Well, the Back-to-School displays are up in stores, and Labor Day is lurking around the corner. But there is still time to soak up the sun and enjoy summer reading. Whether you are looking for something to read during your last summer trip, or a good book for a lazy afternoon on the porch, we are happy to present this updated list of 20 classics that make for wonderful summertime reads. We have pulled this list from our archives because we find ourselves returning to it year after year.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Always a great bet, and a book that’s still influencing romantic opinion two hundred years after its publication.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Perhaps the quintessential summer book, in my opinion: decadence, excess, mint juleps, and just the right amount of drama.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers: Metafiction at its finest.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson: The book that introduced gonzo journalism to the general public and one of the strangest journeys ever written.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: If you’re the kind of person who loves a good crime novel with their summer weather, try out Capote’s true crime masterpiece.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris: You can never go wrong with a David Sedaris book, but Me Talk Pretty One Day was the first collection of his that I ever read, and I keep going back to it. If you prefer hands-free reading, this is also a perfect audiobook.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman: Did you know there was a book to go with the oft-quoted movie? Well, there is, and it’s every bit as funny. Lasts longer, too!
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Hitchhiker’s is hilarious, incisive poolside reading at its finest. Enough aliens, thwarted love, and satire to keep anyone satisfied. Just remember your towel!
The Giver by Lois Lowry: Take an afternoon to revisit the YA dystopia that paved the way for The Hunger Games and Divergent.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: There’s a “heating up” pun to be made here, but let’s just leave it at this: Fahrenheit 451 is a classic of science fiction for a reason, and its insights into censorship and the control of information are still incredibly relevant.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Well, the popular Hulu series has already landed this awesome speculative novel on the NYT Bestseller list. In this classic speculative fiction novel, most women are sterile, and the fertility of women is strictly controlled. Terrifying, realistic, and a staple of feminist fiction.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: This graphic novel is a spectacular blend of mythology, literature, and Freudian theory, combined with honest autobiography and familial investigation. Maybe not one to read at the family reunion.
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes: You may have seen the movie, but the book is a lesson in quiet storytelling, complete with the requisite disaffected teenagers.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Published in 1943 by a French aristocrat, yet somehow a universally affecting novella.
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B White: I consider this book the perfect all-ages story – completely transporting as an adult or child.
Matilda, by Roald Dahl: While all of Roald Dahl’s books are excellent, I’ve always had a soft spot for Matilda and her love of books, and I have a hunch you will, too.
The Pre-Screened Reads (from our book review section!)
The Awakening of Miss Prim, by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera: The perfect travel book. When Miss Prim takes a job as a librarian in rural France, she has no idea the changes one little village can bring.
Praying Drunk, by Kyle Minor: Minor’s short story collection will give you bite-sized, amazing storytelling.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen: This debut novel won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction! If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash: Though it just hit shelves this summer, this book already has the depth and gravitas of a classic. Habash’s debut novel dives deep into the mind of a college wrestler.
And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the great classics to read this summer! Share your favorite summer book and why it’s the best in the comments.
by Ari Yarwood