10 Perfect Summer Reads | JillianEversole.com
10 Perfect Summer Books | JillianEversole.com

10 Perfect Summer Books

Charleston, South Carolina
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Blame it on the summer mindset but I’m never quite in the headspace to read what I call “a heavy hitter book” this time of year. Instead, I like to read books that transport me to glorious places like Nantucket and Southern Italy as I doze off to bed after a long day outside. Or as I steal a few quiet moments away from my kids on a chaise lounge. I want to read a book that I can’t wait to hand off to a friend with an inscription inside that reads something like “read this when you getaway with your husband next month!” or “read this for the book hangover you didn’t know you needed!” With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 10 perfect summer books you won’t be able to put down.

In my opinion, each one of these 10 perfect summer books will induce a book hangover and leave you thinking about the settings, the characters, and the characters’ stories and love lives for days, even weeks to come. I promise you, these won’t disappoint. I sound like a broken record when I describe each book below. Because, with each novel, I emphatically harp on how I could not put the book down. That’s why each one of these books is a perfect summer read. Note: this list is in no particular order.

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10 Perfect Summer Reads | JillianEversole.com
10 Perfect Summer Books | JillianEversole.com

10 Perfect Summer Books

1. Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

This book! Every Summer After by Carley Fortune was my favorite book I read last summer. (This and The Paper Palace, which is a bit of a different vibe). I walked around sad and sulking all day long after I finished Every Summer After. In fact, I was so consumed by it and sad when it ended that even Edwin noticed and asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on my mood and then a few hours later, it hit me. I had a serious book hangover. And I missed the characters and loved their story so much that I couldn’t recover when the book ended.

Every Summer After is the story of Persephone (Percy) Fraser and Sam Florek and their love over the course of six summers on a lake is idyllic Canada. Each summer their relationships grows from a once-in-a-lifetime friendship to a once-in-a-lifetime love. It’s a really tender yet extraordinary young love. Their relationships falls apart in spectacular fashion. But the reader has no idea why until Percy confronts her past while spending one weekend back at the lake that she has avoided for a decade after a decision she made completely redialed her life.

The novel goes back and forth from modern day Percy, who has closed off her heart. And back in time recounting Percy and Sam’s summers together. It’s really just a brilliant novel with beautiful character development and characters you’ll fall in love with. Has a gripping storyline, and a beautifully nostalgic look at summer love. If you’re from or spend time in Canada too, then this is a must read.

Add the book to your summer beach bag here. After you read Every Summer After and fall in love with Carley Fortune’s writing, pick up her second novel that was just released this summer Meet Me At The Lake. I finished it two days ago and didn’t die over it like I did with Every Summer After but I really enjoyed it.

2. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

I have such fond memories of reading Love and Other Words on the beach in Del Mar, California. And being so wrapped up in the two main characters, Macy and Elliott. I remember going on beach walks (one of my most favorite things in the world) and thinking I couldn’t wait for my walks to end so I could get back and pick up the book again. Rowan was about 5-months-old when I read this book. So, in the haze of having a young baby, I very easily was transported away from my routines and into this book.

Macy and Elliott are more than childhood friends, they are childhood sweethearts. The reader doesn’t know it yet. But something happened that caused them to stop speaking and seeing each other for 10 years. Macy is engaged to a safe, older, boring man while throwing herself into her work as a pediatrics resident. Her entire existence is thrown for a loop when she and Elliott have a chance meeting after a decade apart. She immediately grapples with her all consuming love for the man who saved her all those years ago after loosing her mother but who also broke her heart into a million pieces.

The novel travels back and fourth in time from their teenage selves to their modern adult selves. Throughout the whole book you’ll be right there with them wondering if they can put the past behind them, experience a great love, and find their way back to each other.

The storyline is slightly similar to that of Every Summer After but actually quite different at the same time. Both novels have characters you’ll fall in love with so you can’t really pick one or the other.

Add the book to your summer beach bag here.

3. 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

I can’t go a summer without reading an Elin Hilderbrand Nantucket book. The two really go hand in hand! I now read every book she releases the summer it comes out. I also haven’t read all of her older books yet so I’m working my way through those ones as well. My favorite Elin book is 28 Summers. I devoured this book the summer of 2021 after it came out. I have district memories of me pacing around the first floor of my house reading the book while Rowan was napping because this bittersweet love story tore me up. Edwin through I was a lunatic.

The novel tells the story of Mallory and Jake and the one weekend they spend together every single summer for 28 summers. They have a special, intangible, great love that overcomes all odds for one weekend a year. Their love is their biggest secret until it starts to have ripple effects on those around them, including their families. This book tortured me in the best way. I simply couldn’t wait until the plot line would bring Mallory and Jake together. So the pages turned for me very quickly! I had such high hopes for them, which wasn’t how the book turned out. However, Hilderbrand managed to do the impossible and end the book not in the way I longed for but in a perfect way nonetheless.

If you love Nantucket and could use a great love story, then pick up this read. I also seriously enjoyed reading the brief flashbacks to what the world was talking about in the 90s and early 2000s before each of Mallory and Jake’s 28 summers. It was such a fun trip down memory lane! 

Add the book to your summer beach bag here. I just picked up Elin’s summer 2023 book, The Five-Star Weekend, last night and am so excited to dive into it.

4. One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

One Italian Summer is beautifully fantastical, drenched in Italian splendor, and driven by a gripping love story between a mother and a daughter. I read this book on Audible because it is read by the incomparable Lauren Graham (aka Lorelai Gilmore in case you aren’t aware of her actual name). My, was it a treat. Lauren’s voice is so soothing it feels like home. Which is exactly how this story should be told. Although the novel takes place on the Amalfi Coast, it is about a daughter trying to make peace with the passing of her mother. And her need to redefine her life and what her home and relationships are to her. Warning, if you have lost your mother, I could see this book being an emotional challenge to get through.

The novel starts with Katy reeling from the loss of her best friend, her mother Carol. They were impossibly close yet there is so much Katy feels she still has to learn from her mother. To add to Katy’s pain, their years-in-the-making trip to Positano is approaching. It is a place Carol spent the summer before she met Katy’s father and they had been waiting to go for years. Katy decides to embark on the trip herself despite her sorrow. But, as soon as she arrives on the Amalfi Coast, she begins to feel her mother all around her. Italy is positively delightful and just what Katy needs when suddenly, her mother, Carol appears as her fresh, youthful 30-year-old self that she was when she took her trip to Positano all those years ago.

Katy doesn’t know how to make sense of it but she suddenly has her mother back. And knows one thing for sure, she doesn’t want to let her mother go. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol as a young woman and is faced with coming to terms with who her mother was as an individual and not just as her mother.

Add the book to your summer beach bag here.

5. Roses by Leila Meacham

Roses by Leila Meacham

Roses is one of my absolute favorite books. It is a must read! I read this novel the summer after I graduated from college and could not put it down. A handful of my friends and I read it at the same time and when we weren’t actually reading it, we were talking about it. Or talking about how we were sneakily reading pages at our desks if we had even one spare minute between work duties. I love reading books with friends.

This historical fiction book spans the 20th century as it tells the tale of three prominent East Texas families. The novel focuses on the families as the characters deal with great loves (including one of the biggest love stories I’ve ever read!), tragedies, secrets, and sacrifices. The author later released a prequel to Roses called Somerset. I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it; however, not as much as Roses. I’ll read anything historical fiction but Roses takes the cake. The love story I mentioned before will keep you up at night thinking about it. I literally couldn’t turn my brain off when reading Roses. It is sweeping, touching, beautiful, extraordinary, and grand.

Add the book to your summer beach bag here.

6. The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

As I was every year in August, I was in Jackson, Wyoming with my family sitting on my grandparents’ deck when my mom’s girlfriend, who was with, us recommended this book. She said she laughed out loud reading it and thought I’d devour it. I bought it immediately – she was not wrong. This book is so entertaining and such a hoot! If you love to pick up a magazine and consume it cover to cover, wake up everyday to dress up and love style, or if you are social media savvy, then you’ll love The Knockoff.

The novel is about Imogen Tate, the editor in chief of the fictional Glossy magazine and her twenty-something former assistant who tries to steal her job and turn the famous magazine into an app. Imogen is at the very top of the fashion world but doesn’t know social media to save her life. When her former assistant, Eve, returns from business school with a conniving plan to oust Imogen and kill the magazine in favor of relaunching it as an app, Imogen must do everything she can to save her magazine. And save her version of the fashion world all while adapting to the times, learning new ways, and going up against the ultimate social media monster.

You’ll read this and then immediately want tp pick up your favorite fashion magazine. It made me nostalgic for the time when fashion magazines reigned king before their .com versions bust onto the scenes. Plus, I laughed the whole way through the novel! It is such a fast read.

Add the book to your summer beach bag here.

7. The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

What a book! In all honesty, I’m sure you’ve already read this because it’s impossible to escape the hype of this book. It lives up to the hype though, let me tell you. I read it in the spring of 2019 on a trip to California. In fact, I zoomed through the book in 36 hours because I literally couldn’t put it down. I stayed up almost an entire night reading. It is juicy and the type of book that is good for your marriage, if you know what I mean. At the same time, the characters are really wonderful and have depth. It’s just fantastic. Perhaps no book out there has given me a bigger book hangover than The Idea Of You.

The story is about a divorced mother who takes her daughter and friends to see a British pop boy band in concert. When the mother and lead singer of the band lock eyes back stage, their clandestine relationship begins. It evolves overtime and takes them around the world. You will immediately find yourself rooting for their unlikely love story. I think I screamed out loud at the book’s ending. I had a full body reaction. The rumor mill is that the book is loosely based on One Direction and Harry Styles. If you’re somehow not already obsessed with Harry Styles, then I promise you will be after reading The Idea Of You.

Add the book to your summer beach bag here.

8. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams | 10 Perfect Summer Books

I adore A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. I read this originally in 2014 (I think) and have been recommending it ever since. Everyone I’ve ever recommended it to has come back and told me they loved it. On the cover of the novel, there is a review of the book that says it “sparkles like the New England summer sun.” A statement I couldn’t agree with more. If you live or vacation in New England in the summertime, then you must read this book. The novel is smart and captivating with a beautiful setting and a love story you’ll die over.

Set in New York City and on the beaches of Rhode Island, the novel follows Lily Dane as she makes her annual pilgrimage to Seaview, Rhode Island – a place her family has summered for generations. It is a place she finds joy and comfort in and finds to be a welcome refuge from her social life in New York City. Trouble moves in in Seaview when Lily’s former best friend and former fiancé arrive too, sending the whole town into a tizzy. Before her very eyes, Lily is swept up into a confusing web of longing and figuring out who her true friends are. All the while, a catastrophic hurricane moves up the Atlantic toward Rhode Island as one secret after another unravels. While reading this book, I was walking around thinking about Lily and Nick (her former fiancé) at all times, wondering what would happen next.

Add the book to your summer beach bag here.

9. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | 10 Perfect Summer Books

The Hating Game is such a wonderfully fun book! The book takes you on a wild ride that teeters on the very fine line of hating someone and loving someone. Like so many novels on this list, I read this book in two days. I could not put it down. It’s funny because I felt like the main character, Lucy, is dissimilar to me in a lot of ways, but I was still obsessed with her. The book is a workplace comedy meets workplace drama meets workplace love story. I’ll read a novel set in Italy or Rhode Island all day long. But the workplace is a clever and refreshingly realistic place to set a story. It works.

The story goes as follows: Lucy Hutton hates her coworker Joshua Templeman. Really hates him. They engage in an ongoing battle to be the best complete with office games, challenges, and takedowns – absolutely anything beat the other person. When they both go up for the same promotion, things in the office turn upside down as they wonder how far they will take their need to one up the other. Tensions reach an absolute boiling point and the two question if it’s in fact not hate that they feel for each other. Steamy dreams, an elevator kiss, and game playing make this such a fun + smart read! I promise, you will LOVE this book. Will love or hate win out or was it all just a game?

Add the book to your summer beach bag here.

10. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Oh The Light We Lost, how I loved reading you and missed you when you were done. This book haunted me in both the wake and sleeping hours of the day. I couldn’t shake it. Writing about it now makes me want to read it all over again. But I honestly question if I could handle it because the love story stayed with me for so long afterwards.

The Light We Lost is the story of two college students, Lucy and Gabe, in New York City at Columbia who meet on 9/11. They meet again by a chance of fate one year later and then again and again as the years pass. The main character, Lucy, is forced to question true love, love at first sight, and her true path in this devastatingly wonderful page-turner. Lucy is torn between the unreliable love of her life, Gabe (who she fell in love with all those years ago at that first meeting on 9/11), and her stable, adoring husband. With Lucy and Gabe it was love at first sight but their dreams took them down different paths in life. Lucy stays in New York while Gabe works in the Middle East.

Over the course of the book, Lucy marries and starts a family with a different man. But what happens if she can never move on from her first true love? You will cry while you read the last chapter of this book. So prepare yourself. It broke my heart. As Lucy was torn between two men and two lives, I was torn between being completely crippled by this book and being completely in love with both. In reality, it was both.

Add the book to your summer beach bag here.

Reward Style Loads

What books are in your beach bag this summer? I’d love to hear! On a group text the other day, some girlfriends told me to read The Court of Thorns and Roses and Fourth Wing. Apparently, I am really behind on not being in the know about these!

Did you know my dad has written two books? His first novel, Blood in the Lowcountry, is set mainly in Charleston and follows the protagonist of the book, Monty Atkins, has his world is turned upside down one night with a heartbreaking murder and devastating betrayal that leave him, his family, and the city of Charleston reeling. Monty must uncover a conspiracy of lies and decide what he will do to protect his family. Which includes protecting the secret past of his wife, Rose… a past she has been striving for years to outrun and bury. Can Monty save his family, his business, and potentially his own life? 

Important to note: there is a murder in the book but it is not gory so you don’t have to worry about it being that type of story. I profiled it here. His follow-up novel, Eli’s Redemption, is set mainly in The Bahamas and follows Monty’s son, Eli, as he strives to get his life back after that fateful night in Charleston all those years ago. I can’t recommend my dad’s books enough!

10 Books Perfect For Reading In The Summer | JillianEversole.com
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Reward Style Loads
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