The perfect summer books with the perfect summer playlist


Photo credit: Olivia Hallinan-Gan

These are six books I consider the perfect summer reads. They all take place in summer and are wonderful novels to keep you reading all season. (Graphic Illustration by Olivia Hallinan-Gan)

By Olivia Hallinan-Gan, Podcaster

The rain is disappearing, jorts are back and reapplying sunscreen is essential: we are finally nearing summer. Whether you’re on the beach, by the pool, sipping an iced vanilla coffee at a cute café or simply relaxing at home, a book in hand is a must. The most integral part of a summer read is the aesthetic of the book. I know this is overdone, but if the book doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a small beach town where everyone is family, then it’s not doing its job. That’s why I’ve compiled the perfect books for summer — along with an upbeat, happy playlist — to keep you reading.  

“Happy Place” by Emily Henry 

Spoiler alert: you will see Emily Henry A LOT on this list. She puts me in the ultimate summer mood just by looking at her books’ covers. “Happy Place” follows a slow-burn romance in a close-knit friend group who meet for their annual summer vacation. There are six characters in the friend group, but we mostly follow Harriet and Wyn, ex-fiancés who pretend they’re still engaged in order to not ruin their friends’ trip. It’s not just a romance, though, as the book follows the hardships of Harriet’s biological family versus the hopefulness of her chosen family. There is nothing more heartfelt, emotional and romantic than an Emily Henry book, and “Happy Place” is the perfect embodiment of that.

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins-Reid

The title alone implies a beachy summer read. “Malibu Rising” follows the children of Mick Riva, an estranged father and rock legend in Hollywood. The novel focuses on the life of Nina Riva, the eldest daughter, who becomes a Malibu surf legend. The book starts in the future, revealing the fires that burned Malibu to the ground. The story then alternates from the past to the present, focusing on each Riva child’s life. The novel ends with the Riva children’s annual party at their mansion, where all the built-up family drama unfolds. When you turn the last page, Jenkins-Reid makes you feel grief, love and the best satisfaction.

“The Summer of Broken Rules” by K. L. Walther

“The Summer of Broken Rules” is a young adult novel, and though I tend to prefer the adult genre, it didn’t stop me from finishing this book in one rainy day this past winter. After reading this, I felt a deep need to transform into my tanned summer self. The protagonist, Meridith, takes her annual summer vacation to Martha’s Vineyard for her cousin’s wedding. The novel follows a one-week game of Assassin, and when Meridith makes an unlikely alliance with a groomsman, she falls for him. There’s nothing like a cute rom-com to whisk the summer days away.

“Beach Read” by Emily Henry

Henry does it again: “Beach Read” is simply the perfect beach read. Two polar-opposite writers who are trying to escape writer’s block stay in neighboring beach houses for three months. Their opposite personalities translate to opposite writing styles, as January writes romance novels and Augustus writes literary classics. One night, at their summer homes, they decide to write each other’s styles: January will write the next great novel and Augustus will write the perfect sappy love story. They could never fall in love, right?

“Funny You Should Ask” by Elissa Sussman

I remember the night I stayed up until dawn reading “Funny You Should Ask.” I was hooked immediately when I turned the first page. This novel switches from past to present in almost every chapter, following Chani, a struggling writer who gained recognition after publishing a feature on the newest movie star, Gabe, 10 years ago. Now, she is a successful writer and back in L.A., when, randomly, Gabe requests another profile with Chani. No shock, it’s more than just a profile for both Chani and Gabe, and they both wonder if their spark still exists 10 years later.

Book Lovers” by Emily Henry

I adore this book, plain and simple. “Book Lovers” is my absolute favorite of Henry’s novels. The protagonist, Nora, is a book lover and literary agent in New York City.  She takes no breaks from work, but that changes when her little sister, Libbie, begs her to travel to Sunshine Falls, an adorable small town in North Carolina. Little does she know her rival editor, Charlie, is also staying in Sunshine Falls. This is one of my favorite enemies-to-lover tropes in any book I’ve read. It encapsulates the perfect frenemies’ relationship and the forced proximity that makes Nora and Charlie ever so close.

Now, for the playlist. Please enjoy the perfect music to keep you reading or just some great listens for summer!