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When it’s time to unwind, I’m all about a good beach read. TBH, I don’t even have to be ~on the beach~ to enjoy one! To me, the term “beach read” applies to any can’t-put-it-down, would-recommend-to-anyone summertime novel. Luckily, the best books of summer 2020 are a total treat, from brutally honest memoirs to moving poetry collections to endearing romantic fiction. I’ve rounded up my top ten picks below and I won’t be surprised if you end up ordering them all. I did!
There’s no denying that there’s quite a lot going on this summer, and it hasn’t exactly been a time to relax and let loose, so giving yourself the chance to put down your phone, block out the noise and disappear into a book can be highly therapeutic. You deserve a much-needed moment of solitude and peace, and a great book can be just the ticket.
This list has a little bit of everything, and features both renown authors and new writers to fall in love with. From André Leon Talley’s long-awaited second memoir about his time at Vogue and in the fashion industry to Sally Rooney’s story of young love and miscommunication, Normal People—so good, it became Hulu’s must-watch series of the summer. There’s a lot to love and a lot to binge-read, believe me.
Personally, I’m a Support Your Local Bookstore kind of gal, so I highly suggest calling ahead to your local bookshops and seeing if you can swing by and pick up these novels IRL. If you prefer the instant gratification of Amazon’s one-click Buy Now option, I’ve included links to shop all ten books below. Scroll on to find your next must-read.
1. Beach Read by Emily Henry
It seems appropriate to kick off our 2020 beach reads list with a book called Beach Read, don’tcha think? Henry tells the story of two writers with different styles who decide to swap genres to tackle a shared bout of writer’s block. Will opposites attract? You’ll just have to read and find out.
2. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
You definitely binge-read the entire Crazy Rich Asians series a few summers back, so let author Kevin Kwan delight you yet again with Sex and Vanity. Written as an homage to A Room With A View, it follows Lucie Churchill all the way from a getaway in Capri to her real life in New York City as she struggles to embrace her Asian identity after meeting a man who piques her interest—despite the fact that she’s already engaged.
3. The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley
Talley’s second memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, is a juicy read any fashion-lover will adore. Talley writes with fondness and elegance—but also, brutal honesty—as he recounts his life from the South to NYC and Paris, name-dropping friends like Anna Winter, YSL and Karl Lagerfeld.
4. Normal People by Sally Rooney
OK, if you haven’t read this yet, I’m going to need you to buy it ASAP, if only so you can binge the Hulu series based on the book after. Rooney is a beautiful writer when it comes to love and relationships, and if you’ve already had the joy of reading Normal People, my next suggestion is Conversations With Friends, Rooney’s first novel.
5. All Adults Here by Emma Straub
I’ve heard praise for All Adults Here since the start of 2020, and I’ll be damned if I don’t plop my butt down on a beach chair and read it this month! Straub paints the picture of a family that spans three generations, covering all aspects from middle school antics to high school sweethearts to aging parents.
6. a fire like you by Upile Chisala
If you’ve never been much of a poetry buff, allow Chisala’s a fire like you to move and inspire you. Her third collection of poetry deals heavily with themes of love, loss and identity, and while the subject matter is personal, anyone can relate to her struggles with self-love and worthiness. If you’re already read, try nectar or soft magic instead.
7. Let’s Never Talk About This Again by Sarah Faith Alterman
Let’s Never Talk About This Again won’t be out until end of July, but it’s definitely worth pre-ordering to serve as your end-of-summer read. Writer and producer Sarah Faith Alterman’s memoir is full of dark humor as she recounts discovering her father’s past as an erotica writer and helping him revive his career while he struggles with Alzheimer’s.
8. Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
Orenstein’s latest, Head Over Heels, follows an ex-gymnast who suffered a career-ending injury at the Olympic trials. Fast-forward to the present, she’s back in her hometown with no direction—until she gets a gig coaching another Olympic hopeful and realizes she has to confront her past to finally move forward.
9. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Released June 2020, The Vanishing Half is hot off the presses, but reads like a total classic. Bennett tells the story of identical twin sisters who lead completely opposite lives, as one lives in the South with her Black daughter and the other, passing as white, lives in California with her husband.
10. Self Care by Leigh Stein
If, like me, you’re one of those beauty-lovers that’s obsessed with indie brands and start-up stories, you’ll definitely want to preorder Self Care, available June 30. Stein’s book tells the tale of female cofounders trying to get their wellness start-up off the ground—and struggling to remain friends in the process.
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