11 Unputdownable Summer Reads

By Stephanie Brown
Best Books of Summer 2023

Sunny days are here, and we have the best books to keep you reading all summer long. 

Whether you’re in the mood for a moving family dramedy, a pulse-pounding thriller, or a riveting nonfiction narrative, we’ve got you covered. Here are 11 splendid summer reads you won’t be able to put down.

Editor's Pick!

A woman stands at the edge of a rocky shore, gazing at the horizon where the sky meets the sea, as seagulls fly overhead, capturing a moment of tranquility and contemplation.

Beyond That, the Sea

By Laura Spence-Ash

Get swept away this summer by Beyond That, the Sea, Laura Spence-Ash’s acclaimed transatlantic coming-of-age tale that begins in the dark days of WWII and stretches all the way to 1970. The historical fiction book follows Bea, a young Londoner whose working-class parents send her to live in Boston so that she would escape the nightly bombardments of the city. At first, Bea is hurt by the relocation, but soon she relaxes into her new arrangement in America with her well-to-do surrogate family, even growing to prefer it. However, just as Bea begins to flourish and her former life fades, the war in Europe ends, and she’s summoned back to England. You’ll happily get lost in this beautifully crafted narrative as Bea journeys through the years and grapples with heartache, competing loyalties, and her lifelong search for a home.

Fiction

Suburban serenity: a novel of everyday drama and secrets behind closed doors.

If We’re Being Honest

By Cat Shook

If family dramedy is more your speed, Cat Shook’s warm and funny book is just for you. If We’re Being Honest invites you into the Williams family home in Eulalia, Georgia, where a cast of eccentric relatives has gathered to mourn the passing of their beloved patriarch, Gerry Williams. The funeral begins as expected, but things take a surprising turn during the eulogy, when Gerry’s best friend reveals a long-buried secret of the heart. The disclosure upends the Williamses in hilarious ways as assorted siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles all reel from the revelation while working through frayed family dynamics and their own personal dramas. “Pack this one in your beach bag ― it’s a delight” (PureWow).

A book cover for a novel titled "the woman inside" by m.t. edvardsson, featuring an illuminated window on a dark building silhouetted against a twilight sky, hinting at mystery or suspense contained within the story.

The Woman Inside

By M. T. Edvardsson

If you’re looking for a domestic thriller to bring to the beach, pick up this brand-new page-turner by M. T. Edvardsson, author of A Nearly Normal Family. Told from multiple perspectives, The Woman Inside centers on the shocking demise of a wealthy couple and a cast of characters with plenty of secrets to hide. Bill is a grieving widower striving to stay afloat and care for his little girl; Karla is a law student who rents a room from Bill and moonlights as a house cleaner to pay her way through school; the Rytters are a wealthy and reclusive couple who hire Karla to clean their perfect home. A sinister energy courses through the Rytter household — the husband is controlling and obsessive, while the wife suffers from a mysterious malady and rarely leaves her room. But when the Rytters wind up dead, Karla is pulled in for questioning, unleashing a wave of deception that puts everyone in jeopardy.

A book cover with a dark blue background featuring colorful floral illustrations with the title "the connellys of county down" by tracey lange prominently displayed in white and light purple lettering.

The Connellys of County Down

By Tracey Lange

Tracey Lange is the author of the instant New York Times bestseller We Are the Brennans. This summer she returns with a family drama about love, loyalty, and new beginnings. The Connellys of County Down follows 30-year-old Tara Connelly, who’s fresh out of prison after serving 18 months for drug charges. Tara’s ready to rebuild her life, but a few blockers stand in her way: She has no money, no job, and no support structure beyond her siblings, who have plenty of their own issues to deal with. As Tara works to get her life on track, she must also contend with her sister’s mounting anxieties, her brother’s medical issues, and the unexpected return of the cop who put her away. With their parents gone, will Tara be able to pull the Connellys back together, revitalize her wrecked career, and, possibly, find love along the way?

The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Latecomer

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Jean Hanff Korelitz is the New York Times bestselling author of a bevy of engrossing narratives, from You Should Have Known to the Stephen King–approved literary thriller The Plot. In The Latecomer, newly released in paperback, the author delivers a riveting family saga suffused with complex characters and moving familial drama — making it the perfect book to disappear into this summer. Years ago, during the early days of IVF, Salo and Johanna Oppenheimer gave birth to triplets. Despite the siblings’ remarkable origins, Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally were never particularly close and are desperate to strike out on their own once college rolls around. Faced with an increasingly distant husband and the prospect of an empty nest, Johanna decides to upend the family dynamic by giving birth to a fourth child. But how will the rest of the Oppenheimers react to this little latecomer? Will the newborn bring the family back together or drive them apart for good?

A suspense-filled book cover for "the angel maker" by alex north, featuring a stark feather ignited at the tip against a bold red background.

The Angel Maker

By Alex North

Alex North is the internationally bestselling author of supernatural thrillers The Whisper Man and The Shadows — which make for deliciously creepy summer reading. In The Angel Maker, North conjures a chilling new tale that boasts everything you could want in a thrilling beach read: suspense, shocking twists, and a serial killer who just might be able to see the future. Kate and Chris Shaw are siblings united by a violent episode from the past. Many years ago, someone brutally assaulted young Chris. Kate, the protective older sister who’s now a mother, has never been able to forgive herself for not protecting him. Then she gets word that Chris has gone missing, igniting a quest to save her vanished sibling. Meanwhile, the brutal murder of a prominent professor of fate and free will sends shockwaves through the community, reigniting whispers of a notorious serial killer with otherworldly powers. What do these seemingly disparate cases all have in common? It’s up to Detective Laurence Page to find out.

Aerial view of a road slicing through vibrant autumn foliage with a solitary car, set against a mysterious backdrop, teasing the suspense within the pages of stephen amidon's novel "locust lane.

Locust Lane

By Stephen Amidon

Fans of Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River or the tense suburban thrillers of Harlan Coben will devour Locust Lane, Stephen Amidon’s gripping new mystery about power, distrust, and unforgiving family devotion. Emerson, Massachusetts, is the ideal New England suburb, replete with manicured lawns, exclusive homes, and well-heeled residents who lead lives that are just too good to be true. But when young Eden Perry is found murdered on Locust Lane, the community’s picture-perfect facade crumbles in an instant. As investigators zero in on the three teens who were partying with Eden on her last night alive, the teens’ parents will do whatever it takes to protect their family name — even if it means letting someone else take the fall. Packed with compelling characters and a riveting plot that drives you to a shocking conclusion, Locust Lane will keep you glued to your beach chair long after the sun has set.   

A captivating book cover for "saint x" by alexis schaitkin, featuring a stark contrast of vividly colored palm leaves against a deep pink and blue sky backdrop, hinting at the novel's setting in a tropical location while invoking a sense of mystery and intrigue.

Saint X

By Alexis Schaitkin

Alexis Schaitkin’s mesmerizing debut was a New York Times notable book in 2020 and is now a series on Hulu — but make sure to read the novel first before checking out the book-to-screen adaptation. Saint X centers on Emily, whose older sister, Alison, died years ago while on a family vacation in the Caribbean. Alison’s death remains shrouded in mystery; while two local men were suspected of murdering her, the evidence against them was slim and the case was never solved. Years later, Claire crosses paths with one of the men suspected of murdering her sibling, propelling her on an obsessive search for answers about what actually happened and who her sister really was. If this sounds like a typical murder mystery, think again. Schaitkin’s acclaimed narrative is a stunning exploration of grief, race, class, and our insatiable appetite for true crime. It’s sure to keep you riveted as the temperatures climb.

Elsewhere: dive into the kaleidoscope of imagination in this enchanting novel by alexis schaitkin.

Elsewhere

By Alexis Schaitkin

If you tore through Saint X and are looking for another compelling narrative by Alexis Schaitkin to complement your summer adventures, then be sure to grab Elsewhere, the author’s speculative fiction novel, which is out now in paperback. A spellbinding meditation on the pressures of motherhood, Elsewhere has earned comparisons to the works of Kazuo Ishiguro and Margaret Atwood. The narrative follows Vera, who lives in a mysterious mountain community set high in the clouds where girls are raised to become mothers and some mothers simply vanish into thin air. As Vera approaches motherhood herself, she must reckon with the impending birth of her child and what lies ahead: Will she get to see her offspring grow up, or will she too disappear into the mountain mist just like her mother before her?

Nonfiction

Cover of the book "birdgirl" by mya-rose craig featuring illustrations of colorful birds perched on branches, accompanied by the inspirational statement "looking to the skies in search of a better future.

Birdgirl

By Mya-Rose Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a renowned ornithologist, environmentalist, and social justice leader who holds an honorary doctorate from Bristol University. She’s passionate about birding, and in her uplifting memoir, Birdgirl, the 21-year-old author chronicles her globe-trotting adventures with her family to study rare and remarkable birds. Across its pages, Craig beautifully captures Earth’s grandeur as well as its fragility and the devastation caused by human-made climate change. She also candidly discusses her mother’s mental health issues and reveals how connecting with nature comforted her family and provided guidance in the midst of hardship. “An excellent mix of travelogue, memoir, and advocacy” (Kirkus, starred review), Birdgirl is sure to inspire and enlighten as you hit the road this summer.

A poignant and powerful book cover with the title "you have to be prepared to die before you can begin to live" by paul kix, highlighting a critical moment in history, ten weeks in birmingham that changed america, set against a backdrop of a civil rights gathering.

You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live

By Paul Kix

We conclude our list with a “gripping, novelistic account” of a critical moment in American history that will leave “[readers] riveted from the first page to the last” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). In You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live, journalist Paul Kix takes you behind the scenes of Project C, the momentous 10-week campaign in 1963 to desegregate Birmingham, Alabama, that changed the course of the Civil Rights Movement. With propulsive prose, Kix re-creates each moment of the campaign, documenting the dramatic fight for equality and offering a vivid glimpse of the Civil Rights icons who led the fight — among them Wyatt Walker, Fred Shuttlesworth, James Bevel, and Martin Luther King, Jr. An eye-opening new history book that just hit the shelves in May, You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live is not to be missed this summer.

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