Reading Guides

The 2020 Summer Reading Guide: The Ultimate List

Wondering what to read this summer? This guide is chock-full of the best new books to read.

Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

Summer Reading Guide 2020

Have you started thinking about your summer reading?  Do you have your reading list ready yet?  Our first annual BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide is finally here, and I’m super excited for it to be out in the reading world!

About The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Our first-ever seasonal reading guide at BiblioLifestyle was The 2020 Summer Reading Guide, and we haven’t missed a season since.  We are sharing all the 2020 new releases we recommended in that guide in this book list.  So whether you’re looking for a good beach read or something more challenging, there’s something for everyone on this list guide.


2020 Summer Reading Guide

Why Summer Reading?

Summertime = peak reading season.  Whether curled up at the beach, taking a break by the pool, or relaxing on your couch, it’s easy to forget about everything except the book in your hands. I want you to get lost in the stories that you’re reading and forget about your real life for a little.  That’s why I’ve put together the 2020 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide – to help you find great books tailored to your interests and ensure you have enough material for those fun-filled summer days!

Let me be your private Library Assistant and show you what titles will fill every hour of your summer with joy, from captivating and thought-provoking stories to hilarious romcoms guaranteed to bring out laughs.  There are more than enough titles here for everyone!  So relax, grab a book (or five!), and kick back as we help guide you through some of our top picks of must-read books this season.

More About The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Thousands of books graced bookshelves during the summer, and I haven’t read them all.  So I have selected my favorites from the books I have read.  I then organized them into categories.  I’ve also included publication dates so you’ll know what comes out when (although these dates may change).  

Some of these titles have heavy themes, so if you need trigger warnings, please email me at hello[at]bibliolifestyle[dot]com, and I will do my best to advise you accordingly.  I also recommend using The StoryGraph for trigger warnings as well.  

Above all, reading is a personal experience!  So I’ve included summaries to help you decide if that book sounds right for you based on your taste, interests, and current reading mood. 

Also, don’t forget to tag @bibliolifestyle and use the hashtag #bibliolifestyleSRG in your posts so we can see what you’re reading as well.

I hope you’ll find plenty of books you love in this guide, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your favorites!

List of Books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Historical Fiction from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Historical Fiction Books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Another wonderfully transportive summer read comes from the author of Next Year in Havana and When We Left Cuba. Three women’s lives cross over the Labor Day weekend as the storm of the century comes barreling towards Key West. Told from three perspectives, these women’s lives couldn’t be any more different, but their lives converge in ways we could not foresee. We also get insight into a very little-known historical event – The Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

Set during the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two brave young women–an aspiring journalist and a down-on-her-luck actress–form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of endless possibility, stand down adversity, and find out what they are truly made of during the glorious summer of spectacle and opportunity.

The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama

A novel about a Japanese-American family comes from the New York Times bestselling author of Women of the Silk and The Samurai’s Garden. Set against the backdrop of Hawai’i’s sugar plantations and the 1935 volcano eruption. The novel alternates between past and present and interweaves the stories of three characters to tell a story of family and community.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Told in dual timelines, two strong-minded women across generations – one in 1913 and the other in 1993 – are connected to a mysterious series of rare book thefts at the iconic New York Public Library. The novel delves into the history of the library but also has strong themes of family, secrets, love, and forging one’s path in life.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Inspired by a true story from World War II, a young woman named Eva, with a talent for forgery, helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis. Years later, researchers are trying to decode the book to find out the children’s actual names. Only Eva has the answer – but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

Books about Family and Friendship from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Family & Friendship Books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

From the author of The Mothers comes a new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds.  Desiree and Stella grew up together in a small southern town.  One sister lives with her Black daughter in the same city she tried to escape many years later.  The other sister secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past and family.  Their daughters try to bring them back together after being separated by so many miles, lies, and fears.

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman

From the author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill comes a new novel about a distant mother-daughter duo who are forced to reconnect.  So they set off with a dozen other parent-student duos for a weeklong college tour. A series of off-roading misadventures ensue, and surprises and secrets pop out to threaten their relationship and, in the end, change it forever.

Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

Elisabeth is an accomplished journalist and new mother struggling to adjust to life in a small town. Sam is a college senior who Elisabeth hires to babysit. She is worried about student loan debt and her future. The differences between the women’s lives become starkly revealed, and a betrayal has devastating consequences.

Want by Lynn Steger Strong

Years after coming to New York, Elizabeth has found herself with two kids, a husband, two jobs, and a Ph.D.  Now they’re filing for bankruptcy. She reaches out to Sasha, her long-lost childhood friend, and discovers Sasha is facing a crisis, too. She is grappling with motherhood, economic anxiety, rage, and the devastation of unfulfilled expectations.

Books about Family and Friendship in The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

From the author of Limelight comes a hilarious and heartfelt novel about friendship, family, motherhood, love, and second chances. Bridget’s boyfriend breaks up with her over email, her daughters return home with their problems, her elderly father announces he is getting married, and she is trying to put her classical trio back in the spotlight. Everything that can go wrong goes wrong, but it gives Bridget a second chance.

Bear Necessity by James Gould-Bourn

Danny has become a single father to eleven-year-old Will—who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash. Then, finally, Will opens up to the man in the panda costume at the park, completely unaware it is his father. Danny is afraid of disclosing his true identity, losing Will’s trust, and living in debt. It is a heartwarming and poignant debut novel about a father and son overcoming their grief together.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

From the author of Freshwater comes a novel of family, friendship, identity, challenging norms, and expectations. The novel centers around the mysterious death of a young Nigerian man, Vivek Oji. Vivek’s family struggles to understand him. He finds solace in his female friends and cousin Osita and discovers he is not the only one with secrets.

Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

Lexi, Callie, and Hanna grew up in small-town Louisiana and have always struggled to make ends meet. For years, they’ve been playing the lottery, fantasizing about how much better life would be if they won. Then it happens, they win $204 million, and all their dreams come true. Or so they think.

Mysteries and Thrillers from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Mysteries & Thriller Books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

The Distant Dead by Heather Young

A body burns in the high desert hills. Sal walks into a fire station, pale with the shock of the discovery. Nora, a middle school teacher, worries when her colleague is late for work. The body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel by day’s end. Weaving together the last months of Adam’s life, Nora’s search for answers, and a young boy’s tragic moral reckoning —comes a beautiful, poignant coming-of-age story in a complex, electrifying page-turning mystery/thriller.

Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry

From the author of Freefall comes a new novel about two women fighting for their lives. Cait and Rebecca are on a lonely road in the New Mexican desert. They’ve never met before tonight. Both have secrets to protect. Both of their lives are in danger. A truck pulls up fast behind them, and it’s clear whoever is driving the truck is hunting them for sport. Someone wants one of them dead. But which one?

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

From the author of The Last House Guest comes a new psychological suspense novel about a young woman plagued by night terrors after a childhood trauma of sleepwalking. Years later, she wakes one evening to find the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life—before she changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Claire seems to have a perfect life, but nothing is quite as it seems behind closed doors, and Claire is planning to disappear. She meets Eva at the airport, a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. So they decide to switch tickets and travel under each other’s names. Unfortunately, the plane with Eva aboard crashes, so Claire assumes Eva’s identity and the secrets Eva tried to keep hidden.

Mysteries and Thrillers 2020 Summer Reading Guide

His & Hers by Alice Feeney

From the author of Sometimes I Lie and I Know Who You Are comes a twisty dual narrative novel with a taut suspense plot and many twists and turns. When a woman is murdered in Blackdown, a quintessentially British village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Detective Jack Harper is suspicious of her involvement until he becomes a suspect in his murder investigation.

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

After years together, the arrival of their longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three. So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes—Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party, things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.

The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

A creative and clever novel that is also an homage to classic detective stories with a modern twist. Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked all the rules out – and wrote seven perfect detective stories to demonstrate. Thirty years later comes Julia Hart, an editor keen to republish his book. But there are things in the stories that don’t add up, and Julia finds herself with a mystery of her own to solve.

Three Perfect Liars by Heidi Perks

A gripping, compelling murder mystery about three ambitious women whose lives are turned upside down in the aftermath of a horrifying fire, which destroys a successful advertising agency and threatens to expose a tangled web of lies.

Multicultural Books in The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Multicultural Books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup

Latitudes of Longing follows the interconnected lives of characters searching for true intimacy. The novel sweeps across India, from an island to a valley, a city, and a snow desert. They are made up of four linked novellas. Their titles—Islands, Faultline, Valley, and Snow Desert—suggest the book’s emphasis on how people connect or don’t to their planet.

One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie

A novel that explores cross-cultural struggles and assimilation from a unique immigrant perspective. The Palacio family lives illegally in Trinidad after fleeing crumbling, volatile Venezuela. They then discover Aunt Celia owes a local criminal a lot of money, so the entire family has to do his bidding until the debt is settled. But amid the turmoil, there is a potentially dangerous romance.

Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave

Simran has always felt judged by her mother, Nandini. Nandini strives to create an easy life for her children and be the perfect Indian woman. Mimi failed her daughter Nandini, but with her Simran, she has the chance to be supportive. As life begins to pull Nandini and Simran apart, Mimi is determined to be the bridge that keeps them connected, even as she carries her secret.

It Is Wood, It Is Stone by Gabriella Burnham

Linda is an anxious and restless American who has moved to São Paulo with her husband. Her maid, Marta, has more claim to Linda’s home than Linda can fathom. Then, one day, Linda leaves home with a charismatic and beguiling artist, Celia, that causes reverberations felt by everyone.

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

It is a novel about an unconventional family in Trinidad mended by their individual and collective quests for love. Betty invites her colleague, Mr. Chetan, to move in with her and her son, Solo. Over time, they become a family, loving each other deeply and depending upon one another. But then, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan one fateful night and learns a secret that plunges him into torment.

Romance Books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

Romance Books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Samiah Brooks never thought she would be “that” girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she’s been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other “girlfriends,” London and Taylor-have gone viral online. The three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men and no dating. For once, Samiah is putting herself first, that’s until she meets Daniel at work. But is Daniel boyfriend material, or is he just a little too good to be true?

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Dani is a Ph.D. student who is too busy for romance. That’s until a video of Zafir rescuing her from a workplace fire drill gone wrong goes viral. Zaf is begging Dani to play along, and his charity could use the publicity. Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public and seduce Zaf behind the scenes. Unfortunately, Zaf is secretly a hopeless romantic with issues of his own, and the easy lay Dani dreamed of is now more complex than her thesis.

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Olivia moves to LA to start her law firm, and dating is not on the agenda. However, she meets a man at a hotel bar, and they spend the entire night flirting. Later she discovers the man at the bar is hotshot junior senator Max Powell, and he is everything she is not. They start seeing each other secretly, but the media scrutiny is intense when they go public. She knows they have something special, but can it survive the spotlight?

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

A disastrous performance has ended Avery’s gymnastics career and Olympic dreams. Her best friend Jasmine becomes an Olympic champion and marries their emotionally abusive coach. In comes Ryan, a new coach, and Avery is surprised to find sparks flying with him. But when a scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it affects the sport and Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

Romance Books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Bea is a stylish plus-size fashion blogger with a massively broken heart, and she has sworn off dating altogether. Then she gets a call from the hit reality show Main Squeeze – they want her to be the next ‘bachelorette.’ She agrees only to revamp her career, and she swears she’ll never fall in love. But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine returns home to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy. After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead. With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private for their show. But rehearsal leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Workaholic Leena and her newly single grandmother Eileen decide to switch homes, shake up their stalled lives and hopefully find love. Lonely Eileen takes Leena’s London flat to enjoy the city bustle and go on dates. Leena will enjoy a much-needed break in Eileen’s quiet Yorkshire village doing chores and taking Eileen’s place in the neighborhood group. A touching lighthearted read about second chances.

The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada, Holly Lorincz

A Pride and Prejudice-inspired romantic comedy. Hara Isari has big ambitions, and they won’t be sidetracked by her mother’s insistence that she settle down. But, at the same time, she meets a rookie on the rise, Derek Darcy. Hara can’t think of a more arrogant and infuriating man, but fate keeps bringing them together.

What do you think about the books from The 2020 Summer Reading Guide?

Have you read any books from this list?  What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?  Are you planning to read any books from the 2020 summer reading guide?  Let’s talk in the comments.


The 2020 Summer Reading Guide

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Summer is a time for relaxation, adventure, and exploration.  So if you're looking for the best new books of the season, this guide is just for you.

The 2024 Summer Reading Guide has forty-five new releases organized across eight categories. You’ll also find some fun things to do at home, summer-themed recipes, plus more.

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