5 June 2020

2020 BB Summer Reading List

Who doesn't love a good summer reading list??? Especially this summer when most of us are still left with nothing to do - unless you like golf or tennis, you'll be cracking a book poolside. Here are 40 recommendations that are sure to please...

New This Summer

Elin Hilderbrand

28 Summers 

No summer reading list is complete without a Hilderbrand novel, in my opinion. Her Nantucket landscapes are the perfect place to escape while you bask in the sun on a beautiful day and despite being somewhat fluffy some of her plotlines still punch you in the gut. This book comes out next week and I can't wait to read it.

John Grisham

Camino Winds

I do not personally keep up with John Grisham books but I have read a few and know how addictive they are, and I love a good Grisham adaptation. This is his newest book and it takes place on the summery Camino Island so I think it's a perfect addition to your poolside book stack.

Emily Giffin

The Lies that Bind

I have enjoyed Giffin's books in the past (Something Borrowed, etc.) and think this brand spankin' new novel of hers would make a great read this summer. She writes mostly chick-lit but this appears to have some mystery vibes to it as well.

Stephen King

If It Bleeds

I don't usually read Stephen King novels but I may make an exception for this because it's actually a set of four novellas. If you like horror novels, Stephen King is obviously the GOAT of this genre, and this newest collection should definitely be on your list for the summer.

Jennifer Weiner

Big Summer

I haven't read anything by Jennifer Weiner but I know a lot of women who love her books. She writes (I assume) that addictive type of chick-lit that's easy and approachable for most people looking for a cute book lying on the beach.

Emma Donoghue

The Pull of the Stars

This book doesn't get released until the end of July but will make a very relevant August read as it's about a bunch of expecting mothers quarantining during a flu pandemic at an overcrowded hospital... I enjoyed Donoghue's Room and will definitely want to check this out.

Kevin Kwan

Sex and Vanity

This book doesn't come out until the end of June but if you enjoyed Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians it should definitely be on your list. I haven't read any of Kwan's books yet (although I would like to) but I did love the Crazy Rich Asians movie adaptation and know this will be a fun summer read.

Big Ass Books

John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath

I flew through East of Eden one summer when I lived in London, ON, and loved it so much. Reading a giant piece of fiction always makes me feel so accomplished after and I want to chase that feeling with Grapes of Wrath. Plus, I'm very interested in learning about the dust bowl.

David Foster Wallace

The Pale King

In the summer of 2015 I bought Wallace's masterwork Infinite Jest because I had no job prospects. Fifty pages in I got a job at the newspaper as a copy editor and suddenly the reading project seemed overwhelming ... it was completely worth it and I want to recreate that feeling with The Pale King - Wallace's final book.

Norman Mailer

The Executioner's Song

I always seem to tackle the biggest books on my shelf in the summer so how could I not include this 1136-pager? On the edition I have is praise from Joan Didion and a foreword by Dave Eggers. This book creeps up on you! You can read my full review here.

Jonathan Franzen


With all the FREEDOM you have, summer is a great time for re-
reading your favourites. 

William T. Vollmann

Europe Central

Pretty sure I decided to buy this book after hearing about it in the David Foster Wallace biography. It won the National Book Award and deals with wartime. It is 832 pages and has nothing to do with summer.

Elizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of All Things

This is one of my favourite fiction books of all time and is very focused on botany and planting which always reminds me of summer. You can check out my full review here.

Adventure Books

David Grann

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

I love reading adventure/solo travel books, and the summer feels like the perfect time to do so. James Grey adapted this into a movie and my boyfriend loved it. I feel like I owe it another chance and plan to do so after reading Grann's book.

Levison Wood

Walking the Nile

I bought this in a blaze of other solo travel books but never got around to reading it. Clearly from the title you can tell it is about a guy who hiked alongside the Nile. I lent it to my dad and he really enjoyed it. Can't wait for some phantom mosquito itches.

Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

This memoir has been on every single list we have written since the start of this blog. But in all seriousness, this is one of my favourite memoirs and easily the best I've read in solo-travel nonfiction. I have really strong memories of reading this for the first time and can't wait to revisit. You can read our extremely old review here.

Aspen Matis

Girl in the Woods: A Memoir

In this memoir a young woman hikes from Mexico to Canada and reflects on her sexual assault and the trauma it caused her. I've had a few people I know read this and they all spoke highly of it.

Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air

I've been thinking a lot about how talented Jon Krakauer is lately. I've read a few books now about mountaineering and the dangers associated with it, but nothing comes close to Into Thin Air. His personal connection to the story cuts deep. This is another re-read I am looking to tackle but you can read my full review here.

Robyn Davidson

Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

Every summer when it's disgustingly hot I think about Davidson walking across the Australian outback naked getting her period down her legs in the hot sun with 3 camels and her dog in tow. If you're looking for a book to make you feel stronger than you are this summer, read Wild, and then read this. You can read our review here.

Books We've Been Meaning to Read

Roberto Bolano

The Savage Detectives

One of the best movie surprises I ever had was seeing Obvious Child at the Hyland. Jenny Slate's character works at a bookstore and this book comes into conversation with her love interest. I bought it right away but haven't touched it in four years. Great movie, hopefully great book.

David Foster Wallace

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments

I've yet to read a book of essays by DFW. I've tackled his fiction and short stories, but I know he is an incredible essayist and this collection contains the tennis essay I've been dying to read.

Gary Shteyngart

Little Failure: A Memoir

I feel like I was too young to appreciate Gary Shteyngart when I first read Super Sad True Love Story and have wanted to revisit his work now that I'm older. This book was mentioned in The Art of Memoir and I had picked it up used at least five years ago. It's about growing up with Russian parents.

Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

This is normally so not my style but I have only heard amazing reviews of Max Brooks's zombie book. Feels like a great summer read especially with the pandemic going on.

Patrick Radden Keefe

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

As soon as I finished Normal People, which is set in Ireland, I had a weird craving for more books in this location. A few podcasts recommended this book, but more famously this book was on Barack Obama's top ten of the year.

 Justin O. Schmidt

The Sting of the Wild

This is a crazy book written by an entomologist after he sets out to get stung by living insects so he can compare their sting and effects on humans. I love reading books by specialists and I'm sure this will be loaded with fun facts. I think it would make a great read over the summer as we swat bees and mosquitoes away indefinitely.

Glennon Doyle


Over the last few years I found some essays online by Glennon Doyle that really spoke to me and I've since been interested in her writing. This is her newest book that just came out in March. It's nonfiction and it's about changing your life by not trying to meet everyone's expectations always. I think it will be really well-written and I also think it's subject matter we could all benefit from.

Preparing for Upcoming Adaptations

Sally Rooney

Conversations with Friends

Obviously the world was obsessed with Sally Rooney's Normal People (myself included) and her book is getting even more attention because of the success of Hulu's adaptation. The TV show is FINALLY available in Canada and I can't wait to binge. With all this success, it only makes sense to adapt her earlier book Conversations with Friends.

Emily St John Mandel

Station Eleven

A story set in a pandemic-destroyed future already feels pretty fitting. Even better that it will be coming to HBO Max and will be directed by Hiro Murai - the guy who works on Atlanta.

Iain Reid

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Filmmaker-favourite Charlie Kauffman will be making this movie for Netflix. It sounds creepy and weird as hell - a psychological horror resulting in a visit to a farm to "meet the parents." The author is Canadian!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


This is another book that I've seen so many people read and have heard only praise about. It will also be included on the HBO Max original lineup once production is back in swing.

Frank Herbert


Denis Villeneuve is one of my favourite filmmakers and I look forward to every single project he is attached to. I'm not normally a huge science fiction reader, but I'm pretty sure my dad has a beat-up copy of this and it is just over 400 pages.

Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers

I already read Moriarty's The Husband's Secret this year and loved it, so this will be a perfect summer read in anticipation of the Hulu series that's currently being adapted. It's about nine randoms at a health retreat and I'm sure will be a great long weekend binge read.


Jessica Simpson

Open Book

So many people have been talking about this book because of all the juicy gossip Simpson spills about other celebrities, predominately John Mayer. I know a lot of people who've been "meaning to read this" and it seems like the perfect summer tell-all.

Alicia Keyes and Michelle Burford

More Myself: A Journey

This memoir also came out in March and it's hard to call it a memoir since she worked with a writer on it, but it's still better than a biography. I love Alicia Keyes and think there would be so much to learn about her considering she's laid pretty low and out of the public eye all this time.

Hilarie Burton Morgan

The Rural Diaries: What Moving to Mischief Farm Taught Me About What Really Matters in Life, Love, and Making Dandelion Wine

I LOVE Hilarie Burton Morgan (Peyton from One Tree Hill) and was so excited for her to write this book that I pre-ordered a signed copy from her local book store for an embarrassingly high price. It has a dreamy cover and is focused on her life on the farm her family lives on. I dream of chickens and a big veggie garden and I think this will be such a fun summer read.

David Thibodeau and Leon Whiteson

A Place Called Waco: A Survivor's Story

This book is from 1999 but is relevant now given the miniseries released on Netflix this year that was partially adapted from this book. The miniseries affected me hard and I think it would be so interesting to read this book, written by one of the survivors (as the title suggests) to get more details on the story.

Old Favourites

Peter Benchley


Jaws is a must watch summer movie for me and now that I've read the book I feel like it's a must for any summer reading list. It's not long and it's worth reading whether you've seen the movie or not (but also, definitely watch the movie). You can read my full review here.

Anita Shreve

The Weight of Water

Whenever someone is looking for a new author to get into I always recommend Anita Shreve. Her books are so captivating but they're also super easy, and this is definitely my favourite. It's mostly set on a boat so it has those summer vibes but it's hardly 'light' fiction.

Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals

It's always a good time to read this as far as I'm concerned but I think especially given everything that's happening with global warming / global pandemics, etc., it's especially timely. You can read my full review here.

 Judy Blume

Summer Sisters

For a long time I read this book every single summer and honestly I think I should start again. This is a perfect fiction novel and easily my favourite. I think everyone should read it this summer if they haven't already. You can read my full review here.

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