Summer Reads


If you hate to be lakeside without a book in hand, you’ve landed in the right place. Here are 10 great summer reads to accompany the perfect sunny (or rainy) day. Use #NortherlyCollective to share your favorite place to read at the cabin.


Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

This colorful, funny novel perfectly marries romance and historical fiction, making it a great read for lounging in your giant white swan inner tube. It is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962, and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. 


The Girls, by Emma Cline

For those of you who are fascinated by cult logic (we are!), The Girls is the story of Evie Boyd, a California teenager that is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and their eerie, run down ranch hidden in the hills. But to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, and a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence. Perfect for a cloudy day in a comfy chair with a class of hot (or iced) tea.


Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance

A relevant, intelligent read for swinging in your hammock in the shade of a pine tree. Hillbilly Elegy is a personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans in a small Rust Belt town. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. 


The Idiot, by Elif Batuman

Take a wander through the story of Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants beginning her freshman year at Harvard in 1995. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Full of subtle, playful insight on communication, language, and the painful process of choosing an identity without falling into scripted roles. This is our pick for sitting on the dock in the sunshine with a sparkling beverage of your choice.


The Inn at Lake Devine, by Elinor Lipman

Of course we had to choose a couple of stories with an “up north” vibe for reading at the cabin. It's 1962 and all across America barriers are collapsing. But when Natalie Marx's mother inquires about summer accommodations in Vermont, she gets the following reply: The Inn at Lake Devine is a family-owned resort, which has been in continuous operation since 1922. Our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles. For twelve-year-old Natalie, who has a stubborn sense of justice, the words are not a rebuff but an infuriating, irresistible challenge.


Marlena, by Julie Buntin

After seeing this book on the Belletrist book club list, we knew we had to dive in. A story about Cat and Marlena who turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground. Cat catalogues a litany of firsts—first drink, first cigarette, first kiss—while Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past. This novel seriously sucks you in, so grab your sunnies and forget about the world for a while.


Once in a Blue Moon Lodge, by Lorna Landvik

Hankerings for coffee and gingerbread cookies may be experienced with this read, which is perfect for mornings at the lake. And have you seen that cover artwork?!? Set adrift when her mother sells the salon that has been a neighborhood institution for decades, Nora Rolvaag takes a camping trip, intending to do nothing more than roast marshmallows over an open fire and under a starry sky. Two chance encounters, however, will have enormous consequences. Once in a Blue Moon Lodge invites readers to check in, set down their baggage, and spend time with the kind of people who understand that while they can’t control all that life throws at them, they can at least control how they catch it. 


The Vacationers, by Emma Straub

This is an irresistible novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan. This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. A great read for cruising the lake in the boat between stops to jump in the lake.