Books to Read For That Summer Vibe

Feeling left out of all the social media posts welcoming the fall season early? Bummed that it’s the beginning of fall generally? 

If you’re the type of person who holds on to the vestiges of summer until midnight of September 22nd, then this list is for you.

If sneaking in weekend beach trips while the weather is nice is a priority, this list is for you. 

If you refuse to give in to the pumpkin spice latte craze, keep reading. (Reader, I must admit here and now that I am drinking a pumpkin-spice-infused hot beverage as I write this, but at the same time, I too am trying to soak up the last bit of summer reading that I can before fall officially begins).

If you’re not yet ready to dive into the cozy mysteries or the dark academia novels that work so well in fall, this list is for you, dear friend. 

The books noted here are a mix of genres, including contemporary and horror, from middle grade to adult. The one thing that they have in common is that they’re all set in summer. I highly recommend enjoying these with a cool beverage outdoors, if possible. 

All You Knead is Love by Tanya Guerrero (Middle Grade)

All You Knead Is Love: Guerrero, Tanya: 9780374314231: Books

CW: mention of domestic abuse

All You Knead is Love is a middle grade contemporary novel which follows Alba as she embarks on a trip to Barcelona to visit her grandmother over the summer. She carries a lot of emotional baggage for her age, which is reflected in her thought patterns and flashbacks to moments of domestic abuse in her family home. During her time in Spain, Alba is able to find a haven for herself with her grandmother and new friends, in the bakery she helps out at, and within herself.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia 

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong, 1): Mbalia,  Kwame: 9781368039932: Books

CW: grief, death, mention of slavery, mention of car accident, alcoholism, emotional abuse.

In Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, the titular character Tristan has just experienced a traumatic event in his life in Chicago, and is dealing with the intense emotions as the school year comes to an end. With hopes of helping him heal, his parents send him to his grandparents’ Alabama farm for the summer break. There, he encounters adventures he never thought physically possible, and is faced with learning more about his heritage and himself.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (Young Adult) How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe: 9781534448667:  Gilliland, Raquel Vasquez: Books

CW: emotional abuse, body shaming, religious bigotry, grief, death of a family member. 

A roadtrip novel at its finest! In How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe seventeen year old Moon Fuentez embarks on a cross-country roadtrip as a merch girl on a bus full of Fotogram influencers, one of which is her famous twin sister Star, with whom she doesn’t share much besides being related. Moon is focused on one specific goal over the summer, but ends up experiencing unlikely romance, and ultimately learns to view herself very differently.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (Young Adult) When Dimple Met Rishi: 9781481478687: Menon, Sandhya: Books

Set in the summer after high school graduation, When Dimple Met Rishi introduces us to Dimple Shah who is looking forward to spending her summer in a program for aspiring web developers. It is a welcome break from her family who has taken on the task of finding her the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Rishi is attending the same program, and is very different from Dimple in that he wishes to have his parents arrange his marriage and wants to honor Indian traditions. As you can probably guess, what ensues is a romance that readers have described as precious and sweet. 

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (Adult Horror) My Heart Is a Chainsaw: 9781982137632: Jones, Stephen Graham:  Books

CW: gore, body horror, murder, suicide attempt, child abuse, suicide attempt, sexual assault.

My Heart is a Chainsaw is the latest release from horror writer Stephen Graham Jones (or SGJ, as I personally refer to him) follows Jade, a half-Indian young woman with a rough home life. She lives in a quickly gentrifying small town where she lives as an outcast. Jade turns to horror films for solace, and over time, she has built up an immense knowledge of the genre. When murder breaks out in the community, she applies this knowledge to predict what may happen next. This book has been described as Shirley Jackson meets Friday the 13th, so it is bound to be fun. If you enjoy horror media, this is not one to miss!

Nina Garcia is a reader, reviewer, and devoted coffee drinker from Texas. When she’s not reading or watching Netflix, she is working on writing projects, including a middle grade novel. Favorite genres: anti-racist and intersectional feminist non-fiction, science fiction, horror, and contemporary with elements of fantasy.

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