A New Season of Reading: The Hot Books of Summer

Posted by Cybil on May 4, 2020
big books of spring 2020

So many aspects of life and leisure have changed. This is true. It’s also true that we need to take care of ourselves, collectively and individually, until this crisis passes. And reading a book remains one of the very best things we can do in times of trouble—for the culture and for ourselves. 
In that spirit, we’re proud to once again offer our guide to summer reading, based entirely on what readers are letting us know. Each list is assembled according to how many times a book has been added to Want to Read shelves. New releases generating the most interest this time around include books from Emma Straub, Riley Sager, Max BrooksSuzanne Collins, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia—plus two dozen more authors anxious to make a connection in these strange days.
Stay safe, and good reading…

A story about the things that follow us into adulthood, like it or not, All Adults Here tracks the fortunes of three grown children and the mom who raised them. Overachievers and underachievers both have their burdens to bear. Now a third generation of children has arrived to perpetuate the family cycles—or not. From the author of The Vacationers.

Release date: May 5

Jennifer Weiner, the author of Good in Bed and Mrs. Everything, delivers the perfect beach read with this tale of friendship and forgiveness set during a disastrous wedding on picturesque Cape Cod. Even if you can't dip your toes in the ocean, there's no reason not to enjoy this summer pick!

Release date: May 5

Historical fiction with a literary twist: An odd collection of people—doctor, widow, laborer, movie star—gathers to mark the anniversary of Jane Austen's death. United in their love for Austen, each endures struggle and tragedy. Natalie Jenner’s highly anticipated book is recommended for fans of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.

Release date: May 26

Twin sisters, inseparable at birth, take very different paths into adulthood and the wider world. One stays in her Southern black community; the other heads for the horizon, secretly passing as white. Author Brit Bennett (The Mothers) digs into issues of identity and origin in a story that moves from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Release date: June 2

Unbidden visions of blood and madness bring a beautiful young woman to the dreaded High House, a mysterious mansion deep in the Mexican countryside. Mixing intrigue and horror in the classic Gothic mode, author Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Gods of Jade and Shadow) finds a sinister new wavelength for suspense.

Release date: June 30

Four childhood friends from an American Indian reservation community confront a violent supernatural entity. Stephen Graham Jones’ story folds and flips in unpredictable ways as he conjures personal and cultural demons, and the writing feels like Elmore Leonard with a high fever. Also, it turns out that elk can be terrifying.

Release date: July 14

Twentysomething artist Edie, making her way through the modern wilds of New York City, finds herself in a relationship with a man whose wife has agreed to an open marriage—with rules. Predictably, drama ensues. Raven Leilani revives the old-fashioned transgressive novel for a new millennium with this darkly comic and sexually provocative tale.

Release date: August 4

After years of tutelage from a manipulative film director, teenage actress Grace Turner disappeared from the Hollywood scene. Now she’s back—with a story to tell. Ella Berman’s debut novel toggles between two timelines as it navigates the treacherous waters of power dynamics in the media age.

Release date: August 11


From the author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation comes this twisty and twisted novel about a woman who becomes obsessed with a note she finds in the woods. It reads: "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." Except there is no body. Is there an innocent explanation? Or are we in the mind of a narrator more unreliable than we can possibly imagine?

Release date: June 23

Twenty-five years ago, the Holt family moved into a mysterious Victorian mansion, only to be chased out by terrifying supernatural powers. The parents made a fortune off the book rights. Now little Maggie Holt, just a child the first time around, is moving back. Could be trouble, Scoob.

Release date: June 30

Everyone knows a kid like Charlie Crabtree. Dark eyes, psycho vibe. Twenty-five years after Charlie’s infamous crimes, his childhood friend Paul Adams must return to their hometown to care for his ailing mother. And that’s when it starts to get weird. A twisty new thriller from the author of The Whisper Man.

Release date: July 7

When a dead body pops up in a sleepy rural village, the usual sequence of events takes place: The police show up, and the media, not necessarily in that order. His & Hers alternates point of view between police investigator Jack Harper and BBC journalist Anna Andrews. Someone is not telling the truth.

Release date: July 28

Ever have one of those parties where everything goes wrong? On a remote island resort off the coast of Ireland, a wedding celebration drifts into Agatha Christie territory when someone turns up dead. Author Lucy Foley (The Hunting Party) reminds us that even the best-laid plans require proper execution.

Release date: June 2


Max Brooks—author of the fabulous World War Z—returns with a story that’s part survival narrative, part horror story, part scientific investigation. Volcanoes! Massacres! Apex predators! The Bigfoot legend gets a thorough revamping via Brooks’ innovative narrative techniques, which blur the lines between fact, fiction, and all that lies between.

Release date: June 16

Humankind’s first contact with an extraterrestrial species is not going according to plan. A suspicious news leak has the press and public in a panic, and Cora Sabino suspects her whistleblower father has something to do with it. Her investigation gets more complicated when she finds herself acting as intermediary between species.

Release date: July 21

In the patriarchal land of Bethel, the Church’s word is law. But when Immanuelle Moore enters the forbidden Darkwood forest—where spirits and witches dwell—she makes a shattering discovery. The darkness in Bethel comes from within. Alexis Henderson’s debut novel maps new territories in feminist fantasy. 

Release date: July 21

A worldwide pandemic has wiped out 99 percent of the world’s male population. Seems like an opportunity for improvement, but maybe not. A desperate mother flees across a dystopian American West, trying desperately to protect her young boy. Billed as a meeting of Blade Runner and The Handmaid’s Tale, Afterland is the latest from acclaimed author Lauren Beukes.

Release date: July 28

One of the year’s most anticipated sci-fi stories, The Mother Code imagines a future where genetically engineered children are incubated inside AI-powered robots. In the year 2049, the human child Kai and his robotic mother, Rho-Z, face down a series of unanticipated threats.

Release date: August 25


From radio personality and alpha podcaster John Moe, The Hilarious World of Depression mixes memoirs, scientific investigation, interviews, and first-person stories. Moe’s popular podcast has long been a haven for those struggling with depression and related illnesses. The power of humor should never be underestimated. Seriously.

Release date: May 5

Mikel Jollett has the most amazing story you’ve never heard. Born into one of the era’s most notorious cults, he survived a childhood of neglect, abandonment, and abuse—only to endure an adolescence of poverty and trauma. Then he made it to Stanford University. Then he built a life. Then he wrote a book.

Release date: May 26

As a 15-year-old student, Lacy Crawford suffered a terrible assault at one of New England’s most prestigious boarding schools. Years later, she stepped forward as a witness to help tear down a terrible structure of institutional silencing. Notes on a Silencing is both a tender coming-of-age story and a ferocious inquiry into the darkest corners of privilege and power. 

Release date: July 14

A frank and vulnerable memoir that speaks to our changing times, The Fixed Stars tells of Molly Wizenberg’s experience falling in love with another woman at age 36. Married to a man and mom to a toddler, Wizenberg found new levels of meaning to that old saying: It’s complicated.

Release date: August 4


Camino Rios and Yahaira Rios have spent their lives separated by distance and circumstance. But when their father dies in a plane crash, they must reconcile. Writer, poet, and National Book Award winner Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) returns with a unique novel-in-verse about love, loss, and the bonds of family.

Release date: May 5

From the author of a modest little series called The Hunger Games, this new installment is being plugged as a prequel, but past that it’s shrouded in secrecy. You didn’t hear it from us, but scuttlebutt says the story will begin on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games.

Release date: May 19

After a bummer of a summer, 18-year-old Georgia heads off to university with the goal of finding, or feeling, or at least understanding love. With the help of her new roommate Rooney, she makes an honest effort. But maybe she’s looking in the wrong places. Loveless trades in themes of identity, self-acceptance, and a revelation: After all, there are many different kinds of love.

Release date: July 9

Billed as Moulin Rouge meets The Phantom of the Opera, this much-anticipated debut introduces an opulent world of competitive magicians engaged in a deadly game. As the stakes keep climbing and each act grows more dangerous than the last, showgirl Kallia is determined to prove herself no matter the cost. Sure to delight fans of The Night Circus.

Release date: August 25


When two authors move into adjacent summer beach houses, the temptation is to talk shop. He writes weighty literature. She writes happy love stories. Both are in a rut and staring down that beast called writer’s block. What if they switch assignments for the summer? Wouldn’t that be weird? 

Release date: May 19

Hollywood gossip is a tenacious thing, and Jo and Emma are on the run. When the paparazzi start chasing a rumor about romance between the showrunner and her assistant, the two women must tread very carefully. But they’re getting along so well! And having such a good time! Would a little fling fan the flames?
Release date: May 26

Olivia Monroe is the busiest person you know. Starting a new law firm in L.A. is a full-time job. She’s got no time for romance, especially if it involves a junior senator who lives in the dead center of the spotlight. But look, the man sent a cake. A chocolate cake. Some protocols must be obeyed.

Release date: June 23

Super-stylish plus-size model Bea Schumacher has been cast in the hot new dating reality show. This is her chance to advance her career, subvert ridiculous beauty standards, and inspire women everywhere! Besides, all the love stories on these shows are fake and scripted. There is zero chance that she’ll fall in love. Right?

Release date: July 7

Which books are you most excited to read this summer? Let us know in the comments!

Comments Showing 1-50 of 129 (129 new)

message 1: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Fiction:
If You Must Know by Jamie Beck. Releases June 1, 2020. Refreshing departure for an author primarily known as a romance author, this book evokes comparisons to the 2014 movie The Other Woman starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton.

Mystery/ Thriller:
Stranger In The Lake by Kimberly Belle. Releases June 9, 2020. Great, well paced mystery/ thriller that has explosive revelations through very nearly the last page.

Fantasy/ Science Fiction:
NPC by Jeremy Robinson. Releases July 6, 2020. One of Robinson's most overt religious discussions since his early books, while still packaged in a breakneck thrill ride of a science fiction tale.

Shuttle, Houston by Paul Dye. Releases July 14, 2020. "IRON FLIGHT" Paul Dye is NASA's longest serving Flight Director, and this book arguably gives a better view into the mindset of the role than even Gene Kranz's Failure Is Not An Option.

message 2: by Max (new)

Max Of course, I'm really excited about Home Before Dark and The Only Good Indians.

message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Moss I can't wait till Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes comes out!

message 4: by Anthony (new)

Anthony G Nothing that approaches literature here; sad.

message 5: by TMR (new)

TMR These are all good selections.

message 6: by Hufg (new)

Hufg Vjxtwobr Good

message 7: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa Anthony wrote: "Nothing that approaches literature here; sad."

Literature doesn't always have to be heavy. Let's not judge books we haven't read. They just aren't your cup of tea.

message 8: by Sue (new)

Sue Maximilian wrote: "Of course, I'm really excited about Home Before Dark and The Only Good Indians."

I received an ARC of The Only Good Indians. Creepy good

message 9: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Ahh! SO.MANY. good ones on this list! Can't wait. Added a bunch to my TBR!

message 10: by Max (new)

Max Good to know Sue, you just got me more hyped!

message 11: by MovieBookNerd (new)

MovieBookNerd Any more summer YA or MG reads to recommend?

message 12: by Erin (new)

Erin Mexican Gothic looks like it could be interesting. I’m looking forward to reading Tales of Ming Courtesans, which comes out on June 1st. =)

message 13: by Lepisi (new)

Lepisi OMG i want to read this story it so cool

message 14: by Jonda (new)

Jonda Nolan Can't wait to read the new Max Brooks!

message 15: by tammy (new)

tammy The Year of the Witching

message 16: by Patty (new)

Patty Smith Jeff wrote: "Fiction:
If You Must Know by Jamie Beck. Releases June 1, 2020. Refreshing departure for an author primarily known as a romance author, this book evokes comparisons to the 2014 movie The Other Woma..."

Thanks for the recs! They looked so good, I added them.

message 17: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Wheeler I am looking forward to reading the Niki Lauda Biography by Maurice Hamilton.

message 18: by Jerolyn (new)

Jerolyn My preference for reading is historical novels.... setting in the Orient or England. I also enjoy settings in early America, opening of the West. Would love some suggestions.

message 19: by Tamika (new)

Tamika Very good new releases coming! Excited to have some Summer reads since I may not be able to go the beach this Summer :(

message 20: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Just added the new Max Brooks. This one looks super fun.

For Historical Fiction fans, I received an ARC of The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton (author of Next Year in Havana) and I'm really enjoying it. Probably not a 5 star read, but definitely a fast-paced and engaging read perfect for the summer. Set in 1935 in Key West, it revolves around the lives of 3 women with their own struggles in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Throw in an impending hurricane for extra drama, and its the perfect escape read. Releases June 16th.

message 21: by Karyn (new)

Karyn Dolan Jim Butcher's series, The Dresden Files. This summer will see not one but two new books in the series - Peace Talks in July, and Battle Ground in September. If you love noir detectives in Chicago, supernatural fiction, wizardry, vampires, werewolves, demons, and both good and evil faeries, as well as sarcasm, humor, action, pathos, romance, pop culture references, and advanced physics, you'll love these. Start with Storm Front and be ready for the new books when they come out!

message 22: by Joni (new)

Joni Young Where is the list for historical fiction? Did I somehow miss it?

message 23: by Diane (new)

Diane Maloy Diane wrote: "Jerolyn wrote: "My preference for reading is historical novels.... setting in the Orient or England. I also enjoy settings in early America, opening of the West. Would love some suggestions.""

Have you read 1,000 White Women by Jim Fergus? It may be something you would enjoy.

message 24: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Finn Please be sure to include children's books in each newsletter, encouraging criticism and discussion. Thank you, Jacqueline

message 25: by Nat (new)

Nat Miles It will be interesting to read how a plus-sized character navigates. The selection written in verse sounds good - Clap When You Land. The most-anticipated of the list, in my opinion, is the one about childhood affecting adulthood. ...somethings about adults. Anyway, happy reading.

message 26: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Really excited about the new Louise Penny.

message 27: by Kim (new)

Kim McGee Jonda wrote: "Can't wait to read the new Max Brooks!"

It is excellent and a plausible story - hope you don't live in Washington state.

message 28: by Fenris (new)

Fenris Axiom's End, The Only Good Indians (but don't like that title much), and Mexican Gothic, in that order.

message 29: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia VanBuren Natalie wrote: "Any more summer YA or MG reads to recommend?"

"Together We Caught Fire," by Eva V. Gibson. Excellent debut by an author who has the art of writing down pat. Her use of the language is topnotch and the story will grab you emotionally if you can handle heavy subjects.

message 30: by Lkowalczyk (new)

Lkowalczyk Beach Reads sounds good and fluffy for the times.

message 31: by Debra Haber (new)

Debra Haber Where is the historical fiction category? You've skipped an important section.

message 32: by Mary (new)

Mary Hare No more junk romances please

message 33: by M. (new)

M. Sprouse Why can't Goodreads add some books that men might prefer. All the Summer Book list I ever read are light on thriller's , action/adventure or nonfiction.

message 34: by Chris (new)

Chris The Guest list is the one I'm waiting for anything Agatha Christie style I'll have a look at.

message 35: by Christy (new)

Christy Karyn wrote: "Jim Butcher's series, The Dresden Files. This summer will see not one but two new books in the series - Peace Talks in July, and Battle Ground in September. If you love noir detectives in Chicago, ..."

this is great news!! love this series!

message 36: by Joyce (new)

Joyce I actually don't like any of these selections. Sorry. Just a matter of taste....don't like creepy, deviant stuff; don't like gay themed books; don't like "wizardry, vampires, werewolves, demons, and both good and evil faeries," there's enough real darkness in this world already, I don't need to be reminded of it or to have to try to imagine that it's even worse than it is already. I like historical fiction based on reality and actual history, good character development, etc. Maybe I'm just really boring!

message 37: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Diane wrote: "Diane wrote: "Jerolyn wrote: "My preference for reading is historical novels.... setting in the Orient or England. I also enjoy settings in early America, opening of the West. Would love some sugge..."

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner - a classic about American West

message 38: by Dustyn (new)

Dustyn Happily more excited about several romance options, not the Fantasy this time.

message 39: by Mark (new)

Mark Magers The Guest List by Lucy Foley (The Hunting Party) and Something She's Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell ( A Simple Favor).

message 40: by Lyndsey (new)

Lyndsey Received an arc of only good indians and home before dark. both AMAZING

message 41: by Nancy (new)

Nancy I am looking forward to the new Louise Penny, Laurie R King, and Daniel Silva novels.

message 42: by Mark (new)

Mark Magers Jerolyn wrote: "My preference for reading is historical novels.... setting in the Orient or England. I also enjoy settings in early America, opening of the West. Would love some suggestions."

Lonesome Dove
The Colour of Milk
The Revenant
A Burnable Book
News of the World
True Grit

message 43: by Joyce (new)

Joyce Historical novels are about all I read. Anything by Rosalind Laker is good...all of her novels are based on actual history; Judith Lennox is my all time favorite author, anything by her is excellent; Rosamunde Pilcher, Diane Pearson, Dorothy Eden, Marcia Willet, Barbara Whitnell, Jacqueline Winspear, Robert Alexander, Philippa Gregory (Queens of England), etc. These are all wonderful, historical authors.

message 44: by Myrna (last edited May 05, 2020 06:23PM) (new)

Myrna Jerolyn wrote: "My preference for reading is historical novels.... setting in the Orient or England. I also enjoy settings in early America, opening of the West. Would love some suggestions."

Have you read any Tracy Chevalier? I loved Girl With a Pearl Earring. Just finished At the Edge of the Orchard (early America). Also Falling Angels (England- historical)

message 45: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Historical fiction -- the new Paulette Jiles book, "Simon the Fiddler," is set just at the end of the Civil War, in Texas. Good stuff! Her previous book, "News of the World," is also very good -- same time period, but a completely different character.

message 46: by Joyce (new)

Joyce Jesmion wrote: "All is good and interesting, but the upcoming books are still for its mandate or should have a closer look?
We have at hand the (Hot Summer) even in Biafra my crops shrinks except by irrigation hel..."

What????? We are talking about books here. Wondering what your crops have to do with this discussion?

message 47: by Barbara (new)

Barbara How about SEAVIEW ROAD by Brian McMahon??

message 48: by Emily (new)

Emily Dalton I’ve heard GREAT things about a debut memoir in verse titled Be Straight with Me... comes out on May 19.

Bubblegum Princess Jeff wrote: "Fiction:
If You Must Know by Jamie Beck. Releases June 1, 2020. Refreshing departure for an author primarily known as a romance author, this book evokes comparisons to the 2014 movie The Other Woma..."

Thanks for these recs! I added NPC by Jeremy Robinson to my TBR list!

message 50: by MovieBookNerd (new)

MovieBookNerd Sophia wrote: "I tried all I could to talk to him about his infidelity but wouldn’t listen. I saw a counselor who I thought could help all to no avail. I felt it was wrong to disclose my family issues with other ..."

What in the world???

« previous 1 3
back to top