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16 Must-Read Novels for Your Summer TBR Pile


Ahhhhh, the sweet scents and subtle sounds of summer have arrived. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do on summer break (or any break, for that matter) is read. No, I’m not talking about a professional development book on perfecting the art of teaching—I am talking about getting lost in a great piece of fiction. Whether you are traveling the globe or just lounging on your couch this summer, we’ve rounded up some of the best buzz books of the last year or so for your summer TBR pile. You’re welcome.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

The characters in this story may be in the business of designing video games, but the relationships between the characters and their trials and tribulations through life are the true focus of Zevin’s masterpiece. Sam Masur and Sadie Green run into each other at a train station in Boston during their junior year of college, but they actually go way back. You won’t be able to put down this novel, and you will continue thinking of the characters long after you finish. Read it along with Zevin’s magnificent 2014 bestseller, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Buy it: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

The Collected Regrets of Clover

2. The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer

This debut novel by Brammer is a must-read for your summer TBR pile if you like truly great writing with a unique storyline. Clover Brooks experienced death at an early age when her kindergarten teacher bit the dust during their daily read-aloud. Raised by her grandfather after her parents’ tragic early deaths, she is once again blindsided when her grandfather dies alone while she is traveling abroad. Upon her return, she becomes a death doula, vowing to assist others as they make their way to the other side. Clover pours herself into her work, forgetting to actually live her own life to the fullest, until her latest client pushes her to open herself back up to the world.

Buy it: The Collected Regrets of Clover

Recipe for a Charmed Life- your summer TBR pile

3. Recipe for a Charmed Life by Rachel Linden

Linden’s latest novel is full of whimsy and hope, with a hint of magic. American chef Georgia May Jackson has spent the last decade working her way up through the competitive Paris restaurant scene, with the goal of running her own kitchen. In one fell swoop, her job, boyfriend, and sense of taste go down the drain. Seeking solace, Georgia heads to her estranged bohemian mother’s home on a small island near Seattle. As they reconnect, the charm of the island (and a handsome but moody oyster farmer) help her heal and find her next path.

Buy it: Recipe for a Charmed Life

Remarkably Bright Creatures- your summer TBR pile

4. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

I know what you are thinking: A book with an octopus as one of the main characters sounds ridiculous. Trust me, this is another book for the top of your summer TBR pile. Recently widowed Tova Sullivan takes the night shift job as a janitor at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. Keeping busy helps her cope with life, something she learned during the 30 years since her 18-year-old son mysteriously drowned in the Puget Sound. As she forms an unlikely friendship with Marcellus the giant octopus, the pieces of the puzzle slowly come together.

Buy it: Remarkably Bright Creatures

Other Birds

5. Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

Zoey Hennessy has just graduated high school and is ready to embark on a new chapter in Mallow Island, South Carolina. She is finally on her own and claiming her inheritance of her mother’s apartment at the Dellawswip, a quaint small building named after the magical and mischievous turquoise birds on the property. The night of her arrival, a neighbor mysteriously dies, and she becomes immersed into the lives and stories of the people (and ghosts!) in the building. Everyone there has a hidden past and is doing their best to hold on and heal. 

Buy it: Other Birds

The House of Eve- your summer TBR pile

6. The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson

It’s the 1950s in Philadelphia, and 15-year-old Ruby Pearsall is determined to become the first in her family to attend college and make a better life for herself. A forbidden romance starts to get in the way of her one ticket out, and she is faced with a major obstacle. Meanwhile in Washington, D.C, Eleanor Quarels and William Pride meet at Howard University and quickly fall in love. Seeking approval from William’s family is easier said than done, and Eleanor yearns for a baby to help smooth things over. Both women are faced with life-changing decisions as their stories unfold. If you are looking for historical fiction for your summer TBR pile, this is a great choice.

Buy it: The House of Eve

Lessons in Chemistry

7. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

It’s the 1960s and Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant chemist in a world where male domination unfortunately presides. Her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute ignores her full potential, with the exception of Nobel Prize nominee Calvin Evans. The two hit it off, and all is well until Elizabeth unexpectedly becomes a single mother. In an unlikely turn of events, she becomes the star of her own cooking show, taking America by storm. She is smart, stubborn, and plays by the beat of her own drum, encouraging women to do the same. As a bonus, watch the adaptation on Apple TV+ after you read the book (of course).

Buy it: Lessons in Chemistry

You are Here - your summer TBR pile

8. You Are Here by David Nicholls

The author of One Day (yes, the novel the Netflix series we all loved and cried through is based on), Nicholls brings us a cleverly written story of two mismatched divorcees thrust together on a 10-day hiking trip. Michael is a teacher with a habit of going on ridiculously long walks in order to avoid the emptiness of his house. Marnie, a copywriter, is on the opposite spectrum, hiding in her flat with her nose in a book whenever possible. As the two reluctantly deal with their own middle-aged issues while trying to re-enter the world, hope and love prevail. This sweet one will make you smile while they navigate through new territory (literally and figuratively); no tissues needed this time!

Buy it: You Are Here

Funny Story

9. Funny Story by Emily Henry

Daphne adored how her fiancé Peter told the story of how they met and ended up back in his hometown of Waning Bay, Michigan. Unfortunately, upon returning, he realized he was still in love with his childhood best friend, Petra. Stranded without a place to live, she moves in with Petra’s ex-fiance, Miles Novak. The two devise a plan to pose for photos together on social media during summer adventures, purely to give people something to talk about. They are just playing make-believe and have no plans to fall for each other IRL, of course (wink-wink!). Emily Henry has quickly become the queen of the beach read.

Buy it: Funny Story

Lies and Weddings

10. Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

Kwan, who rose to fame with his bestseller Crazy Rich Asians, is back with another tale of the rich and famous. This time, it’s the male character who is looking for a sugar mama to keep his lavish lifestyle afloat. Rufus Leung Gresham, son of famous ex–super model Arabella, learns his trust has been depleted. Arabella devises a plan to turn his sister’s upcoming wedding into a matchmaking event to save the family fortune. Meanwhile, the Greshams’ latest business venture, a five-star resort on the edge of a volcano, is just another piece of the puzzle on the verge of explosion. The truth may just show up after all.

Buy it: Lies and Weddings

The Midnight Feast- your summer TBR pile

11. The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

It’s opening weekend at The Manor, a five-star resort in the remote town of Dorset, England. No expense has been spared for the lavish extravaganza, but secrets and lies permeate every nook and cranny. By Sunday morning, a dead body is found, and the guests are completely out of it. Foley’s latest thriller for your summer TBR pile will have you up until the wee hours of the night trying to solve this whodunit mystery, just like her earlier novels. Beware!

Buy it: The Midnight Feast

The Matchmaker's Gift- your summer TBR pile

12. The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Sara Glikman has been making matches since she was a little girl. However, it’s the 1920s in New York City, and only devout older Jewish men are allowed to conduct such business. After making successful matches in secret for over a decade, she is ready to stand up for her rights. Seventy years later, her cynical divorce attorney granddaughter inherits Sara’s old diaries of all her matches. As she tries to understand why her grandmother left them to her, she wonders if law is her true calling anymore. Perhaps her grandmother’s instincts run in the family.

Buy it: The Matchmaker’s Gift

Expiration Dates- your summer TBR pile

13. Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle

Every time Daphne Bell meets a new romantic interest, she receives a slip of paper with his name and a number on it. This number is the exact amount of time the relationship will last. For 20 years, it has been accurate, leading to continued disappointment. Finally, she receives a slip with only a name, Jake, right before their first date. As time goes on, she doubts the relationship will last. At the same time, she has plenty of secrets that she knows will break his heart. Commitment and honesty are at stake as she grapples with what to do. 

Buy it: Expiration Dates

The Secret Book of Flora Lea

14. The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry

1939, London: 14-year-old Hazel and her 5-year-old sister, Flora, are sent to live in the countryside as World War II rages on. Hazel invents a magical fairy tale to pass the time, a secret between the two girls. When Flora vanishes by the riverbank, Hazel blames herself, living with the guilt through adulthood. Twenty years later, the unthinkable happens: A published book containing their secret story arrives on her doorstep. Her quaint life with her rising career and sweet boyfriend are suddenly turned upside down. Could this be the answer to Flora’s disappearance after all these years?

Buy it: The Secret Book of Flora Lea

The Heiress- your summer TBR pile

15. The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins

Ruby McTavish Callahan Woodward Miller Kenmore was the richest and most notorious woman in North Carolina before her death. She was kidnapped as a child, and the drama continued as each of her four husbands eventually faced a mysterious death at the infamous Ashby House. Her adopted son, Camden, wants nothing to do with his dysfunctional family, especially after Ruby is gone. After a decade living a new life teaching in Colorado with his wife Jules, he is summoned back to the family mansion. What really happened to the husbands, why did Ruby adopt Camden, and what is the truth behind her kidnapping? This thriller will have you in suspense until the very end.

Buy it: The Heiress

Summer Fridays- your summer TBR pile

16. Summer Fridays by Suzanne Rindell

This coming-of-age novel for your summer TBR pile is set in the summer of 1999, back when AOL Instant Messenger was all the rage. Twenty-something Sawyer is trying to balance adulting while surviving in New York City: the job that pays the bills, her dreams of becoming a writer, and planning her wedding. Her fiancé is increasingly absent, putting in endless extra hours at work, which also includes more time with a female colleague, Kendra. After a terrible meeting with Kendra’s boyfriend Nick to compare their suspicions, he apologizes via AIM. The two form a bond, spending summer Friday afternoons together all over town, eventually living for these moments. What happens when summer comes to an end?

Buy it: Summer Fridays

Also check out our 2024 Summer Reading List for Kids and Teens!

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