Lately I’ve been in the mood for some beach reads — it seems like many of my friends are as well, so here are some of the summer romances, and summery contemporary books, I enjoyed or look forward to reading! (As a side note, many of these will be queer recs because that’s
who I am as a person what I tend to read and love.)
Running With Lions by Julian Winters
Hope you’re not tired of hearing about this delightfully diverse book about summer soccer camp, because here it is again! I don’t know how you could keep from rooting for Sebastian, the bisexual star goalie, and his estranged childhood best friend Emir, a gay British Pakistani Muslim newcomer to the team. The nostalgia will hit hard for anyone who was on any kind of team in high school, or perhaps even middle school (for me, it was color guard and mock trial); the feels will hit hard for anyone who’s ever had and/or wanted unconditionally supportive friends.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Look, I can and I will shout about this queer Asian fantasy version of The Great Gatsby until all my friends have actually read it, not just put it on their TBR. Fans of retellings that balance faithful homage and creative license: check this one out for sure. There’s both paper magic and demon magic, which take this classic novel in really cool directions, along with scenes that you could easily believe happened between the moments Fitzgerald showed us.
Mother-Daughter Book Camp by Heather Vogel Frederick
This is my self-indulgent rec for this post, the summer camp-themed farewell installment of a series centering friendship and reading. I’d place it somewhere on the scale between MG and YA — the first Mother-Daughter Book Club book spans sixth grade; this last book is the summer before college — so it’s definitely an easy read, and a mostly happy one. A little bittersweet, sure, but such is life.
The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy
Confession: I read this in high school and honestly am not sure whether it holds up, so I definitely hesitated to include it in this list. But it’s also a summer camp story centered on a sisterhood (this one biological); while the summary looks pretty heteronormative and potentially melodramatic, I remember rooting for Calla, Violet, and Daisy to have the summer of their dreams.
The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding
This one was double-recommended by DB @ DB’s Guide to the Galaxy and Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads! I quite enjoyed reading about a gay, plus-size fashion blogger falling for her fellow intern and also making a new friend on a quest to try as many LA burgers as possible. Admittedly I personally didn’t love the writing style and the pacing was sometimes a bit slow for my taste, but it’s a cute summer read that others might really be into.
You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan
I deliberately chose this as my end-of-Pride read, and I was so glad I did because it’s so full of queer joy and community even as it centers a brand new best-friendship between a gay boy and WLW girl. Definitely makes me a bit sad that I missed out on SF Pride last month, if it’s even remotely as awesome as LaCour and Levithan portrayed, but there’s always next year!
Beach Read by Emily Henry
With the caveat that this didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, I really appreciated this specific combination of so many of my favorite tropes: writer MC (two of them, even!), enemies (to friends) to lovers, belligerent sexual tension, professional rivals (sort of), unrequited pining, reunited years later, renewed unrequited pining, boy-/girl-next-door. True to its title, this is kind of the quintessential summer romance.
Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
Look no further for your literary summer getaway than this friendly little island that always smells of salt and magic. It’s more character- and relationship-driven than plot-driven, a comforting hug of a book with a lovely cast including a lesbian main character, bi/pan love interest, and asexual secondary character.
The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters
Don’t mind me shamelessly turning this post into a Julian Winters sandwich. This book is one I just haven’t gotten around to yet, nor have any of my mutuals — and I have to confess that I don’t love the title. But geek protagonist + bookstore job + M/M romance between best friends? I’m sold, or I will be once my library hold finally comes in!
- What are your favorite summer reads?
- Do you like romances (genre or not), or do you prefer less-romance-y reads?