30 Books That Will Give You That Beach Read Feeling — No Matter Where You Are

Summer 2020 is right around the corner and while this season most likely won’t include any beach trips, you can still pick up the most anticipated books of summer 2020 to read when the weather gets hot. Travel might be out of the question for you this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get away from it all by losing yourself in a good book.

2020 has proven to be a great year for books, and the summer months are no exception. In June, July, and August, you can look forward to new releases from your favorite writers, including Brit Bennett, Chanel Cleeton, and Akwaeke Emezi, as well as a fresh bunch of highly anticipated debut novels. Whether you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, a lighthearted beach read, or a deeply literary novel, you’ll find it on the list below.

So even if your vacation has turned into a staycation, you can unwind with one of Bustle’s most anticipated books of Summer 2020:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (June 2)

The Mothers author Brit Bennett is all set to publish her second novel this summer. The Vanishing Half follows a pair of identical twin sisters — one passing for white and married to a white man, the other raising her daughter in their Deep South hometown — and their families for 40 years, beginning in the 1950s.

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Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (June 2)

Ava said "Goodbye, Dublin," and "Hello, Hong Kong," but life in the big Asian city isn’t all she thought it would be. Things begin to look up when she meets Julian — a wealthy man intent on spoiling her. Just as their relationship starts to heat up, he travels to London, leaving Ava to inhabit his apartment alone. She isn’t looking for anyone else, but a chance meeting with Edith forces her to question her relationship with Julian, among other things.

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Seven Years of Darkness by You-Jeong Jeong (June 2)

Seven years after his father went to prison for mass murder, Sowon lives in fear that someone will connect him to his convicted parent. His father’s arrest came in the midst of a murder investigation involving a preteen girl found dead at his worksite, but the public doesn’t know the whole story. A mysterious delivery pitches Sowon into his own investigation of the facts surrounding his father’s arrest and conviction, but also sets him on a dangerous path, in You-Jeong Jeong’s Seven Years of Darkness.

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A Burning by Megha Majumdar (June 2)

A timely tale involving political aspirations and social media intrigue, Megha Majumdar’s A Burning is the debut to watch this summer. A Muslim girl living in poverty becomes the prime suspect in a terrorism investigation, an aspiring right-wing politician sees his own path to greatness in tearing the young girl down, and the only person able to exonerate the accused terrorist could lose everything by stepping forward in this gripping novel.

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You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat (June 9)

In You Exist Too Much, the religious condemnation of a 12-year-old girl’s wardrobe reverberates throughout her life, ultimately landing her in a novel treatment facility for "love addiction." Told in globe-spanning vignettes, and taking its title from the protagonist’s mother’s response to her daughter’s coming out, Zaina Arafat’s debut novel is a queer, coming-of-age must-read.

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Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier (June 9)

A pregnant, 18-year-old pizza delivery driver takes center stage in Jean Kyoung Frazier’s Pizza Girl. After bringing pickle pizzas to a stay-at-home mom named Jenny, Frazier’s protagonist becomes increasingly enamored with the other woman. As she draws closer to Jenny, the eponymous pizza girl withdraws from her family, and pushes her own incoming collision with motherhood from her mind.

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Broken People by Sam Lansky (June 9)

A broken young man puts his faith and fate in a miracle-working shaman in this poignant follow-up to The Gilded Razor. Sam has left his life in New York behind, but starting over in L.A. hasn’t been easy. When he learns about the "open-soul surgery" that an ayahuasca-touting healer provides, he — somewhat reluctantly — goes all in for a religious experience he won’t ever forget.

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The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton (June 16)

Labor Day weekend, 1935. Three women, each trapped in Key West by both her circumstances and a coming hurricane, find their lives endangered over the course of the holiday in this new novel from Next Year in Havana author Chanel Cleeton. As their lives begin to intersect, the trio uncover the bad business and dangerous liaisons that continue to pursue them in the midst of one unforgettable summer.

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The Lightness by Emily Temple (June 16)

One year after her father disappears, a young woman arrives at a secluded meditation facility that purports to teach people to fly. At the Levitation Center, Olivia falls in with three other women — Serena, Janet, and Laurel — and together they begin their journey toward literal enlightenment. The process isn’t easy, however. In fact, for some of them, it could even be deadly.

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Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory (June 23)

The Wedding Date author Jasmine Guillory will publish her fifth rom-com this summer, so make some space on your TBR. In Party of Two, a black lawyer and white politician stumble into romance after a night of intense flirting. Although they’re careful to keep their relationship a secret, Olivia and Max soon become the center of a media frenzy that’s a little too interested in her past. Can they weather out the storm, or are they not really meant to be?

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Block Seventeen by Kimiko Guthrie (June 23)

In this literary thriller from debut author Kimiko Guthrie, a young woman begins to uncover devastating family secrets in the wake of a home invasion. Jane’s home has been burgled by an unknown perpetrator, her partner Shiro has risked the couple’s well-being to report misdeeds at the TSA, and her mother has disappeared. Searching for answers, Jane digs deep into her Japanese-American family roots, spinning toward Block Seventeen‘s exciting conclusion.

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What’s Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott (June 23)

Dissatisfied in his marriage, Satō hires Kaitarō to seduce his wife, Rina, so that he can "win" their upcoming divorce. Falling in love wasn’t part of Kaitarō’s job, but that’s exactly what he does. As he and Rina grow closer, the situation brought on by Satō’s desire to leave the marriage becomes ever more complicated, until it can only end one way — with violence.

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (June 30)

Gods of Jade and Shadow author Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic transplants classic gothic tropes into mid-century Mexico. When her cousin Catalina writes her a desperate letter, socialite Noemí pulls up stakes to move to High Place: the country house her cousin shares with her English husband. There, she meets her cousin’s in-laws and learns that Catalina may be mentally ill. Digging deeper, Noemí unearths a secret about the English-Mexican residents of High Place that may not easily be reburied.

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Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan (June 30)

Recently relocated from New York City to a small-town home, new mom Elisabeth has had a little too much change. Feeling unmoored, she drifts along in a social media-fueled haze of endless scrolling. Bringing on Sam, a babysitter, is supposed to help lighten her load, and it does, for a while. An unforeseen connection between Sam and Elisabeth’s father-in-law may fracture the latter’s newfound peace, however.

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Scorpionfish by Natalie Bakopoulos (July 7)

Returning to Athens in the wake of her parents’ deaths, Mira connects with the Captain — a local seaman whose work has recently granted him some time on land. As the two share their stories, author Natalie Bakopoulos crafts a portrait of love and evolution out of the emergent narratives.

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Or What You Will by Jo Walton (July 7)

From Among Others author Jo Walton comes this new novel about a writer coming to terms with an unwritten character. At age 73, Sylvia has spent her last 40 years writing dozens of acclaimed books. "He" — the ever-present character in her mind — has been there through it all. As Sylvia’s age steers her into declining health, "he" begins to realize that his time will end with hers. Unless, that is, they can find a way to live forever in the pages of her new book…

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Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave (July 14)

Three women reckon with familial expectations in Saumya Dave’s upcoming novel. Well-Behaved Indian Women follows Simran, her mother Nandini, and Nandini’s mother Mimi as they grapple with their interpersonal relationships and the tension between tradition and progress.

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The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (July 14)

Years ago, four friends defied authority to hunt elk on land belonging to their tribe’s elders. Their hunt was unsuccessful, but their quarry has pursued them ever since. Weaving together the longstanding issue of anti-indigenous racism with traditional horror tropes, Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians is one of the year’s must-read thrillers.

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The Daughters of Foxcote Manor by Eve Chase (July 21)

From Black Rabbit Hall author Eve Chase comes this new thriller about a 40-year-old secret that refused to stay buried. At the beginning of the 2010s, Sylvie starts a new life for herself, leaving her cheating husband and striking out on her own. Life is good… until her teenage daughter opens a Pandora’s box of secrets from her past. Drawn back to Foxcote Manor for the first time in decades, Sylvie must confront her past and the deadly secrets it holds.

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The Loyalties by Delphine de Vigan (July 21)

Delphine de Vigan’s Les Loyautés appears in English for the first time this summer as The Loyalties. When 12-year-old Théo begins drinking at school, his teacher, Hélène, grows concerned, even as his depressed father is powerless to help him. Meanwhile, Cécile, the mother of Théo’s friend Mathis, stumbles upon her husband’s dark secret, plunging their community into chaos in this grim, deeply affecting novel.

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Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline (July 28)

One year after her husband Victor’s disappearance, a desperate, hungover Joan meets a man who looks exactly like him. Calling himself Reverend Wolff, he swears that Joan must be mistaken, as he’s a simple revival preacher, and always has been. With the help of two unlikely allies, Joan sets out to remind Reverend Wolff of his true identity, but she may have bitten off more than she can chew in this horror novel from Métis author Cherie Dimaline.

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Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle (July 28)

Jill McCorkle’s first novel in seven years, Hieroglyphics centers on Lil and Frank, a Bostonian couple whose move to North Carolina prompts a deep dive into their respective family histories. Both were young when they each lost a parent, and they’ve carried the blank space of that loss with them throughout the years. Lil wants to make sure their own children don’t have any similar gaps in their generational memories, but Frank would prefer that some stories be forgotten forever.

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A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott (Aug. 4)

Alicia Elliott’s memoir-in-essays examines the ways anti-indigenous racism impact every aspect of Native American and First Nations authors’ lives. Tackling questions of the body, mind, and spirit, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a profound and eye-opening look at why we must work together to create a better future.

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The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Aug. 4)

From the author of Freshwater and Pet comes this new novel about the eponymous trans person’s short life and the reckoning Vivek’s family faces in the wake of their relative’s death. Following Vivek through a 1990s childhood in Nigeria, The Death of Vivek Oji paints a portrait of a young person struggling to understand their gender in a world without tangible role models. Enduring lengthy blackouts as the result of this tension between conflicting identities, Vivek grows closer to neighbors’ daughters, but even they cannot save their friend from the myriad forms of violence the world has in store.

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A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy (Aug. 11)

The winner of two O. Henry Prizes, Shruti Swamy will publish her first short-story collection this summer, and you won’t want to miss out on reading it. The 12 stories in A House Is a Body move between India and the U.S., focusing on women’s interior lives and the ways in which their identities differ from the perceptions and presumptions of those around them.

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The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous (Aug. 11)

Dima Wannous’ 2017 novel, The Frightened Ones, was shortlisted for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Now available in English for the first time, the novel centers on Suleima, a Syrian woman, who receives a novel manuscript from her ex-lover. Naseem left Suleima when he gave up Syria for Germany, but as she reads through his book, she wonders how far she’s really been from his mind in the intervening time. Naseem’s protagonist bears a striking resemblance to his ex-girlfriend, but his accounting of their love affair calls everything Suleima believes into question.

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Impersonation by Heidi Pitlor (Aug. 18)

Two working mothers’ lives collide when one hires the other to write her motherhood memoir in this new novel from The Daylight Marriage author Heidi Pitlor. Impersonation follows Allie, a struggling ghostwriter trying to provide for her young son, as she attempts to write an image-boosting book for Lana, a mother with a lucrative, high-profile career and lackluster public persona. The job should pay well, but working with Lana turns out to be far more than Allie bargained for.

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Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth (Aug. 18)

Out earlier this year in the UK, Emma Jane Unsworth’s Grown Ups finally comes to U.S. shelves this summer. Part epistolary novel, part coming-of-age story, Grown Ups centers on Jenny, a thirtysomething millennial whose life isn’t going the way she planned it. She’s about to learn how to reinvent herself and make "adult" a verb, more than a decade after she left home to do exactly that.

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When I Was You by Amber Garza (Aug. 25)

An empty-nester struggling to cope with her teenage son’s absence becomes obsessed with a new mother who shares her name in this shocking thriller from The Last Time I Saw Her author Amber Garza. There are two Kelly Medinas in town, and they’re about to run into one another. Then one of them will go missing, for reasons unknown to anyone… except the other.

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The Woods by Vanessa Savage (Aug. 25)

Tess saw her sister die, but that doesn’t mean she knows who did it. She’s spent the last decade trying to remember what happened in the woods that night. Two girls died that summer, and she’s always felt responsible. She should have been able to identify their killer. Now, she’s just received a phone call that will drag her back to her sleepy hometown, reopen all of Tess’ wounds from that night, and maybe, just maybe, help her remember.

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