Topiary Reading Club Vol. XIV: Summer Reads
To wrap up this summer, for the 14th installment of Topiary Reading Club, we bring to you summery novels that are perfect to read by the beach or on the plane en route to your vacation destination or even lounging in your bed at home while you’re itching to be somewhere else—somewhere with crashing waves and first loves and exciting adventures…
Beach Read by Emily Henry
January Andrews is a bestselling romance author and Augustus Everett is a distinguished literary fiction novelist—they’re complete opposites, and on top of that, they were long-term writing rivals back in college. But when January and Augustus find themselves in neighboring beach houses, both suffering a case of writer’s block, they decide to make a bet: They’ll swap genres—Augustus will attempt to write a swoon-worthy happily-ever-after romance, while January will try to pen a noteworthy dark and complex literary piece—and whoever can sell their book first wins. For inspiration and research, they go on field trips trying to teach each other what they do—he takes her to interview surviving members of a suicide cult, and she takes him on quasi-dates to places like the carnival and the beach. Surely both will finish their book and no one will fall in love. Right?
Despite the seemingly fluffy premise, Beach Read tackles topics such as grief, childhood trauma, self-discovery, and the stereotypes of women’s fiction with thoughtfulness and tenderness, and through the journeys of the novel’s dynamic characters. Witty, fun and sweet, yet balanced with startling depth, Beach Read truly is a story full of heart.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“Just because it is in Malibu's nature to burn, so was it in one particular person's nature to set fire and walk away.”
It’s August of 1983 and Nina Riva is about to throw her annual, highly anticipated end-of-summer rager, except this star-studded party is not like the others—this one will end with lives changed, with secrets revealed and with Malibu engulfed in flames. Malibu Rising is the story of the four famous adult children of legendary rockstar Mick Riva—Nina, a surfer and supermodel, Jay, a professional surfer, Hud, an acclaimed photographer, and their youngest sibling, Kit. The novel follows two timelines—flashbacks of the Riva family’s tragic and complicated history spanning decades, and the 24 hours leading up to the party that spins completely out of control.
Reid brings to readers an addicting blend of celebrity culture and family drama on the glittering waves and shores of California. But the novel is more than just a tale of vapid stardom and drama, it is a narrative with a great deal of humanity, an exploration of filial bonds and dynamics, and all the raw messiness that comes with them—the heartbreak and betrayal, the love and loyalty, the mistakes and sacrifices. The novel delves into the way the past affects one’s future and the ultimate pursuit to break free from that past.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
“For me, it was almost like winter didn’t count. Summer was what mattered. My whole life was measured in summers.”
For every summer of her life, Belly Conklin and her family would visit Cousins Beach where they would spend the months in a beach house with her mother’s best friend, Susannah, and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. They are the boys Belly grew up with, and they’ve always just seen her as a little kid, as Steven’s younger sister. But something’s in the air this summer. Something’s different. Belly’s different. And for the first time, the boys finally see her. Susannah has always known that Belly was destined for one of her boys. But will it be Conrad, the boy Belly’s been in love with since forever, or Jeremiah, her best friend that could possibly be more? Or will it be none of them at all? Will this be the summer to remember, the summer that changes everything?
The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy is a light and easy read that transports readers to the sunny shores of Cousins Beach, capturing the magic of summer and of youth, and the joys and trials that come with growing up, dealing with changes, loss, family, friendship and love.
We hope you enjoy this list, and that, with these books, you’re able to carry summer with you all year round.