We may not be reading this year’s crop of beach reads on an actual beach, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less appealing. Whether you’ll be reading them from your balcony/backyard (SPF mandatory) or from bed in between Zoom calls, here are 15 books worth checking out this summer.
My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong (June 2)
Crazy Rich Asians? Canadian writer Lindsay Wong, author of the bestselling memoir The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug-Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family, has your answer. In My Summer of Love and Misfortune, Iris Wang’s summer is off to a rough start. She didn’t get into any colleges, her boyfriend is cheating on her and she’s struggling to understand her Chinese-American identity. So Iris’s parents send her to “find herself” in Beijing, where she gets swept up in the opulent world of the city’s elite.
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (June 2)
At this point, are you even a buzzy debut author (out of Ireland, no less) if you don’t get compared to Sally Rooney? In Naoise Dolan‘s case, the comparison actually tracks – though make no mistake: She has a voice that’s all her own. Exciting Times follows Ava, an Irish ex-pat teaching English to rich children in Hong Kong, who finds herself caught up in a love triangle between Julien, a banker who likes to spend money on her, and Edith, a lawyer who romances her with flowers and the theatre. With a keen eye, Dolan examines the transactions that fill our lives as Ava is forced to make a choice: Does she go for easy comfort with Julian, or leap into the unknown with Edith?
A Burning by Megha Majumdar (June 2)
Kolkata-raised writer Megha Majumdar’s debut novel, A Burning, is so compelling you’ll want to read it all at once. But may we suggest that you instead savour the intense story—about three ambitious people whose lives become entangled when one of them is accused of executing a terrorist attack in India—over a weekend when you have time to sit with it?
Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier (June 9)
In her page-turner of a debut, L.A.-based writer Jean Kyoung Frazier puts a unique spin on the coming-of-age tale. Pizza Girl follows an intentionally unnamed narrator who is 18 years old, pregnant and working as a pizza delivery person. She soon becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home who is new to the neighbourhood, as their lives become intertwined in strange and heartbreaking ways.
Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay (June 16)
Every once in a while, you read a book and just know that you’ll read whatever else they writer. If you’re a fan of thrillers, Elizabeth Kay is one of those writers. Her eerie page-turner, Seven Lies, is a confession – Jane’s confession, to be exact. Jane used to share everything with her BFF Marnie. But when Marnie marries a man that she doesn’t like, Jane starts lying to her friend about how she feels about him. One lie, of course, leads to another, which eventually, somehow leads to…the death of Marnie’s husband.
Death in Her Hands by Otessa Moshfegh (June 23)
There’s no conceivable world in which we wouldn’t be excited about a new Ottessa Moshfegh novel. (Her second, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, is still all over IG two years after its publication.) The American author’s eerie latest, Death in Her Hands, follows a woman whose life is upended when she discovers a note in the woods suggesting that someone becomes determined to solve the crime.
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory (June 23)
Jasmine Guillory has been on the top of every romance lover’s to-read list since her 2018 debut, The Wedding Date. Her latest, Party of Two, is no exception. The swoon-worthy tale tells the story of Olivia Monroe, an ambitious lawyer who isn’t concerned about dating – especially not a politician. But when she gets swept up in a tantalizing flirtation with a hotshot junior senator, she takes a chance. As the two get more serious, Olivia is pushed into the public spotlight and the scrutinizing eye of the media questioning her suitability as a girlfriend, forcing to her ask: Is their relationship worth all this trouble?
Grown Ups by Marian Keyes (June 30)
There’s a reason Marian Keyes is the internationally bestselling author of 13 (soon to be 14) books. The Irish writer is beloved for her ability to turn out page-turner after page-turner and bringing levity to the heaviest of topics. Grown Ups fits right into her canon, sure to delight fans. The book follows the glam Casey family, made up of three brothers – Johnny, Ed and Liam – and their picture-perfect families who do everything together. But when Ed’s wife, Cara, gets a concussion, she can’t keep her thoughts, feelings or secrets to herself. And what happens when years of family drama bubble to the surface? Well, that’s for you to find out.
Self Care by Leigh Stein (June 30)
Admit it: You’ve spent way too long scrolling through Instagram and have wondered what exactly is going on behind the scenes of the perfectly-lit, painstakingly-curated pics that fill influencers’ feeds. Enter Self Care by Leigh Stein. The book follows the female co-founders of a wellness startup (the Goop-esque Richual) torn between being good people and doing good business, all while trying to stay BFFs. But everything they’ve built is all at risk when a prominent male board member of the company (and former Bachlorette contestant, natch) is accused of sexual misconduct.
Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (June 30)
At long last, Kevin Kwan – a.k.a. the author of the lush Crazy Rich Asians trilogy – is back with his first book since publishing the series’ last novel back in 2017. We have a feeling you’ll need no further convincing to pick it up, but just in case: Sex and Vanity follows Lucie, a young woman torn between the WASP-y side of her father’s family and her Asian heritage. She hates the charming George Zhao the moment she meets him in Capri, and vows to not fall in love with him. But years later, when a now-engaged Lucie runs into George in East Hampton, she can’t help but be drawn to him.
Age of Consent by Amanda Brainerd (July 14)
Take a trip back to the ’80s with Amanda Brainerd‘s Age of Consent. Justine and Eve are stuck feeling like outsiders at a Connecticut boarding school. Justine wishes she has the privilege of sophisticated Eve, while Eve longs for Justine’s sexual confidence. After a tumultuous school year, the pair dash off to spend the summer in NYC, joined by Eve’s childhood friend India, where Justine gets pulled into their extravagant worlds. Together, the three friends explore the power that adults hold over them as they are affected by their sexual relationships with older men and must figure out how to assert their independence.
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (July 21)
Emma Donoghue didn’t mean for her latest novel, The Pull of the Stars, to be so eerily relevant. Written long before COVID-19 was on any of our radars, the book is set in a Dublin maternity during 1918 and takes place over three days during the height of Great Flu. Nurse Julia Power, who spends her days working in an understaffed hospital caring for six, expectant mothers, has her regimented world turned upside down when two women (including a doctor on the run from police) arrive to help. Together, they work to help their patients and change each other’s lives as they look for hope in the face of darkness.
All I Ask by Eva Crocker (August 4)
Just when we need another reminder to step away from our phones, in swoops Newfoundland native Eva Crocker. In All I Ask, Stacey is awoken by police pounding on her door who then seize her devices because they’re looking for “illegal digital material.” Shaken, Stacey searches for a way to reclaim her privacy, relying on her tight-knit circle of friends.
Luster by Raven Leilani (August 4)
Like most twentysomethings, Edie, the protagonist of Raven Leilani‘s sharp and raw Luster, doesn’t quite have her life together. She shares a mediocre apartment in Bushwick, makes plenty of inappropriate sexual choices and is trying to figure out her career as an artist. When she meets digital archivist Eric, a man whose wife has agreed to an open marriage, Raven eventually finds herself falling into his home and family life, becoming a reluctant friend to Eric’s wife and a role model to their adopted daughter – the only Black woman the young girl has ever known.
A Family Affair by Nadine Bismuth (August 25)
After captivating readers in Quebec, award-winning writer Nadine Bismuth’s A Family Affair is making its way to English-speaking Canadians this summer. Kitchen designer Magalie discovers she is being cheated. And what’s the best way to seek revenge? By getting even, of course. Magalie decides to cheat herself, embarking on a relationship with a divorced client. And so begins the novel exploring messy relationships, failed marriage and the demands of our professional lives.
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.