Sometimes I wish my summer involved more beach time and less time sitting in New York City traffic (or standing in the pedestrian traffic!) but the whole point of a good summer book is to transport you into a whole other world! I like to think that you can be on top of a majestic mountain or in an uncomfortable chair at the DMV.. and either way.. if the book is good, you get to escape!
I wanted to put together a list of new books I’m into, and some summer classics that I can’t recommend highly enough. Admittedly, the ‘classics’ on my list have all been read through multiple summers!
1.) Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
New York City and Hollywood in the 1940’s through the 60’s. Pills, stardom, falls from stardom, comebacks, infidelity, and so many more pills. It’s the very definition of a page turner.
From the 1967 film adaptation of Valley of the Dolls
2.) Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This work that Fitzgerald himself considered to be his best, takes place in the south of France in the 1930’s. Fitzgerald lived there and writes beautifully about the scenery and beaches he knew so well.
3.) Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani
I can’t describe this book any more eloquently than goodreads.com: ‘It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village.’ Um, yes please.
4.) The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
This will definitely be a side of Ernest Hemmingway you’ve never seen before! The novel explores his life, love, and career through the eyes of his first wife Hadley Richardson. Also .. Paris in the 1920’s…
5.) Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Sure, I’m sure you’ve heard of Emily Giffin if you don’t live under a rock – but OH MY GOODNESS is this a juicy summer read. I swear you’ll finish in an afternoon and wish that you could start it all over again from the beginning.
6.) Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
I’m still working on this one so please, no spoilers! The novel begins just off the Italian Coast in 1962 – there are colorful portraits of Old Hollywood stars, there’s romance of course.. and again, Italy + Hollywood, 1962.
7.) Forever by Pete Hamill
This book will ‘forever’ change the way you look at New York City. Hell, it will even change the way you look at the world. I’ve never read something so compelling, so spell-binding in my life. I think Amazon describes it best without offering up any spoilers: ‘This widely acclaimed bestseller is the magical, epic tale of an extraordinary man who arrives in New York in 1740 and remains … forever.’
8.) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Oh yes, THAT classic. It really holds up to the test of time! You’ll be transported back to France, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean in the 1800’s. Love, betrayal, vengeance, and everything else that makes this so great is wedged within its pages.
The Count of Monte Cristo
9.) Atonement by Ian McEwan
The novel begins during a sweltering summer day in 1935 in the Surrey Countryside. There is so much love, betrayal, and injustice in this book and is so beautifully written you’ll think you were experiencing all of it. Just a warning – if you don’t feel weeping openly on the beach in front of others, maybe wait ’til you’re home alone.
10.) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
OK I haven’t read this but I am so eager to! Actually walking myself to Barnes and Noble now after I finish this post! Per the New York Times: ‘In this epic novel, set in France in World War II, two sisters who live in a small village find themselves estranged when they disagree about the imminent threat of occupation. Separated by principles and temperament, each must find her own way forward as she faces moral questions and life-or-death choices. Haunting, action-packed, and compelling.’