Women reading in beach chairs at the beach

Great Novels That Take Place Over One Summer

If you are looking for some summer reading, why not try some stories that take place over a single summer? These books can help you get through the irritating summer heat and can make your day whether it’s spent reading by a wide and quiet beach or an overcrowded and sweaty subway train. 


1. The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon


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Chabon tells a coming of age story of Art Bechstein, a man who just graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and tries to spend an entire summer of adventure before he commits to the rest of his life. Art works at a bookstore for the summer and befriends Arthur Lecomte, a young gay gentleman and Cleveland Arning, a highly literate biker. Together the three of them go on summer adventures with Art forming a bond  with a young woman named Phlox Lombardi while having a growing attraction to his friend Arthur.


Throughout the summer Art learns about his own sexuality while feeling troubled about when Cleveland goes deeper into the city’s organized crime. Overall Art’s bonds with his family, friends, and lovers become more complex which causes many messes and unforeseen consequences that make for an insanely good summer read. 


Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury


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Bradbury’s list of connected short stories follow Douglas Spaulding, a twelve-year-old boy in the fictionalized Green Town during one summer in 1928. The town is based on Bradbury’s town of Waukegan, Illinois. The boy is loosely based off of Bradbury and most of the book is centered on small-town routines and the simple joys of childhood such as fun with half-burnt firecrackers and giant dinners from Grandma. A great read for anyone wanting to head back to nostalgic childhood memories.


Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamilo


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This YA novel in 2000 is a perfect story to take place in one summer. DiCamilio’s Newbery Honor award winner focuses on 10-year-old Opal as she recalls her summer in the fictional town of Naomi, Florida when her father becomes the town’s new preacher and India tries to adjust to life around this new town. This novel includes Opal befriending a big and messy dog she finds and names Winn-Dixie after the local supermarket she found him in.


DiCamilo packs in a ton of nostalgic childhood adventure as Opal and her dog gain friendships with interesting people across town and learns more about her mother who left her as a baby. Throughout the story, Winn-Dixie and her unexpected friends teach Opal to let go a little of past troubles and she discovers how friendships can sneak up on you when you least expect it. This novel is a quintessential summer read for children and a great callback to childhood for adults. The book was so good that it was even turned to into a film back in 2005, it features AnnaSophia Robb as Opal and Jeff Daniels as her father.



The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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One of the most famous summer novels of all time, Fitzgerald novel takes place during the entire summer in 1922 in New York City and Long Island during the economic simplicities of the Roaring Twenties and the hidden party culture during the Prohibition. The story is narrated by Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate and WWI veteran that moves from the Midwest to West Egg (really Great Neck lol) where he seeks money as a bond salesman. Nick reconnects with his cousin Daisy and her millionaire of a husband and Nick’s past college friend, Tom Buchanan. Nick meets the mysterious and charismatic millionaire, Jay Gatsby who is known for his luxurious parties and high society lifestyle. However, once Nick and Gatsby meet things take a turn for the crazy.


Gatsby tells Nick of a story of a former love and how in an obsessive way tries to get Nick to help win her back which in turns results in some pretty devastating conclusion. Fitzgerald reflects themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, excess, and social upheaval throughout the novel and has been described in some ways as a cautionary tale of the American Dream and is a perfect pick for anyone looking for a summer book with affairs, rich people, and murder. 


Frog Music by Emma Donoghue


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Author of the hit novel Room, Donoghue writes another intriguing story set in San Francisco during the city’s stifling summer and smallpox epidemic of 1876. The story centers on Blanche, a French exotic dancer at the House of Mirrors, her lover Arthur and his companion Ernest. When a strange outsider joins this friend group, secrets are revealed that change everything and cause a murder. Blanche tries to solve the murder in the hot, intense and dangerous atmosphere of the late-19th century San Francisco. If you’re craving for an extreme historical fiction mystery drama filled with bloodshed and love this would be a great summer read for you.



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