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In your youth, summer was a time to celebrate: school was out, the days felt like they never ended, and the possibility of a fling at camp or your summer job sent sparks flying. But for many, summer is now the season of WTF. Like, WTF, how does every single person I know suddenly own oceanfront property? WTF, am I the only one without an infinity pool in my backyard? Or WTF, how can Mark the office intern afford a sailing yacht in the Greek Isles?!
Sure, you could wallow in self-pity and doom-scroll TikTok in your bedroom until 2 a.m., but I have a better idea: books. Yes, betch, escape reality in some good ol’ books. If you’re craving romance, something more murder-y, or literally anything to pretend you are on holiday in Ibiza, keep scrolling because we’ve got you.
The Best Romance Novels To Stop You From Texting Your Ex
There’s nothing like the time and space summer gives you to obsess over your shitty ex who randomly ghosted you after four beautiful months together. (Miss you, babe.) Whether you’re single, taken, DTF, or DTDA (down to die alone), the answer is always a steamy romance novel to get your ass through any dry spell.
Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune
An unrealistic romance is often the best kind because this improbable story will never happen to you: The story of two strangers who share a day together and then make a pact to meet again one year later only exists in paperback. But that shouldn’t stop your heart from racing and your cheeks from blushing as you read this perfectly steamy romance.
First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn
Did Netflix’s Queen Charlotte leave you wanting more? I’ve got great news. The author behind the series has dozens of books to help you live your Regency fantasies. Just like the Netflix series, First Comes a Scandal promises tawdry encounters filled with thrums and quivers that are sure to set you ablaze.
That Summer Feeling by Bridget Morrissey
Take the nostalgia of summer camp and add an unexpected romance. Newly divorced Garland attends an adult summer camp only to run into Mason — a man with whom she once shared a brief but memorable encounter. But ultimately it’s not Mason she starts falling for, but her bunkmate and Mason’s sister Stevie instead.
Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style by Paul Rudnick
Gay love stories are usually propelled by tragedy. And while this one isn’t without its sadness, Farrell and Nate’s is filled with passion, joy, and most importantly, style. This book is a heartfelt, coming-of-age story that follows a 50-year romance between the son of one of America’s most powerful families and a middle-class aspiring author.
The Do-Over by Suzanne Park
You know the recurring nightmare where it’s the last day of the semester and you never showed up to class? Well, that actually happens to Lily Lee. A year into her career, Lee must re-do her senior year of college. Back on campus, she discovers her TA is none other than her former flame. But is this a dream or another nightmare?
What To Read If You Can’t Afford A House In The Hamptons
Can everyone please stop captioning scenic sunsets at your family’s quaint beach house, “I live here now”? If you’re stuck at your 9-5 or crappy WFH set-up far away from a sandy beach, these books will help you feel like you’re with your coworker Chad and his college roommates on their yearly trip to the Mediterranean.
A Perfect Vintage by Chelsea Fagan
You might already know Financial Diet’s Chelsea Fagan. In her personal life (and online), she curates a Nancy Meyers meets French Girl aesthetic, which is the same energy she brings to her debut novel. Lea Mortimer has the quintessential rom-com job: transforming French country estates into boutique hotels. But things go awry when she falls for the son of her boss. This is the book version of an Aperol Spritz under a pastel striped umbrella. Drink up!
Happy Place by Emily Henry
No one writes good chat better than author Emily Henry, the queen of quip. Relish in repartee between college friends reunited at a beach house, nay old money aesthetic mansion. Or follow along as one couple attempts to hide from their friends that they actually broke up several months ago, in hopes of enjoying one last trip all together.
The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han
The TV adaptation’s second season premieres this summer and you’re gonna feel left out if you’re the only person on your FYP who isn’t proclaiming Team Jeremiah or Team Conrad. Transport yourself back in time to the feeling of high school love that sends tingles through your body like a mild sunburn — before you learned the importance of SPF. (If you’re reading this, put on SPF!)
Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum
Bumbling rich people + a sunny picturesque setting + a murder! No, we’re not talking about the third season of White Lotus. (This is better.) Let this book make you feel superior not only to the elitist characters, but also to the person on their phone next to you because you’re doing something enriching with your time — aka reading a book.
Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan
Take the first love butterflies of The Summer I Turned Pretty but fast forward a decade. Sam runs into her first love at, you guessed it, her family’s beach house. Why does everyone have a beach house?! Alas, enjoy Sam’s beach house and let all feminism go out the window because the leading man is named Wyatt.
When There’s No Better Way To Relax Than Reading About Cold-Blooded Murder
What does it say about you that you can’t get enough true crime stories? That’s for you to dissect with your therapist. In the meantime, here are some books that will help you scratch that murder-loving itch.
None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell
If your idea of a good time is binging the latest true crime podcast, then you’re not alone. No, really…you’re not alone. DON’T YOU DARE TURN AROUND! Lisa Jewell’s latest page-turner follows Alix, a popular podcaster whose latest subject, Josie, disappears. As she searches for answers, Alix turns up scary truths about Josie and quickly becomes the center of her very own true-crime podcast. Now, go lock your doors!
The Nigerwife by Vanessa Walters
If the only thing you think the Real Housewives is missing is a little murder mystery, then this book is for you. Immerse yourself in this community of glamorous women in Lagos where everything is picture perfect, until it isn’t.
Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang
The narrator scores a job at a cutting-edge beauty empire and reaps the benefits with products and procedures to slim her thighs, smooth her skin, and lighten her hair. But this isn’t a makeover movie montage where our main character gets her classic happy ending. This horror story is scarier than the latest celebrity after alleged buccal fat removal. Explore the darker side of beauty obsessed culture.
Advika and the Hollywood Wives by Kirthana Ramisetti
A struggling 20-something screenwriter falls in love with a hot shot producer barely in his 40s. In today’s world, that all sounds age appropriate. Is this a modern day fairytale? Nope, shit hits the fan when the producer’s first wife suddenly dies and leaves $1M and a single film reel to his current wife under one condition: divorce him.
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai
Another book centered on the making of a true crime podcast? Yes, please. A successful film professor and podcaster returns to her boarding school to teach a course. But returning to campus brings up questions about the murder of her former roommate. Was the right person brought to justice or is the murderer still at large?
The Spare Room by Andrea Bartz
Kelly’s life in Philadelphia turns into a nightmare as she’s left alone, jobless, and abandoned by her fiancé. Seeking solace in her childhood friend Sabrina and her husband Nathan, Kelly accepts their offer to escape to a Virginia mansion but finds herself entangled in a perilous web when they have a threesome. She soon realizes the last woman they invited into their marriage is missing, and she could be next.
What To Read If You’re Craving More Pop Culture Tea After Scandoval
One day, you will tell your grandchildren where you were when the Scandoval news broke. If you’ve watched every episode (including the uncensored cuts on Peacock) and you’ve listened to every podcast (my god, these VPR people have a lot of podcasts), here are some books to give you that pop culture buzz you’re craving.
Tell Me Everything: A Memoir by Minka Kelly
Haven’t thought a lot about Minka Kelly since, like, 2012? Same. But her memoir is about to put Lyla Garrity back on the map. Kelly’s childhood story is gripping and she doesn’t shy away from naming names and telling stories about her rise in Hollywood.
The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up by Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen’s latest book chronicles 2022 in diary entries. Yes, his perspective as a single gay father preparing for his second child is obviously important. But what really makes this book uniquely special is the low stakes celeb tea that only Cohen could give. And he mentions it all! Questions you never thought to ask about A-list stars and Bravolebrities fill every page. Which Kardashian does Cohen DM for crib recommendations? What does Sarah Jessica Parker serve at a BBQ in the Hamptons? And so much more.
American Royals IV: Reign by Katharine McGee
You’re right, this is not in fact a non-fiction look at the life of a celebrity. But if you already read Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, and you’re missing the royal drama since the Coronation, this book is here to fill the void. Imagine if America had a monarchy and that monarchy had young hot heirs to the throne that were always making a mess? Indulge in royal drama too juicy (and fictional) for the likes of The Crown.
If It’s The End Of Summer And You’re Still Thinking WTF Am I Doing???
Okay, if it’s like, almost September and you still have no clue WTF you’re doing this summer (or with your life), these books will, IDK, maybe help you find your way…but no promises.
Flawless: Lessons in Looks and Culture from the K-Beauty Capital by Elise Hu
Binge this on your way to botox or as you slather on retinol. This non-fiction book will make you rethink what you know about beauty standards via the lens of the K-beauty industry.
The Emma Project by Sonali Dev
If a dark corner of your brain yearns for scholastic pressure that pushed you to read enriching novels, here’s the book for you. It will make you feel like you read Jane Austen’s Emma without the hand cramps from the hardcover tome.
Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs by Jamie Loftus
Comedian Jamie Loftus chronicles her 2021 cross country road trip through the lens of the humble hot dog. It’s strange but oddly compelling — which is also how one could describe a hot dog. Will this book about hot dogs help you find empathy in our divided country? IDK, maybe. It will certainly give you some interesting conversation starters for your family’s annual summer BBQ.
Social Engagement by Avery Carpenter Forrey
Callie Holt spends her wedding night morosely eating pizza in the bathtub of her honeymoon suite while her new husband snores in bed. Why isn’t this everything she ever dreamed of? Over the course of the next year, follow Callie to a parade of other people’s weddings where she begins to examine the divide between the life she and the people around her live on-screen against reality.
If You Want Year-Round Recs After Summer Ends
We get it, it’s not easy to hit that resolution you set to read a book or two this year. So we’re here to help and invite you to the Betch Lit Society: book recs from Betches delivered straight to your inbox 2x a month. Welcome to the club, betch.