Summer is that time of the year when we have more time for reading – a book lying on a beach towel (a peach, and sunglasses on its side) is the epitome of summer. And what makes a summery book? It could be set in the summer, it could be atmospheric in a summery way, or it could just be appealing to read on the beach or somewhere en plein air. In any case, it’s the vibe that counts.
We’ve rounded up a list of 9 summer books for beach readers – be it that you’re into passionate love stories, crime stories, travelogues, coming-of-age stories, or something a bit quirky, we got you covered.
- André Aciman: Call Me by Your Name
- Hiroko Oyamada: The Hole
- Julie Zeh: Decompression
- Eva García Sáenz De Urturi: The Silence of the White City
- William Trevor: Love and Summer
- Hiromi Kawakami: Strange Weather in Tokyo
- E. M. Forster: A Room With a View
- Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago
- Ana María Matute: The Island
André Aciman: Call Me by Your Name
Call Me by Your Name is the ultimate summer read – a passionate love story between a teenager and a young adult set in an Italian villa by the sea. There are languid summer afternoons, juicy summer fruit, intellectual talks on linguistics and philosophy, espadrilles, flowy blue shirts, poolside idling, and bike rides to a small Italian town – all wrapped up in a romantic obsession.
Hiroko Oyamada: The Hole
When a woman moves to the Japanese countryside because of her husband’s work, a series of slightly weird events enter her dull everyday life. Accompanied by scorching heat, the sound of crickets, peculiar neighbors and family members, falling into a hole that seems to be designed specifically for her is just the beginning.
Julie Zeh: Decompression
Something between a thriller and a crime, the story takes place on the barren Canarian island of Lanzarote, at a diving school where two couples take part in an underwater game of temptation. Julie Zeh is an intelligent observer of human relationships and skillful at creating a tense atmosphere without slipping into crime stories cliches.
Eva García Sáenz De Urturi: The Silence of the White City
One of the books to read this summer is a crime story taking place in the Basque town of Vitoria, infused with Basque legends and traditions. The author portrayed her hometown beautifully – so much so that you want to visit its palaces, squares, and bars, despite the brutal ritual murders happening in a fast-paced tempo. Here is a passionate investigator, a new deputy chief (and his inappropriate love interest at the same time), charismatic twin brothers with eerie vibes, journalists, lawyers, and family members that all sound a bit suspicious… and suspense carries on until the very end.
William Trevor: Love and Summer
A delicate summer read about a young farmer’s wife falling in love with a stranger she meets on the street of a fictional Irish town. Her dull and humble life wrapped in a small-town atmosphere turns into an emotional storm brewing beneath the surface – and Trevor, as always, manages to paint the habitual and the everyday into something quietly vibrating with life and beauty.
Hiromi Kawakami: Strange Weather in Tokyo
A very slow, atmospheric, and delicate sort of love story follows the relationship between Tsukiko, a woman in her thirties, and Sensei, her high school Japanese teacher. Tsukiko and Sensei meet by chance in a bar and keep on meeting by chance or otherwise while seasons in Tokyo pass – from cherry blossoms in spring to mushroom picking in fall. Melancholic and understated, and at the same time intoxicatingly beautiful and funny, Strange Weather in Tokyo is a perfect read for late summer days turning into fall.
E. M. Forster: A Room With a View
The novel is set in the early 20th century when a group of Edwardian British tourists travels to Florence on an excursion, and that’s, unsurprisingly, the place where passions arise. Forster used this social comedy as a way of criticizing the British society of the time – however, its setting and vacation aura give it a feel of a summer read. A Room with a View was turned into a movie in 1985, starring an elite team of British actors such as Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham-Carter, Judi Dench, and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago
Nooteboom’s travelogue about Spain in all its facets guides the reader through Spain’s history, art, language, landscapes, and way of life through his extensive travels around the country. From Alhambra, Prado, and Santiago de Compostela cathedral, to desolated villages along dusty roads and forgotten Romanesque churches, Nooteboom professes his love of Spain- “one of the few constants in his life”, as he says, that rubs off on the reader, too.
Ana María Matute: The Island
The Island is a coming-of-age story that follows the transition of the protagonist – Matia, from a girl into an adolescent during the course of one summer. The novel is set on the island of Mallorca during the Spanish Civil War, a quiet background to the cruel human relationships that the girl observes. Ana María Matute’s style is clear, sharp, and observational, sometimes painful, sometimes funny- as the transition into adulthood often is.