Favorite Reads for a Summer of Romance
I think most bookish people have what I like to call seasonal reads: books they return to depending on the time of the year or maybe even the weather. I have a friend who reads Harry Potter every winter, because something about returning to Hogwarts gets her in the holiday spirit. Another friend of mine reads Watership Down every spring because much of the novel takes place between March and May, and maybe because of Easter, but mostly because she loves it and wants an annual excuse to read it again.
Like them, I have favorites I return to at different times of the year, but something about summer feels romantic. Whenever the weather gets warm, I always want to read about love. I tend to favor contemporary YA over almost anything else, and I always end up rereading the same books. Here are a few of my favorite summer reads:
“’Oh, God,’ he whispers, reaching his hand behind my neck and bringing my lips to his. ‘Let’s let the whole fucking world explode this time.’
And we do.”
— The Sky is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson
Lennie is a quiet bookworm used to living in her older sister’s shadow. But when her sister dies suddenly, Lennie feels completely lost. Jandy Nelson’s beautiful writing coupled with the two cute boys Lennie is torn over, (her sister’s ex-boyfriend who completely understands her grief, and the new boy in town who helps her to forget about everything) makes The Sky is Everywhere a book I can’t help but return to again and again.
“There’s nothing to know about a kiss like that before you do it. It was all action and reaction, the way her lips were salty and she tasted like root beer.”
— The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M. Danforth
In the summer of 1989, after her parents die in a tragic car accident, Cam has to go and live with her ultra-religious aunt and grandmother. She’s secretly relieved that her parents will never find out that while they were dying, she was kissing a girl, but her relief quickly becomes grief. She finds solace in movies and spends much of her time alone watching rented videotapes. Until she meets Coley, a girl she becomes friends (and then more than friends with) very quickly.
What always gets me about this book is how much agency Cam has. Even when things she can’t control bombard her — her parents passing away, discovering her sexuality, being sent away by her aunt — she never loses sight of who she is or what she wants and she makes decisions that really effect change in her life.
“I wondered if this was the way old crushes died, with a whimper, slowly, and then, just like that — gone.”
— The Summer I Turned Pretty, Jenny Han
I love this entire series. It’s fun and sweet and there’s something about the characters that makes it unforgettable. It follows Belly, and a pair of brothers — Jeremiah and Conrad — the boys she’s spent every summer with since she was small. The first book starts the summer she turns 15, the summer she “turns pretty”, when she starts crushing on and catching the eye of the guys who have been like brothers to her for years. Their saga continues in two more books and ends with a wedding (but I’m not telling who she marries). The love triangle doesn’t feel at all contrived, and even though the books are about these three characters and their shifting relationships, it’s much more than just a romance.
“And it seemed to me that Dante’s face was a map of the world. A world without any darkness.”
— Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Ari is broody and brilliant. He spends most of his time inside his own head questioning just about everything. At least until he meets Dante, a boy who wonders about the secrets of the universe just as much as he does, but who is vibrant and sweet and wears his heart on his sleeve. Their friendship develops slowly, beautifully, over the course of two summers and eventually blossoms into the kind of love that makes you weepy because it’s so believable and so lovely at the same time. But what’s most remarkable about this book though, is probably the writing. Ari’s voice rings so true that there are days when I pick up the book just to read single passages on dog-eared pages.
What are some of your favorite summer reads? Share them in the comments below!