contributing writer, Cher Collins
With the hot, summer weather comes the annual parade of books perfect for the beach, poolside, or a babbling brook in the mountains. Wherever your adventures take you this summer, a good book (or five!) is the perfect way to slow down, unplug and enjoy the easy summertime pace.
The perennial queens of beach reads are back this year with more blockbusters that will be sure to top the bestsellers lists until Labor Day. Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand is back with her latest, Five-Star Weekend. As always, Hilderbrand sets the stage for another stellar summer sizzler. Imagine choosing four “stars” from various times in your life: your high school best friend, your college roommate, your mommy and me mate, and a virtual friend who helped you through a hard time. Food blogger Hollis Shaw does just this. When tragedy strikes her seemingly perfect life and she is widowed, Hollis chooses four of her friends-all from different stages of her life in an effort to create the perfect “Five Star Weekend” with the help of her daughter. Will it be the perfect beach weekend? Or a recipe for disaster?
Like all of Hilderbrand’s books, the idyllic nature of Nantucket is where Hollis’ stars bring their own drama and we soon learn that Hollis is not the only woman struggling. In alternating voices, each of the stars reveal secrets of their own and the reader is left entertained and surprised as friendships are tested, a strained mother-daughter relationship is repaired, and of course, an old flame rekindled. The reader is pulled onto the luxurious island with Hilderbrand’s rich descriptions of the perfect summer getaway, delicious food, and honest insight into women’s changing friendships on every page. The complex, relatable characters and lively dialogue and the perfect amount of twists and turns create an enduring story of friendship in a beautiful island getaway. Rumor has it that Hilderbrand is retiring from writing in the Summer of 2024, so be sure not to miss The Five-Star Weekend. Revisit her previous novels too to enjoy more compelling characters and of course, the picturesque Nantucket island.
Fairly new to the Beach Read scene, author Emily Henry
seems to be getting quite comfortable atop bestseller lists
and in the hearts and minds of her readers. In her latest,
Happy Place, Harriet and Wyn have broken up. But they
don’t want to tell their best friends before their annual
summer Maine getaway. Each year, Harriet and Wyn and
their group of friends share the week reminiscing, eating and
drinking and creating lifelong memories in their happy place.
But this could be their last year, as the cottage is about to be sold. Pretending to be the loving, laughing couple that everyone expects them to be, Harriet and Wyn share a bedroom and partake in the summer fun and frivolity. Will it prove too difficult to
pretend for their week-long vacation?
The story unfolds in chapters that alternate between the present vacation and looking back at
Harriet and Wyn’s love story and the foundations of the group’s friendships. Be prepared, it is
heartbreaking at times. But the witty banter among friends lifts the characters off the page and
the readers get to witness real life with all its ups and downs. Female friendships prevail once
again in this story, as do the ever-changing depths of friendship throughout our lives. But will all
the pretend romance bring Harrier and Wyn back together? Happy Place earns its place among
the top beach reads of the summer if you’re looking for a good laugh among the few tears. A
rom-com not to be missed! Book Lovers and The People We Meet on Vacation are among
Henry’s works that have been optioned for film adaptations. Stay tuned for Emily Henry’s books
on a big or small screen soon!
Among other do-not-miss books for the Summer of 2023, be sure to catch Same Time Next
Summer, by Annabel Monaghan-will Sam’s first love disrupt her wedding plans? Also, coming
soon from New York Time Bestseller Jenny Colgan is Summer Skies, the story of Morag, a
third-generation Scottish pilot who makes a rough landing, just as she’s about to make some big
life choices. Not your typical beachy, summer setting, but a valuable peek at life off the grid.
Summer is also a good time to pick up Colleen Hoover’s latest release Too Late, or catch up on
her series’ if you’ve gotten behind. Victoria Benton Frank’s My Magnolia Summer and Nancy
Thayer’s All the Days of Summer round out the recommendations for the summery beach vibes.
For more intense thrillers to keep you on the edge of your beach chair, try The Only One Left by
Riley Sager or Zero Days by Ruth Ware.
Whatever your summer vibe might be, pack up the print or download the digital! Or if you’re like
me, the backyard and a good book are all the escape needed this summer. Happy Reading
wherever you may be!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cher Collins is a librarian by day who once made a New Year’s resolution to write more. She enjoys the outdoors, as long as it is not biting her and she aspires to make her bed everyday. Cher is also an amateur genealogist whose family stories are fodder for future historical fiction novels. She watches more Netflix than she should, is a self-proclaimed coffee nut, and truly appreciates the little things in life. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, teenage daughter and rescue dog named Opie.