Summer is an ideal time to kick back and get stuck into some reading. Long, warm days often mean more time spent sitting in parks and gardens – or maybe even on the beach or by the pool – with our noses in a book.
Though, sometimes, choosing what to read next can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what you’re in the mood for.
To save you some time, we’ve put together a list of books to add to your summer reading list. From classic novels that are best read on the beach with a cocktail in hand, to hot-off-the-press new releases that may be impossible to put down, there’s hopefully something here for every taste…
New in fiction…
1. The Change (2022), by Kirsten Miller
From grief and loneliness to career woes and volatile marriages, Nessa, Harriett, and Jo are contending with a lot during midlife. But when a change comes over them, granting them special powers, they use their newfound strength to track down and avenge those responsible for the death of a young woman in their town.
Cleverly mixing elements of fantasy, crime, and thriller, Kirsten Miller puts an empowering twist on menopause in this sharp tale of feminist revenge.
2. A Very French Wedding (2021), by Maeve Haran
Although Steph, Jo, and Meredith’s lives have diverged over the years, they’ve remained close ever since childhood. So when Meredith buys an idyllic, albeit slightly worn-down, château in the Dordogne, she enlists the help of her two friends to turn it into the best wedding venue in France.
A light-hearted read that’ll transport you to the picturesque Southern French countryside, A Very French Wedding is full of joy, laughter, romance, and lovable characters.
3. The Paris Apartment (2022), by Lucy Foley
Over the past few years, Lucy Foley has taken the crime thriller world by storm with her engrossing whodunnits The Hunting Party and The Guest List. This year, she’s back with a new murder mystery that delivers on everything fans have come to expect from one of her novels.
The plot follows Jess who, after losing her job as a bartender in Brighton, goes to stay with her half-brother in Paris without so much as asking. But when she arrives at his fancy building – that’s filled with all sorts of eclectic characters – she finds he’s nowhere to be seen.
As Jess dons her detective cap and starts to dig a little deeper, she begins to realize everything is not what it seems…
4. Silverview (2021), by John le Carré
John le Carré has been a mainstay on our bookshelves ever since his breakout novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, was published in 1963. Since then, the espionage worker turned espionage writer has penned over 25 novels, until his death in late 2020.
Silverview is his final novel. Published posthumously and to critical acclaim, it follows 33-year-old Julian, who’s left a financial career in London to open a bookshop by the sea in East Anglia. Soon after his arrival, a mysterious stranger from his past emerges and draws him into a shadowy game of cat and mouse.
This standalone spy story is an excellent choice whether you’re a fan of le Carré’s previous work or not.
5. Memphis (2022), by Tara M. Stringfellow
Half a century ago, Joan North’s grandfather was lynched by his all-white police squad after becoming the first black detective in Memphis – but not before building a beautiful house for his family in the neighbourhood of Douglass.
Now, after fleeing her own violent situation, Joan finds herself in her ancestral home, where she begins to discover her relationship with art, family, and trauma.
A sprawling, intergenerational tale; Tara M. Stringfellow’s debut novel is a profound exploration of family bonds and what we pass down to one another.
6. Still Life (2022), by Sara Winman
When a young English Soldier, Ulysses Temper, finds himself in the wine cellar of an abandoned villa in Itlay during the Second World War, he has a chance encounter with a sexagenarian art historian, Evelyn Skinner. Ulysses and Evelyn share an instant connection and form a relationship that will change the course of Ulysse’s life.
In a story filled with heart, joy, and wit, we follow Ulysses’s life over the next few decades – from the pubs of the East End to the rolling Tuscan hills. Still Life is a celebration of the people who embrace family wherever they find it.
7. Where the Crawdads Sing (2019), by Delia Owens
In 1969, the sleepy fishing village of Barkley Cove in North Carolina is rocked when a popular local turns up dead. Suspicions immediately turn to the ‘Marsh Girl’, Kya Clark, a young naturalist who lives alone in the surrounding wilderness.
Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing isn’t exactly a new release – but it’s still one of the most talked-about books around. It’s spent over 150 weeks on The New York Times bestsellers list and is being released as a film later this year.
With over 12 million copies sold, it’s one of the most popular novels of all time. So why not see what all the fuss is about?
8. With a Mind to Kill (2022), by Anthony Horowitz
Another one for lovers of espionage; With a Mind to Kill follows everyone’s favourite super-spy, James Bond, as he’s falsely accused of murdering his commanding officer.
After being smuggled into Eastern Europe, 007 must contend with a mysterious group that plans to use him to change the balance of power on the continent.
Full of high-speed car chases and dubious double-crossing, With a Mind to Kill is Bond at his very best.
9. To Paradise (2022), by Hanya Yanagihara
Ever since the immense success of her novel A Little Life in 2015, Hanya Yanagihara’s next book has been eagerly awaited by many. And finally, when it was published in January of this year, it was met with acclaim from critics and fans alike.
To Paradise takes place in an alternate universe and is set over the course of three separate timelines. From star-crossed lovers in an uncanny version of New York in 1893 to the totalitarian, dystopian world of 2093, Hanya Yanagihara weaves these different timelines into a seamless and elegant tale.
At just over 700 hundred pages, To Paradise is a bit of a project. But it’s a perfect one to undertake on long summer evenings lounging in the sun.
10. The Sun Also Rises (1926), by Ernest Hemingway
Also known by the title ‘Fiesta’, The Sun Also Rises catapulted a young Hemingway into international fame as one of the ‘Lost Generation’s’ most promising writers in 1926.
This relatively short novel follows a group of British and American expatriates as they take a trip from Paris to the wild streets of Pamplona, where the Festival of San Fermin is taking place.
Filled with revelry, debauchery, and dazzling European vistas, The Sun Also Rises is perfectly paired with a sunny afternoon and a glass of sangria.
11. Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), by Jean Rhys
If you’ve read Jane Eyre, then you might remember Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester’s mentally unstable, pyromaniacal wife who spends most of the novel locked in the attic at Thornfield Hall and, eventually throws herself from the roof.
In Brontë’s novel, she’s a tragic antagonist – thwarting Jane and Rochester’s chance at a happily ever after. Though, over a century later, Jean Rhys decided to tell her story and how she came to be who she is in Wide Sargasso Sea.
In this novel, we follow Bertha (or Antoinette Cosway, as Rhys reveals is her real name), a Creole heiress, as she navigates racial and class unrest in post-colonial Jamaica – before she’s forced into a marriage that eventually drives her to madness.
12. Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), by Thomas Hardy
This Victorian-era classic tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene, a beautiful but poor young woman who inherits her uncle’s farm and moves to the town of Weatherbury.
As she adjusts to her new lifestyle, things are complicated when she’s courted by the affections of three very different suitors.
Full of lyrical and evocative descriptions of the English countryside, Far From the Madding Crowd is a perfect choice for those who’re looking to get swept up in a story of romance and passion this summer.
13. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), by Gabriel García Márquez
One of the landmark novels of the 20th century (and perhaps of all time), One Hundred Years of Solitude is a sweeping tale that charts the history of the town of Macondo through the eyes of seven generations of the Buendía family.
Besides the exotic setting, the way García Márquez blends enchanting elements of myth, legend, and fantasy into an otherwise realistic novel makes for beautiful and profound escapism; perfect for a lazy summer’s day.
14. The Beach (1996), by Alex Garland
Described by Nick Hornsby as ‘Lord of the Flies for Generation X’, Alex Garland’s The Beach tells the story of hopeful traveller, Richard, and his mission to find a legendary, untouched beach hidden deep in the islands of Thailand.
Though, once Richard arrives at the idyllic beach and meets the small community of travellers that live there, he finds that it’s not quite the Eden he was promised.
The Beach is full of suspense, intrigue, and vivid tropical scenery. Even though it’s dark at times, it’ll still get your wanderlust gears going.
15. The Talented Mr Ripley (1955), by Patricia Highsmith
The Talented Mr Ripley follows Tom Ripley, a small-time con-man who’s asked by a wealthy shipping tycoon, Herbert Greenleaf, to travel to Italy and convince his son, Dickie, to return and take his place at the family company.
Despite barely knowing Dickie, Ripley accepts and makes the trip to the Amalfi Coast. Here, he befriends Dickie and his girlfriend Marge, and becomes enamoured with their luxurious lifestyle. But, before long, Ripley’s affections take a twisted turn as he sees an opportunity to make Dickie’s life his own.
For lovers of psychological thrillers, The Talented Mr Ripley offers the perfect reading experience for a sizzling summer’s day.
New in non-fiction…
16. A Line Above the Sky (2022), by Helen Mort
Helen Mort is an award-winning poet and novelist. Though, this year she turns her pen towards non-fiction with the powerful memoir, A Line Above the Sky.
This book focuses on Helen’s love of climbing; the thrill of defying the laws of gravity and cheating death, as well as the pure connection that climbers have with the natural world around them. But when she gives birth to her first child, Helen finds herself re-evaluating how risk and adventure fit into her life, and how the world views women who dare to push the limits.
You don’t need a particular interest in climbing to love this book. Mort’s passages about nature read like poetry and it contains more than a few nuggets of wisdom that’ll ring true for everyone.
17. Good Pop, Bad Pop (2022), by Jarvis Cocker
Alongside the Gallagher brothers and Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker was one of the titans of the Britpop era – and now, he’s going back over his life in an unexpected way.
Many of us spent our COVID-19 lockdowns making banana bread or trying to get fit enough to run a 5K, but the Pulp frontman decided to take the opportunity to clear out his loft.
Good Pop, Bad Pop follows Cocker and his journey through old photos, ticket stubs, moth-eaten clothes, and half-forgotten knick-knacks. The discarded objects in his attic become a surprisingly captivating archive of his life – provoking all sorts of memories and questions.
18. The Premonitions Bureau (2022), by Sam Knight
In modern society – one that’s increasingly worried about the security and stability of the future – we’re obsessed with people who seem to be able to gaze through time. Whether that’s Baba Vanga, the blind Bulgarian mystic who supposedly predicted the 9/11 attacks, or Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, who’s got more than a few prophecies under his belt.
So if you too are interested in prophecies and premonitions, then why not check out Sam Knight’s The Premonitions Bureau? This wild (and true) tale follows John Barker, a psychiatrist who, in partnership with The Evening Standard, asked the public to share any premonitions they had in the late 1960s.
Among the responses, Barker finds two people that seem to be alarmingly gifted. But things get even crazier when they predict Barker’s death…
19. The BBC: A People’s History (2022), by David Hendy
Ever since it was founded in 1922, the British Broadcasting Company has been a fundamental institution here in the United Kingdom. And in The BBC: A People’s History, historian David Hendy traces its history over one hundred years; from its inception all the way through to the present day.
Hendy’s book sees the broadcasting giant as it morphs and adapts over the decades – through times of war, changing public attitudes, and technological revolution – but he also pays attention and gives voice to the deserving men and women who’ve worked hard to make the BBC what it is today.
20. What I Wish People Knew about Dementia (2022), by Wendy Mitchell
When Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia at the age of 58, she was shocked not only by the lack of awareness about the disease but also by the negative tropes and clichés surrounding it.
In What I Wish People Knew About Dementia, Mitchell takes a refreshingly optimistic and hopeful approach to talking about the disease. Combining anecdotes from her own life, as well as research and advice from acquaintances who also live with dementia, this book aims to re-write the dementia narrative.
What I Wish People Knew About Dementia is chock-full of wisdom and practical advice about living with dementia but also about life in general. It’s a warm and witty read – and even if you don’t know anyone who lives with dementia, you’ll certainly learn something.
21. Firmament (2022), by Simon Clark
Here’s one for readers who enjoy a good scientific read; Firmament is an exciting exploration of (arguably) the most important thing in our lives: the air around us.
Scientist Simon Clark takes us through an in-depth study of the atmosphere, including what we know about it, what we don’t, and the topic on everyone’s mind: climate change. Atmospheric science is an often-overlooked area of study but as the years tick on, it’s becoming increasingly more relevant.
What’s more, Clark’s prose is endlessly readable and his natural storytelling ability means that you don’t have to be a scientist to unlock everything this book has to offer.
For something a little different…
22. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1605), by William Shakespeare
Summer is an uplifting time for joy and laughter – so why not read something to match and give A Midsummer Night’s Dream a try?
One of Shakespeare’s most widely-performed and cherished plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an enchanting comedy that follows four young lovers and a group of actors who find themselves in a forest inhabited by fairies.
It’s a play full of magic and enchantment – perfect for reading in the garden or a local park on a summer’s evening.
23. Self Love Poetry: For Thinkers & Feelers (2021), by Melody Godfred
Melody Godfred is an expert on self-love who’s devoted her life to helping people to be comfortable in their own skin. Her second book, Self Love Poetry, is a collection of 200 poems that explore themes like authenticity, gratitude, and resilience – generally, anything that helps people to embrace their love for themselves.
On the left side of the book are poems that light up the left hemisphere of the brain (the more logical and analytical side). While the poems on the right do the same for the right side of the brain, which is the more creative and emotional side.
By prompting us to think and feel through the medium of poetry, Godfred inspires us to look inside ourselves and find something that we love.
Whether you’re into classic literature, romance, crime, espionage, or history, we hope that you’ve found this list helpful if you’re looking for some books to add to your summer reading list.
For more literary inspiration, why not head over to the arts and culture section of our website? Here you’ll find articles like 9 captivating novels by female authors and 18 of the greatest adventure books.