Jennifer Weiner is always a favorite when it comes to summer reading. Her novel Mrs. Everything was one of our editors' picks for the best books of 2019, and she's followed it up with a bighearted, thoughtful new novel called Big Summer.
In Big Summer, plus-sized Instagram influencer Daphne Berg is finding her stride in life, and she's put her former BFF, Drue Cavanaugh, firmly in the rearview mirror after their friendship ended six years earlier. But when Drue shows back up out of the blue, requesting Daphne act as her maid-of-honor, Daphne somehow finds herself saying yes. What follows is the perfect beach read, about friends, frenemies, and family, narrated by an endearing character discovering what matters most in life.
Weiner is a reigning queen of the beach read, but what does she look for in a book that's perfect entertainment for a summer day? Here's Weiner's answer and four books she recommends.
The books I look for in the summertime aren’t much different than the books I want year-round: I want a story that keeps me completely engrossed, a believable world, interesting, well-developed characters. And if there’s romance and adventure along the way, and a happy ending on the final pages, that’s great, too. Here are four summertime reads that fit the bill. —Jennifer Weiner
Takes One to Know One by Susan Isaacs
A discontented FBI agent turned Long Island housewife, with a troubled cop father, a sweet stepdaughter, a husband who’s almost too good to be true…and a neighbor whose actions seem suspicious. Is Corie just being paranoid? Or has she stumbled onto a genuine crime? This mystery’s got a gripping plot and a witty, funny heroine whose internal monologue is charming and smart, whether she’s musing about life in the suburbs or the man who got away.
Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman
What do you do when your life falls apart, when you’ve lost your creative mojo, your once-loving son ignores you, and your husband’s a barely-contributing pothead? For Judy Vogel, the answer is simple: she starts wearing her dog in a baby sling. Sounds crazy, but this funny and deeply moving book makes it plausible, and has a lot to say about modern life, as it satirizes things that already feel over the top, from pricey creativity gurus to progressive private schools.
It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan
A beauty supply store owner of a certain age loses her husband, and thinks that’s the end – but her friends rally around her, and various members of her complicated family (her sister, her daughter, the stepson who’s come into her life as an adult) still need her love and competence. A funny, moving story with some smart things to say about aging, mental illness, and how a mother’s work is never done.
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
A dystopian novel that feels like it could be happening today, where women who either can’t or won’t carry their own pregnancies rent the wombs of a hand-picked cohort of gestational surrogates, who spend their nine months being closely monitored in a posh resort that’s like Canyon Ranch meets the panopticon. The story follows Jane, a poor surrogate from the Philippines, desperate to obtain a better life for her daughter, and the women around her, from the older nanny who hooks her up with the gig to the wealthy young striver who dreamed up the business to a fellow surrogate who has reasons of her own for participating in the project. Nobody’s motives are pure and, when one of the surrogates threatens to expose the Farm, it turns out that the business of surrogacy is as complicated as motherhood itself.
Photo credit: Andrea Cipriani
The best-selling author of some of our favorite summer reads recommends four books perfect for the season.