Readers get to go on more adventures than non-readers, and with summer vacation more than a little shaken up this year, we’re taking every chance at adventure we can get. Thank goodness there are infinite worlds, characters, and conflicts between the pages of books!
So, we have a challenge for you. How many books can you read in the months before it’s time to head back to school (virtually or in-person)? We’ve put together a book bucket list that will take you on twenty different summer adventures perfect for the reader who’s always steeped in wanderlust, the reader who loves mermaids, or even the reader who just wants to try something new.
To go on these adventures, follow the twenty prompts below. Dive into the books we chose for each prompt or pick your own!
A Story Re-Told
We all have our favorite stories, but sometimes reading a new spin on an old tale is exactly the spark that keeps our love for a favorite read burning bright! Pick a classic story, fairy tale, or adventure and find a new version of it to dive into.
Our Suggestion: Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz. This re-exploration of the relationship between Jo and Laurie from Little Women is perfect for anyone that loves the classic novel and isn’t ready to let go of its characters.
A Book Full of Love
What does love mean to you? Find a book that is full of romance or friendship or family love, and enjoy all those warm and fuzzy feelings that come with those relationships.
Our Suggestion: All the Thinks We Never Knew by Liara Tamani. Carli and Rex met on the basketball court, and immediately felt connected, but is that connection enough to keep them together?
A Book That has been Adapted into a TV Show or Movie
Do you have a TV show or movie you’ve been itching to watch but wanted to read the book first? Do you love a TV show or movie that’s based on a book you haven’t read? Pick it up!
Our Suggestion: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. What happens when two friends decide to make a film for their friend with a serious illness? A lot of mishaps, actually.
A Book with Multiple Perspectives
Find a book with multiple protagonists that you can’t get enough of, alternating point of views, and plenty of plot twists!
Our Suggestion: I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Milly Segal. Lena and Campbell aren’t friends, but when a high school football game takes a dark turn, they are going to have to confront their own perspectives in order to make it through the night.
Travel Somewhere with Dragons
What is more exciting than a flying, fire-breathing, magical creature!? Not much, obviously. Pick up a book where dragons exist.
Our Suggestion: Fireborne by Rosaria Munda. When Annie and Lee’s world changes, putting them on the same social level for the first time since they were born, they are given the chance to join the ranks of the dragonriders. Friendships are tested and battles fought as these two fight for their relationship and their home.
Traverse School Drama
If lockers slamming and the roar of crowded hallways are the soundtrack to your ideal adventure, pick up a book that’s all about what goes on beyond the textbooks and whiteboards at school.
Our Suggestion: Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson. A name mix-up leaves Haley texting the wrong Martin. In fact, she’s texting the Martin she hates. Will she be able to figure it out (and maybe get along with him) before things get too messy?
Solve a Mystery
Can you figure out what happened before it’s too late? Read a book that is all about the clues left behind and the puzzles the characters have to solve to make it to the end.
Our Suggestion: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick. What if instead of pool parties or trips to exciting places your summer vacation started with a murder investigation? What would you do to find out the truth?
Cast a Spell
Books full of magic, witches, and fairies are exciting trips into new worlds and tricky realms. If you read a book in this category, remember not everything is as it seems!
Our Suggestion: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. Jealousy and old dramas are getting in the way of Hannah and Veronica finding out what’s really going on in Salem, Massachusetts. Is the person after them a blood witch or something even more dangerous?
Picture Yourself with a Graphic Novel
Sometimes the best adventures take place in pictures. Read a novel that couldn’t contain its characters and stories to words alone.
Our Suggestion: Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. When Kamala Khan finds out she has superpowers, she has to figure out how to use them and whether or not they change who she is.
Read a Classic
Have you ever heard the title of a classic novel and wondered what all the fuss was about? It’s time to find out!
Our Suggestion: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Elizabeth isn’t marriage-crazy like her sisters, but when the friend of an unexpected new neighbor starts to get under her skin, her feelings just might change.
Groove with a Book Full of Music
Sometimes books are full of music, like a literary playlist. Find a book that uses music to move through the plot and introduce you to its characters.
Our Suggestion: Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi. What if a popstar came to the place you worked? What if that chance encounter turned into a friendship or something more? When Pablo and Leanna meet at the twenty-four-hour deli where Pablo works, that’s exactly what happens.
Go on a Summer Adventure
Every summer reading list should include at least one summer adventure. Where will you go? Follow a character to the beach or even to somewhere far away from your standard summer vacation destinations.
Our Suggestion: Summer and July by Paul Mosier. Juillet thinks that she’s in the middle of the worst summer ever until she meets Summer, but Summer has a secret. Can these two support each other as they deal with their problems and try to enjoy the summer?
Take a Trip Back in Time
Did you know that books are time machines? Go back a decade, fifty years, or even a few centuries and see when you find and who you meet!
Our Suggestion: Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, and Ryan Estrada. This graphic novel follows the true story of one of the authors, Kim Hyun Sook, who’s excitement to study literature in college was shaken up by the political turmoil in 1983 South Korea. Kim’s love of literature lands her in a banned book club where fear and knowledge go hand-in-hand.
Survive a Horror Story
Looking for a spooky addition to your summer? Read a book full of ghosts and secrets and dark, misleading characters.
Our Suggestion: Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery by Mary Amato. When Lacy wakes up in Westminster Cemetery, she wants leave and find out how she died, but all of the ghosts in the cemetery have a task, and Lacy is in charge of entertainment. She decides to host an open mic night. Little does she know that the cemeteries other residents have lots of secrets to share.
Swim with Mermaids
Whether you love to see beautiful mermaids and sparkly tails or mermaids that are a little less human with more teeth and vendettas, dive into a book where the water is full of untold secrets and magic.
Our Suggestion: Coral by Sara Ella. Coral is a mermaid unfortunate enough to have human emotions. Brooke feels isolated. Merrick is struggling with loss. When these three meet, emotions will swirl as they go on an adventure to figure out what it means to be human (or experience humanity).
Start a Series
Find a world that you want to stay in for a while! Reading the first book in a series is like the first time you hangout with a longtime friend. What kind of adventure do you want to be on for more than one book?
Our Suggestion: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown. The Solastia Festival might mean freedom for Malik while Karina is going to use the winner of the festival’s competition to bring her mother back. When their plans clash will they choose their hopes and dreams or each other?
Unravel a Fairy Tale
There are more to fairy tales than princes and princesses! Read a book that is full of royal drama and just a touch of magic.
Our Suggestion: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust. Soraya is a princess cursed with a poisonous touch. She’s lived alone in her garden to keep her family safe, but when a boy and a demon come into her life, both questioning the fate she thought she had, who will she become?
Spaceships, aliens, new planets, the sci-fi genre covers all of the fantastical scientific discoveries we can make in our imagination. Pick up a book that isn’t afraid to take you somewhere out of this world.
Our Suggestion: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. When April May stumbles upon a giant Transformer-like sculpture in New York City, she and her best friend Andy make a 3AM video that quickly goes viral and rockets April into stardom. Both fame and the sculpture (which is actually an alien of some sort that April named Carl) are dangerous in different ways, but solving this mystery might just get April killed.
Immerse Yourself in Poetry
Find a poetry collection with a theme that speaks to you. Love? Growing up? Exploring? Nature? There are poems for everything just waiting for you to read them!
Our Suggestion: Cast Away by Naomi Shihab Nye. These poems about everything from lost items to the environment around us capture a view of the world deeply impacted by the things we discard.
Find the Facts
A summer adventure doesn’t have to take place in the world of fiction! Read the stories of real people and their adventures and accomplishments in the real world. Who knows? You might find yourself inspired.
Our Suggestion: Atomic Women by Roseanne Montillo. The “atomic women” are the female scientists from around the United States who were essential to the Manhattan Project and its creation of the atomic bomb. This book tells their stories and explores the consequences of the project’s success.