Escapism: It’s what summer meant when the last bell of the school year rang, and it’s what it can continue to mean with the 13 fiction books on this list. You won’t find any heavy memoirs here, but at the same time, these books aren’t fluff. They’re full of heart and and will take you on a journey. So go ahead and scroll on to see what we recommend, and get ready to escape.
1. A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan ($13): What does it really mean to have it all, and how do you know when you do? And if you do, what do you keep striving for? A Window Opens explores all of these questions through its central character, Alice, a happily married mother of three. When Alice takes a job at a new tech startup, she vows she’ll be able to do it all. But then life happens in unexpected ways, and she’s left questioning what it is she really wants. (out Aug. 25)
2. Don’t Get Me Wrong by Marianne Kavanagh ($8): This book is the quintessential opposites-attract love story. Kim and Harry don’t exactly get along, but they’re forced to hang out due to mutual friends. When tragedy strikes and they just might lose each other for good, everything changes. (out Aug. 25)
3. Two Across by Jeff Bartsch ($13): If you’ve ever tuned in to the National Spelling Bee, you know how intense the competition gets. Imaging tying for first place. That’s exactly what happens in this coming-of-age novel. The event bonds Stanley and Vera, eventually prompting Stanley to marry Vera, not for love, but for money. Vera’s lucrative career as a math professor gives him the financial freedom to spend his time creating crosswords, his true passion. The problem: Vera is actually secretly in love with him. Yikes! (out Aug. 4)
4. Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman ($10): Blending fantasy with actual historical events, Eleanor Herman reimagines Alexander the Great’s life. In this book — the first in a buzzy new series — Alexander is 16 years old, with a huge legacy in front of him. Also introduced is the bold and headstrong Katerina, on a mission to kill the queen… until falling in love complicates her plans. Hooked yet? (out Aug. 18)
5. Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner ($20): We can always count on Jennifer Weiner for a juicy beach read, and she’s gifting us this one during summer’s longest, laziest days. Andy and Rachel meet when they are eight years old, and their paths keep serendipitously crossing as they grow up. Their lives are very different, yet life continues to bring them together. Watching it all play out is heartwarming. (out Aug. 11)
6. Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines ($11): You can only rewatch Friday Night Lights on Netflix so many times. Get lost in this new book series about high school football, friendships and romance. This first book introduces West, a popular jock who seems to have the perfect life. But at home, his father is dying of cancer. One night he opens up to an unlikely classmate. And when you open up to someone unlikely, life takes some unlikely turns… (out Aug. 25)
7. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware ($17): The temperature outside may be boiling, but this thriller will give you the chills. Leonara is a reclusive writer, but when an old friend invites her to a bachelorette party weekend getaway, she decides to go. Two days later, she wakes up in the hospital and learns that someone is dead. Piecing together what happened will keep you reading until the end. (out Aug. 4)
8. A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher ($9): Fans of Les Miserables will devour this novel, written from Eponine’s point of view. From a heartbreaking childhood to an impossible crush, she finally takes center stage in this tale. Besides love, the book explores Eponine’s complicated relationship with Cosette, who might have been her friend if her parents hadn’t taught Eponine to hate her. Just like with Victor Hugo’s classic tome, this book will make you cry, but it’s worth every tear. (out Aug. 25)
9. Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam ($8): Like every good coming-of-age novel worth reading, Bright Lines explores culture, sexuality and the struggle to find one’s place in the world. Ella is a Bangladeshi-American who moved to Brooklyn to live with her aunt and uncle after her parents died in the Bangladesh Liberation War. The summer after her first year at college, she meets Maya, an Islamic friend of her cousin’s. The two become fast friends and — Ella thinks — perhaps something more. But then something unexpectedly tragic happens, causing tension at home and raising even more questions for Ella. (out Aug. 11)
10. Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott ($14): Most New Yorkers don’t take the time to get to know their neighbors, but that’s certainly not the case in this novel about a Brooklyn landlady and her kooky tenants. Together, they are a makeshift family and have come to rely on each other. But when Edith’s mind starts to show her age, her son moves in and threatens to evict the tenants. You’ll root for them as they attempt to figure out what to do. (out Aug. 4)
11. The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan ($14): The Girl from the Garden demonstrates that no matter what someone’s background is, we all have the same innate wants and needs. Asher is a successful Jewish man living in Iran, but he doesn’t have the one thing he wants most: a son. He and his wife are having trouble conceiving, and overwhelmed, he makes a decision with epic consequences. (out Aug. 18)
12. The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick ($19): With The Fall of Princes, you can really escape into the glamour of 1980s New York. This book follows Wall Street’s wealthiest, who expect their charmed lives to last forever. The abundance of flaunted wealth is both sickening and fascinating. How would one cope if they lost everything? What would a life like that even look like? Time to find out. (out Aug. 25)
13. Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid ($9): Guy-girl friendships can be complicated, and that’s multiplied tenfold if you’re in high school. Dave and Julia are pretty inseparable and sometimes it seems like it’s them against the world. But Dave is harboring a secret crush on Julia. Will he tell her? Will it work out? Come on, you know we’re not going to give any spoilers here. (out Aug. 4)
What are you excited to read this month? Sound off in the comments.