The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

9 books for your summer reading list

Photo Courtesy of Roman Eisele/Wikipedia Commons
Photo of a three shelves on a bookcase. They hold books of different sizes and colors.

Longer days free from classes in dull lecture halls usher in the freedom and lax schedules of summer break. With less to do, many people turn to reading for pleasure. In the park, by the pool or on vacation — readers have the opportunity to crack open a book and discover a new world. 

From classics to thrillers, poetry to contemporary romance, this summer reading guide has something to appeal to all audiences. 

Some books may contain adult content. 


“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

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One of the most renowned novels of the nineteenth century, “Little Women” is a timeless classic

The story regained popularity after the Greta Gerwig film in 2019 and has become a popular piece of literature among lovers of the classics. 

The novel follows four sisters through 15 years of their lives. Each sister brings her own unique personality to the story, infusing the plot with life. 

At about 450 pages, “Little Women” is a classic novel that stands the test of time. The story, full of love and real life, makes a fun summer read. 


“Gospel of a Whole Sun” by Katerina Jeng

Jeng’s poetry collection, released in early May, is a journey into self-discovery and reclaiming one’s voice. 

The lyrical poetry explores the writer’s life, navigating challenges that lead to the joy of falling back in love with life. 

With 144 pages, this poignant poetry collection is an easy and touching read for all audiences. 


“Hip-Hop is History” by Questlove 

Chronicling the early life of hip-hop, musician Questlove recounts songs from the years since the inception of the genre in his newest release. 

For music lovers, historians and anyone who wants an interesting read, this book is great to pull out of your tote bag and delve into in your spare time. 

The text takes an informal, narrative approach to history, making the 352 pages feel like a conversation with a friend. 


“Birding to Change the World: A Memoir” by Trish O’Kane 

For the hobby naturalist, O’Kane’s non-fiction book recounts her journey as an accidental bird watcher — or “birder.”

This moving memoir details professor O’Kane’s journey as an environmental activist in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, inspired by the birds she saw in her day-to-day life. 

This book reads a little heavier, standing as a first-person narrative nonfiction at 368 pages. A great read when paired with a picnic blanket and nice weather. 


“Mrs. Nash’s Ashes” by Sarah Adler

This contemporary chick-lit romance novel is Adler’s first release

The story follows a hopeless romantic on a journey to reunite her elderly best friend with her lover — via her ashes. But, when things go awry the main character finds a travel buddy in her ex-boyfriend’s cynical colleague. 

This unpredictable romance ties the themes of grief with love, teaching a lesson on accepting the unexpected. 

Funny and tear-jerking, all 352 pages of this novel will draw you into Adler’s road trip of a lifetime. 


“Cleat Cute” by Maryl Wilsner 

Wilsner’s first sports fiction romance novel has become a popular sapphic contemporary romance.

The story follows two rival teammates on their way to the World Cup. When star player, Grace Henderson, is sidelined with an injury, Phoebe Matthews, a spunky new player, takes her place. 

With the classic enemies-to-lovers trope, Grace and Phoebe begin to fall for each other. Between their intense sport and unclear relationship, the couple must decide what’s more important: soccer or love.

A fun, light read at 328 pages, “Cleat Cute” is a great summer rom-com. 


“To Paradise” by Hanya Yanagihara

Acclaimed author Hanya Yanagihara’s newest novel spans from 1893 to 2093, in an alternate American “utopia,” which isn’t what it promises. 

The novel follows three stories of love, loss, illness and family ties. 

While this 720-page novel is certainly not a light read, the text portrays Yanagihara’s literary skill in a moving way. “To Paradise” sets up a dystopia that is easy to fall into and read anywhere. 


“The God of the Woods” by Liz Moore 

Moore’s new release is a historical thriller set in the classic horror setting of a 1970s summer camp. 

When a young girl goes missing fourteen years after her brother’s disappearance, a mysterious thriller unfolds in this fast-paced novel.  

With layers to dig into, this 490-page novel is perfect for reading around a campfire or in your bunk at summer camp. 


“House in the Cerulean Sea” by T.J. Klune 

Klune’s popular realistic fantasy novel is loved by many audiences. 

It follows a caseworker for magical children as he navigates an unprecedented and unpredictable job at a secluded orphanage. Linus must decide if the children ostracized by his profession are deserving of the fear imposed on them, and what the right course of action is in a seemingly impossible situation. 

Beloved for its easy-to-read fantasy and found family trope, fans of Klune’s English sea-side fantasy are anxiously awaiting its sequel, set to release on Sept. 10. This 394-page book is an easy read that will leave you with a taste of magic. 

No matter your reading preference, this list has something for everyone. Non-fiction, horror, fantasy and romance — those who like to read can find a book to fall into this summer. You can also check websites like Goodreads for more summer suggestions. 

All of these titles and more are available at local bookstores and libraries. 


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