Summer Reading: 5 Book Recommendations That Embody the Summer Months

There is no shortage of novels that are set during summer, but few manage to truly capture its essence in a way that is both magical and insightful. For many, summer is the period of limbo between old and new experiences—a period where many choose to pursue new adventures or idle around, or both.

The following is a list of books that could transport any reader into a world of their own while still containing a sense of realism that makes the three-month period of ennui and excitement stick to the reader’s mind.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

The novel follows a group of four lifelong friends: analytical yet emotionally turbulent Carmen, cynical and sarcastic Tibby, introverted and artistic Lena, energetic and irrepressible Bridget, and their “magical” shared pair of jeans that miraculously fit their diverse range of body types. They pass on the pants to one another throughout the whole summer, which is spent in different places where they each go through experiences that will transform them in the long run.

Ultimately, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a novel that celebrates the possibilities of summer, including first love, reconnecting with estranged family, and making unlikely friends, as well as the friendships between young women. The book doesn’t close with a happy ending, but rather with an open-ended question: What will happen to the girls? Will they stay friends throughout high school? Where will their differences take them? These are the sort of open-ended questions that apply to every teenager.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Twins Noah and Jude are as different as the ocean is from the desert, but what they share is a deep, unforgiving passion for art. The novel is told through two sections: the perspective of thirteen-year-old Noah and then that of sixteen-year-old Jude. They are both largely set in the summer, where their defining narrative arcs occur to make a cohesive and beautiful whole.

Overall, Nelson weaves in issues of sexuality, first loves, family conflicts, and teenage insecurities to tell the story of Noah and Jude’s relationship and how each summer pulls them apart and then pieces them back together. After all, it is important that their narratives occur in summertime; it is when they are most in free rein over their lives, which lends the opportunity to learn and grow by themselves.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Two fifteen-year-old boys, Ari and Dante, become unlikely friends throughout the summer. Ari is withdrawn, cynical, and disconnected from his father; Dante is lively, idealistic, and crazy about his parents. But due to their natural rapport, they learn how to be vulnerable and honest with each other.

The love story of Ari and Dante is also a homage to the open possibilities of summertime, such as meeting in a lazy afternoon at the public pool, exploring town together during sunlit days, and witnessing each other’s dark and bright spots through dancing in the rain and driving in the desert. These defining moments of life and friendship and love are well-matched with the idle pace of summer. This isn’t just a novel about two teenage boys’ coming of age, it’s also about the shared memories built throughout their summers together.

Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

In this novella, Roth manages to capture the feeling of ennui during summertime. Neil Klugman of the working-class neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, starts a dalliance with Brenda Patimkin, a rich and pretty girl from the Short Hills. The story explores themes of classism and the differences in Jewish identities, as well as how those factors of tension affect their private world.

Neil and Brenda’s fling isn’t a long-term stable relationship, nor is it a “no strings attached” arrangement, but it definitely exists somewhere between that. Their mutual recklessness, trivial arguments, and defiance of Jewish tradition by having sex before marriage are all results of restless ennui; the feeling that there will be no consequences, as nothing is happening unless you make it so.

The Girls by Emma Cline

Fourteen-year-old Evie Boyd’s coming of age is binding to the hot and sultry summer in which the siren’s call of the Manson Family beckons out to her. Through teenage rebellion and sexual impulse, Evie is mixed in the intrigue of Suzanne, an exciting older girl who belongs to the cult. Evie begins to neglect her suburban existence and starts spending more and more time in the communes of the cult.

It is clear that Cline’s strength lies in the sensory details of her setting; details that are gorgeous and intricate enough as to completely draw the reader into Evie’s dangerous world. It is a world that could only exist in the blank space of summer, where the mundane routine of daily life fades into the background. By constructing Evie’s coming of age in this period, the reader gets a sense that her newfound identity is directly tied into summer.

Summer may mean romance and new adventures, but it can also mean growth and human connection through pure boredom. Ultimately, it’s the persistent feeling of being on the verge of something new, but instead of rushing into it with the usual ambition, there is a wave of natural relaxation that numbs us against such snap decisions.

Why do we read stories? The value of entertainment is highly important, but so is the value of reflection. These stories all dive into the balancing act between laziness and danger, and out of that, they’ve managed to construct whole worlds of growth and human connection. The stories are fun and they are all the more insightful for it.

Topics:  
I'm a high school student at Clements High School. I love to write across various mediums (poetry, weirdly personal Quora answers, rambling essays, etc.). I try to write what I know, but since I know very little, I have to make do with my imagination.

Want to start sharing your mind and have your voice heard?

Join our community of awesome contributing writers and start publishing now.

LEARN MORE


ENGAGE IN THE CONVERSATION

Summer Reading: 5 Book Recommendations That Embody the Summer Months

There is no shortage of novels that are set during summer, but few manage to truly capture its essence in a way that is both magical and insightful. For many, summer is the period of limbo between old and new experiences—a period where many choose to pursue new adventures or idle around, or both.

The following is a list of books that could transport any reader into a world of their own while still containing a sense of realism that makes the three-month period of ennui and excitement stick to the reader’s mind.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

The novel follows a group of four lifelong friends: analytical yet emotionally turbulent Carmen, cynical and sarcastic Tibby, introverted and artistic Lena, energetic and irrepressible Bridget, and their “magical” shared pair of jeans that miraculously fit their diverse range of body types. They pass on the pants to one another throughout the whole summer, which is spent in different places where they each go through experiences that will transform them in the long run.

Ultimately, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a novel that celebrates the possibilities of summer, including first love, reconnecting with estranged family, and making unlikely friends, as well as the friendships between young women. The book doesn’t close with a happy ending, but rather with an open-ended question: What will happen to the girls? Will they stay friends throughout high school? Where will their differences take them? These are the sort of open-ended questions that apply to every teenager.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Twins Noah and Jude are as different as the ocean is from the desert, but what they share is a deep, unforgiving passion for art. The novel is told through two sections: the perspective of thirteen-year-old Noah and then that of sixteen-year-old Jude. They are both largely set in the summer, where their defining narrative arcs occur to make a cohesive and beautiful whole.

Overall, Nelson weaves in issues of sexuality, first loves, family conflicts, and teenage insecurities to tell the story of Noah and Jude’s relationship and how each summer pulls them apart and then pieces them back together. After all, it is important that their narratives occur in summertime; it is when they are most in free rein over their lives, which lends the opportunity to learn and grow by themselves.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Two fifteen-year-old boys, Ari and Dante, become unlikely friends throughout the summer. Ari is withdrawn, cynical, and disconnected from his father; Dante is lively, idealistic, and crazy about his parents. But due to their natural rapport, they learn how to be vulnerable and honest with each other.

The love story of Ari and Dante is also a homage to the open possibilities of summertime, such as meeting in a lazy afternoon at the public pool, exploring town together during sunlit days, and witnessing each other’s dark and bright spots through dancing in the rain and driving in the desert. These defining moments of life and friendship and love are well-matched with the idle pace of summer. This isn’t just a novel about two teenage boys’ coming of age, it’s also about the shared memories built throughout their summers together.

Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

In this novella, Roth manages to capture the feeling of ennui during summertime. Neil Klugman of the working-class neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, starts a dalliance with Brenda Patimkin, a rich and pretty girl from the Short Hills. The story explores themes of classism and the differences in Jewish identities, as well as how those factors of tension affect their private world.

Neil and Brenda’s fling isn’t a long-term stable relationship, nor is it a “no strings attached” arrangement, but it definitely exists somewhere between that. Their mutual recklessness, trivial arguments, and defiance of Jewish tradition by having sex before marriage are all results of restless ennui; the feeling that there will be no consequences, as nothing is happening unless you make it so.

The Girls by Emma Cline

Fourteen-year-old Evie Boyd’s coming of age is binding to the hot and sultry summer in which the siren’s call of the Manson Family beckons out to her. Through teenage rebellion and sexual impulse, Evie is mixed in the intrigue of Suzanne, an exciting older girl who belongs to the cult. Evie begins to neglect her suburban existence and starts spending more and more time in the communes of the cult.

It is clear that Cline’s strength lies in the sensory details of her setting; details that are gorgeous and intricate enough as to completely draw the reader into Evie’s dangerous world. It is a world that could only exist in the blank space of summer, where the mundane routine of daily life fades into the background. By constructing Evie’s coming of age in this period, the reader gets a sense that her newfound identity is directly tied into summer.

Summer may mean romance and new adventures, but it can also mean growth and human connection through pure boredom. Ultimately, it’s the persistent feeling of being on the verge of something new, but instead of rushing into it with the usual ambition, there is a wave of natural relaxation that numbs us against such snap decisions.

Why do we read stories? The value of entertainment is highly important, but so is the value of reflection. These stories all dive into the balancing act between laziness and danger, and out of that, they’ve managed to construct whole worlds of growth and human connection. The stories are fun and they are all the more insightful for it.

Scroll to top

Follow Us on Facebook - Stay Engaged!

Send this to a friend