Maybe you're the kind of person who doesn't pick their next read based on the weather. But some of us reach for a specific type of book to read in the summer. More than a genre, a summer read is a mood: A book that's breezy and transfixing, able to hold our attention as we enjoy the outdoors.
Speaking to TODAY about beach reads, authors opened up about their own summer reading routines and provided a few recommendations to add to your summer reading list. Lily King, author of Read With Jenna pick “Writers & Lovers,” said she likes getting her summer reads messy as she brings them to the beach and park. “I want proof of summer on the pages,” King told TODAY.
The only question is: Where to begin? We’re rounding up a few of the 2022 new releases, from novels and memoirs to romances and comedies, that fit the summer mood.
Search #beachread on Instagram, and you’re likely to see this cover. Speaking to TODAY, Carley Fortune said she was inspired by her childhood in Barry’s Bay, a small lakeside town in Canada, while writing this love story that switches perspectives between childhood summers and two adults trying to right their adolescent wrongs. Read an excerpt on TODAY.
Emily Henry’s rom-coms know the beach read assignment: They’re frequently set on vacation and involve writers or bookworms. “Book Lovers” follows in the tradition of “Beach Read” and “People We Meet on Vacation,” taking place over book editor Nora Stephens’ month-long trip to a North Carolina town, where she runs into a rival: an equally successful book agent. It doesn’t take long for the transformation from enemies to lovers to occur.
"Neruda on the Park" is about a community in New York that is on the verge of gentrification and the residents whose futures, and close-knit connections, are being threatened. Eusebia, an older resident, comes up with the idea to start a crime ring to scare away new residents. Her family responds in their own ways. Natera, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, said the novel was inspired by her own life and childhood in Harlem.
Do you believe in fated love? The protagonist of “Meant to Be Mine” does — she’s staked her romantic future on a prophecy that her grandmother laid out for her. When Edie, a fashion stylist, meets singer Theo Larsen she knows she’s met the man her grandmother’s visions. Whether he can actually live up to them remains to be seen.
Once college roommates, Winnie and Ava lost touch. When they meet again at a coffee store, Winnie has a proposition. "Counterfeit" runs at the pace of a heist movie, as in, once you start reading you won't be able to stop.
If you’re going to multiple weddings this year, “So Happy For You” might speak to you in a visceral way. A fast-paced satirical thriller, “So Happy For You” is set in the near future, where a declining birth rate leads to a government incentive-spurred wedding fever. Best friends since childhood, Ellie and Robin have grown apart in recent years — especially given their disagreements about marriage. The tension grows to a tipping point when Ellie asks Robin to be her maid of honor.
Tracy Flick is a character first made famous in Tom Perrotta’s 1998 novel “Election” and the movie adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon. Years after for high school student body, Tracy is now a middle-aged mom and assistant principal, revisiting her past while still yearning to be recognized in that old familiar way.
Marcy Dermansky’s books are written in sparse but punchy prose, each sentence guaranteed to make you think. “Hurricane Girl” is about a woman on the run from her boring life. But if she doesn’t know what she’s looking for, how will she know when she finds it?
As a true crime reporter, Cassie Bowman finds the truth behind the stories that grip people most. She comes across an article about Lore Rivera, a woman who carried out a double life with a family in Mexico and one in the U.S., and thinks she’s found the ultimate career-defining moment. “More Than You’ll Ever Know” is an intertwining story about ambition, motherhood and more.
Sadie and Sam bond over their shared love of video games. And one day, they’ll go on to make one of the world’s most successful ones. But they don’t know that yet. “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is a decade-spanning feat in storytelling, switching perspectives as the story winds through the years.
The title of “Carrie Soto Is Back” is the story that Carrie Soto, a tennis great, wants to tell the world — and her doubters, of whom there are many. At 37, six years into her retirement, Carrie watches a younger tennis player beat her record. She decides to leave retirement for a year to take back what she feels is hers.
This debut novel from the creator of “How I Met Your Mother” follows the intersecting lives of a few New Yorkers. A clever and all-seeing narrator (who is also a character) tells their stories, and it’s worth reading the book just to experience the satisfying ending, with everything fitting together just so.
A Read With Jenna pick, “These Impossible Things” tracks the lives of three Muslim-British friends in the U.K., all navigating the pressures of family expectations with the desire to forge their own trails. El-Wardany told TODAY she wrote the book in a span of a month. “I just want to tell a story of (Muslim women’s) lived experience that doesn’t make us the butt of a joke,” she said.
Leah returns from a deep sea mission — and she's forever changed. At first, her wife, Miri, only clocks the small alterations. But as time goes on, Miri now has to learn to reconcile the new version of Leah with the woman she fell in love with. This is a melancholy novel about falling in love and then watching love change; a great option if standard rom-coms aren't appealing to you at the moment.
Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo are both prominent New Yorkers: Prieto is a politician and Olga is a wedding planner. Behind the scenes, they’re dealing with a family reckoning after their mother returns — 27 years after her disappearance. This is a rom-com that also deals with family and healing — and acknowledges the way all these kinds of love are connected.
Can't resist some juicy sibling drama? You’ll find it here, in droves. “The Latecomer” is narrated by the literal latecomer of her family: Zoe is significantly younger than her triplet older siblings, who do not get along. Born into a wealthy and ruptured family, Phoebe seeks to understand what happened before she was born, and how she can fix it now that she’s here.
Falling in love with a prince is not a fairy tale, as the protagonist of this engrossing novel discovers. Caroline is a former Olympian-turned-princess of a small European country. Her role becomes more like a trap; her husband, more like a captor. Bourland said she was inspired by real-life royals when writing this novel set in pre-recession Europe.
Whether you follow news of the royal family or not, Tina Brown's exhaustive account of the last 25 years in the Windsor family history, from Princess Diana to Meghan Markle, is inclined to fascinate. Brown writes in sparkling, relentlessly clever prose, making a history lesson seem more like gossipy party.
Sexy and emotionally astute, Bolu Babalola, author of “Love and Color," wrote a romance that will stay with you. “Honey and Spice” takes place in the university years, as characters are figuring themselves out through their relationships. Podcast host Kiki Banjo starts a mutually beneficial fake relationship with a playboy.
For Yasmin Ghorami, love is the easy part of her relationship. Merging families is not. In the lead-up to the wedding, her family clashes with her fiancé’s. Through just one marriage, Monica Ali’s book gets at so many cultural truths and tensions.
Not all beach reads need to be light and airy. "Kaleidoscope" is a moving story about grief and one prominent family adjusting around a sudden loss. Cecily Wong captures the gradations of loss but also the power of love in the novel, which may be exactly what you need this summer.
NBC anchor Katy Tur speaks honestly about her upbringing in this memoir. Tur’s parents were photographers who documented L.A. by helicopter and as a result, she and her brother grew up in the sky. As an adult, Tur’s relationship with her father, who transitioned later in life, became more complicated.
Think of the title of this book as a joke: There are no normal families. Chrysta Bilton unpacks her family origin story, which began when her mother, a single gay woman, made an under-the-table deal with a sperm donor that resulted in two kids. As Bilton got older, she learned she had many more siblings around the country: 35, to be precise.
Move over Hercule Poirot. Louise Lloyd, the central character of Nekesa Afia's books, will be your new favorite mystery solver. She gets to the bottom of crimes from her vantage point in a speakeasy in 1920s Harlem. Read the first installment in the series to learn Louise's origin story.
Shay Evans is in a rare category. She's one of the few who got out. "The Last Housewife" is about the ramifications of a cult on the women who escaped the leader's thrall, and the ones who did not.
Find this runaway hit where history meets humor. The book follows a chemist in the 1960s who doesn’t get the respect she deserves. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she becomes the host of a famous cooking show. With her platform, she encourages viewers to push the boundaries the same way she did at work.
The author of “The Guest List” returns with another novel written in the vein of Agatha Christie. Jess moves to Paris from London. As she’s settling in, her brother comes to stay — and then promptly disappears, leaving her to learn his whereabouts and the secrets he’s been keeping.
If your favorite part of the movie "Beauty and the Beast" is the library, then this fairytale redux from Jasmine Guillory is written with you in mind. Working in publishing was always Isabelle's dream job, but the reality of being the company's only Black employee is far from ideal. When she's tapped to travel to an author's mansion to help him hurry along on his book, she gets a break from the office but finds a new web of complications.
Kali Fajardo-Anstine's collection "Sabina & Corina" focused on indigenous women in Colorado in the present day; "Woman of Light" travels to the past. Luz "Little Light" Lopez is fending for herself in 1930s Colorado, and dealing with visions about her ancestors and all they had lost not so long ago. Through her psychic connection to them, she has a chance to save their stories.
Katie and her mom, Carol, were supposed to go on a two week-long mother-daughter trip to Positano. And then, tragically, her mom died. Bereft, Katie can barely make it on the plane. When she arrives in Italy, she's shocked to find her mother, alive and well — and 30 years old. Through a trick of magical realism and a bend in space and time, she has a chance to get to know Carol in a new way before she's gone.