Arts, Column, Review

Summer Reading Guide: From Mysteries to Beach Reads

Whether looking for a novel to flip through on the beach or seeking that next mystery thriller fix, this is a comprehensive book guide for the upcoming summer months. After students finished cramming for their last final and packed that last box, they were granted one new freedom: an abundance of time. Though many students will work summer jobs or internships, there is still an undeniable addition of down time.

The question becomes: What will people do with this newfound time? While I won’t deny that I binge Netflix and Hulu as much as the next person, reading is an amazing summer pastime, and I’m certainly not alone in this opinion. As “BookTok,” a group of book lovers on TikTok, has revealed, there is still an abundance of people who love to read. So, if you are looking for your next read, or deciding where to get started this summer, this is the guide for you.

Mysteries and Thrillers:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

For fans of Stephen King’s novels and other suspenseful mysteries like the movie Knives Out, Mexican Gothic is a great, dark twist on the genre. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s 2020 novel crafts a wonderfully twisted world where the mystery unravels throughout the novel. Even ripe with tropes like a creepy house, this novel still defies expectations through its surprising heroine, debutante Noemí Taboada. In this story, Noemí travels to the Mexican countryside to save her cousin. If you’re looking for a beautifully written thriller, this is definitely one to pick up. 

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, released in 2018, is best summarized by author A.J. Finn, who characterized the book as “Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day.” Keeping on trend with untraditional mysteries, this novel is uniquely constructed. The protagonist, Aiden Bishop, must discover Evelyn Hardcastle’s killer, and each day he wakes up in the body of a different Blackheath Manor guest until he does. This book is a page-turner from beginning to end.

Beach Reads:

Circe by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a cult favorite. But almost equally masterful is Miller’s 2018 novel Circe. Based on Greek mythology, the novel follows the titular Circe, a sorceress and goddess who develops her power throughout the novel. Neither a wholly good nor bad heroine, her story is captivating regardless, and the novel makes for a perfect casual beach read.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern is known for her almost lyrical writing. Her imagery and detailed writing paints a picture of whatever world she constructs. The Night Circus, originally released in 2011, is no different. One of her more famous novels, this story follows two young, dueling magicians and the perplexing circus in which they reside. With elements of magic and forbidden romance, this story has something for everyone and would make for an engaging beach read.

YA Gems:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

While Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, published in 2015, is certainly not a hidden gem—in fact, it has a huge fan base—it’s still an apt addition to this book guide. The trilogy this spin-off is based on, the 2012 Shadow and Bone series, was recently adapted as a Netflix show released just this past April. This story follows a group of teens who attempt a heist—a simple premise yet an addicting story. Catch up and read this novel before checking out the new Netflix show.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

A 2020 release, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn tells the story of Bree Matthews, a 16-year-old attending a summer program at UNC who witnesses a demon attack and finds herself caught up in a secret society. A fantasy novel packed with magic, Legendborn also deals with deeper subjects like grief and trauma. If you enjoy fantasy novels, try this one out. It’s just the first in the series, so there will be more material to come.

Anticipated Releases:

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Released on May 25, 2021, Malibu Rising came out just in time for summer. Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of well-received books including The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017) and Daisy Jones and the Six (2019). Her most recent novel takes place at a party in 1983 and follows the Riva family, who have a celebrity father. Based on her previous masterpieces, Malibu Rising is sure to be a hit.

Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Lisa Taddeo reached bestseller status with her nonfiction work Three Woman, and now she is publishing her debut novel, Animal, on June 8. Animal is a novel about a woman transformed after witnessing a violent act, and it follows Joan as she escapes New York City. If you enjoyed watching Promising Young Woman (2020), then this novel is one to check out.

Featured Graphic by Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor

June 11, 2021