10 Best Summer Reads to Include in Your Beach Bag

The Capsule team are nothing if not enthusiastic readers, so we’ve rounded up the 10 best summer reads you’ll be turning to over the summer break. From gripping non-fiction tales to thrilling novels and mysteries, we’ve got it all covered no matter what your taste. And you can of course check out all of our book club recommendations from throughout the year too! Read on for all of our team’s picks:

Kelly, Editorial Director:

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

One minute I was laughing, one minute I was crying – but 100% of the time my heart was breaking for former Nickelodeon child star Jeanette, who suffered mind-blowing emotional abuse from her now-deceased mother.

Jeanette recounts with heart-shattering detail the reality of being a kid in a very adult world – from her mother’s emotional dependence through to the abuse and manipulation she suffered at the hands of all the adults in her life, which resulted in the development of eating disorders and anxiety.

Yes it’s heavy stuff and maybe not one of your traditional summer reads, but McCurdy is a talented writer and she takes you on an absolute JOURNEY using humour as well as candour. It’s one of the biggest books of 2022 and it’s a must-read.

Cross Her Heart by Melinda Leigh

If you’re a fan of romantic crime thrillers (specific genre, I know), then you will LOVE the Bree Taggert series.

A homicide detective’s violent family history repeats itself in this tale of murder, secrets, and retribution.

For more than 25 years, Philadelphia homicide detective Bree Taggert has tucked away the awful childhood memories of her parents’ murder-suicide… Until her younger sister, Erin, is killed in a crime that echoes that tragic night.

Teaming up with an old friend, former sheriff’s investigator and K-9 handler Matt Flynn (cue ROMANCE vibes), Bree vows to uncover the secrets of her sister’s life and death. But as her investigation unfolds, the danger hits close to home. Once again, Bree’s family is caught in a death grip. And this time, it could be fatal for her.

This is one perfect for the beach – grab a brew, lie back and get lost in the story.

Sarah, Feature Writer:

How to Win The Bachelor: The Secret to Finding Love and Fame on America’s Favorite Reality Show by Chad Lultgen and Lizzy Pace

Now this is dedication: novelist Chad Lultgen and TV-comedy writer Lizzy Pace binge-watched 25 seasons of The Bachelor (U.S edition) for between eight to 10 hours a day, for 10 weeks. YES REALLY. This is their subsequent ‘manual’ about how, as a ‘player’, you can best manoeuvre yourself to wear The Ring (get engaged) or wear The Crown (become the Bachelorette) by winning over the first audience (the Bachelor), the second audience (fellow contestants), the third audience (the untrustworthy producers) and the fourth audience (viewers). Plus how might you leverage all this into a solid Instagram following?

This deep dive is a thorough, funny and definitely not producer-approved history of the show. The authors are also the creators and hosts of The Game Of Roses podcast, which uses ‘gameplay analysis’ to dissect the show. Disclaimer: I read this before I broke up with the Bachelor Franchise!

Downfall: The Destruction of Charles Mackay by Paul Diamond

Yes, the following events actually happened: in Whanganui in 1920, Charles Mackay – the town’s closeted, married mayor – tried to seduce a young man visiting town, D’Arcy Creswell. Creswell then blackmailed Mackay to resign as mayor or else he’d out him. During a tussle, which involved a chair crashing through a window of a central Whanganui office, startling the passers-by, MacKay shot Creswell and was convicted of attempted murder.

The author contemplates: was MacKay set up by his rivals in local politics? Mackay did hard labour in prison then later, as a journalist, was killed by a sniper during the Berlin Riots. Paul Diamond, curator Māori at the Alexander Turnbull Library, feels an affinity with Charles as they are/were both gay men who spent time in Berlin. The chapters about the openly gay areas in London and Berlin are particularly interesting. An unexpectedly riveting read.

Alice, Editorial Director

I’ll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein

I absolutely loved comedian/writer/actress Jessi Klein’s first book, You’ll Grow Out Of It, so much that I actually read it twice and eagerly awaited a follow-up. Thankfully, her second memoir – I’ll Show Myself Out – was released this year and is also spectacular (and was even a book club ‘book of the month’ right here on Capsule!)

This time the book of essays is all about midlife and motherhood – and it couldn’t have been better timing for me this year. The day it came out, I read it on my phone with one hand, while the other was slipped behind my four-week-old son as he napped on me. I cried, laughed (as quietly as I could, so as to not wake the baby) and cried again reading this book – and, with my frazzled new-mum brain in the state it was, I was SO thankful for the wonderful bite-sized chunks it came in (there’s no need to remember exactly what happened in the essay you read last before moving to the next one, so it’s perfect for your summer reads in between parenting!)

There are hilarious chapters about Halloween costumes, arriving home with a new baby and having an epiphany about the meaning of life in the baby food aisle. I 100% recommend this book to anyone (but if you’ve had a baby in a pandemic in your 40s, this book was basically written for you so go buy it immediately).

The It Girl by Ruth Ware

To be honest, when I got this book (which I did, purely because I love Ruth Ware’s writing – if you haven’t read her crime/thriller The Woman in Cabin 10, you should also put that on your list for summer!), the title was all in caps so I wasn’t sure whether the book was about an ‘It’ girl, or a girl in IT – which didn’t really sound like an edge-of-your-seat-thriller premise.

For the record, it’s an ‘it’ girl and is a pretty gripping read about a woman who is searching for answers a decade on from her friend’s murder. I didn’t love it quite as much as The Woman in Cabin 10, but it is still a fab read, and perfect for the summer holidays.

Bel, Digital Content Editor

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Like the rest of the internet I read my fair share of Colleen Hoover novels. She has 25 to her name, so she must be doing something right!

While some people online are quick to judge the books and how ‘easy’ they are, I don’t think it’s a bad thing if it encourages more people to read, and sometimes easy is what people need with their busy lives. 

My top pick was It Ends With Us – I couldn’t go to sleep without finishing it. A love story, which (TW) does cover domestic abuse, I found it an important story to be told. I didn’t find the sequel It Starts With Us as gripping, Colleen has said the follow-up book was made possible by the success on social media and BookTok.

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When I find an author’s books I enjoy, I have a habit of reading all of their titles – think Liane Moriarty. 

The same goes for the likes of Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by author Taylor Jenkins Reid. The latter is a story inspired by the late Elizabeth Taylor. This year saw Taylor’s latest release of Carrie Soto is Back, about a tennis star who makes her comeback to defend her world number 1 titles. 

I loved the story between Carrie and her doting and competitive father, and Carrie learning to let go of not being loved. Taylor has a way of intertwining characters from previous books into new ones and I loved the surprise of one appearing.

Emma, Editorial Director

Kismet by Amina Akhtar

I love wellness but I also love books that absolutely skewer the wellness world, and this thriller finds lifelong New Yorker Ronnie Khan abandoning her big city job to follow her new friend, socialite turns wellness guru Marley Dewhurst, across the country to Sedona, Arizona. It’s a town dedicated to wellness, where wannabe gurus flock, but then one-by-one, they start turning up dead. Marley starts to go down the rabbit hole of guru-meets-vigilante, and Ronnie is extremely aware that the whole town is starting to go mad – and get vicious – as the murders continue. It’s a clever, darkly funny book that is deeply appropriate to read as an antidote to the ‘new year new you’ nonsense that can hit us at this time of year.

A Heart That Works by Rob Delaney (TW: child loss, suicide)

This memoir is based around the death of US comedian Rob Delaney’s son, Henry, who is diagnosed with a brain tumour just before his first birthday. It is, as you would imagine, devastating but it’s also incredibly honest, empathetic, helpful and at times the darkest of dark humour.

Rob talks both lovingly and unflinchingly about the two years between Henry’s diagnosis and his death – there is also an extended family member’s death by suicide in this time – and yes, I can imagine that this reads like the most unlikely ‘summer reads’ blurb of all time. But as hard as parts of this book are, it gives an insight into the hearts and minds of people who have experienced grief of this magnitude, and it’s also a helpful guide as to how to help others surviving the unthinkable.

You would think this would be the worst possible book to read while pregnant but – and this might also speak to how depressing most parenting books are – perversely, this was the book that made me most excited to become a parent. The love Rob and his wife have for their four sons, and for each other, is the most overriding message of the book.

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