Summer Reading List Toolkit

Last Updated by PBS Books Editor on

To celebrate summer’s splendor, we share our summer reading list. This is a collection of books you can sink into, spend some extra time with, pages and passages waiting to be pored over unhurriedly. These are stories and topics meant to savor.


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Fatima Farheen Mirza.jpgA Place For Us: A Novel by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A stunning debut novel about family, identity, faith and love. It feels intimate yet universal. There’s a reason why this book is on everyone’s must-read list. It’s beautiful. You’ll be absorbed into the story from page one.


Lauren Groff.jpgFlorida by Lauren Groff is a book of short stories that draws you into the emotional and physical worlds of a landscape you’ll swear you can feel off the page. The writing is magnificent, the stories startling. Watch Groff’s interview at AWP 2018.



Michael Pollan.jpgHow to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan is a journalistic trip. Literally. You will be spellbound reading about the author’s own experiences with psychedelic drugs as he tries to uncover various states of human consciousness, while also diving into the science behind it all.


Alexander Chee.jpgHow to Write An Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee is a brilliant collection of non-fiction essays exploring identity, education and art. Honest and insightful, you’ll be transfixed not only from the deep examination of Mr. Chee’s life but by the writing, as well. Watch Chee's interview from AWP 2018


Paula McLain.jpgLove & Ruin: A Novel by Paula McLain returns to the subject of Ernest Hemingway she first explored in her New York Times bestseller, The Paris Wife. McLain again, introduces us to a woman in history, Martha Gellhorn, who was strong, focused and talented and who did not want to give up her career or be overshadowed by her famous husband Hemingway.


Sheila Heti.jpgMotherhood by Sheila Heti will leave you feeling like you just read something wholly original, smart and revelatory. Heti asks some difficult questions about women’s responsibilities and desires today along with society’s expectations, forcing us to laugh, but helping us be honest with ourselves, too.


Gabriel Tallent.jpgMy Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is a book you might just read in one sitting. The characters, the setting, the dialogue – all combine to move you in ways that will leave you wanting so more of each. You’ll savor the last few pages. Watch Tallent's interview from the 2018 L.A. Times Festival of Books.


Aja Gabel.jpgThe Ensemble: A Novel by Aja Gabel is another gorgeous debut novel, Gabel shares a story about friends who become family, ambition and the complicated, competitive world of professional musicians. At its heart, this is a story about all the mighty forms of love.



R.O. Kwon.jpgThe Incendiaries: A Novel by R.O. Kwon will be released July 31, and you’ll want to read this ASAP. Kwon’s debut is a deeply engrossing novel about violence, love, faith, and loss, as a young Korean American woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea. Watch Kwon's interview from AWP 2018


Diana Gabaldon.jpgThe Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon first hit bookshelves in 1992. Twenty-five years later, it’s still going strong. With eight books in the series and a 9th currently being written, plus a hugely popular series on STARZ, the fanbase for Outlander continues to grow. Incredible storytelling with unforgettable characters, this series is for someone who wants to get lost in ancient Scotland all summer. Watch Gabaldon's interview from the 2018 L.A. Times Festival of Books.


Bill Clinton and James Patterson.jpgThe President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson is the summer’s most talked about suspense novel. Set over the course of three days, Patterson and Clinton’s thriller sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this suspenseful novel will have you digging your toes deeper into the summer beach sand.


Jasmine Guillory.jpgThe Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory is the book to read to feel good. Alexa and Drew find themselves stuck in an elevator together and end up hitting it off immediately. When Drew ends up askng Alexa to be his fake girlfriend at his exes wedding, Alexa agrees. More sparks fly, delivering one of the summer's best romantic reads. Watch Guillory's interview from the 2018 L.A. Times Festival of Books.


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