I’m actually not much of a seasonal reader. I don’t choose certain books based on the reason, although sometimes with my reading challenges it’s fun to group certain themes around holidays (ie. horror/thrillers around Halloween). During one of my challenges, I had a prompt that called for a “summer read” and while exploring the Internet for suggestions, I found that people identified two main kinds of summer reads: 1) light, fluffy books that are quick to read, and 2) massive books that you can read over the summer since you have more free time (if you’re a student, at least). I’m more inclined to lean toward the first kind. I’m not a huge summer person in general, since I don’t do well with heat and I hate beaches, but I can’t remember ever being in the mood for a huge, challenging book over the summer.
For this list, I decided to go for five books that are set in the summer and that in some way reminded me of the summer. If I’m honest, not all of them are 5-star books, but they were all books that I enjoyed. While making this list, I realized how many summer-themed books I still have on my TBR that I haven’t picked up yet!
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and the official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
This was the first book that came to mind for me when I think of summer books. I was initially put off reading it because I’d seen that the book was written specifically to be turned into a movie featuring Miley Cyrus, who I didn’t really like. The book is about a 17-year-old girl named Ronnie who is sent to spend time with her father over the summer, although she resents him because of her parents’ divorce. The book is set in a beach town, and includes a great summer romance. I’ve read just about everything Nicholas Sparks has written, and this book still stands out as one of my favourites. I thought the characters were very well-developed and I loved the focus on the relationship between Ronnie and her father. This was a surprisingly powerful story, and definitely one of Sparks’ best.
2) The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares
To be fair, I don’t remember the book very strongly but I really loved the movie. This book is about four best friends who are going their separate ways for the summer, and are nervous about being so far away from each other. They discover a pair of pants that somehow fits all of them perfectly, despite their different shapes and sizes, and they decide to send the pants from one girl to the next as a way to stay connected. The story covers a variety of topics, including first love, divorce, family feuds, and other more serious topics as well. If I remember correctly, I preferred the movie over the book, but that might just be because I’d seen the movie version first. In any case, the book is a nice, light summer read and a great story about friendship. I thought it was nice to have a book that included romance, but where the main focus was on other relationships instead.
3) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
This was a book I picked up just because of my reading challenges last year, which called for a book set during the summer. I had seen it recommended on Goodreads a few times, and although it interested me a bit, it wasn’t necessarily something I was in a rush to read. This book is about a summer romance between Samantha and Jase, the boy next door. Samantha has always been interested in the large family living next door, especially in contrast to her own difficult relationship with her mother who is running for state senator. The book was much better than I’d expected, and I liked the way the relationship between Sam and Jase was handled. It really felt natural, although both characters were a bit on the “overly perfect” side.
4) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I actively avoided reading this book for quite a long time because of all the hype surrounding it. I almost wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it alongside everyone else. Although I was never spoiled for the ending, I just didn’t love it as much as everyone else seemed to. This book is a very fast read about a teenager on a private island owned by her family over the summer. It is difficult to say anything else about it without giving away what happens, but given all the hype surrounding the plot twist, I was completely underwhelmed. I liked the premise of the book, but I wasn’t a big fan of the execution. I was hoping for the relationships between the characters to be fleshed out a bit more. However, I do think this book is a perfect summer read because aside from the setting, it is a very quick and easy book to read.
5) Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
I don’t think I’ve ever had two books by the same author on a list, but this is another book that I very strongly associate with summer. This book is about a young couple named John and Savannah who fall in love over the summer, developing a relationship that is serious enough for Savannah to decide to wait for John as he finishes his tour of duty. However, just as they are preparing to settle down, 9/11 happens and John feels that he must re-enlist. Compared to other Nicholas Sparks books, I thought this one had a more unique spin on it and it was a very touching story.