No, summer doesn't "officially" begin in the Northern Hemisphere until the equinox on June 21, but everyone knows that the true start of summer is Memorial Day Weekend, when most of the country kicks off a season of warm-weather lounging, swimming, barbecuing, and picnicking with a long weekend of rest and relaxation. There is no better companion for the next three days — and the next three months — than one of the best new books of summer 2019, 50 of which I've listed for you below.
Bustle's summer recommendation list includes nonfiction, memoir, romance, horror, YA, fantasy, and more. All 50 of the books on this list will dazzle you, challenge you, captivate you, entertain you, and keep you flipping pages long into the night. More than a few of them are already available in bookstores now, and every single book will be out before the end of the summer.
If you're looking for more recommendations, be sure to check out what 20 authors recommended as the book of summer, plus Bustle's recommendations for the best books of March, best books of April, and best books of May, as well as for books to read over Memorial Day weekend (and beyond).
'The Bride Test' by Helen Hoang
When an opportunity arises to move to the United States to meet a potential husband, Esme Tran jumps at the chance, hoping it just might free her family from a lifetime of poverty in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City.
'Rough Magic' by Lara Prior-Palmer
At age 19, Lara Prior Palmer decided to compete in the Mongol Derby, the world's longest, toughest horse race, despite having no formal training. In this memoir, she charts her journey to becoming the first female winner of the race.
'The Unhoneymooners' by Christina Lauren
Olive and Ethan are sworn enemies — and the only two people spared in an outbreak of food poisoning at Olive's sister's wedding. With everyone sick, the honeymoon is up for grabs — but can they put aside their differences and attempt to make nice in paradise?
'Red, White & Royal Blue' by Casey McQuiston
When Alex, the charismatic son of the U.S. president, and Henry, the prince of Wales, get into an on-camera beef that makes tabloid headlines, their families (and their heads of state) concoct a plan to mend foreign relations by forcing the men to "fake" a friendship.
'With The Fire On High' by Elizabeth Acevedo
National Book Award winner Elizabeth Acevedo is back with another book about an Afro-Latina teenager finding her passions and following her dreams. This time, the teen is Emoni Santiago, a teenage mom who is struggling balance parenthood, schoolwork, and her desire to become a professional chef.
'Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me' by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell
Laura Dean might be the most popular girl in school, but she is certainly not the best girlfriend to Frederica Riley. Even so — despite the warnings of friends, family, and even a medium — Freddy can't seem to say goodbye to Laura.
'Furious Hours' by Casey Cep
Furious Hours is divided into three equally propulsive sections: The first section focuses on Reverend Willie Maxwell, a rural preacher who is believed to have murdered five people for the insurance money; the second section centers on the life and legacy of the lawyer who defended Maxwell — and later defended the man who killed him; and the last section concentrates on author Harper Lee and her obsession with the case.
'Rules For Visiting' by Jessica Francis Kane
May is better suited to being alone. She prefers her garden to people, and she keeps everyone at arms-length. But when she's unexpectedly granted leave from her job, she sets out to reconnect with four friends from her past.
'The Confessions of Frannie Langton' by Sara Collins
Frannie Langton is on trial, accused of the murder of her employer and his wife. She claims she can't remember the events of that night, but she does have a story to tell anyway — one about her journey from the Jamaican plantation where she spent her childhood to the London home where she allegedly committed the most heinous of crimes.
'Ask Again, Yes' by Mary Beth Keane
When two young New York City policeman become neighbors, their families become intertwined — particularly two of their children, Kate and Peter. But when a violent event rocks the neighborhood, Kate and Peter are thrown apart. Years later, the two reconnect, and must grapple with their love story and the events of the past.
'Disappearing Earth' by Julia Phillips
In a remote Russian town of Kamchatka, two young girls vanish into thin air. They are not forgotten, and their disappearance sends shockwaves through the community. As the months advance, clues slowly emerge about their disappearance, culminating in a finale that solves the mystery but leaves many other questions open to interpretation.
'Necessary People' by Anna Pitoniak
Stella and Violet are best friends, despite being complete opposites. Stella grew up rich, with every opportunity in the world; Violet grew up poor, with few chances to get ahead. After college, the two move to New York City and land jobs at the same cable news station, where there's only room for one of them to shine. How far will they go to get what they want?
'On Being Human' by Jennifer Pastiloff (June 4)
Kick off a summer of self-love with Jennifer Pastiloff's On Being Human, a treatise on the importance of embracing vulnerabilities and imperfections, and of loving deeply, bravely, and with compassion.
'Ayesha at Last' by Uzma Jalaluddin (June 4)
A modern interpretation of Pride and Prejudice? Yes, please, sign me up as soon as possible. Ayesha wants to be a poet, but instead she works a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She is lonely, and trying not to think too much about how her cousin has just announced a surprise engagement to conservative, judgmental, handsome, and irritatingly attractive Khalid.
'Five Midnights' by Ann Dávila Cardinal (June 4)
Based on the frightening legend of El Cuco, Five Midnights follows two teens on a journey to solve a series of gruesome murders sweeping through Puerto Rico.
'Patsy' by Nicole Dennis-Benn (June 4)
When Patsy finally secures a visa to the United States, she chases the promise of reigniting an old love in New York City — and leaves her daughter behind in Jamaica. In this book, a series of vignettes, mother and daughter experience new lives and find their way home to each other.
'Mostly Dead Things' by Kristen Arnett (June 4)
Nothing screams summer like "lime green book set in Florida." In Kristen Arnett's debut novel, a young woman attempts to manage the family business (a taxidermy shop) and her life (a big mess) after her father unexpectedly dies, and the only woman she has ever loved, her brother's wife, walks away from them all.
'Magic For Liars' by Sarah Gailey (June 4)
Ivy Gamble is a detective, born without magic. Her gifted — and estranged — twin sister is a teacher of Theoretical Magic at the Osthorne Academy for Young Mages. When a terrible murder is discovered the academy, the sisters will be thrust together again.
'Searching For Sylvie Lee' by Jean Kwok (June 4)
When Sylvie goes missing, her younger sister is left to deal with the fallout and spearhead the search. But what she discovers is a slew of secrets about Sylvie and her immigrant family.
'City Of Girls' by Elizabeth Gilbert (June 4)
In the new novel from Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, an older Vivian Morris looks back on her golden years in the glitzy theater world of New York City in the 1940s.
'The Rest Of The Story' by Sarah Dessen (June 4)
Is it really summer if there's no new Sarah Dessen novel? It's been years since Emma Saylor's mother died, but this is the first time she's going to North Lake to spend the summer with her mom's family. There, she meets Roo, a boy she knew as a child and who may be able to help her figure out her past.
'Mrs. Everything' by Jennifer Weiner (June 11)
In Jennifer Weiner's latest novel, two very different sisters, Jo and Bethie Kaufman, navigate the challenges of being women in the world, beginning in the 1950s and moving into the present day.
'Bunny' by Mona Awad (June 11)
Sam, an outsider in her prestigious MFA program, prefers to hang out on the sidelines and make fun of the clique of writers in her program who call each other "Bunny." But when she is unexpectedly invited to the Bunnies' "Smut Salon," she falls straight into their cult-ish friend group.
'Natalie Tan’s Book Of Luck & Fortune' by Roselle Lim (June 11)
When Natalie, a professional chef, returns home after her mother's death, she's shocked to discover that she's inherited her grandmother's restaurant. The Chinatown of her childhood is fading, but a neighborhood seer says that Natalie can fix it — if she chooses to help her neighbors and let go of the past.
'Recursion' by Blake Crouch (June 11)
New York City cop Barry Sutton and neuroscientist Helena Smith have one thing in common: a preoccupation with memory. Barry is investigating a phenomenon called False Memory Syndrome, in which a person is driven to insanity by "memories" of an event that never happened. Helena is creating technology that allows people to relieve certain memories. Together, they might be able to figure out who is manipulating memories and nature of history itself.
'Fleishman Is in Trouble' by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (June 18)
When Toby and his wife separate, he doesn't anticipate that she'll leave him with their two children and disappear for good. But that's exactly what happens — and now Toby must figure out how to be a single parent, keep his life together, move on from his relationship, and deal with the past, all at the same time.
'All of Us with Wings' by Michelle Ruiz Keil (June 18)
When Xochi, a live-in governess to the daughter of a San Francisco-based rockstar, accidentally summons a pair of ancient creatures, she doesn't realize they're out for vengeance on everyone who has ever hurt her.
'The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone' by Felicity McLean (June 25)
In this Australia-set thriller, a young woman returns home and grapples with the defining event of her childhood: The mysterious disappearance of her three best friends, the Van Apfel girls.
'The Most Fun We Ever Had' by Claire Lombardo (June 25)
In this multigenerational novel, a set of four daughters struggle to deal with their tumultuous lives, all playing out in the shadow of their parents' unbreakable and enviable love.
'How Could She?' by Lauren Mechling (June 25)
When Geraldine leaves Toronto for New York, she assumes it'll be as glamorous as it seems from Rachel and Sunny's updates. But as it turns out, media jobs aren't that stable and rooftop soirees lose their appeal. Meanwhile, her friendships with both women are on the rocks, and it seems only the most deluded — or optimistic — can find their way in NYC.
'I Like To Watch' by Emily Nussbaum (June 25)
In this collection of critical essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Emily Nussbaum writes about all your favorite shows like a really good friend who also just happens to be a hundred times smarter, most insightful, and more incisive than you.
'Evvie Drake Starts Over' by Linda Holmes (June 25)
From the host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast comes a story about second chances, redemption, and friendship in unlikely places. Evvie and Dean, the man renting the apartment behind her house, have one rule: Evvie won't ask about Dean's flagging major league baseball career and Dean won't ask about Evvie's dead husband. But when that rule gets broken, they realize they might need each other to reckon with their pasts and make peace with the future.
'Lock Every Door' by Riley Sager (July 2)
When Jules takes a job as an apartment sitter at one of New York City's oldest apartment buildings, she hopes it'll be an escape from her recent heartbreak. But when a fellow apartment sitter, Ingrid, goes missing, Jules learns that the building may hold some dark secrets.
'Very Nice' by Marcy Dermansky (July 2)
What happens when a novelist and creative writing professor is seduced both by his young student and her beautiful mom during a summer at their gorgeous Connecticut estate? In Very Nice, Marcy Dermansky answers that wicked question.
'Whisper Network' by Chandler Baker (July 2)
Sloane and three of her women co-workers have all had inappropriate experiences with their boss, Ames. When he's promoted to CEO, they decide they can't keep this silent, and the whisper network will need to take action.
'Wilder Girls' by Rory Power (July 9)
When a mysterious disease called the "Tox" hits The Raxter School for Girls, the teachers are the first to die. Then, the infection spread to the students. Everyone is under quarantine — including three best friends. But when one of them goes missing, the other two search desperately for answers.
'The Need' by Helen Phillips (July 9)
Home alone with her two children, Molly experiences every mother's nightmare: An intruder has broken into their house. And this intruder knows everything — everything — about her and her family.
'Three Women' by Lisa Taddeo (July 9)
Three Women is an expansive exploration of the sex lives of three women in the United States, based on over a decade of research by writer Lisa Taddeo.
'The Nickel Boys' by Colson Whitehead (July 16)
Colson Whitehead, who won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for his last novel Underground Railroad, is back with a new book based on the tragic true stories about Black boys and men who were abused in reform schools.
'The Wedding Party' by Jasmine Guillory (July 16)
Maddie and Theo hate each other, but they both love their best friend, Alexa, whose wedding is coming up soon. After a "how the hell did that happen?" night together, they realize that maybe those feelings of loathing are actually feelings of lust, or maybe even love.
'Lady In The Lake' by Laura Lippman (July 23)
In this '60s-set noir-esque novel from bestseller Laura Lippman, Maddie leaves behind her life as a housewife to become a reporter at Baltimore's afternoon newspaper, eager to find a case that will impress her editors. Then she stumbles upon the story of Cleo Sherwood, a Black woman found dead in a city lake. But while Maddie wants to know the truth, Cleo's ghost would prefer to be left alone.
'Gods of Jade and Shadow' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (July 23)
When Casiopea, a poor girl subject to the whims of her egotistical male cousin and wealthy grandfather, accidentally awakens a Mayan God of Death, she's torn away from her drab life and taken on an adventure through Mexico, into southern Texas, and down into the underworld of the gods.
'Speaking of Summer' by Kalisha Buckhanon (July 30)
When Autumn's twin sister, Summer, walks on to the roof of their brownstone and disappears, there's no explanation. No body is found, the roof is locked, there are no footsteps. And no one seems to care except Autumn and the man she's fallen into an affair with: Summer's boyfriend.
'Trick Mirror' by Jia Tolentino (August 6)
If you've ever read a Jia Tolentino story in The New Yorker and thought to yourself, "I could read eight more right now," you're in luck. In Trick Mirror, Tolentino writes about religion, weddings, beauty, feminism, heroines of children's books, and more, and all of it will have you muttering "holy sh*t" under your breath as you read along.
'The Turn Of The Key' by Ruth Ware (August 6)
When Rowan accepts a live-in nannying job at the luxurious Heatherbrae House, she expects it will paradise. But soon enough, she finds herself driven to delusion by the features of the "smart" house — and the antics of the two children in her care. When one child ends up dead, Rowan is put on trial for murder. But what's the real story?
'The Ghosts Of Eden Park' by Karen Abbott (August 6)
It's just not summer if you're not reading something with "ghosts" in the title. In her new book, Karen Abbott explores the too-wild-to-be-fiction case of George Remus, the most successful bootlegger in American history, and Mabel Walker Willebrandt, the prosecutor determined to bring him down.
'Inland' by Téa Obreht (August 13)
The long-anticipated second novel from Téa Obreht transports readers to the Wild West through the juxtaposed stories of a frontierswoman whose husband and sons have gone missing, and of an outlaw on the run.
'The Pretty One' by Keah Brown (August 6)
From the creator of the campaign #DisabledandCute comes an essay collection about life with cerebral palsy, romance, pop culture, and her relationship with her able-bodied identical twin sister.
'Devotion' by Madeline Stevens (August 13)
Both Ella and Lonnie are 26 years old, but they live very different lives: Lonnie has a doting husband, a child, and a nanny to take care of it all. That nanny is Ella, who is captivated with everything about Lonnie, an obsession that goes both ways.
'The Yellow House' by Sarah Broom (August 13)
In this memoir, Sarah M. Broom writes about the mythology and reality of New Orleans East and The Yellow House, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, where she and her mother made a home.