Ah, summer—a time for relaxation, love and an infinite amount Snapchat-worthy selfies, which are typically taken while frolicking through meadows. When classes are done and you have more time on your hands than you know what to do with, traveling seems like a fantastic idea, and why not dream up a summer romance to go along with it?
Except, sometimes, the harsh reality of not having the finances or the romance to help push along the hot summer season settles in, and summer jobs can cut into your time of napping or binging your favorite TV shows.
Instead of mourning this lost time of adventure, you’ll find the most exciting places to experience love, travel and summer fun is the pages of a book.
“Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins’ 2010 novel debut “Anna and the French Kiss” will take you on a trip to Paris and make you fall in love with its quirky characters and famous setting.
In Perkins’ Parisian novel, 18-year-old Anna Oliphant is unhappily whisked from Atlanta to Paris, where her father has enrolled her into an American boarding school. It sounds like a dream, right? For Anna, it’s not. It’s her senior year of high school, she’s leaving her friends and a new romance behind, but she must throw this is all away for her father, a Nicholas Sparks-esque author, to show his peers that he’s really made it in the industry. But Anna’s hesitancy to accept Paris as a temporary home is diminished upon meeting new friends and the handsome Etienne St. Clair, who so happens to not be so single.
This light-hearted young adult novel has inspired fans to organize tours of Paris and remains highly rated on social media platforms, such as Goodreads. Best-selling author Victoria Schwab called the book “flawless” with its “stellar characterization and lovely writing” on the site.
Heart-eye moments, laughter and relatable drama ensue in this delightful book that should definitely be part of your summer romance TBR list.
“Just One Day” by Gayle Forman
You may recognize “Just One Day” author Gayle Forman from the popular book-to-screen adaptation, “If I Stay,” featuring actress Chloë Grace Moretz. Both are heart-wrenching stories that feature blooming young romances, but they differ in tragedy.
“Just One Day” stars American tourist Allyson “LuLu” Healey and Dutch actor (and heartthrob) Willem De Ruiter. The pair meet during Allyson’s tour of Europe, while Willem and a group perform a Shakespearian play in England. They meet, sparks fly and after just one single day together, Willem disappears without any explanation. Allyson returns home, heartbroken, unable to resolve or understand her feelings for the stranger she fell for in such a short span of time.
Although it may sound like a bummer, Forman doesn’t stop Allyson’s story at the end of her short-lived summer romance with Willem. Allyson’s journey is about learning to love herself and her life, searching for the one that got away afterward.
Forman will have you swooning, singing songs of woe and grasping at your heart with a cliff-hanger that the following book, “Just One Year,” promises to answer.
“Love & Luck” by Jenna Evans Welch
Kirkus Reviews describes “Love & Luck” by Jenna Evans Welch as “a skillfully rendered exploration of heartbreak, friendship, family and destiny,” which, needless to say, fits the qualifications of a perfect summer book that will feature much more than a summer romance.
Protagonist Addie is more than ready to escape her problems and leave high school far behind as she crosses the ocean to Ireland for a wedding. She makes plans to visit a friend in Italy, but they’re derailed when she finds herself in a car with her brother, Ian, and Rowan, an Irish friend.
“Love & Luck” has a romantic plot, but it also focuses on Addie and Ian’s relationship. Welch goes beyond just romantic love and incorporates familial love, inspiring heart-warming moments between brother and sister that help Addie heal from the drama she’s left behind in America.
Welch does a fantastic job of taking readers along on a stunning, detail journey of Addie’s Irish road trip and reminds us along the way that having a healthy, loving relationship with your family is just as important as having one with a romantic partner.
It’s a difficult task to leave Madeline Miller out of any enjoyable reading list, and, naturally, “Circe” found its way on one about summer reading.
Miller has already gained critical acclaim for her debut novel “The Song of Achilles,” and “Circe” is a testament to the power of her storytelling. The novel tells the origin story of Circe, a minor goddess briefly feature in the story of Odysseus. In Miller’s portrayal of events, Circe is given agency and tells her story with lush detail and heart-breaking honesty.
Romance isn’t the focal point of this novel, but there is a romantic aspect to how Circe finds the will to love herself, her child and her way of life. She comes to embrace her abilities, which were once shunned for being different. The Guardian praises Miller’s ability to “[forge] a great romance from the scraps left to us by the ancients,” and the Daily Telegraph describes it as “luminous…deft and compassionate.”
Circe will break and reshape your heart, and have you falling in love with its ancient Greece landscape.
“Hot Dog Girl” By Jennifer Dugan
One of the newer releases on this list, just hitting shelves late April, is Jennifer Dugan’s “Hot Dog Girl.”
Elouise Parker has found a summer job at Magic Castle Playland, a local amusement park, and she’s scored a cast member position…as a hot dog. Her crush is dating someone else, the park may be closing down by the end of summer and her best friend, Seeley, is rather reluctant when it comes to helping Elouise get closer to Nick.
Averaging a 4.0/5 star rating on Goodreads, “Hot Dog Girl” is Dugan’s first young adult contemporary novel.
Becky Albertalli, author of “Simon vs. The Homosapien’s Agenda,” describes Dugan’s debut as “funny, joyful and big-hearted,” hyping up this LGBTQ+ summer love story.
Searching for a summer romance during the summer months? Don’t look too hard, for love is always waiting for you in the pages of a book.