This is certainly a different summer than expected—an understatement that has become the motto of 2020 as a whole. With Covid restrictions keeping many of us homebound this summer, the readers of our Year of Epic Reads (YoER) Book Club have been busy recommending books to one another around the world. It’s like having your own bookseller just a click and a post away.
From books inspiring conversations about police brutality, to series transporting readers into the magical world of Carnaval, to scandalous summer romances that demand to be read while wearing enormous sunglasses in the sun: these book recommendations have been favorites of our YoER readers and will hopefully find their way onto your own To Be Read list, as well.
7 Summer Reads
OUR BOOK CLUB RECOMMENDS
1. American Royals by Katharine McGee
“American Royals was fantastic!” – Amy C.
Looking for drama, scandal, and romance this summer? Look no further than American Royals, a novel described as Crazy Rich Asians meets The Crown.
Set in an alternative America that adopted a monarch after the Revolutionary War, this novel follows two princesses vying for the crown. While Princess Beatrice has prepared her entire life to be American’s first queen, she’s suddenly overwhelmed to find the responsibilities of the job stifling.
Is this the life she really wants to live?
Her sister on the other hand, Princess Samantha, is forever an afterthought—except when she’s breaking the rules or potentially falling for the one boy that’s completely off limits. A story of family, scandal, and love, American Royals will provide your book club with some much needed escapism this summer.
2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
“Shatter Me if you haven’t read, it’s really good!” – Grace Anne D.
The first book in its series, Shatter Me follows Juliette, a girl with a deadly touch that has always felt more like a curse than a gift.
No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but the Reestablishment have big plans for Juliette, plans that involve turning her gift into a weapon. That is until Juliette makes plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, Juliette learns to fight for herself and a future with the boy she had thought she’d lost forever.
An empowering summer sci-fi read that doubles as a perfect summer romance, this series will have your book club coming back for more sooner rather than later.
3. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
“The Caraval trilogy was so good. I just finished all three in June.” – Erica J.
A recommendation from many Year of Epic Reads readers, the Caraval series is, more than anything else, a story of the unbreakable bond of sisters.
After Scarlett and Tella leave the island in which they were raised for the first time, set on achieving Scarlett’s dream of seeing Caraval—the far away, once-a-year “performance” where the audience participates in the show—their bond is tested when Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.
Now, Scarlett has five days of a clue-filled adventure to find her sister, setting off a chain of events that leave love, heartbreak, and magic in their wake. Travel with your book club to Caraval this summer, but beware of getting swept away.
4. Santiago’s Road Home by Alexandra Diaz
Recommended by Geor G.
The money in Santiago’s hand is meant for bus fare, a ticket back to his abusive abuela’s house, but he refuses to return. Instead, the young boy decides to travel to the United States, joining the kind and maternal María and her young daughter Alegría.
Together, the trio depart with little, just water and a little food, and quickly learn that they must completely trust one another in order to survive this trip. The powerful story of one young boy’s detainment by ICE while crossing the border between the United States and Mexico, this book is an incredibly important read and a platform for discussion in your book club this summer.
5. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
“Dear Martin, All American Boys, and Monday’s Not Coming were all eye opening Black Eyes Matter stories!” – Stephanie W.
This book has been recommended by Year of Epic Reads readers more times than we can count this summer, and to continue learning about the Black Lives Matter movement, an important read for all book clubs.
In Dear Martin, Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to an off-duty white police officer who just put him in handcuffs.
And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
6. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
When 16-year-old Rashad is severely beaten by fist-happy cop Paul Galluzzo, who assumes him to be a shoplifter, there are only two witnesses: Quinn Collins—who has been raised by Galluzzo ever since his father was killed in Afghanistan—and a video camera.
Within hours, the footage is all over the news and Galluzzo is being threatened with accusations of racism and police brutality. Soon, the footage has divided the entire town, leaving Quinn to question if the man who saved his life could be a racist cop after all?
Told from the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn, two young men grappling with the complicated questions left behind by this violent event—an event all too common in the world today—this novel is a must read for any book club as it provides an amazing entry point for further conversations about police brutality and racism.
7. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
“The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen is a good summer book 🙂” – Neha M.
When Emma travels back to the lake her parents grew up visiting, she’s reunited with her mother’s family for the first time since her passing. It quickly becomes evident that the lake has two communities: The working class where Emma’s mom grew up, and the elite vacationers where her father spent his summers.
The more time Emma spends here, the more she begins to feel divided as well; to her father she’s Emma, to her mother’s family she’s Saylor—the nickname her mother gave her. At the end of the summer, who will she choose to be? And then there is Roo, the boy who was her best friend when she was little, and now the boy who holds the key to her understanding her past. A heart-warming summer coming of age story, The Rest of the Story is a perfect compliment to your book club’s own summer reading adventures.
Plus, some more recommendations from the group:
- You Say It First by Katie Cotugno
- I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee
- The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
- Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas
- The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
- A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
Want to find some more summer reads? Find everything you need right here!