Romance Novels You Should Read, Based on Other Books You Love

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Romance is a huge and diverse genre, encompassing historical, contemporary, paranormal, and suspenseful tales, all united by one thing: a love story with a happy ending. But knowing that ending’s coming doesn’t take away from the story. Instead, it leaves you free to enjoy its twists and turns. If you’re new to romance or looking to expand your reading in the genre, here are some suggestions, based on other books you love. (Devoted romance readers can, of course, flip that equation and find a new book to read based on your favorite romance.)

The cover of the book The Rogue Not TakenThe Rogue Not Taken
Sarah MacLean
If you loved Pride and Prejudice

You could argue that Jane Austen wrote romance, or at least its forbear, and she certainly paved the way for female authors to skewer social hypocrisy while writing sincere and complex stories about love. Among today’s romance writers, Sarah MacLean carries on that legacy with novels that will appeal to fans of Austen’s love stories and Austen’s social commentary.

In The Rogue Not Taken, Sophie Talbot is the youngest of a set of sisters thrust into society when their coal baron father buys an Earldom. Sophie is the odd duck out of her sisters, uninterested in the gossip and scheming of the aristocratic society—she’s a bit of a Darcy there—but she finds herself in the spotlight when she shoves her sister’s philandering husband into a fishpond at a ball. Rather than stay to see her name in the scandal sheets, Sophie flees for Mossband, the town where she and her sisters grew up. Now add a touch of Shakespeare as Sophie dresses as a boy to play footman for The Marquess of Eversley, named Kingscote but called King, a notorious rake who’s headed in the same direction. The disguise doesn’t last long, and the sparks that fly between Sophie and King are as much about intellect and verbal sparring as they are about physical attraction. But don’t worry, that’s there, too. And in the end, their love feels as true and well-earned—and dreamy—as any that Austen ever wrote.

The cover of the book A Hope DividedA Hope Divided
Alyssa Cole
If you loved The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This isn’t just about “oh if you liked one interesting take on the Civil War, you’ll like this other one,” though, yes, that’s part of it. Colson Whitehead’s novel elaborated on history with fantastical Southern cities that used imaginative what-ifs to get closer to the dark essence of history. Alyssa Cole’s novel places, in the midst of a rigorously researched historical world, an invented couple through whom Cole evokes the unimaginable reality of slavery. Both novels center on a female character whose strength is mixed with naivete and hopefulness, through whose eyes the reader takes their journey.

In Cole’s case, that woman is Marlie, a free black woman who lives with her white siblings (they share a plantation owner father, now deceased). Marlie and her white sister have made their home a stop on the Underground Railroad. But despite that bravery, Marlie has a sheltered life—she rarely leaves home, working as a botanist to create medical tinctures and herbal distillations. The one time Marlie does venture out is for visits to a local Confederate prison, where she brings books and stealthy treatments to the prisoners. There she meets Ewan, who she calls Socrates for his devotion to the writings of the Ancient Greeks. A prison escape gone wrong lands Ewan in Marlie’s care, but Marlie’s home is a far less safe place than it used to be. Cole writes this Civil War world with rich specificity, showing the human reality that was much more complicated than North versus South, or good versus evil. Yet she never shies away from the moral realities of slavery, either, offering, through Marlie and Ewan’s intimate story, a sweeping perspective on both history and our present moment.

The cover of the book Garden of LiesGarden of Lies
Amanda Quick
If you loved Possession by AS Byatt

In Possession, AS Byatt melds literary mystery, poetry, and romance, interweaving two storylines in present-day and Victorian England. Amanda Quick’s Garden of Lies doesn’t share Byatt’s jumps between timelines, but readers who love Byatt will be happy to lose themselves in Quick’s Victorian world. Ursula Kern runs a secretarial agency, and when one of her best employees is found dead, Ursula suspects foul play. She takes the employee’s place as secretary to a reclusive poetess—abruptly leaving her own post, as a stenographer for archaeologist-slash-adventurer Slater Roxton. When she confesses her plan to him, Roxton insists on helping Ursula on her quest. As the two dig deeper and deeper into secrets and the dark underbelly of Victorian society, they of course find themselves drawn together as well—bringing their own buried secrets to the surface. In Quick’s skilled hands, the romance and the mystery are in perfect balance, neither perfunctory but both rich, engaging, and surprising as the story unfolds.

The cover of the book Slave to SensationSlave to Sensation
Nalini Singh
If you loved The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char is a sui generis horror novel—in its pages, Scott Hawkins conjures a totally original world, hidden within our own, full of monsters and incomprehensible powers and, at its heart, one lonely and terrified woman learning to trust her own strength and brave vulnerability, too. If you want to lose yourself in another richly imagined paranormal world, Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series is for you. And in this case, you won’t have to pine and mope after finishing one novel—you’ll have 18 more to read, and more coming down the pike.

But start with Slave to Sensation, the first book in the series, and the best introduction to Singh’s warring world. This world is ruled by the Psy, who, in attempt to eradicate violence, have eradicated—or at least banned—all emotion. But the Psy share their world with Changelings, humans who can transform into animals and, as you might expect, are the hot-blooded opposites of the icy Psy. Just as we get to know the world in The Library at Mount Char as its main character, Carolyn, coming to question everything she thinks she knows, Slave to Sensation is anchored by Sascha, a Psy at war with her own emotions and desires. When she’s brought together with Changeling Lucas Hunter, Sascha’s self-control becomes even more perilous—as does the tenuous balance between Psy and Changeling.

The cover of the book Wrong to Need YouWrong to Need You
Alisha Rai
If you loved The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

One of the great triumphs of Angela Flournoy’s award-winning novel, The Turner House, is Flournoy’s effortless evocation of a big family. The thirteen Turner siblings make for a rowdy chorus, but Flournoy deftly brings out the voices of a few soloists. Romance novels, by definition, focus on a central couple, but no relationship exists in a vacuum.

In her Forbidden Hearts trilogy, Alisha Rai situates her main characters within a complex web of familial and cultural tensions. In Wrong to Need You, the second book in the series, widow Sadia Ahmed is juggling running a small business, working as a bartender on the side, and raising her young son. When her husband’s brother, Jackson—Sadia’s former best friend—comes back to town after having been AWOL on Sadia for years, she has to grapple with old hurt and a confusing new attraction. Add Sadia and Jackson’s own knotty family issues, plus Rai’s deft treatment of her characters’ emotional lives and mental health, and you have a romance that fans of The Turner House will love.

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The Ultimate Romance Pen Name Generator

Sure, a rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but would it endear you to a romance author? We love romance novelists (and, oftentimes, their noms de plume), so we thought it might be a fun game to suggest what your romance author name could be!

To play along, match your name’s initials to the chart below. You never know. Maybe this will inspire you to become the next Colleen Hoover. We’re looking at you, Flauvia le Fay!

By Cybil, February 12, 2018, first appearing on Goodreads Blog

Genre Friday – Gothic Fiction

Is it Gothic Fiction?

Is it dark (in tone or in luminous intensity)?

Usually.

Is it creepy in an undeniable, but sometimes indefinite, way?

Most of the time.

Is death featured heavily, either as an event or preoccupation?

Absolutely.

Does it leave you with a deep distrust of old, palatial manners, moldering estates, dilapidated plantation homes and crumbly castles?

It would have if I weren’t already freaked out by those places.  

Is it focused on an individual (or small group or family) and their thoughts and feelings as they try to deal with everything listed above without going completely insane?

Yup.

That’s Gothic Fiction alright. This genre looked at the rugged individualism, intense emotions, introspection and focus on nature and the past (in particular the medieval period) of Romanticism and said, ‘Yeah, but where is all the deep, existential and psychological terror and death?’ It’s not necessarily terrifying in the way traditional Horror is but it will almost certainly get your skin crawling at some point. Or at least make you look over your shoulder as you walk down dark and deserted hallways, should you have occasion to do so.

Now that we have that established the real question is, where is it set? For Gothic Fiction, setting is what determines subgenre – American (or, more specifically, Southern), English or Space (you read that right, space).

American Gothic

As you would assume, we’re dealing with American settings here — the frontier or wild west, the deep south, sometimes even suburbia. The stories often explore the darker parts of American culture and history; slavery, war, genocide and the exploitation of the nation’s natural resources and wilderness come up fairly regularly. Horror is there in some form or another, but it isn’t always supernatural (as people are more than capable of being horrifying on there own), and when it is, it might be implied rather than clearly identified. This brings in the unreliable narrator and mental illness, which is another common theme in American Gothic stories. Set it in the sweltering southern heat, and liberally sprinkle in racial tension, degradation, and poverty left over from the Reconstruction era and you have Southern Gothic.

Examples:

The cover of the book We Have Always Lived in the CastleThe Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

Sanctuary by William Faulkner

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

English Gothic

Grappling with mental illness or spiritual angst, while dodging ghosts on the windswept moors or in a crumbling tower? In England? You’re in an English Gothic story. Watch out for untimely death, doomed romance, and villainous depravity – if it hasn’t happened already, it’s only a matter time. And, this probably goes without saying but, try to stay out of neglected graveyards, cobwebbed dungeons and, of course, haunted castles.

Examples:

The cover of the book The Castle of OtrantoThe Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Racliffe

Gothic Space Opera

You know those sci-fi stories where civilization and technology extended so far and so fast that when it eventually and inevitably collapsed the average person was suddenly left stranded in a pseudo-medieval, superstitious and decaying society despite the fact that they live on an alien planet or massive star ship? Well, they’re out there, and they are frequently the starting point for these Gothic Space stories.

In these cases, the rickety star ship serves as haunted mansion/castle analog and the inky, vast blackness of space the misty, eerie moors that surround typically surround them. Authoritarian regimes, oppressive cults and demonic alien forces are common issues, as well as the usual wear and tear of long space travel — time dilation, the assumption of death-like states of suspended animation, and the dementia-inducing isolation of space travel, to name a few examples — on human relationships and sanity are frequent topics.

Examples:

The cover of the book The Burning DarkBlindsight by Peter Watts

The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

The Explorer by James Smythe

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Nightflyers by George R. R. Martin

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

 

So You Want to Read Paleo Fiction: Here’s Where to Start

Image courtesy of the Bradshaw Foundation ©

What really happened in the Stone Age? With only a skeletal remains, stone tools, and cave paintings to go by, scientists can only offer an educated guess. While that kind of ambiguity is the bane of researchers, it is a boon for novelists, an invitation for the imagination to run wild.

The books selected for this list had to meet three criteria: the novel had to be currently in print, entirely set on Earth during the Stone Age, and could not involve time travel, aliens, sorcery, alternative planes of reality, and other fantastical plot devices. This excluded a number of science-fiction novels that involve prehistoric peoples, and we will revisit them in a future guide.

The cover of the book The Clan of the Cave BearThe Clan of the Cave Bear

JEAN M. AUEL

Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear is the best-known example of paleo fiction. It is the story of a young girl who is adopted by a clan of Neanderthals after she is separated from her tribe. They know her as one of the Others — the mysterious new people who are pushing them out of their lands — but cannot lead her to starve. The girl finds a place in the clan, but not everyone welcomes her presence. Some consider her different ways of thinking to be a threat.

 

The cover of the book The InheritorsThe Inheritors

WILLIAM GOLDING

No one knows exactly what happened to the long lost hominid species known as the Neanderthals. We know that there was a certain amount of interbreeding — services like 23andme can tell you how much Neanderthal DNA still lurks in your genes — but that’s only a small part of the story. Did anatomically modern human beings outcompete them for limited resources? Did we murder them en masse? William Golding’s The Inheritors is the story of a dwindling Neanderthal tribe’s first encounter with the beings who would bring their doom: us.

 

The cover of the book ShamanShaman

KIM STANLEY ROBINSON

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Shaman is the story of Loo: a young apprentice shaman learning his trade at the feet of his master, Thorn. Loo and Thorn’s time, 30,000 years removed from our own, is one of warriors, spirits, and unrelenting cold. As the next shaman, Loo will inherit a powerful position in his tribe, but only if he survives the dangers of an unforgiving world.

 

The cover of the book Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice AgeDance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age

BJÖRN KURTÉN

Finnish paleontologist Björn Kurtén was in a better position than most of us when it comes to imagining what life in Stone Age Europe might have been like. As an expert on stone age life, Kurtén’s primary work was in scientific research, but he also wrote  in a genre that he dubbed “paleofiction”. Dance of the Tiger is the story of a clash between anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals. Written with an eye for scientific accuracy, the novel is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.

 

The cover of the book People of the Wolf: A Novel of North America’s Forgotten PastPeople of the Wolf: A Novel of North America’s Forgotten Past

KATHLEEN O’NEAL GEAR AND W. MICHAEL GEAR

Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear’s novel People of the Wolf is the story of North America’s first inhabitants: people who arrived on the content by way of the Bering Land Bridge. Set in what is now known as Alaska, People of the Wolf follows these brave first Americans as they settle a wild, unknown land.

10 Best True Crime Books for Thriller Lovers to Take to the Beach

A breezy beach and an umbrella; crashing waves and a good thriller — they are classic pairings, and the perfect way to spend a few lazy vacation days. As much as we love a bit of fictional suspense, true life, and true crime in particular, can often be stranger than fiction. History, recent and otherwise, is full of salacious murders, cold-hearted killers, and nerve-rattling investigations. So, next time you find yourself on the beach and in need of a literary distraction to while away those sunny hours, check out these nonfiction page-turners.

The cover of the book The Devil in the White CityThe Devil in the White City

Erik Larson

The Chicago World’s Fair, one of the most accomplished and influential architects of the latter 19th Century, and one of U.S. history’s most notorious serial killers — these are the extraordinary elements of Erik Larson’s nonfiction thriller, The Devil in the White City. Beginning in 1890, architect Daniel Hudson Burnham set about the task of transforming Jackson Park for the 1893 World’s Fair. Just west of the Fair’s location, Dr. H.H. Holmes began converting an abandoned lot into what he would bill the “World’s Fair Hotel” but would come to be known as the infamous “Murder Castle” — a labyrinthine house of literal horrors where Holmes tortured and killed as many as two dozen or more victims.

 

The cover of the book In Cold BloodIn Cold Blood

Truman Capote

While the true crime genre existed before In Cold Blood, Truman Capote’s 1965 bestseller laid the narrative groundwork for the modern true crime novel. In Cold Blood is Capote’s in-depth examination of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. However, the book’s most interesting aspect is Capote’s clear fascination with and disturbing portrait of the killers themselves. With his inimitable literary flair, Capote constructed an atmospheric, meticulously researched, and darkly captivating narrative that set the tone for virtually all of the true crime novels that followed in its considerable wake.

 

239848The I-5 Killer

Ann Rule

You really can’t go wrong with any of Ann Rule’s books. The queen of true crime is best known for her stunning debut, The Stranger Beside Me, which recounts her friendship with Ted Bundy. The I-5 Killer is her investigation of Randall Woodfield, who stalked the Interstate 5 corridor from California to Washington State, raping and murdering multiple victims. While he was convicted of only one murder, he is suspected in an as many as forty-four deaths.

 

The cover of the book Pizza BomberPizza Bomber

Jerry Clark

Pizza Bomber recounts one of the most bizarre and complex crimes in modern history. Brian Wells was a pizza delivery man forced to rob a bank with a bomb strapped around his neck. After delivering the money to his captors, Wells was given clues to disarm the bomb. However, he was captured by police before finding the clues. The bomb detonated while Wells was custody, killing him. In a truly bizarre twist, investigators eventually found that Wells may not have actually be a victim, but rather an active conspirator in the crime.

 

The cover of the book Black Dahlia, Red RoseBlack Dahlia, Red Rose

Piu Eatwell

The Black Dahlia murder remains one of the most infamous unsolved murders of the twentieth century. The grisly murder of Elizabeth Short — whose body, mutilated and severed at the waist, was found in a Los Angeles park — gripped the public’s imagination in 1947 and has continued to do so in the decades since. Of all the books, articles, documentaries, and films on the Black Dahlia case, Black Dahlia, Red Rose is largely considered the standard.

 

The cover of the book Death in the AirDeath in the Air

Kate Winkler Dawson

The Great Smog of London in 1952 is one of the most extraordinary and deadly environmental disasters of the twentieth century. A perfect nexus of conditions — cold weather, virtually no wind, and the ubiquity of coal-fired hearths — blanketed the city in a dense haze of smog that ground the city to a halt and led to 12,000 deaths. In the midst of this week-long nightmare, a serial killer stalked the smog-covered streets, murdering at least six women. Death in the Air is a true crime thriller too strange for fiction.

 

The cover of the book The Murder of the CenturyThe Murder of the Century

Paul Collins

When pieces of a body began appearing all over New York in 1897 — in a pond on Long Island, a torso on the Lower East side of Manhattan, severed limbs in Harlem — police were baffled and the public was horrified. The murder captured public imagination and spurred a tabloid war that, in many ways, changed the face of journalism in America. The Murder of the Century is a larger-than-life, stranger-than-fiction tale of murder, corruption, and the advent of sensationalist tabloid reporting.

 

The cover of the book A Season of DarknessA Season of Darkness

Doug Jones

Nine-year-old Marcia Trimble delivered Girl Scout Cookies in Nashville, Tennessee on a February afternoon in 1975. She never returned home. When her body was discovered thirty-three days later, her family expected the case to come to a swift close. It would be more than thirty years before Marcia’s killer was finally brought to justice. A Season of Darkness is the fascinating examination of that long and winding road.

 

The cover of the book Our Little SecretOur Little Secret

Kevin Flynn

Daniel Paquette was shot and killed in 1985 in a small New Hampshire town. His murder went unsolved for twenty years until Eric Windhurst, a teenager in 1985 and a friend of Paquette’s daughter, pled guilty to the murder. Our Little Secret is a page-turning account of small-town secrets, teenaged passion, violence, and abuse.

 

The cover of the book The Good NurseThe Good Nurse

Charles Graeber

Following his arrest in 2003, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was implicated in the deaths of as many as three-hundred patients. A trail of death followed Cullen over sixteen years and nine hospitals from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. Based on a decade of research, Charles Graeber took a deep dive into the disturbing story of Charlie Cullen in this unnerving, edge-of-your-seat, true-life thriller.

Genre Friday – Psychological Horror

So You Want to Read Psychological Horror: Here’s Where to Start

Psychological horror is a vein of frightening fiction that uses the mental states of its protagonists to evoke feelings of dread. Its narrators are often unreliable, and there may be some question about what is actually happening in the circumstances they find themselves in. If tales of madness and terror are your thing, then you’ll love the following reading recommendations.

The cover of the book The ShiningThe Shining

STEPHEN KING

Writer and recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance is looking for a fresh start, and the winter caretaker job at the sprawling Overlook Hotel seems made to fit. Three months of peace and quiet, just Jack, his family … and ghosts. Lots of them. The Overlook is booked almost solid with the souls it has claimed, but still has room for just a few more occupants.

 

The cover of the book House of LeavesHouse of Leaves

MARK Z. DANIELEWSKI

A young family moves into a house and discovers it is larger on the inside than the out. It might be haunted. Maybe the house itself is alive. The mystery of the house is bigger than anyone can truly understand, but they’ll try anyway, and maybe lose their sanity in the process.

 

The cover of the book The Red TreeThe Red Tree

CAITLIN R. KIERNAN

Shortly after moving into a secluded old house in rural New England, writer Sarah Crowe discovers a manuscript hidden in a wall. It was left there by an anthropologist determined to uncover the truth about an old tree long associated with murder and various other unpleasant incidences. If she isn’t cautious, Crowe, too, will be drawn into the tangled history of the Red Tree.

 

The cover of the book Final GirlsFinal Girls

RILEY SAGER

The media calls them the final books: a group of women — strangers to each other — who were the sole survivors of massacres perpetrated by horror movie-style serial killers. Years later, and they’re still all trying to put the worst nights of their lives behind them. Unfortunately, the past is coming back to haunt them. When one of the Final Girls turns up dead, the victim of a supposed suicide, these haunted women begin to believe that the killing may not be over.

 

The cover of the book American PsychoAmerican Psycho

BRET EASTON ELLIS

Patrick Bateman is a high-powered businessman in eighties New York City. He’s also a psychopathic murderer who punctuates his gruesome killings with lines of cocaine, weirdly obsessive monologues about his skin care routine, and power lunches at some of the city’s chicest restaurants. Or maybe not: Bateman’s worst acts of violence and depravity may be entirely imaginary. Ellis leaves it up to the reader to figure out.

 

The cover of the book The Fall of the House of Usher and Other StoriesThe Fall of the House of Usher and Other Stories

EDGAR ALLAN POE

You can’t talk about psychological horror without talking about Edgar Allan Poe. The tortured genius behind “The Raven”, The Fall of the House of Usher”, and so many other haunting works of prose and poetry virtually created the genre single-handedly. If high school was the last time you read his fiction, then it is definitely time to revisit it.

 

The cover of the book Dark TalesDark Tales

SHIRLEY JACKSON

Shirley Jackson was one of the twentieth century’s foremost practitioners of psychological horror fiction. While her novels We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Haunting of Hill House should have high priority on any reader’s list, her short stories are a great place to start. Dip into her wonderfully creepy fiction with this new collection of horror stories.

 

The cover of the book The Wasp FactoryThe Wasp Factory

IAIN BANKS

People aren’t born bad, or are they? The Wasp Factory is a look inside the mind of a young psychopathic murderer. Graphic, funny, and altogether unique, The Wasp Factory is like nothing you’ve ever read before.

 

The cover of the book The Silence of the LambsThe Silence of the Lambs

THOMAS HARRIS

Clarice Starling is an FBI agent in training under the Bureau’s behavioral science unit. “Buffalo Bill” is a serial killer at large. Her best chance to find him is to interview his former psychiatrist: the now-imprisoned Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. A master manipulator with nothing but time on his hands, Lecter is more than happy to help — for a price.

 

The cover of the book A Head Full of GhostsA Head Full of Ghosts

PAUL TREMBLAY

A New England family was thrown into chaos when one of their daughters had what appeared to be a severe psychotic break. When medicine didn’t help, they turned to an exorcist — who brought along a television crew. Years later, the possessed girl’s sister agrees to an interview with a writer. What really happened in the house may not have matched what viewers saw at home, and it is time for all to know the truth.

10 Summer-Themed Thrillers to Add to Your Reading List

Photo by Jeremy Ricketts on Unsplash

When you think of beaches, resort towns, or vacation getaways, a thriller may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But the truth is, a thrilling page-turner is the perfect pairing for your sunny escapades. And if the novel happens to be summer-themed, that’s all the better. Here are a few of our favorite suspense-fueled thrillers that keep the scorching summer heat front and center.

The cover of the book Into the WaterInto the Water

Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train, made a splash on the bestseller lists (pun totally intended) with her latest book. Once again showing her skill with dark psychological suspense, Hawkins’ latest effort centers on a teen girl whose mother is found dead at the bottom of an infamous river – the same river that claimed the life of another girl earlier in the summer. It’s a twisting thriller built on small town secrets and a community’s dark past.

 

The cover of the book Something in the WaterSomething in the Water

Catherine Steadman

Nothing says summer like beaches, sun, and an island paradise. Of course, even a summer paradise can harbor its own deadly secrets. With Something in the Water, Catherine Steadman turns an idyllic honeymoon getaway into a taut nightmare of suspense and ratcheting tension. A discovery while scuba-diving leads a couple through a devastating chain of events in this chilling page-turner.

 

The cover of the book JawsJaws

Peter Benchley

While Steven Spielberg’s iconic film is a largely faithful adaptation, there’s nothing quite like experiencing Peter Benchley’s original slice of seaside terror.  Benchley’s meticulous research gave the novel an unnerving sense of plausibility and elevated the suspense to a whole new level. It’s an unquestionable classic and continues to give readers a reason to stay out of the water.

 

The cover of the book Camino IslandCamino Island

John Grisham

A daring heist from a Princeton University Library, an unassuming bookstore owner in a Florida resort town who doubles as a black market book dealer, and a young novelist hired by a mysterious woman to infiltrate the bookstore owner’s inner circle – these are the pieces to John Grisham’s 2017 bestseller, Camino Island. It’s a literary-minded, summer thriller as only Grisham could imagine.

 

The cover of the book The SinnerThe Sinner

Petra Hammesfahr

Given the recent Emmy nomination for USA’s adaptation The Sinner, there’s no better time to dip your toes into Petra Hammesfahr’s gripping thriller. A small, lakeside community is turned upside down on a sunny summer afternoon when a young mother named Cora brutally murders a man for seemingly no reason and in full view of a host of witnesses. The apparently random act of shocking violence opens a window into Cora’s dark past and unsettling, long-buried secrets.

 

The cover of the book The Chalk ManThe Chalk Man

C.J. Tudor

In the summer of 1986, a group of friends use chalk stick figures as a secret code to deliver messages to each other. One afternoon, a coded message remarkably similar to their own leads the group to a dismembered body. Thirty years later, the friends each receive a letter emblazoned with a chalk stick figure, setting in motion a deadly chain of events tied to the body they found all those years ago. Alternating between 1986 and 2016, The Chalk Man is a finely crafted thriller sure to keep you guessing until the final page.

 

The cover of the book The GirlsThe Girls

Emma Cline

Set in Northern California in the 1960s, The Girls centers on a young and disenchanted teenage girl during one turbulent and fateful summer. Evie Boyd craves acceptance and eventually finds it with a bizarre group and their charismatic leader at a sprawling and run-down ranch compound. As the summer drags on and she is pulled deeper into the group’s inner circle, Evie is dragged into a world of violence and obsession beyond anything she could imagine.

 

The cover of the book We Were LiarsWe Were Liars

E. Lockhart

Set against a world of old-money families whiling away their summers on a private island just off of Cape Cod, We Were Liars is a sprawling and haunting tale of loss, dysfunction, bitter-sweet romance, and tragedy. For years, Cadence spent summers at her family’s vacation home with her four closest friends. But everything changes when tragedy strikes one summer and Cadence, who now suffers from amnesia, is forced to piece together the desperate events of that fateful summer.

 

The cover of the book Double WhammyDouble Whammy

Carl Hiaasen

Murder, high stakes bass fishing, the everglades, and a misanthropic recluse with a taste for roadkill – Double Whammy is a meandering mystery as only Carl Hiaasen can tell. Double Whammy introduces Hiaasen’s character Skink, a bearded poncho-wearing hermit who knows more than one would think. The story centers on a disgraced photographer turned P.I. who is hired to catch a cheating bass fisher, but ends up embroiled in a southern-fried murder mystery.

 

The cover of the book ItIt

Stephen King

Stephen King’s sprawling horror/thriller opus centers on a group of pre-teen friends who come up against an unimaginable evil over the course of a summer in 1958 in their hometown of Derry, Maine. Twenty-seven years later, the group returns as adults to defeat the malignant presence once and for all. It is the pinnacle of King’s nostalgia-fueled storytelling and pitch-perfect ode to summer through King’s particular brand of supernatural horror.