Great Summer Reads for Beaches, Hammocks, and Poolsides

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Find your next summer read with these fiction titles.

  • Remarkably Bright Creatures

    2022 by Van Pelt, Shelby

    This charming book about a woman's connection to a giant Pacific octopus at the aquarium she cleans in the evenings is the perfect summer read. This novel has just enough sadness to make the joy feel even brighter. Suggested by Becca.

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  • Dandelion Wine

    1999 by Bradbury, Ray

    This is Bradbury's lesser known classic, a collection of redolent short stories set in the summer of 1928 about a young boy (Bradbury, more or less) awakening to the wonders of the world. There's a touch of fantasy, a dollop of horror, but mostly it's about those endless summer days of youth, lost and happily meandering through some June to August paradise. Suggested by Chris.

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  • Marrying the Ketchups

    2022 by Close, Jennifer

    A Chicagoland-based family story that centers around a restaurant they've owned for generations in Oak Park. I very rarely laugh out loud when reading, but this book pushed me over that edge. It isn't all comedy, though. It confronts the struggles of being a family as well as love--both new and lost. Suggested by Becca.

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  • Black Cake

    2022 by Wilkerson, Charmaine

    This character-driven family saga weaves a tight web of lies and deceit, but most important, it highlights the power of love. Estranged siblings Byron and Benny come together after their mother's death to listen to her last wishes. She's left them a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a venerable family recipe, along with a voice recording sharing her story. Suggested by Michelle.

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  • He Started It

    2020 by Downing, Samantha

    I have been blown away by Downing's dark and twisty thrillers since I read My Lovely Wife a few years ago. This is a road trip story (perfect for summer!) about three siblings who haven't been together in years but are brought together by a message left for them by their grandfather after his death. They have to take the same route they took with him as children to qualify to inherit his fortune. But, of course, it won't be as simple as that. Suggested by Becca.

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  • The Change

    2022 by Miller, Kirsten

    Three women entering menopause discover that they have developed supernatural powers along with the hot flashes. They set out to use these gifts to solve the death of a teenage girl. This feminist supernatural thriller is the perfect read for a long summer day. Suggested by Lynnanne.

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  • Book Lovers

    2022 by Henry, Emily

    If you’re a fan of romantic banter, absolutely put this on your to-read list. Emily Henry (People We Meet on Vacation) takes the enemies-to-lovers trope to a laugh-out-loud level. It’s clever, steamy, and engaging, as well as heartfelt. Suggested by Sharon.

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  • How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse

    2019 by Eason, K.

    One of my favorite reads. Pitched as The Princess Bride meets Star Wars, this is an enthralling and highly entertaining read that combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales with a feminist lens. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Mango, Mambo, and Murder

    2021 by Reyes, Raquel V.

    Cuban American Miriam Quinones-Smith is a food anthropologist who recently moved back to Miami from New York City with her husband and young son. Miriam finds herself reconnecting with the Cuban community and accepting a job as an on-air Caribbean food expert for a local Spanish-language morning TV show. It's an absolute pleasure to follow Miriam as she taps into her inner amateur sleuth to solve the case. Suggested by Sharon.

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  • Sag Harbor

    2009 by Whitehead, Colson

    This breezy, awesome, autobiographical fourth novel by Colson Whitehead was my point of entry to the gifted author. Following the meandering summer days of a small group of Black teens summering in a predominantly Black Long Island seaside neighborhood circa 1985, it's a ton of fun. Suggested by Chris.

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  • Perfectly Parvin

    2021 by Abtahi, Olivia

    A must read for fans of Mindy Kaling's Never Have I Ever. We both enjoyed this delightful and charming debut novel about a girl navigating her first year in high school, her cultural identity as a biracial teen, and learning the simple yet hard truth to just be yourself. Parvin is witty and utterly relatable. We can't wait to see more of Parvin and her friends in future books. Suggested by Rummanah and Sharon.

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  • Portrait of a Thief

    2022 by Li, Grace D.

    Five Chinese American college students are enlisted to steal art from western museums and return them to China. While there is plenty of action, this novel doesn't shy away from discussing familial obligation, colonization, diaspora, and identity. Nothing says summer like a good heist story, right? Suggested by Becca.

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  • A Bad Day for Sunshine

    2020 by Jones, Darynda

    Darynda Jones is my go-to author for mysteries with a large dose of romance and humor. An easy, fun, fast-paced mystery that features a mother-daughter duo and puts together a smart mystery with several moving pieces that come together over time. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built

    2021 by Chambers, Becky

    A thoughtful but light novella that reflects on nature, life, and purpose. A tea monk and a robot accidentally meet in the forest. Both have seemingly different objectives; however, they are somehow in search of the same thing. Suggested by Michelle.

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  • Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts: An Adventure

    2019 by Racculia, Kate

    A genre-bending, highly entertaining, and enthralling mystery that dips into the supernatural but without losing sight of real-life problems. All of the characters are dealing with issues of their own, ranging from loss to self-acceptance to struggles with intimacy. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • This Might Get Awkward

    2022 by McDowell, Kara

    Gemma’s favorite place is the beach--when the lakeside is empty. With her social anxieties, it is easier to keep a low profile. However, Gemma finds herself in a fake relationship after she rescues Beau, her secret crush, from drowning. He’s in a coma; she's mistaken for his new girlfriend by his circle of friends and family. Call this a teen twist on the 1995 rom-com movie While You Were Sleeping. Suggested by Sharon.

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  • Tokyo Ever After

    2021 by Jean, Emiko

    I thoroughly enjoyed this breezy, fun, and highly entertaining read. Think Princess Diaries set in Japan. I learned a lot about the Japanese culture and I appreciated Izumi's exploration of her heritage. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Body and Soul Food

    2021 by Collette, Abby

    Collette's Ice Cream Parlor mysteries are staff favorites, and this book kicks off her newest series, Books & Biscuits. Twin siblings Koby and Keaton were orphaned and separated at age two but find each other again in adulthood. Through their bond and common interests, they decide to open a cafe/bookstore together. Of course, nothing is ever as easy as that, and they are thrown into the center of a mystery when Koby's best friend is found murdered. Suggested by Becca.

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  • Jade Fire Gold

    2021 by Tan, June CL

    I really enjoyed this action-packed standalone fantasy that has a rich, layered worldbuilding mixing Chinese culture and mythology with martial arts, fantastical magic, and wonderfully complex characters. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Up to No Gouda: A Grilled Cheese Mystery

    2022 by Reilly, Linda

    A cozy mystery involving a grilled cheese eatery--that alone made me want to taste test this delicious whodunit. It’s the first book in a delightful series, and I’m hungry for the next. Suggested by Sharon.

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  • Seven Days in June

    2021 by Williams, Tia

    This layered romance left me breathless. Eva Mercy and Shane Hall unexpectedly reconnect at an author panel about a decade after their torrid high school affair. However, Eva is not ready to allow Shane back into her life because she’s still suffering from a broken heart and unanswered questions. Their complicated past and undying love for each other lead them down a winding path. Suggested by Michelle.

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