The Definitive End-of-Summer Reading List

With summer ending soon (we know; we’re groaning, too), it’s time to catch up on any of the biggest releases of the season you may have missed. Quartz made a definitive best-of list that analyzed 67 summer reading lists from various publications and counted how many times the buzziest titles received a recommendation. Below, we’ve listed every book mentioned on at least 10 lists, making them the most-talked about books of the summer and among the top titles of the year.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

According to the Quartz article “A Data-Driven Guide to the Best 2019 Summer Reading,” Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel was included on 29 of 67 best-of summer lists, making it the most-talked about book of the summer. In the quiet hours of your final trip to the beach, this historical novel about the glitz and glamor of the lives of showgirls will keep the fun going.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Though City of Girls made it on the most best-of summer lists, our personal opinion is that Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys is one of the top books of 2019 as a whole. This follow-up to the Pulitzer- and National Book Award-winning The Underground Railroad reveals once again how racial injustices of the past (this time, in Jim Crow-era Florida) reverberate and reform throughout future generations. It’s also been endorsed by Barack Obama as one of his summer reads.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

The debut novel of award-winning poet Ocean Vuong captured our hearts with its beautiful title alone. Briefly steep yourself in this gorgeously written story of a Vietnamese-American boy searching for a sense of belonging, and let the tidal wave of emotions wash over you.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Three Women is one of the few nonfiction picks that everyone’s buzzing about this summer. New York magazine contributor Lisa Taddeo spent eight years (!) reporting on the intimate lives of three American women. The result is a sultry, clear-eyed work of narrative journalism that is so propulsive it reads more like a great work of fiction meant to be devoured on the beach than a non-fiction exploration of sex and female desire — but that’s part of its brilliance.

Also available as an audiobook.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s debut, dripping with style, has been the talk of the town this summer. While its base elements are nothing new for the literary fiction crowd — a middle-aged Manhattan couple going through a divorce — the perfect encapsulation of modern troubles (for instance, dating apps) presented with such flair breathes new life into this time-tested story arc.

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Many tough choices face the titular Patsy: She decides to leave Jamaica, her daughter, and her husband looking for a better life in America and her first love, Cicely. While she boldly holds the reins of her life, it doesn’t stay on course, and she’s left trying to navigate through her desired dreams and harsher reality. A bold exploration of immigration and motherhood.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

A favorite of celebrity book clubs this summer, Searching for Sylvie Lee is a gripping mystery about a family trip that goes horribly wrong when a sibling goes missing. TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager made it her June #ReadWithJenna pick, as did Emma Roberts and her Belletrist Book Club. Hager said in her announcement on TODAY, “Any of us can imagine if our sister or our best friend went missing. Amy is searching for her sister and the sisterhood is I think the most beautiful part of it.”

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Called the first great millennial author and part of the group of Irish authors lighting up the literary scene, Sally Rooney has a way of writing so concisely and so sharply about love and social status and neuroses that you feel, at times, as though she’s cut you open, and you’re staring at your own innards on the page. Two preternaturally intelligent Irish teenagers are brought together by an almost magnetic fascination with one another, only to be driven apart by everything from high school hierarchies to emotional and physical trauma.

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Lead singer Daisy Jones and the band The Six may be fictional, but many readers swear they forget that no songs by The Six exist to be searched on YouTube while they’re reading the novel, because the characters feel so real. One of the biggest books of the year, let alone the summer season.

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

A cutting collection of essays from Jia Tolentino, who’s been dubbed the Joan Didion of the millennial generation. As social media and cultural influencers become ever more pervasive and potent, Tolentino looks inward at how our curated lives are warping our values and self-perception.

Inland by Téa Obreht

The sophomore effort from the author of The Tiger’s Wife is two magical stories about the American West rolled into one myth-shattering and myth-making tale. Learn about some obscurer parts of American history while being mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape and how haunted it is by ghosts.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

For everyone reading this list who is sick of all these literary fiction picks, finally, we’ve gotten to the most-lauded thriller of the summer. Really, it’s got some science fiction and romance thrown in there too, so it’s basically the perfect genre pick of the season. Shonda Rhimes and her studio are working on a feature film and TV series adaptation of this novel.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Smart and funny, this debut novel uses witty charm to fearlessly lay bare the messiness of race and dating, family and mental health, and the struggle to keep it together. Timely and lively, it’s Bridget Jones meets Americanah.

Also available as an audiobook.

The Wedding Party

No summer reading list would be complete without a sultry romance. The one that made 10 such lists is Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Party, which continues to interweave the love lives of friends of the characters from her smash hit The Wedding Date.

Find the full list of summer’s hottest books in the original Quartz article.


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