These Are Real Simple Editors’ All-Time Favorite Books for Summer
Your next book club pick, light vacation read, or bedtime novel can be found on this diverse list curated by Real Simple editors. From short story collections to science fiction, we’ve rounded up the books that we’ve been throwing in our beach bags this summer.
Where We Lived, by Henry Allen
“Allen’s Where We Lived: Essays on Places is full of big insights, yet small enough to tuck into a carry-on pocket for a summer trip. No one writes with more elegance and honesty than this author (who I had the pleasure of sitting across from when we both worked at The Washington Post; I’ve never learned more at any job.) His thoughts on the places we call home, and particularly vacation homes, will send your mind soaring back through family memories and get you dreaming of what your next home might hold."—Leslie Yazel, Editor in Chief
To buy: $14; amazon.com.
The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
“The suspenseful energy in this book is almost palpable, which goes well with hot summer days. I often associate a chilling read with autumn or winter, but it’s refreshing to feel that energy in the summer. It’s well paced but not too overwhelming, so you don’t feel like you have to zoom through it all in one sitting. It works for days at the beach, in between swimming.”—Hannah Norling, Associate Producer
To buy: $9; amazon.com.
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
"When the temperatures rise, my attention span tends to wane. So to get out of a reading rut, I gravitate toward short stories and novels with quick paragraphs and chapters. I read Woodson’s National Book Award-winning YA novel, Brown Girl Dreaming, a few vacations ago in one sitting. Woodson’s powerful memoir tackles serious topics like living in the shadow of Jim Crow and feeling like an outsider through absorbing, free verse poems."—Elizabeth Sile, Senior Editor, Features
To buy: $8; amazon.com.
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, by Lesley Nneka Arimah
“This is an absolutely astounding collection of short stories. The writing is gorgeous, and the plot twists and turns are just weird and magical-realism-y enough to keep you on your toes. I’m into short stories for lazy summertime reading: If you find your mind wandering, you can just skip to the next one.”—Anna Maltby, Deputy Editor
To buy: $15; amazon.com.
What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty
“What Alice Forgot is such a great read. Perfect for a little beach getaway. You’re fully immersed in it.”—Ananda Eidelstein, Associate Food Editor
To buy: $21; amazon.com.
My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
“I’d heard a lot about Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend before I read it. What’s the big deal? I thought. But I could not put it down, like, up-in-the-middle-of-the-night reading, gonna-go-to-bed-early-to-read reading. So good.”—Dawn Perry, Food Director
To buy: $12; amazon.com.
The Masterpiece, by Fiona Davis
“Both Clara and Virginia, the protagonists of this novel, have incredibly compelling personal stories, and Fiona Davis found a way to bring them together in a way that was unexpected (but not cheesy). It all worked because of each character’s backstory (as well as the backstory of the supporting characters) that she built leading up to their meeting. It took me a chapter or so to get into the book but once I did I couldn’t put it down!”—Heather Morgan Shott, Digital Director
Available August 7.
To preorder: $21; amazon.com.
Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
“I just finished Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, and it was the perfect playful summer read. The book was light-hearted enough to fit the season, but it’s also pretty satirical, so there was enough intelligence and wit to keep me interested from cover to cover. Best of all, it’s the first in a trilogy and a quick read, so I have the whole rest of the summer to read the other two books!”—Lauren Phillips, Assistant Editor
To buy: $10; amazon.com.
Providence, by Caroline Kepnes
“I’m not typically into science fiction, but I’m so glad I looked past that and picked up Providence. It’s part love story, part thriller, mixed with a little bit of the supernatural, and is 100 percent addicting. As the story shifts from different character’s perspectives, you’ll fall in love with each one and be rooting for them all until the very end.”—Nora Horvath, Editorial Assistant
To buy: $18; amazon.com.