There’s nothing quite like summertime—sitting on the back porch, enjoying the longer daylight hours, sipping a cool beverage, and diving headfirst into a great summer read. Some books just scream “READ ME IN THE SUMMER!” as they transport you to quiet beach towns, romantic getaways, or, my favorite, the South. There’s something about a Southern-set novel that just makes it feel like summer time is calling.
If you’re searching for your next back porch read, I have my top ten summer reads that are bound to keep you in your rocking chair until the daylight fades away.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
LITERARY FICTION In a Michigan beach town, two authors on a deadline and with a bad case of writers block find themselves living next to each other. Augustus Everett writes literary fiction laden in sadness and January Andrews writes romances with fairy tale endings. They couldn’t be more opposite if they tried. But, a bet has them in a race to see who can be the first to pen the next great novel. The catch is they have to write in their opposing genre and spend the summer with each other to learn how they each master their craft.
Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis
ESSAYS, HUMOR If you grew up watching Designing Women or your favorite Golden Girl is Blanche Devereaux, this book is for you. Helen Ellis explains the niceties behind Southern slang and how she adapted as an Alabama transplant in New York City. Her writing will have you laughing all the way through. As an added bonus, she has a companion podcast, which dives further into the ins and outs of being a woman from the South.
The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda
THRILLER All hail the thriller queen, Megan Miranda! The Last House Guest is set in Littleport, Maine, half beach town for wealthy vacationers and half working-class resident area. It’s uncommon for a friendship to develop between two people from opposing sides, but for Sadie Loman and Avery Greer, their bond is inseparable. They spend nearly a decade together every summer until Sadie is found dead. Avery knows her death wasn’t a suicide, but she has a hard time proving otherwise with money and status working against her.
Cape May by Chip Cheek
ROMANCE Set in the 1950’s, Henry and Effie travel to New Jersey to spend their honeymoon together by the beach. Upon their arrival, they find it’s the off-season and the town is completely deserted. Before they decide to cut their trip short, they meet their neighbors, Cara, Max, and Alma, who are tangled in a web of romance and psychological intricacies, and can’t help but be swept up in their drama. They decide to stay and make the empty town their carnival, breaking in to vacant houses and going sailing by moonlight. Their relationships become intermingled as time goes on and the gin flows heavy-handed. The newlywed couple learns a lot about themselves, their marriage, and what love means to everyone involved.
The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc by Loraine Despres
LITERARY FICTION It’s summertime in Louisiana and Sissy LeBlanc isn’t only dying from the heat, she’s slowly dying inside her marriage. She’s been married since she was seventeen and is more than ready to get out and have an adventure. It just so happens on that same stifling day, she notices a lineman coming down the telephone pole and is immediately transported back in time when she realizes it’s her high school sweetheart, Parker Davidson, who left without a trace 14 years ago. When he’s standing in front of her leaning in for a kiss, Sissy may be getting more of an adventure than she bargained for.
Summer of ‘69 by Elin Hilderbrand
LITERARY FICTION Let this book transport you to the busiest summer of the century. The Levin family usually spends their summers in Nantucket, but as the family members find themselves occupied with other matters, 13-year-old Jessie finds herself stranded with her old school grandmother. As the summer goes on and a man lands on the moon, Jessie explores what life is like without the comfort of her siblings by her side in a familiar summertime setting.
The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank
LITERARY FICTION Three generations of women from the South Carolina low country come together in this novel about family dynamics, personal decisions, and deep-rooted secrets. Maisie, a headstrong grandmother, has opinions about everything. Liz, the career-driven daughter, struggles to keep her family together with her ever-absent husband. And Ashley, the daydreaming granddaughter, finds herself in a relationship that just might not be right for her. During hurricane season, these three are forced to come face-to-face with their choices, and ultimately decide if they can handle their personal truths.
Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland
HISTORICAL FICTION Based on a true story, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house in Atlantic City to vacationers every summer and move into the apartment above their bakery. The summer of 1934, their daughters Florence and Fannie move back in with them. Florence is spending the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie is on bed rest during pregnancy after recently losing a baby. The Adlers also take in a mysterious woman who has escaped from Nazi Germany. A tragic event causes Esther to hide secrets from her family and pulls everyone into an intricate series of lies.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
YOUNG ADULT FICTION The Sinclair family is beautiful, wealthy, and perfect. During the summers they live on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Cadence narrates the story of how her family and friends live in a constant state of love and lies, even after an upheaval of their core beliefs and an accident occurs on the island.
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
LITERARY FICTION Daphne Berg is more than shocked when her ex-best friend, Drue Cavanaugh, comes around six years after their fallout asking her to be the maid-of-honor in her wedding. But Daphne has changed in those six years as she’s built a career as a plus-size Instagram influencer and is finally coming into her own. Drue is insistent and her glamorous life has Daphne craving her friendship once again. A weekend in a Cape Cod mansion rubbing elbows with the rich and glamorous might be great for Daphne, but it could also be a dangerous path back to the past.