If you’re like me, you probably have a book list a mile long to get through. Each summer, you flip through it, trying to plan your summer reading list and realize that even though you really want to read all of those books, there’s a contemporary novel you just have to read right away. You need to be ahead of the curve, reading the hot new thing to get set for the movie edition (looking at you Paper Towns), or just to keep abreast of the popular tropes that you just know will start appearing in your favorite TV shows.
Now this list isn’t necessarily going to help you whittle down that book list of classics that you need to read just because and they aren’t necessarily the new hot thing of the moment. But they are all fairly new books you might have missed in past year because with all the studying and assigned reading, who really has time for reading for fun? That’s what summer vacation is for.
These are six books that might help kick off your summer reading list, while you destress from finals (I mean, yes, you really do want to read In Cold Blood at some point, but you need a bit of break) and determine what new novels will be the “it” books of the summer.
For studying/travelling abroad: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Personally, I think the best way to travel is to bring along a book set in the place where you’re going. There is nothing quite like reading The Devil in the White City while sitting on a train that passes through Jackson Park or wandering through Dublin after reading a chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The brilliant way certain novels are able to capture certain places brings a charm to travel that really isn’t obtainable unless you are reading the story at that time. For anyone heading to London this summer, Paula Hawkins’ thriller, The Girl on the Train, paints a remarkable picture of the train on the way into London, and while I haven’t read the book while being there, I can only imagine that it is twice as creepy and foreboding if you are constantly passing the types of places she paints throughout the narrative.
For working/interning: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham or Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler
I love both of these books for similar, though slightly different reasons. There is something inspiring and reassuring about reading about the post-graduation struggles of women who I already know turn out to be incredibly successful (this is, of course, why I picked up the books in the first place). If you’re working all summer, then reading about people whose hard work eventually paid off can be incredibly inspiring and useful. Especially for those of you stuck in the service industry, though Dunham’s baby shop is probably a bit more lax and high end than where you are, there is something beautifully hilarious about how she renders that experience. Other suggestions in this category are Tina Fey’s Bossypants or Grace Helbig’s Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up.
For laying at the beach: Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Some of your best, uninterrupted reading time can be on a true vacation – somewhere sunny and warm, preferably with a nice, sandy beach to lay out on. Now I’m all for jumping in the waves and being a little active, but a girl’s got to relax and lay in the sun at some point. I always prefer to do this with a book, but something light enough I can get distracted or fall asleep if that’s what happens. Bittersweet is the perfect summer get-away book, following the adventures of Mabel Dagmar, who has just finished her freshman year of college and has gone home with her rather wealthy roommate for the summer. It’s a little suspenseful, a little dark, and a lot of fun for a lazy day at the beach.
For travelling from home: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein
Being stuck at home for the summer can seem like a bit of a bummer (even if you’ve missed being at home while in South Bend all year). But if you’re really feeling the blues about being at home, reading can be a perfect escape, without breaking the bank. Code Name Verity is a World War II-era spy novel, that follows two female protagonists through England and France as they contribute to the Allied war effort against the Germans. It’s rather suspenseful and, after a certain point, nearly impossible to put down. All in all, it’s a fun read, and a great escape to another world for just a couple of hours.
For those whose Flex Points inevitably run out by the end of the first semester: Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin
Budgeting is hard. And unless you’re a business major, finance can seem like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. I’m not necessarily saying that if you’re always out of Flex Points, you automatically won’t be able to budget your money once you enter a world where Flex Points don’t exist at all (maybe you’ll even be better prepared than your friends who never spend their Flex Points, because you’ve had more practice). However, being prepared for a world where all money is real and no one spots you $380 before you have to move to cash is probably a good thing. Nicole Lapin’s new book is just the book for any collegiette looking to hone her finance skills over the summer.
For those who will regret the slowdown in new Her Campus articles over the summer: The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life! By Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Annie Chandler Wang, Windsor Hanger Western, and the Writers & Editors of Her Campus
Even though we won’t be totally gone all summer, there won’t be weekly articles to look forward to from every author. If you know that you won’t be able to live without your weekly dose of Her Campus, this book is perfect for you. Even if this isn’t your life, Her Campus has a whole group of tips for any problem you might face in college. Any collegiette, from those just starting next fall to those who will be entering their final year, can find some good advice for avoiding the major pitfalls of college life and getting the most out of their college experiences.
This is obviously just a start to all the great books you could read this summer, and every one of them comes with a number of similar texts that will create the same effect. But after a year of stressful assigned reading, don’t forget to take the time to read something not quite so taxing!