the best summer books for your beach bag

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It may not technically be summer yet, but the weather (at least in the South) is hot - already low 90s - the sun is out, and the vibe around us is beginning to slow down just a bit. All of this has me very excited for the summer season and getting ready with a summer bucket list that includes tubing at the springs, having Casamigos margaritas and tortilla chips outside on the porch, and lots of summer reading.

If you ask me, summer and fall are the best seasons for reading but the content tends to differ wildly. Summer books should have an element of adventure or travel, be dramatic enough to stay engaging but lighthearted enough to carry you through the longest, hottest days of the season. Here are five books that fit the bill:

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey
I’m a big fan of the Peachtree Bluff series and have been looking forward to this, the third book, for so long now! The story picks up with Ansley Murphy and her three daughters, this book particularly focusing on the youngest daughter Emerson, a Hollywood actress at home with her family in Georgia. Definitely read the first two books before picking this one up, as they are both so charming and will make you want to pack up and move to a little beach town in the South.

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
May Attaway, a gardener who keeps to herself, decides to reconnect with four old friends. She visits them each separately, considering herself the female Odysseus. This book has a lot of details that make it sound like a great summer novel: afternoon ice-cream, surprise postcards, and friendship.

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess
Set in the summer of 1987, an aspiring writer named Eve attends a gathering in Cape Cod at the home of a New Yorker writer and his poet wife. She’s dazzled by the guests and invited to a famous book party where she learns that the literary world is not what it seems. This sounds like it has a Gatsby vibe, which I like the sound of.

Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Ginder
A woman, and Classics professor, whose family is falling apart decides to book a month long trip for them on a Greek island to try to reconnect. This book is described as a witty family drama and I think the setting and travel themes are perfect for a summer read.

Costalegre by Courtney Maum
I loved Courtney Maum’s last book Touch and am so excited for this one. American heiress and art collector Leonora Calaway, living in Hitler’s Europe in 1937, begins helping artists escape Europe to the Costalegre resort in Mexico. The story is told from the perspective of Leonora’s 15-year-old daughter who accompanies her mother and becomes entangled with an older man and Dadaist sculptor.