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PopSugar: The 34 Best New Books to Put in Your Beach Bag This Summer

Updated: Jun 17, 2019

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

When Lena Donohue learns of her father's failing health, she's forced to go back to the one place she'd rather not be: her hometown. Ten years ago, she suffered a massive betrayal, and going home means seeing her sister again, the person she hasn't spoken to in 10 years. But as her father's dementia worsens, Lena struggles to record his memories as she grapples with her own. The Favorite Daughter is a satisfying read about family and forgiveness.

Release date: June 4

"A satisfying read about family and forgiveness." —PopSugar

Who's ready for longer days, warmer nights, and all the joy that Summer brings?

Me! Oh, you are, too? Great! Then let's talk about what you'll be bringing with you to the beach or to the park or to wherever it is you like to relax on your long, lazy Summer days. I've got the 34 best books of Summer, and you're going to need a bigger beach bag. Whether you want to stay up all night with a thriller, swoon over a rom-com, or be transported to another time and place with historical fiction, I've got the perfect read for you.

1 Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

From the acclaimed writer of Here Comes the Sun comes Nicole Dennis-Benn's second novel, Patsy. It's the story of a Jamaican woman who comes to America, where she hopes to reunite with a childhood friend. She is forced to leave behind her 5-year-old child, and as she struggles to find work and come to terms with the life her childhood friend has chosen, we also see what her daughter's life is like back home, forced to live with her father, whom she barely knows. Patsy is a thoughtful exploration of the immigrant experience, motherhood, and the choices women are forced to make.

Release date: June 4

2 City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

We all know Elizabeth Gilbert for her incredible memoir, Eat Pray Love, but this Summer, she brings us into the fictional world of 1940s New York City. In City of Girls, Vivian Morris gets kicked out of Vassar College, so her parents send her to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns the Lily Playhouse, a theater that's falling apart. There, Vivian meets a group of people who are unlike anyone she's ever met before, and she finds herself immersed in their world completely. It's a spellbinding novel about love, freedom, and finding your own happiness.

Release date: June 4

3 The Friends We Keep by Jane Green

There's a reason Jane Green has been called the Queen of the Summer Read. And with The Friends We Keep, she proves herself worthy of that title once again. Three friends meet in college, and they instantly become close. But life gets in the way, and they drift apart. As their 30-year reunion approaches, secrets that were long hidden threaten to bubble to the surface. Can their friendship survive it? The Friends We Keep is an utterly unputdownable novel that will warm your heart and make you long for the friends you knew when you were young. Bonus: you can read an exclusive excerpt now!

Release date: June 4

4 The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

When Lena Donohue learns of her father's failing health, she's forced to go back to the one place she'd rather not be: her hometown. Ten years ago, she suffered a massive betrayal, and going home means seeing her sister again, the person she hasn't spoken to in 10 years. But as her father's dementia worsens, Lena struggles to record his memories as she grapples with her own. The Favorite Daughter is a satisfying read about family and forgiveness.

Release date: June 4

5 In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles Winslow

Meet Azalea. Everyone calls her Knot, but not everyone in her black, rural neighborhood in North Carolina understands her. Knot wants to be independent and to live life on her own terms, though she's still figuring out exactly what that looks like. In West Mills spans the course of almost 50 years and is a beautifully written debut by a writer to watch.

Release date: June 4

6 Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

A missing sister. A Chinese immigrant family. When Sylvie Lee goes to visit her grandmother in the Netherlands, she never returns. Her younger sister retraces her steps in the hopes of finding her and discovers things about her sister that she never knew. Searching for Sylvie Lee is part mystery, part emotional drama, and the book you need in your beach bag this Summer.

Release date: June 4

7 The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr

When Sophie Bloom goes out to celebrate her 42nd birthday, all the talk is about the massive Ashley Madison cheating scandal. As her friends laugh over which neighbors were caught up in the drama, Sophie discovers that her husband was on the infamous website for cheaters, too. And not just once. Distraught, she flees to Paris to see her daughter, who is studying abroad. Can Sophie help her daughter get over a heartbreak as she tries to heal her own? She just might discover herself in the process. The Unbreakables is an impossibly sexy read about love, friendship, and art.

Release date: June 4

8 On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong is a gifted poet, and his first foray into fiction was one of the year's most anticipated books. Written as a letter that a young man writes to his illiterate mother, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a raw and gorgeously written novel about trauma, survival, and the power of story.

Release date: June 4

9 The Summer Country by Lauren Willig

This Summer, let Lauren Willig whisk you away to Barbados. When Emily Dawson's grandmother dies, she inherits Peverills, a sugar plantation in Barbados. She's shocked that this property goes to her; no one in her family even knew it existed. Switching between 1812, when the plantation was operational, and 1854, when Emily finds it in ruins, The Summer Country is a sweeping multigenerational epic, beautifully told, that you won't soon forget.

Release date: June 4

10 The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

The Dead Letters Depot is where lost letters end up. Once there, letter detectives struggle to make sense of smudged ink, missing labels, and incorrect street names with one mission in mind: to deliver the letters to where they belong. When William Woolf discovers a series of letters written to "My Great Love," he finds himself drawn into the world its author has created, and he has no idea how they will change his life. The Lost Letters of William Woolf is a heartwarming novel about love, life, and the lost art of letter writing.

Release date: June 4

11 More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth

Have you fallen in love with Elaine Welteroth on Project Runway? Or perhaps you got obsessed with the work she did as editor in chief of Teen Vogue? There's basically nothing she can't do. Now, she's written More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are (No Matter What They Say), a memoir that details her life's journey through media and fashion, as she shatters records along the way. Reese Witherspoon says it's "a call for young women to find their voice and spark their courage." It is a must read for women of all ages and would make the perfect graduation gift.

Release date: June 11

12 Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

We just adored Jennifer Weiner's foray into nonfiction, but we're beyond excited to have her back creating fiction! In Mrs. Everything, we follow two sisters from their childhood in the '50s through present day. With a masterful plot, we follow the sisters as their lives change, along with the world they live in. You won't want this book to end as you laugh, cry, and root for these characters as if they were a part of your own family. Mrs. Everything is Weiner's best book yet.

Release date: June 11

13 Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Ginder

A family trip to a charming Greek island for a month — sounds like heaven, right? For the Wright family, it is. Sure, Ellen's husband has been cheating, and sure, her son is struggling in college, and sure, the whole trip quickly becomes a train wreck, but in Grant Ginder's hands, you'll laugh and cringe in recognition at the family dynamics at play. Honestly, We Meant Well is a light Summer read that is a must have for your beach bag.

Release date: June 11

14 The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Food Network star Abby Jimenez brings us your next favorite romantic comedy, The Friend Zone. When Kristen helps plan her best friend's wedding, there's one thing she didn't plan for: the best man, Josh Copeland. He's cute, he's funny, and he wants a big, wonderful family one day. Sounds perfect, right? Only problem? Kristen is facing a procedure that may make it impossible for her to ever have children. The Friend Zone is that rare beach read with tons of heart that will make you laugh and cry in equal parts.

Release date: June 11

15 Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

When Natalie Tan returns home after her mother dies, she is shocked to discover she inherited her grandmother's restaurant. After all, Natalie hadn't spoken to her mother in seven years because she didn't support her career as a chef. But now she is back in San Francisco's Chinatown. Will she stay and try to revitalize her family's restaurant? Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is a delight — filled with magic and love and, best of all, recipes!

Release date: June 11

16 Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand

It's not truly Summer until you have a copy of Elin Hilderbrand's latest novel in your beach bag. This Summer, she brings us Summer of '69, her first historical novel and her most ambitious one yet, marrying history with the character-rich stories that make her books so compelling. The Levin family is going through quite a lot — only son Tiger has been drafted, eldest sister Blair is pregnant with twins and unable to travel to Nantucket, middle sister Kirby is getting involved with the civil rights movement, and youngest sister Jessie feels utterly alone. It's a Summer where nothing will ever be the same again. Summer of '69 is proof that Hilderbrand's books just keep getting better and better.

Release date: June 18

17 The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

The one place Roya can always feel safe in 1953 Tehran? The neighborhood stationery shop. When its owner introduces Roya to another favorite customer, Bahman, they immediately click. But Iran is on the verge of a coup d'état, and one day, Bahman vanishes, leaving Roya to wonder what happened. The Stationery Shop is a beautiful, emotionally honest story about first love, deep family bonds, and fate.

Release date: June 18

18 Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert

Two women, one score to settle. When Kerrie O'Malley sees the woman who ruined her life 18 years ago, there's only one thing she plans to do: get revenge. But the stakes are high — just how far will one woman go to get the retribution she thinks she deserves? Pretty Revenge is a fun, twisty thrill ride about the dark side of female friendship.

Release date: July 2

19 Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

After FBI agent Nell Flynn's father dies, she goes home to Long Island to settle his estate. While there, an old friend asks her to help on the investigation of the murder of a local girl. A murder that looks a lot like one that happened the Summer before. As Nell digs deeper, she uncovers uncomfortable truths about what is really happening near her old hometown, and she begins to wonder who she can really trust. Girls Like Us is a smart thriller that will keep you guessing.

Release date: July 2

20 Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem by Daniel R. Day

Dapper Dan: you know the name. You know the legend — he's the man who revolutionized streetwear back in the '80s. And now, you can read his personal story in Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem. With unflinching honesty, he recounts his life story, giving us a look at how a legend was born.

Release date: July 9

21 The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Beatriz Williams always delivers historical fiction that shines, and this Summer's release is no exception. In The Golden Hour, she brings us to 1941, when a reporter travels to the Bahamas to investigate the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. After all, what could be more intriguing than a man who abdicated the monarchy for true love? Intertwined with a story that takes place 40 years earlier, The Golden Hour is another engrossing read that will keep you turning the pages long into the night.

Release date: July 9

22 The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad blew readers away, and we've all been anxiously awaiting what Colson Whitehead would do next. In The Nickel Boys, he brings us to Jim Crow-era Florida, where we meet two boys sentenced to a reform school. They quickly learn that life at The Nickel Academy is horrific and filled with unspeakable abuses, and these two boys have very different views on how to live life and survive. Based on a real place in Florida that operated for over 100 years, The Nickel Boys is another take-your-breath-away read from Whitehead.

Release date: July 16

23 The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

The Proposal was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, and with The Wedding Party, Jasmine Guillory gives us another surefire hit. Maddie and Theo are both members of Alexa's wedding party (yes, the same Alexa from The Wedding Date, though you don't have to read that one to enjoy this story!), and they hate each other. Well, there was that one night when they ended up together, but they agree to keep things hush-hush until the wedding, then never see each other again after it. But things don't always go according to plan, do they? The Wedding Party is another smart, fun romance that's the perfect beach read.

Release date: July 16

24 Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

This Summer, Laura Lippman takes us to 1960s Baltimore for her fictional take on a real-life story. Maddie Schwartz upends her life to become a journalist, and when a waitress's body is found in a nearby lake, she becomes obsessed. Told in alternating perspectives between Maddie, the ghost of the victim, and numerous Baltimore characters who pop in and out of the story, Lady in the Lake is as much a mystery as it is a stylized look at life in 1966 Baltimore. Another must read from Lippman.

Release date: July 23

25 The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem

Leila Abid has always dreamed of a big, Bollywood romance. But her parents have other ideas. So they make a deal: she has three months to find a husband, or else they'll find one and arrange a marriage for her. Let the dating begin! The Marriage Clock is a warm, funny debut novel about love, how we find it, and how we can keep it.

Release date: July 23

26 Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Grace Kelly fans, this one is for you! When a very persistent reporter forces Grace to take refuge in a French perfume shop, its owner, Sophie, has no idea the friendship that will develop with the most famous woman in the world. Sophie keeps in touch with Grace after that day, and the reporter who was chasing Grace now has another woman in his sights, when he finds himself unable to stop thinking about Sophie. Filled with delicious details about Grace's royal wedding, Meet Me in Monaco is an absolute and utter delight.

Release date: July 23

27 The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland

Annette Feldman wants to ring in her 70th birthday with her family surrounding her. And all under one roof. So she books a cruise for her entire family. What could possibly go wrong? The Floating Feldmans is a funny and heartfelt novel about the meaning of family. Another hilarious hit by Elyssa Friedland. Anchors away!

Release date: July 23

28 The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Lila Bennett has made her share of bad decisions. But she never imagined that one decision could split her life into two. But it does. In one life, she's kidnapped by a mysterious stranger. And in the other, she walks free. The Two Lila Bennetts is a thought-provoking thriller that will have you thinking about the choices you've made and how your life could change in an instant.

Release date: July 23

29 The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

The Chelsea Hotel. Just the name conjures up so many images, from the artists and musicians who have lived there to its dramatic stairway, covered in art. The Chelsea Girls follows two women, Hazel and Maxine, as they reach for their dreams after meeting as USO girls during World War Two. Alternating in perspectives between Hazel, the playwright, and Maxine, the actress, both women find that a career in entertainment isn't nearly as difficult as navigating the rising McCarthyism. A satisfying read about the bonds between women.

Release date: July 30

30 The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Rhiannon Hunter knows everything there is to know about dating apps — after all, she creates them. When she hooks up with a former pro-football star, sparks fly. But then he ghosts her. But Rhiannon's tough, and she's not going to let that get in her way. That is, until he shows up again . . . as a business rival. The Right Swipe is everything you want in a Summer read: fun, clever, and so, so sexy.

Release date: Aug. 6

31 Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell

You know the title. You watched the show. Maybe you even saw the movies. Candace Bushnell is back doing what she knows best: chronicling the lives of women and how they find love. This time, she turns her lens on middle-aged men and women, and the result is pure magic. At turns wistful and sad, thoughtful and funny, Is There Still Sex in the City? is even better than the original.

Release date: Aug. 6

32 The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

The vineyards of France, 1940. The Germans invade, and the owner of Champagne house Maison Chauveau does what he thinks is right, working for the Resistance. Decades later, Liv Kent's French grandmother has insisted they take an impromptu trip to France. What secrets will this visit reveal? And why do they end up in the caves of Maison Chauveau? The Winemaker's Wife is a heart-wrenching story about how one decision can change our lives, perfect for fans of The Nightingale.

Release date: Aug. 13

33 Inland by Téa Obreht

Fans of the bestselling novel The Tiger's Wife have been waiting a long time for another novel from Téa Obreht. The wait is over. With Inland, she brings us a frontier story, set in Arizona Territory, 1893. In the midst of a drought, Nora is alone with her youngest son, awaiting the return of her husband and older sons, convinced that something is outside on her land, stalking them. Inland is a gorgeously written, epic story that will leave you thinking about it long after turning the last page.

Release date: Aug. 13

34 The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood

Bryn Greenwood shocked and delighted readers with her debut novel, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. This Summer, she brings us The Reckless Oath We Made, another compelling read about characters we don't see represented in novels very often. Meet Zee. She's almost 6 feet tall, and her life is a hot mess. Meet Gentry. He wants to save her, but maybe that's just the voices in his head. When Zee turns to Gentry for help one night, she has no idea where it will lead. The Reckless Oath We Made is a love story about two total misfits that will challenge you. Perfect for book clubs.

Release date: Aug. 20

Brenda Janowitz is the POPSUGAR books correspondent. She is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party. Her sixth novel, The Grace Kelly Dress, will be published by HarperCollins/Graydon House in March 2020. Read More June 1, 2019

Tags: #popsugar #summerbooks #summerreads #thefavoritedaughter #patticallahanhenry #womensficiton #contemporary #memories #literary #mystery

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