8 Backlist Summer Reads

Looking for your next summer read but tired of the hold lists at the library? I've put together 8 of my favorite reads from summer's past to share with you. So get ready to add to your TBR!

#1 The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

If you haven't heard me rave about The Summer Wives yet, I'm shocked. I read this one last summer and was a little taken aback by how much I loved it. Mystery, intrigue, love, desire, death! It has it all. And it's set in a coastal NY town. This was my first Beatriz Williams and I absolutely loved it. Throw this one in your bag on your next trip to the beach and get totally lost in it.

#2 The Rocks by Peter Nichols

The Rocks was a random library book that I picked up right before hopping a plane to St. Maarten a few summers back. I picked it up solely because of it's cover, knowing nothing else about it, but was completely immersed in its story. What I loved the most about this one was the setting - set in a popular seaside resort in the Mediterranean, it follows two honeymooners who were suddenly driven apart 60 years earlier but have still lived on the same island for the years after. Their two (unrelated) children fall in love and we begin to unravel the mystery of what happened sixty years prior and everything that has happened since. Indulgent, sweet, romantic, mysterious and scenic are all words that come to mind when I think about this book.

#3 Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

I read Summer of Salt over the course of two days at the beach in Delaware over Fourth of July weekend last summer. This story follows a set of twins on the summer of their eighteenth birthday. They come from a magical family and the main character, Georgina, still hasn't discovered her magical powers. They live at an inn on an island off the coast of New England that gets flooded with bird lovers in the summer who come to spot the elusive breed of bird that nests at the inn. Tragedy strikes and we follow the girls as they navigate the fall out. I loved that the main character is a lesbian and the book also tackles the difficult subject of sexual assault. I thought Leno did a really good job of presenting these subjects to a teen audience and of weaving in a strong feminist theme throughout the story.

#4 American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Have you read anything by Curtis Sittenfeld yet? I have to say that she is probably one of my favorite authors and American Wife was so much more than I could have expected it to be. It's a fictional retelling of a famous first lady's life (ahem, Laura Bush) and follows her from childhood through her time in the white house. It heavily focuses on her coming of age and early adulthood years and portrays her as an extremely strong and independent lady. I loved that this one was so female focused and gave a different perspective on a historical figure that I had a very one sided view of. There is just the right amount of history, romance, and drama in this one and I loved every second of it.

#5 Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

If you've been around for a while, you know that I love a good novel that focuses on food. I downloaded Kitchens of the Great Midwest to my kindle before our family vacation a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed having this as company on the vacation. Lars and Cynthia have a baby, Eva, but Cynthia falls in love with a sommelier and takes off. Lars is left to raise Eva on his own and is determined to instill his love of food in her. Each chapter features a different recipe and tells the story of the recipe while moving the current story forward. This one is heartfelt, cute, and delicious! Read this in anticipation of his new novel, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, which hits shelves on July 23rd (and I included in my most anticipated new books post a while back) .

#6 Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker

Is anyone else a huge Weeds fan? In college, my roommates and I were obsessed with Nancy Botwin and her Diet Coke habit. When Mary-Louise Parker came out with Dear Mr. You a few years back, I knew it was an immediate read for me. Parker shares her story of how she came to be who she is entirely through letters that she writes to men - both fictional and nonfictional - and the result is wholly original. Through these letters she explores how these various men have shaped her and her life to date. Her writing, her voice, her rawness - this one had it all. If you're a fan of Weeds or Parker in general, I highly recommend this one.

#7 Colorless Tsukuri Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

A book about deep depression doesn't seem like the most obvious choice for summer reading, but I read this one on a caribbean beach a few years ago and really appreciated the juxtaposition of a beautiful view with a beautifully sad story. This wasn't my first Murakami, but it's the one that has stuck with me and I recommend Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki to anyone who asks. We follow along as Tsukuru grapples with why his group of friends suddenly shuns him. He sinks into a deep depression as he comes to many realizations and then we see him climb out of this depression as he comes to terms with events that have taken place. This one is ultimately about loneliness, dreams, belonging, and longing.

#8 The After Party by Anton DiSclafani

The After Party kept me company on a very long plane journey from Texas a few summers ago. What should have taken four hours to get home ended up taking seven, but I barely noticed because I was completely engrossed in The After Party the entire time that we were stuck on the runway. After reading DiSclafani's The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls a few years earlier, I was excited to read more of her work. This one takes on the themes of female friendship and female expectations in a family setting. It was devastating to read about Joan and Cece's friendship as they grow from young girls to woman and begin to start their own families, hide secrets, and grapple with the way that society's view of them changes.

Do any of these pique your interest? What have been some of your favorite backlist summer reads? I would love to hear about them below!

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.


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© 2019 by Michelle Martin