Summer 2020 may be different from other summers, but no matter where you’re spending it, a good book is always a great means for escape. Whether you’re looking for a thrilling new release or an old favorite, these titles are captivating, inspiring, empowering and sure to keep you on the edge of your seat (or beach towel).
To start, we picked out 15 newly released books for summer 2020 that we’re excited to read. From highly anticipated fiction titles such as “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett to inspiring call-to-action memoirs like “Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters” by renowned chef Dominique Crenn, you’re likely to find your new favorites on this list (with some that you’ll want to read in just one sitting.)
Along with exciting new releases, we’ve also picked out 10 of our favorite oldie-but-goodie titles that make for incredible rereads or enthralling first-time reads. We’ve included stories like “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty and classics such as “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.
No matter what kind of book you’re looking to get lost in this summer, these will have you crying, laughing, feeling inspired or seeing the world from fresh new perspectives with each turn of the page.
’Beach Read’ by Emily Henry (starting at $9.99; amazon.com)
“Beach Read” is a romantic, steamy and heartfelt story about taking second chances that will have your nose glued to it from the very start. In the book, two bestselling authors with polar opposite writing styles spend a summer living in neighboring beach houses.
Each experiences major writer’s block, until they finally strike a deal to help them get out of their creative rut. Augustus Everett, an acclaimed author of literary fiction, will write something joyful, and January Andrews, a bestselling romance writer, will write a Great American classic. What could go wrong?
’The Knockout Queen’ by Rufi Thorpe (starting at $13.99; amazon.com)
Rufi Thorpe’s “The Knockout Queen” is a must-read. This coming-of-age tale is about an unlikely friendship in suburban California between Bunny, an affluent and aspiring young Olympic athlete, and Michael, a teenage boy struggling with his personal identity. Bunny and Michael are brought together through a traumatic and brutal act that affects both of their futures — and their friendship — while simultaneously navigating their own secrets and desires for human connection.
’A Burning’ by Megha Majumdar (starting at $12.99; amazon.com)
Megha Majumdar’s debut novel is about class, fate, corruption and chasing dreams — and it’s proving to be a story you’ll want to read in just one sitting. “A Burning” is a thrilling and complex tale of three characters in contemporary India whose lives become intertwined in the wake of a terrorist attack. Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, PT Sir is a gym teacher involved in a right-wing political party, and Lovely is an outcast who holds the key to each of them achieving their dreams of glory and rightful innocence.
’Friends and Strangers’ by J. Courtney Sullivan (starting at $13.99; amazon.com)
“Friends and Strangers” is about a friendship between Elisabeth, an accomplished journalist, new mom and small-town transplant, and Sam, a senior at a local women’s college whom Elisabeth hires as a babysitter. The two women confide in one another and become close until deception, betrayal and consequences interfere, highlighting just how different their lives really are.
’Humankind: A Hopeful History’ by Rutger Bregman (starting at $15.99; amazon.com)
International bestseller Rutger Bregman provides a fresh, new and engaging perspective on human history and where we can go as a society and species if we change our belief from “all humans are inherently bad” to “all humans are innately kind.” “Humankind: A Hopeful History” takes readers through historical accounts proving that we are in fact hardwired for kindness and is a read that will lift your spirits at a much-needed time in today’s climate.
’Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America’ by Stacey Abrams (starting at $14.99; amazon.com)
Another inspiring and timely call-to-action read is the highly anticipated, second nonfiction book from Stacey Abrams, the Democratic state representative who ran for governor against Republican Brian Kemp in Georgia in 2018 and narrowly lost. Abrams’ “Our Time Is Now” offers a thoughtfully mapped out proposal to end voter suppression, empower American citizens and return society to moral leadership.
’The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennett (starting at $13.99; amazon.com)
“The Vanishing Half” is another of the most anticipated books of 2020. From author Brit Bennett, who also wrote “The Mothers,” it’s a story of twin sisters who grew up in a small, Southern black town and ran away at age 16. As adults, they end up taking on vastly different lives: From their communities to their families, and even down to their racial identities, the two sisters’ daily lives are black and white. But as fate would have it, they remain intertwined and their history unfolds when their daughters’ lives inevitably coincide.
’Sex and Vanity’ by Kevin Kwan (available June 30, starting at $13.99; amazon.com)
“Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan is back with another riveting tale of privilege, culture and romance in “Sex and Vanity.” The story follows Lucie Churchill and George Zao and their tumultuous history of seduction in a world of extravagant fashion and deceit, resulting in one truly modern love story that you won’t be able to put down.
’Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters’ by Dominique Crenn (starting at $14.99; amazon.com)
Chef Dominique Crenn pens a deeply personal and moving memoir that will leave you inspired in more ways than one. “Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters” is an honest account of her untraditional coming-of-age story, her relentless courage to fight sexism in a male-dominated industry, and her evolution from orphan to chef to activist — and being the first woman in the United States to be awarded three Michelin stars for her restaurant Atelier Crenn.
’Nothing Can Hurt You’ by Nicola Maye Goldberg (available June 23, starting at $9.99; amazon.com)
Fans of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” will love Nicola Maye Goldberg’s “Nothing Can Hurt You.” A terrifying and captivating story of a young college girl’s murder in 1997, the unraveling web of lies and misinformation, and a serial killer’s questionable role in it all will have you turning pages faster than ever.
’All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto’ by George M. Johnson (starting at $9.99; amazon.com)
“All Boys Aren’t Blue” is a powerful young-adult memoir told through a collection of personal essays. LGBTQIA+ activist and journalist George M. Johnson’s debut story highlights what it’s like to be a young black queer man in America through childhood, adolescence and college in New Jersey and Virginia. Covering topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, black pride and more, this emotionally charged story is spirited, inspiring, heartwarming, relatable and a powerful read for human beings everywhere.
’Normal People’ by Sally Rooney (starting at $8.59; amazon.com)
“Normal People” by Sally Rooney has been dubbed one of the best books of the year and of the decade. Now an original series on Hulu, it’s a tale of budding young love, friendship and hardship. Marianne and Connell’s magnetism is tested from their first encounter, through years of circling one another in school and social settings, and beyond. This electrifying and heartwarming story is one you won’t be able to put down.
’Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle (starting at $14.99; amazon.com)
“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle is a powerful, inspiring and liberating memoir that is packed with hope, encouragement, strength and female empowerment. Doyle beautifully illustrates what it means to be a woman and how following our hearts to become our truest, most alive selves is how we inspire our children, families, friends and others to do the same.
’Big Summer’ by Jennifer Weiner (starting at $14.99; amazon.com)
This funny, delightful and moving story is about friendship, family and forgiveness, and is one of the summer’s best reads. Daphne, a successful Instagram influencer, is asked to be the maid of honor in her ex-best friend Drue’s wedding. With Drue practically begging her, and the invitation including a stay at a Cape Cod mansion and the prospect of cute single guys, it seems Daphne is unable to decline the invitation. As the drama ensues, “Big Summer” is the perfect summer escape.
’Red, White & Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston (starting at $9.99; amazon.com)
“Red, White & Royal Blue” is a hilariously witty and romantic tale of young love between Alex, America’s first son, and Henry, the Prince of Wales. What starts out as an altercation between the two boys captured by the tabloids turns into a secret romance, but will their love upend international relations or save the world? It’s an ending you’ll be racing to find out.
’An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones (starting at $7.50; amazon.com)
“An American Marriage” is one of those novels that sticks with you. Just as Celestial, an artist, and Roy, a young executive, are settling into being newlyweds, Roy is accused of a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. After Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison, Celestial finds herself heartbroken, and also drawn to her childhood friend, Andre.
’A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman (starting at $12.99; amazon.com)
“A Man Called Ove” is a tearjerking, heartwarming tale of a stubborn old gentleman who struggles with the passing of his beloved wife. Through a series of events that bring his neighbors to his door, he ultimately (and begrudgingly) forms new and unexpected connections, relationships and admiration for human beings very different from himself.
’The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini (starting at $13.14; amazon.com)
If you’re looking for a book that will transport you beyond borders, race and socioeconomic barriers while exploring the complex relationships between families, the history of suppression in Afghanistan, and the love that unites us all, “The Kite Runner” is for you.
’The Husband’s Secret’ by Liane Moriarty (starting at $7.23; amazon.com)
If you love “Big Little Lies” and you’ve never read Liane Moriarty’s “The Husband’s Secret,” prepare to be completely captivated. Cecilia finds a letter from her husband, intended to be read after he dies, containing his deepest, darkest secrets — but she finds it while he’s still alive, and her life dramatically changes.
’Summer Sisters’ by Judy Blume (starting at $6.99; amazon.com)
This bestseller tells the story of two best friends who became “summer sisters” after spending years vacationing together on Martha’s Vineyard and end up drifting apart, until a wedding ultimately brings them back together. It’s a perfect summer read about friendship, love and heartbreak.
’Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen (starting at $1.99; amazon.com)
“Pride and Prejudice” is a classic literary novel of romance that follows Elizabeth Bennet on her quest to find a suitable marriage partner. In England in the early 19th century, social prestige, education, wealth and manners are high on the list of qualities for a suitor — but will Elizabeth discover that marrying for love is more important?
’Call Me By Your Name’ by André Aciman (starting at $7.80; amazon.com)
Set on the Italian Riviera, “Call Me By Your Name” focuses on the relationship between an adolescent boy and a guest staying in his parents’ summer house. The coming-of-age story is about human connection, desire, passion and, most of all, love, and will have you wanting to read it over and over again. Bonus: The movie from director Luca Guadagnino and starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet is a must-watch, too.
’Beautiful Ruins’ by Jess Walter (starting at $11.99; amazon.com)
This dazzling love story begins in 1962 on the Italian coast and spans 50 years, following an innkeeper on his search for a Hollywood actress he once saw, with numerous characters and stories tangled together in between.
’Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed (starting at $8.99; amazon.com)
“Wild,” a national bestseller turned major movie starring Reese Witherspoon, is one you’ll want to read again and again. This truly inspiring memoir details Strayed’s powerful and emotionally fueled hike for more than 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. Suspenseful, humorous and full of strength, this is a story that will empower you and lift your spirits.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.