30 Best Books to Add to Your 2022 Summer Reading List
Set that out-of-office message and escape into new worlds with the best summer reads for all types of bookworms.
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Summer reading lists have a certain nostalgic magic to them. They hearken back to days when getting lost in literature stretched summer break just a bit longer. Even now, with year-round work and too-short vacations, the best summer reads bring endless possibilities and excitement. And the variety of genres means there’s something for everyone.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the must-read books of summer. With travel picking up and more outdoor spaces (aka ideal reading spots) open, it’s the perfect time to devour some of the best summer reads ever written. These books are critically acclaimed and well-reviewed best sellers. And many were chosen by Reader’s Digest editors and readers like you. Here, you’ll find the best books of all time, fiction books, beach reads, fantasy novels, romance novels, mystery books, historical fiction, and more.
So shake out that beach towel, lay it on an empty stretch of sand or your freshly mowed lawn, grab a glass of pink lemonade, and get lost in worlds and words that’ll bring wonder to your summer. You might not have a monthslong school vacation to lounge around with some good books, but that shouldn’t stop you from tackling this grown-up summer reading list in your free time.
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1. Florida Woman by Deb Rogers
Release date: July 5, 2022
For fans of: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty and The Girls by Emma Cline
As far as titles go, Florida Woman is a clever one, tapping into the quirkiness of the state of Florida while also capturing the wilderness of its nature. This bizarre, entertaining, and thought-provoking page-turner follows Jamie—the titular Florida Woman—in the aftermath of her arrest for a ridiculous crime that went viral. She spends her summer doing community service at a sanctuary for rescued monkeys, where she gets invited into a strange sisterhood. And things only get stranger from there. Need a ringing endorsement from another kooky character? Joe Exotic, the Tiger King himself, said of Florida Woman: “My kind of book. I loved it.” If that doesn’t make you want to add this to your summer reading list (or make it your next book club pick), we don’t know what will!
2. Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So
Release date: August 3, 2021
For fans of: Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang
Featuring different perspectives on the Cambodian American diaspora in California, Anthony Veasna So’s bite-sized short stories in Afterparties have a satirical wit and frenetic energy that will immerse you in the community’s quirks, complex social and racial politics, and family dramas. So explores the generational trauma carried over from the survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide as well as the poverty and inequities Cambodians face in the United States as well. But these short stories maintain a dark humor that will make you snort and a tender humanity that celebrates the community. Published posthumously, Afterparties won the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize for Best First Book.
3. Gilt by Jamie Brenner
Release date: June 21, 2022
For fans of: Blush by Jamie Brenner and The Vacationers by Emma Straub
A light yet juicy family drama set in upper-crust Manhattan and Provincetown, Massachusetts, Gilt follows the women of the wealthy Pavlin family and their jewelry dynasty. The dysfunctional family has been splintered by a so-called cursed Electric Rose diamond, and outcast Gemma, a talented jewelry designer in her own right, seeks to reclaim it—as well as revenge, power, and love. If you love gossip and diamonds, or are a big women’s fiction reader, best-selling author Jamie Brenner’s latest is the perfect poolside read for you.
4. The Floating Girls by Lo Patrick
Release date: July 12, 2022
For fans of: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Don’t sleep on Lo Patrick’s powerful coming-of-age and family drama set in the humid backwaters of Georgia. It’s told from the perspective of a precocious tomboy, 12-year-old Kay, but this isn’t a children’s book. Instead, The Floating Girls has been compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, thanks to its child narrator, exploration of heartbreaking family secrets, and highlighting of social issues.
5. Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim
Release date: December 7, 2021
For fans of: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Spanning nearly five decades—from 1917 to 1965—Juhea Kim’s debut historical fiction highlights the powerful red threads of fate as the lives of a tiger hunter, a celebrated courtesan, and a Japanese officer intersect in Korea. This gorgeously written epic follows the improbable friendships, love affairs, and tragedies that occurred during Japanese occupation. And while the story is set during a dark period of history, Kim makes sure to emphasize the unbeatable spirit and joy of Korean people. After finishing Beasts of a Little Land, make sure to check out these other books by Asian authors.
6. A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande
Release date: March 15, 2022
For fans of: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Reyna Grande’s romance epic was inspired by the true story of Saint Patrick’s Battalion, a unit of several hundred immigrants who defected from the U.S. Army to fight with the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War, from 1846 to 1848. Against this backdrop is the passionate love affair between John Riley, the Irish immigrant who formed the Battalion, and Ximena Salomé, a healer at the front lines. Well researched and carefully crafted, A Ballad of Love and Glory is perfect for history buffs and anyone looking to read more fiction from Latinx authors.
7. Belle Greene by Alexandra Lapierre
Release date: June 14, 2022
For fans of: Passing by Nella Larsen and Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Born into a prominent family of Black intellectuals, the brilliant and charismatic Belle de Costa Greene became the director of J.P. Morgan’s prestigious library in the early 1900s—by passing as white. Alexandra Lapierre tackles the true story of Greene’s fascinating life from a fictional lens, covering her rise in the ranks of New York City society and defiance of the boundaries of racism and sexism. Meticulously detailed and captivating, Belle Greene joins the ranks of other must-read books about race relations in America and is sure to delight art and rare books lovers.
8. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Release date: August 14, 2018
For fans of: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
With the film adaption coming out on July 15, Where the Crawdads Sing is worth a read (or reread). Zoologist Delia Owens’s debut novel follows Kya Clarke, who learns to survive in the marshes of North Carolina by herself, becoming the ostracized “Marsh Girl.” Kya’s survival skills are put to the test again when she gets implicated in the murder of her small town’s golden boy. More than 12 million copies of this haunting yet fierce book have been sold, making it one of the best summer reads of all time.
9. Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
Release date: August 3, 2021
For fans of: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee
This New York Times best seller has it all: twins, trauma, murder, romance, and of course, wolves. Gorgeously written, spellbinding, and visceral, Once There Were Wolves is told from the perspective of Inti, a fierce biologist who is spearheading a wolf-reintroduction project in the Scottish highlands. Inti inevitably meets opposition from the area’s farmers and finds herself caught up in a web of lies when one of the farmers turns up dead and she must make a difficult decision to keep her wolves safe. Perfect for nature lovers, this lush novel approaches the whodunit from a fresh angle, and it will both break your heart and make you want to run wild and free in the woods.
10. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Release date: February 22, 2022
For fans of: The Guest List by Lucy Foley and The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
From the deeply twisted yet brilliant mind of Lucy Foley, this stylish best-selling psychological thriller follows Jess, whose romanticized vision of Paris is dashed when she crashes with her brother only to find him missing. As Jess meets his unsavory, secretive neighbors one by one, she realizes the city of love is a lot darker and grimier than she expected. The Paris Apartment will keep you guessing until the very end. It may be pure fiction, but fans of true crime novels will gobble it right up.
11. The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill
Release date: June 07, 2022
For fans of: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Stories are layered like cake in this clever murder mystery, and you’ll be gobbling them up to find out who committed the crime. At its core, four strangers happen to be sitting at the same table in the reading room of the Boston Public Library when a woman’s screams echo throughout the library. They strike up a conversation and bond over their alibis. Of course, one of them is the murderer. With its unique narrative structure, classic misdirection, and compelling characters, Sulari Gentill’s The Woman in the Library is perfect for crime-mystery-thriller lovers.
12. The Hidden One by Linda Castillo
Release date: July 05, 2022
For fans of: Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Chief of police Kate Burkholder thought she’d left her Amish life behind, but she finds herself personally involved when the elders of an Amish community in Pennsylvania come to her for help solving a cold-case murder—and her first love is the accused. Even if you haven’t read any of the other books in the Kate Burkholder series, The Hidden One offers a fascinating window into Amish life and some of the dark secrets that may lurk within. This can be an entertaining, action-packed audiobook to download and listen to while traveling, if you prefer to travel light.
13. The Other Guest by Helen Cooper
Release date: July 26, 2022
For fans of: The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
In this captivating slow-burner, dark secrets lurk beneath a luxurious lakeside resort in Italy with mysterious connections to a handsome bartender in England. Helen Cooper deftly navigates between what seems like two completely separate narratives bundled in The Other Guest: One involves a murder hushed up by the victim’s own family, and the other involves a blossoming romance. You’ll be hooked on trying to solve this puzzle!
14. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
Release date: April 20, 2021
For fans of: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
As its title suggests, Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (lead singer of Japanese Breakfast) will have you both reaching for tissues and deeply craving Korean food. This heartbreaking and intimate memoir is an expansion of Zauner’s viral 2018 New Yorker essay, in which she explored her relationship with her Korean immigrant mother from childhood to her mother’s death from cancer. Consistent throughout the memoir is the theme of how love is expressed and fortified through food, and it’s Zauner’s ability to capture this universal truth that skyrocketed the book to best-sellerdom (it even made President Obama’s “Favorite Books of the Year” roundup). Once you’re done with Crying in H Mart, be sure to check out these other mother-daughter books.
15. Finding Me by Viola Davis
Release date: April 26, 2022
For fans of: Becoming by Michelle Obama
While celebrity memoirs can feel overdone at times, that’s not the case with Viola Davis’s Finding Me. The Academy Award–winning actress delves deep into a life filled with poverty, abuse, generational trauma, and racism—as well as joy and love. Davis bares everything, from being born on a plantation in South Carolina to the difficulties of getting cast in acting roles created for lighter-skinned Black women. This Oprah’s Book Club pick is raw and heartbreaking, but it’s ultimately a deeply personal and hopeful love letter to Black girls with big dreams. Here are some more books by Black authors to add to your reading list.
16. Tanqueray by Stephanie Johnson and Brandon Stanton
Release date: July 12, 2022
For fans of: Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton and Just Kids by Patti Smith
Outrageously funny, raw and unfiltered, and quintessentially New York City, the true-life story of Tanqueray will seduce and fascinate you. The millions of social media followers of Humans of New York were first introduced in 2019 to Stephanie Johnson and her unorthodox life as Tanqueray, one of the best-known burlesque dancers in 1970s New York City. For nonfiction books, this one is almost stranger than fiction. Filled with tales of dirty cops and mobsters, unlikely friendships, and love, Tanqueray serves tea piping hot in this exciting tell-all.
17. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Release date: April 06, 2010
For fans of: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han and The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther
Although this YA romance is over a decade old, it’s the quintessential summer read and, with the TV adaptation now on Amazon Prime Video, worthy of a reread. The Summer I Turned Pretty features an idyllic beach house, a coming-of-age story, and a sun-kissed love triangle. In true Jenny Han fashion, the book will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and nostalgic, cementing it as one of the best summer reads for teens and adults alike. A certain subplot will tug your heartstrings (and probably have you reaching for the tissues)—consider yourself warned!
18. Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
Release date: June 7, 2022
For fans of: Book Lovers by Emily Henry and How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder
In this fun, somewhat meta rom-com, successful romance screenwriter and recent divorcée Nora sells a script based on her failed marriage, and movie star Leo Vance is cast in the role of her husband. After filming wraps, Leo immediately charms Nora’s two kids—and, of course, Nora. What makes Nora Goes Off Script special is how it highlights single motherhood and the ways in which children can both complicate new romance and make it even more heartwarming. It’s the feel-good book you didn’t realize you needed.
19. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center
Release date: July 19, 2022
For fans of: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood and The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
Gender roles get flipped in New York Times best-selling author Katherine Center’s latest romance novel, The Bodyguard. Petite and unsuspecting—but totally deadly—Hannah Brooks is hired as a bodyguard to protect actor-heartthrob Jack Stapleton. Throw in a fake-dating trope, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a classic feel-good rom-com. But it’s the witty banter and Hannah’s truly impressive set of skills that make this one stand out from the rest. If you’re a fan of swoony romance à la Colleen Hover, pick up this title.
20. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Release date: January 28, 1813
For fans of: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Emma by Jane Austen
The enemies-to-lovers trope may be a romance reader favorite, but nobody does it like Jane Austen, the writer who made it famous with Pride and Prejudice. Creators are still calling on her masterful novel today—most recently, the story was adapted into Fire Island, Joel Kim Booster’s gay summer rom-com. If the last time you read this beloved classic was in high school English class, you’re due for a reread. Set in the Regency era, this romance novel follows the five Bennet sisters in their quest for marriage, specifically whip-smart Elizabeth Bennet, who butts heads with cold but wealthy bachelor Mr. Darcy. Witty and heartwarming, Pride and Prejudice remains one of the most famous classic books of all time, as well as one of the first and best summer reads.
21. The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Release date: June 28, 2022
For fans of: The Mediator series by Meg Cabot and The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert
Not your typical tropey rom-com, The Dead Romantics features a cynical romance ghostwriter who can see ghosts and her swoonworthy editor, who needs her manuscript by deadline. When Florence Day (perhaps the rom-comiest of rom-com names) learns her father has passed away, she goes to her hometown for the funeral—and finds her editor there as well. The novel is absurdly funny and whimsical but also explores some heavier themes, like loss and grief, with heartfelt honesty, and that’s exactly why The Dead Romantics earned a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.
22. Lucy Checks In by Dee Ernst
Release date: August 16, 2022
For fans of: It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey and Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay
In an effort to fix her life, 49-year-old Lucy decides to take what seems like a dream job: managing the Hotel Paradis in Rennes, France. While she expected glamour, she finds that fixing a rundown hotel is a bigger task than she expected. Dee Ernst’s fun and heartwarming novel proves that it’s never too late to get a fresh start, make new friends, and find love. And with beautiful descriptions of the French countryside and food, Lucy Checks In is the perfect read for Francophiles.
Science fiction and fantasy
23. This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
Release date: May 17, 2022
For fans of: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub and Faye, Faraway by Helen Fisher
If you could travel back in time to when you were 16 years old, what would you change? That’s the question best-selling author Emma Straub asks with This Time Tomorrow, a touching take on time-travel books. Reminiscent of the poignant 2013 film About Time, Straub’s sci-fi family drama focuses on a daughter getting to spend precious time with her father again. This moving, heartbreaking book will have you calling your loved ones while you still can.
24. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Release date: July 19, 2022
For fans of: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
From the brilliant and creative mind of the New York Times best-selling author of Mexican Gothic, this lush sci-fi novel reimagines H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau in 1870s Mexico. Silvia Moreno-Garcia gives us death, action, romance, and human-animal hybrids in a dreamy jungle landscape. With a narrative rooted in true historical events and heroine Carlota Moreau’s coming of age, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau takes an intersectional feminist and anti-colonial approach to the classic story.
25. Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang
Release date: August 23, 2022
For fans of: The Secret History by Donna Tartt and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
As its impressive title may suggest, this historical fantasy is both dark academia at its core and a challenge to British imperialism and the colonial nature of translation. R.F. Kuang, the best-selling author of The Poppy War trilogy (one of the best book series for historical fiction lovers), calls her latest “a love letter and breakup letter to Oxford”—and while that premise may not sound particularly interesting to nonacademics, you’ll be thankful you gave this one a shot. Set in 1828 Britain, Babel follows a Chinese student who gets caught up in the magical pursuit of knowledge, a shadow organization, and a student revolution. If you’re looking to decolonize your literature, this is a great place to start.
26. The Island by Adrian McKinty
Release date: May 17, 2022
For fans of: The Beach by Alex Garland and The Chain by Adrian McKinty
Thriller book fans, think nothing can shock you anymore? Check out The Island. Written by best-selling crime author Adrian McKinty, this super-intense psychological thriller follows the Baxter family, who find themselves on a strange, remote island off the Australian coast—with even stranger locals who want them dead. It’s an adrenaline rush from beginning to end, with its terrifying chase scenes and truly disturbing plot bordering on horror. It’s no wonder this wild ride of a story got starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly and is already being made into a Hulu series!
27. Deep Water by Emma Bamford
Release date: May 31, 2022
For fans of: The Ruins by Scott Smith and Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
A harrowing survival story, Deep Water is another thriller about the dark side of paradise and how island life can quickly become a nightmare. When rescuers find an unconscious man and a woman covered in blood aboard a luxury yacht—and when the woman incoherently confesses to murder—they (and we!) don’t know what to think. Emma Bamford builds suspense as she slowly reveals the exciting truth behind what happened while building believability by staying true to the realistic mechanics of sailing. It’s one of the best summer reads for those who will be finding their sea legs this summer.
28. The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark
Release date: June 21, 2022
For fans of: The Last Flight by Julie Clark and Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings
What’s the best book to read based on your favorite TV show? If you devoured Killing Eve and Inventing Anna, this is the book for you! A hyperintelligent thriller about an enigmatic con artist and the reporter set on exposing her, this is one of those books you’ll read in a single sitting. The two women are both motivated by revenge, playing cat and mouse with each other in a game of wits and deception. Seductive and cerebral, The Lies I Tell will have you wondering who will come out on top while also rooting for both characters.
29. Stay Awake by Megan Goldin
Release date: August 9, 2022
For fans of: Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson and The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
Best-selling author Megan Goldin’s latest psychological thriller starts with a genuinely terrifying premise: Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a cab with a bloody knife, no recollection of the past two years, and the words “stay awake” written on her skin. Meanwhile, Detective Darcy Halliday has to piece together the clues in this murder investigation and determine if Liv is the killer. Whip smart and fast paced, Stay Awake will have you staying awake yourself in an attempt to uncover the truth.
30. The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci
Release date: July 12, 2022
For fans of: The Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Corporate conspiracies, corruption, and murder—all come together in one of thriller fans’ most anticipated books of the summer. In best-selling author David Baldacci’s The 6:20 Man, financial analyst Travis Devine learns that his coworker (who happens to be his ex-girlfriend) has been found dead in their prestigious investment firm and that he is being framed and investigated for her death. To clear his name, and stay alive, Travis must use the very military experience his enemies seek to use against him. Baldacci’s experience in this genre truly shines as he builds complex layers of riveting twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat!