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6 Novels to Read This Summer

By Pam Lamp June 24, 2023 Lifestyle

According to research, our brains can’t concentrate on two things at once. When we’re cooking a meal or knitting a blanket or building a birdhouse, we can’t worry at the same time. When we’re immersed in a good book, we can’t also be fretting about our parents’ health or our granddaughter’s broken leg or our mammogram results. As much as we’d like to think we multitask, we can’t think about two things simultaneously.

Whew! May was a tough month at our house. All is well, but when we’re dealing with stuff that doesn’t go the way we’d like, a good book helps. Here’s a sampling of what I read and enjoyed. These novels transported me to Australia, Massachusetts, California, and New York, eliminating the worries for an hour or so. A couple were fluffier than my typical fare, but that’s ok. We don’t want to read the same sorts of books all the time!

Hotel Laguna by Nicola Harrison

After reading this historical fiction novel, I’m ready to pack my bags and head to Laguna Beach, California! This story has everything I love in a book – history, a touch of romance, friendship, kindness, and mystery.

During the war, Hazel built bombers in an airplane factory. She was among the women who stepped up to work – in jobs they never imagined – when men were fighting overseas. Searching for a fulfilling path after the war, Hazel lands in Laguna. Once more, she steps into a job she never imagined.

In her spare time, Hazel volunteers with the Pageant of the Masters, a living art festival still in existence today.

Like The Show Girl, another novel by Ms. Harrison I adored, Hotel Laguna combines a compelling story with an introduction to an experience I knew nothing about. My favorite combination.

And if readers judge a book by its cover, this one is a winner!

Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen

In 1965, Cosmopolitan magazine is gasping for breath. With no magazine experience, Helen Gurley Brown comes aboard to right the sinking ship. She shocks Americans – and the magazine execs – by publishing photos and articles that are completely risqué. And just what women want to read!

Wholesome Alice arrives in New York City from the Midwest. As Helen’s assistant, Alice represents Cosmo’s ultimate single girl – a woman grappling with dreams, relationships, and a career.

In my humble opinion, this novel is the perfect summer read! It offers a bit of romance, an interesting glimpse into the magazine world, and the inside story of the woman who reigned as Cosmopolitan’s editor-in-chief for three decades.

P. S. Be sure to read the author’s acknowledgments.

Exiles by Jane Harper

For devotees of beloved Australian author Jane Harper, this book is the last in the fan-favorite Aaron Falk series. Although this novel is a stand-alone read, I recommend the other books in the series – The Dry (also a great movie) and Force of Nature.

This book transports readers to the Australian wine country. Aaron is the sort of guy you’d like as your son-in-law, and he is back in town to attend a christening. It’s been a year since Kim disappeared, leaving her six-week-old baby parked at the local wine festival. With no breaks in the case, Kim’s teenage daughter still grapples with her mom’s death. Could her disappearance have anything to do with an unsolved hit-and-run case a few years back? Of course, likable Aaron steps in to help.

As always, Ms. Harper weaves a beautiful story with relatable characters and family issues.

The Block Party by Jamie Day

“If everyone threw their problems up in the air, people would race to catch their own.”

A tony cluster of homes sits on Alton Road, a cul-de-sac in Meadowbrook, Massachusetts, where other stylish folks long to live. The residents’ annual summer block party is quite the soirée. Until it ends in murder.

When the Alton Road neighbors search for the killer, all sorts of secrets emerge. And, of course, no one’s perfect life is quite what it appears to be.

As the neighbors’ lives collided and intersected, I found the coincidences a bit contrived. However, told from multiple points of view, this novel is a quick-moving, escapist read. The story kept me guessing – and turning the pages.

Coming to bookstores on July 18.

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Settle in, relax, and enjoy this delightful ride!

Billie, Mary Alice, Natalie, and Helen worked for an elite, all-female assassin squad for 40 years. During their retirement cruise, sponsored by their employer, they discover they are the next targets.

The four 60-something women hit the road to determine who set them up and take out those they suspect.

As antics and criminal behavior ensue, I had to wonder… How did the author invent these details? The novel proves we should never underestimate “women of a certain age.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

“Have you ever read a novel by Emily Henry? my voracious-reading, intellectual daughter-in-law asked me recently.

“No,” I replied. I’m not much of a romance reader, and steamy scenes are not my thing. But… I’d had a tumultuous month, and my DIL suggested I may enjoy some easily digestible, lighter reading fare.

She handed me Book Lovers, Summer 2022’s beach read hit, and urged me to give it a try.

When their mom passed away, Nora, a literary agent, took over the household and cared for her younger sister, Libby. Now a happily married mom of two – soon to be three, Libby resents that Nora continues to “fix things” and run interference for her. Libby wants nothing more than for Nora to find love and “get a life.”

Libby organizes a getaway to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina so the book-loving sisters may reflect, regroup, and restore.

Although a tiny voice inside my head chirped at me – I can’t believe I’m reading this – I kept reading and reading and reading.

If a dose of escapism would do your soul some good, check out Book Lovers. Or Ms. Henry’s 2021 mega-hit, People We Meet on Vacation, or her latest, Happy Place.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What are you reading now? Do you read lighter, “fluffier” books in the summertime? What is your favorite beach read book?

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I’m reading One Italian Summer, suggested by my daughter who’s always reading something or other. I was turned off by the blurb on it ‘cause it sounded too far fetched. But because I truly respect my daughter’s choices I am giving it a whirl. Like I said it’s a little far fetched. I don’t usually let myself fantasize too much but I love anything Italian so that has helped me get transported. So far so good.

Diane Reider

Last list of books from this site were good enough that I read all the books by those authors. Plan on trying all of them


Thank you for this list! I love to read and will be reading these books this summer!

Kay Linda

I whole-heartedly recommend Hello Beautiful and Dear Henry, by Ann Napolitano!!


I love Jane Harper and have read every one of her books. The stand alones are equal to the Aaron Falk series. I loved Killers of a Certain Age; what a fun read. I’ll give the others a try except for the last one. I do not like romance novels.

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The Author

It’s never too late to learn something new. At Who I Met Today – a blog and podcast – Pam Lamp interviews people from all walks of life. Through conversations about health, hobbies, books, food, and travel, she invites you to join her, explore new territory, and expand your horizons.

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