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Summer brings with it so many great things: warmer weather, ice cream, beach days, and for those of us who are lucky, free time. It is the perfect opportunity to pick up a good book to read under the shade — or carry along wherever your summer adventures may take you.
If you're in need of some new novels, we've got you covered! Authors David Baldacci (whose most recent novel, "One Good Deed" comes out later this month) and Elizabeth Acevedo ("The Poet X" and "With the Fire on High") stopped by the 3rd Hour of TODAY to share some of their favorite literary works for the summer.
These page turners will transport you to a different world all summer long.
Best for the Beach
Acevedo's Pick: "American Dreamers" by Adriana Herrera
This read tells the tale of a romance between a food truck chef from New York City and a man that has built a stable life in upstate New York. As their two worlds collide, this Afro-Latinx gay romance proves itself to be anything but ordinary. Acevedo dubbed this paperback to be "heartwarming and delicious."
Baldacci's Pick: "The Turn of the Key" by Ruth Ware
Baldacci recommends this thriller for the author alone, who has "been heralded as the Agatha Christie of her generation." This entrancing read details the unfortunate series of mishappenings that lead a Scottish woman to be awaiting her own trial for murder. This suspenseful read is one that you won't want to put down.
Best for the Road
Acevedo's Pick: "Monday's Not Coming" by Tiffany D. Jackson
The best way to let the hours pass on the road is with an enthralling novel that will have you turning pages like it's your job. This story of one girl's search for her missing best friend will have you on the edge of your seat as she digs deep into the missing elements of her friend's disappearance. "'Monday's Not Coming' won a Coretta Scott King award for a reason, and this page turner set in southeast D.C. offers equal parts thrill and empathy," Acevedo said.
Baldacci's Pick: "Lock Every Door" by Riley Sager
In what is described as a "heart-pounding thriller," Sager intertwines the mysterious aura of the Bartholomew Building in New York with a twisted tale of a missing apartment sitter to deliver his latest novel. What appears to be a harmless ghost story ends up being a novel that you'll want to read from cover to cover.
Best for When You Want to Learn
Acevedo's Pick: "The January Children" by Safia Elhillo
Acevedo recommends this deeply personal poetry collection that looks at the "historical and political realities of a woman from Sudan," in the postcolonial world. It delves deep into the themes of longing and displacement while exploring the term "identity."
Baldacci's Pick: "Talking to Robots" by David Ewing Duncan
Duncan is an award-winning journalist that Baldacci said "has interviewed a couple dozen people in various fields, filmmaking, genetics, physics and people who make stuff up for a living like yours truly," to gain perspective on the place artificial intelligence will have in our future, for better or for worse.
Best for the Family
Acevedo's Pick: "Harbor Me" by Jacqueline Woodson
This collection of stories is a great read for families as it is not your average take on life lessons. Six children of different backgrounds and life experiences convene without any monitoring to discuss what is bothering them, revealing "perspectives on struggle and empathy," Acevedo said.
Baldacci's Pick: "I Survived" by Lauren Tarshis
Although the characters may be fictional, Baldacci hails this series as one to read with your kids so they can learn more about the events and issues that are recounted within the stories. "[Tarshis] has taken iconic events, the sinking of the Titanic, D-Day, 9/11, and placed within them young people as witnesses and participants," Baldacci said. "It teaches kids resilience, perseverance and learning from mistakes among many other positive skills."
More Summer Reads
Including everything from sweeping romances to historical adventures, with a special mention for their favorite beach page turners, these summer book recommendations have something for everyone.
Han's Pick: "Daisy Jones & the Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Jenny Han picked this '70s-era romance as her favorite love story of the summer. Calling it "'Almost Famous' meets Fleetwood Mac," with plenty of Los Angeles glam, Reid's novel is a thrilling read about what brings a band to the height of its popularity — and what makes that all come crashing down. It's presented as an oral history, adding a fun twist to a classic genre.
Maas' Pick: "The Unhoneymooners" by Christina Lauren
Maas had been waiting for this book for a while, and even with those expectations, Christina Lauren's fun romance didn't disappoint!
"It's a classic hate-to-love setup, with a lush Maui backdrop — and all the hilarious banter and swoon-worthy romance that you'd expect from a Christina Lauren book!" she gushed. With odd-couple pairings, fake relationship tropes and tons of comedy, this is a great beach read.
Fitzgerald's Pick: "Good Talk" by Mira Jacob
"'Good Talk,' a marvelous graphic memoir by novelist Mira Jacob, guides us through a heartbreaking, hilarious and altogether riveting series of conversations from her life — and her child's and husband's — that not only speak brilliantly to life in our current moment, but also serve as a stunning testament to love in all its forms," Fitzgerald said of this unconventional, illustrated pick.
Han's Pick: "The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle" by Stuart Turton
"'The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle' is like an Agatha Christie 'Groundhog Day,'" explained Han. With addictive storytelling and rapid-fire plot twists, this murder mystery allows the reader to follow the story from eight different perspectives, and with a revolving door of suspects, it's sure to keep you guessing until the very last page.
Maas' Pick: "Hollywood Ending" by Kellye Garrett
The second book in the 'Detective by Day' series, this book follows a former actress living in Los Angeles. In the first book, the actress, named Dayna, became a private investigator; this second novel sees her on the case again trying to solve a murder.
"It's just as fantastic as the first book," said Maas, who said she'd only recently fallen in love with the series. "I can't say enough good things about this series!"
Fitzgerald's Pick: "Rules for Visiting" by Jessica Francis Kane
"When 40-year-old gardener May receives a surprise windfall of one month of vacation from the university where she works, she decides to visit four old friends, each one from different periods of her life," explained Fitzgerald. "Through this initially simple and irresistible starting point, Jessica Francis Kane investigates the most universal mysteries of all."
Han's Pick: "Love From A to Z" by S.K. Ali
This airport-based meet-cute tackles everything from Islamophobia to degenerative diseases — while still being primarily a romance — as two travelers meet on their way to Qatar. Han particularly recommends this quick read for anyone heading out on their own big adventure.
Maas' Pick: "D-Day Girls" by Sarah Rose
For Maas, this thrilling nonfiction book reads like an action movie. Telling the untold true story of the women who volunteered to be spies and saboteurs in France during World War II, it's "inspiring" and "empowering," according to Maas, and the story it tells is one that sometimes gave her full-body chills.
Fitzgerald's Pick: "The Old Drift" by Namwali Serpell
"Namwali Serpell's debut novel centers around three families in Zambia over three generations," said Fitzgerald. "A saga of both a whole nation and of three particular families within it, 'The Old Drift' is thrilling and rewarding, enormous in scope and boundless with riches."
Han's Pick: "The Deal" by Elle Kennedy
Han said she's been obsessed with Elle Kennedy's 'Off-Campus' series since earlier in the year, and through multiple rereads, this first book remains her favorite. With charged bets, angsty campus romances and witty banter, it's a great read for someone looking for something fun.
"This book sexy and heartfelt and so fun — Garrett Graham is one of my top book boyfriends," she said. "I permanently keep a copy of this book on my nightstand because I love it so much!"
Maas' Pick: "A Hundred Summers" by Beatriz Williams
This book stretches from the penthouses of Park Avenue to the sandy beaches of New England. Set in the 1930s, this love story pairs up friendship, romance and natural disasters as the characters face their own feelings for each other.
Fitzgerald's Pick: "Exhalation" by Ted Chiang
"In some ways, 'Exhalation' is the ultimate beach read," said Fitzgerald. "Whether you're on vacation or not, these stories have the power and imagination to take you someplace else."
For more book recommendations, check out:
- Join Jenna Bush Hager's new TODAY book club
- Interested in a book you saw on TODAY? Learn more here
- Jenna Bush Hager announces May book club pick