keeping it from her. Two years later she returns to the island to uncover the truth.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Marie-Laure and her father are forced to flee their home when the Nazis occupy France, moving from the city of Paris to live with her eccentric great-uncle in the walled city of Saint-Malo. But Marie-Laure and her father have carried something with them. Meanwhile in Germany, a talented young orphan named Werner finds himself becoming entangled in the Hitler Youth. Their lives are worlds apart, but what happens when those worlds collide?
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Mirabel and her family move from Mexico to an apartment complex in Delaware after she suffers a traumatic injury. There she befriends a teenage boy who sees her potential rather than her scars, and they form a friendship that deepens over time.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The unsung heroes of Jackson, Mississippi take the spotlight in this heart-warming novel. Aibileen and Minnie are just two of the African American women who work as maids for the affluent white families. They do everything for these families and take fierce pride in their work, but instead of gratitude they are treated with suspicion and politely-disguised contempt. When Skeeter returns from college and sees the way her friends treat their employees, she sets about getting their stories heard.
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
That summer changed everything. After her mother’s death just before her sixteenth birthday, Lane is sent to Kansas to live with relatives she never knew existed. When she arrives at Roanoke she discovers the tragic legacy of the Roanoke girls- they either run or they die- and in the weeks to come she uncovers why. Eleven years later, Lane is one of the Roanoke runaways who made it out. But her cousin Allegra vanishes and one phone call is all it takes to pull her back to the house she was desperate to escape.
Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
It might be a short story, but this epic tale spans a lifetime. It’s summer in the 1960s when Jack and Ennis are hired as sheep-herders in Wyoming. Weeks of isolation draw them together, building into something surprising that neither man can shake. Brokeback Mountain stays with them long after they leave. It stays with the reader, too.
The Accidental by Ali Smith
Astrid Smart is spending the summer trapped in a small village with her family. Magnus is wallowing in his room, her mother is locked up in the cottage’s shed penning her next book and she isn’t that fussed on her step-father, Michael. She spends the summer meticulously recording the sunrise, roadkill, and the cleaning lady, until a stranger wanders in off the street and turns the Smart family’s lives upside down.
Us by David Nicholls
Douglas and Connie are about to embark on a month-long trip to the artistic hubs of Europe with their teenage son. The problem is Connie wants a divorce. This might be their last trip as a family, but Douglas is prepared to seize the opportunity with both hands and use their holiday to bring his family closer together.