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15 Ultimate Summer Page-Turners – What to Read on Vacation

Are you tired of the constant connectivity? Do the notices on your phone all seem to tug at the corners of your attention throughout the day? Are screens filled with TikTok videos and Facebook Reels dominating your leisure time? 

Your vacation offers a great opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and dive into a good book. With each turn of the page, you can transport yourself to a distant land, embark on an adventure in time or dig into the depths of the human psyche. 

If you’re ready to unplug, find a spot under a tree, spread your towel on the beach or cozy up on your own couch and check out one of these great summer reads across numerous genres:

1. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

Set in the marshes of North Carolina, this haunting novel follows the story of Kya Clark, known locally as the “Marsh Girl,” as she seeks to understand love, loss and survival in the wild beauty of her surroundings. This is a coming-of-age murder mystery that spans two different timelines, giving the story depth and power.

2. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

Who says thrillers and tales of magic are just for fall? If you like mesmerizing tales of magic and enchantment, “The Night Circus” is for you! It follows the rivalry between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, as they duel for power in a mysterious and ethereal circus that appears without warning and where nothing is as it seems.

3. “Educated” by Tara Westover

This isn’t a comfortable book to read, but it is a powerful story of perseverance and survival. Tara Westover recounts her journey from growing up in a strict and isolated Mormon household in rural Idaho to pursuing education against all odds. It is a perfect book for those grappling with family issues, personal identity and self-discovery on their own.

4. “Circe” by Madeline Miller

Far too often, powerful women are depicted as menaces by the men who record their stories – but Madeline Miller brings Circe, the infamous witch of Greek mythology, to vivid life in this beautifully written novel through Circe’s perspective. Readers are immersed in a world of gods, monsters and the complexities of power and identity, especially for women.

5. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

What if, in the moments between life and death, you could choose a new path and play out all the alternative routes your life could have taken? Which crossroads would you choose? Which story would you write? This book speaks heavily about self-identity and the need to take chances.

6. “Nightfall in the Garden of Deep Time” by Tracy Higley

This award-winning novel is a book that speaks to the struggles of every creative trying to earn a living. While fantasy, it touches on the struggle between balancing the need to earn a living with the desire to be wildly creative – and reveals how you can find simple magic in unexpected places.

7. “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In this captivating novel, aging Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo recounts her glamorous and scandalous life to an unknown journalist, revealing the secrets behind her seven marriages and the true love of her life. This book touches on the struggles of private sexual identities and the need to maintain public personas.

8. “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

A gripping psychological thriller that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, “The Silent Patient” follows Alicia Berenson, a celebrated painter who shoots her husband and then falls mute. Psychotherapist Theo Faber becomes determined to uncover the truth behind her silence. If you like psychological thrillers, this is the summer book for you.

9. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett’s poignant novel explores fascinating and painful themes of race, identity and family through the lives of twin sisters Desiree and Stella, who choose diverging paths—one passing as White and the other embracing her Black heritage.

10. “The Wood Wife” by Terri Windling

Set in the magical landscapes of the American Southwest, this enchanting novel follows the journey of Maggie Black – a poet who discovers the secrets of the reclusive artist who was her mentor, and the mythic beings that inhabit the desert land around her new home.

11. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

This is an oldie-but-a-goodie and the sort of mind-boggling adventure story that will actually have you laughing out loud while you read. If you’re a fan of absurdist humor and sarcasm, this is a fantastic read – and it has been hugely influential on pop culture over the decades.

12. “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah

In this candid and humorous memoir, comedian Trevor Noah shares memories from his childhood growing up in apartheid-era South Africa, offering a poignant exploration of race, identity and – ultimately – personal resilience.

13. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah

A poignant tale of courage and resilience set during World War II, “The Nightingale” follows the lives of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they navigate love, sacrifice and survival in Nazi-occupied France. It’s not a “light” summer read, but it’s well-worth the time.

14.  “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah

Set against the backdrop of the unforgiving Alaskan wilds, this incredible novel tells the story of the Allbright family as they struggle to build a new life while confronting the unquiet demons of their past. This is billed as a “stay-up-all-night” kind of story, so don’t say you weren’t warned!

15. “The Keeper of Stars” by Buck Turner

Can you rewrite fate? This book explores the story of a couple who meet by the water and fall in love – only to be torn apart by circumstances. Years later, the story begins to reinvent itself, offering a new chance for the characters within the tale. If you like layered stories, this is a perfect read.

If you “used to be a reader,” and you miss those forays into the written word, summer vacation is your time to get reacquainted with your old hobby. There’s no time like the present, so go get lost in a book.