16 Books You Need to Read Before Summer’s Over

Summer is quickly slipping away, and if you’re like me, you haven’t checked off as many titles off the ol’ summer reading list as you would have liked. So, here’s the deal: You’ve still got enough time to knock out at least a couple must-reads. In the interest of time, and available hours to swipe through pages, here are a few books you might want to consider diving into before those last lazy summer days disappear.

Related-ish: 11 Novels From High School You Should Read As An Adult

If you’re a thrill-seeker, check out:

1. End of Watch by Stephen King

end of watch

Anything by Stephen King is a solid summer-reading bet, and if you’re a die-hard fan of mysteries and crime thrillers, you won’t be disappointed by End of Watch. It’s the third installment in a trilogy that started with Mr. Mercedes followed by Finders Keepers. and follows the story of the “Mercedes Killer,” who is able to take out his enemies by driving them to kill themselves. Dun, dun dun… So if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, the world of Bill Hodges is a perfect place to get lost for a while.

2. Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer

bad ass librarians

This thriller from Joshua Hammer follows archivist and historian Abdel Kader Haidara on his daring race to smuggle ancient Arab texts away from Al Qaeda before the irreplaceable documents are destroyed. The story is part caper and part walk through the history of the Middle East.

3. The Girls by Emma Cline

the girls

Ever wonder how someone gets recruited into a cult? Emma Cline’s novel is a revealing look at how the main character, a teenage girl named Evie Boyd gets caught up in the late-1960s free-loving San Francisco, and then ultimately Charles Manson’s murderous group of followers.

For the socially-conscious:

4. Engines of Liberty by David Cole

engines of liberty

Activism works. Here’s a book that gives picket-line walkers, boycotters, and trouble makers of all stripes—from the NRA to GLAAD—credit for creating some of the biggest shifts, and leaving the biggest marks, in American society. Legal scholar David Cole makes the argument that activists are the true changemakers of Constitutional reforms like gay marriage and the emergence of unfettered gun rights.

5. Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West 


This is the feminist manifesto to read rn. West takes on fat-shaming and social media bullying in the most hilarious and strident way imaginable. She’s stood up to the internet trolls and shut down comedians making a joke out of rape and become a feminist hero in the process. She smarter, funnier, and has opinions stronger than anyone else, and shows every woman how to own their power with a wicked sense of self esteem and humor.

If you dig history:

6. The Highest Glass Ceiling by Ellen Fitzpatrick

highest glass ceiling

With Hillary Rodham Clinton knocking on the door to the White House in this presidential election, everyone starting to adjust to the idea of Bill Clinton as the First Gentleman, you might want to find out a little more about the stories of the trailblazing three women who sought the presidency before HRC: Victoria Hoodhull in 1872, Margaret Chase Smith in 1964, and Shirley Chisolm in 1972.

7. The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Motefiore

the romanovs

If you’re the type who likes weighty, historical accounts of limitless power, sexual conquest, and palace intrigue, the story of the Romanovs has it all. The historical account reads like a soap opera, only irl, and takes you through the rise and fall of the most ruthless and powerful family in modern times—ruling through 20 tsars and tsarinas.

If you want something light and fun:

8. Knitlandia by Clara Parkes


Ever think about the right way to combine a love of travel and a passion for knitting? This collection of travel essays told by avid knitter Clara Parkes does both in a really charming way. She goes to fiber mills, on retreats focused on yarn, and events like the Sock Summit in Portland, Oregon, which sounds like Disneyland for the knitting set.

9. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

the nest

Money changes everything. In Sweeney’s debut novel, four siblings who are about to finally get their hands on their inheritance are forced to reckon with their own life choices. The story centers around the Plumb family, complete with a brother right out of rehab, and siblings overextended on their bills. The story is about how money can shape family relationships and test the bonds of love.

10. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

vinegar girl

This book is a funny, modern take on the Shakespeare comedy The Taming of the Shrew. Tyler told the Washington Post that she hated the Shakespeare original, because the two lead characters, Katherina and Pertruchio just seemed crazy and unhinged. So, she decided to re-write Katherina as Kate, an opinionated teacher’s assistant who’s asked to marry her father’s lab assistant to keep him in the country. She said readers might find her version of Kate almost unrecognizable and thinking to themselves, “This isn’t a shrew at all!”

If you need the perfect book for beach reading:

11. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

love and gelato

During a summer spent in Italy, main character Lina discovers a journal left behind by her late mother. All of the sudden, she finds herself wrapped up in secret romance, a renewed relationship with her estranged father, and a deeper understanding of the woman her mother had been. #Pageturner.

12. It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Ever After by Andi Dorfman

andi dorfman

You’ll find out what it’s really like to search for love on reality TV from the star of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette Andi Dorfman in her book. Also, this is required reading for anyone even remotely curious about that ongoing feud between Josh and Nick on this season of Bachelor in Paradise.

13. Eligible by Curtis Littenfeld


In this modern take on Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice, the characters are re-imagined as Liz, a magazine writer in her 30s who returns home to Cincinnati and her mother desperate to get Liz and her three sisters married off pronto. That’s when a doctor, Chip Bingley, from the popular dating show Eligible (ha, see #12) shows up at a barbecue with his far less appealing friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy… Fans of Bridget Jones will love this one, too!

If you loved Fifty Shades of Grey:

14. The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian 

the guest room

There’s plenty of sexy suspense and intrigue in this story of a bachelor party thrown in a Westchester home that ends with two dead Russian bodyguards, stabbed to death by two women.

15. Precious Gifts by Danielle Steel 

precious gifts

The queen of the steamy novels can’t stop, won’t stop. In Precious Gifts, a dead father leaves a lasting impression on his estranged children with what he leaves each of them in his will. Three sisters, all plagued by distrust of men as a result of their absent father, are forced to come to terms with their past and move on following a journey that takes them from New York to Los Angeles and across Europe.

16. Maestra by L.S. Hilton 


Maestra is the first installment in a trilogy of and a sexy thriller that follows a woman named Judith who on the outside is a perfectly behaved upscale woman from London but ultimately can’t tame her darker desires. There are ritzy orgies, designer clothes, and yachts. Need I say more?

Related-ish: 9 new books to read before they start playing in theaters

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