A Genre For Every Season: Summer

Whether summer means blistering in the sun on a white sand beach or finding your next outdoor fix, you’re bound to find some time to read. After all, summer is a season for relaxation and self-reflection, and books are perfect for just that. So slap on that sunscreen and spread those toes as we splash into more genre recommendations, this time in reference to the hottest season of them all.

Adventure

One of summer’s quirks is bringing you, yes even the introverts, out and about. Summer is for sun-touched adventures and high-flying deeds. Like a European vacation, summer is mysterious and educational, and is much like The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, or even a pirate-infested beach packed with treasures and narrow escapes, similar to Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The adventure genre is perfect for those who wander, venture forth, and seek a break from ordinary life. From the adventure genre, we get heroes as perfect as a cloudless sky, adventures as exciting as a lightning storm, and settings as wondrous as fireworks shattering pure night sky. The adventure genre seeks to entertain, with heroes at the peak of their years or abilities, and it seeks to take us on a vacation to far-off places and through treacherous excursions. Welcome summer’s endless adventure with a genre that represents it. 

Western

Summer blurs the lines on heat-cooked highways down south and especially in the arid, dusty desert of the Wild West, so choosing a western would do y’all good; after all, some of the best westerns “blur the lines” of good guy and bad guy, right and wrong. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen is just one of those. After all, summer is about trying new experiences and meeting new friends, seeing people and places with a different perspective. 

If you like your westerns like you like your summer—hot and heavy—choose a western with a slice of romance like Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell. Whether you are single or taken, this book will whisk you away to dry, dusty nights filled with western passion and historical flair.

Westerns give us the best of both worlds, where one can appreciate the sunsets (watch those cowboys ride off into the distance) and timeless memories (period pieces are something to try at least once) while still enjoying the dastardly deeds of train robbers and epic gun battles, all at a safe distance. After all, why not have your lemonade and drink it too? 

Coming of Age

When you think of summer, I’m sure you look forward to or can recall that break between school years. Summers leave room for friendships to thrive, for romance to blossom, and for people to grow—even as an adult. Every summer leaves room to learn something new about yourself. That’s why coming-of-age stories are sublime for summer days. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is one of those novels, with a 3-person POV and a heart-shattering moment near the very end (WHY?!), all while happening in the space between the end of school and the beginning of the rest of these characters’ lives. It’s a perfect representation of summer. Thought-provoking and evocative as a cool summer evening beneath the stars, you won’t want to put it down. 

Of course, there’s always the classics, like The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, where one can step back in time and relive their childhood or connect with characters that feel like them. And why not read about youth, when summer is about change? From the wet, brisk mornings of spring to the cinnamon-drenched dry evenings of fall, summer is the time between extremes. 

However, summer isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and neither is coming of age. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence shows that this genre can have a fantastical flair with blood and violence, and it reminds us that sometimes summer can be harsh, humid, and unforgiving, just like self-reflection. 


Whether you need a break from people or just a break from daily life, summer is a season that can accomplish both, and so is reading. Through these genres and their stories, a reader can explore an event, time, or age again and again, all while rediscovering and losing herself. So pack up these radiant reads and head to that favorite vacation spot. Summer isn’t going to wait.