Posted May 13, 2013 by in Book Lists

Book List: YA Summer Reads for the Young and Young at Heart

YA summer reads are the perfect chance to escape into summer. Those long, lazy days remind us of the carefree days of our youth. Summer vacation in the teenage years always meant summer fun, summer adventures, and (of course) a little summer romance. These ten novels bring back these memories, and are perfect for a little light poolside reading.

YA Summer Reads

1. Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

High school senior Leah Jones is stuck in a battle between the two (hot) brothers who own the air strip where she works. Adrenaline seekers will find a lot of fast-paced, action-packed, heart-pounding moments in this sizzling summer novel by Jennifer Echols. Hot boys. Flying banners over the beach in airplanes. Humid South Carolina summer. This book was made for reading at the beach, and will definitely make readers think twice about those airplanes dragging banners over the surf.

2. Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Malibu Summer by Francine Pascal

Need to relive your teen years? Revisit the 80s? Sometimes summer can be a great time reread retro book, and Sweet Valley High fits the bill. In this book, blond twins Elizabeth and Jessica find work as mother’s helpers in Malibu, dreaming of fun in the sun. But Elizabeth falls for a much older guy, and Jessica is chasing the attention of a rock star. Will it be the summer of love or broken hearts?

ya summer reads

3. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

The perfect European travel novel! When Ginny’s aunt passes away, she leaves Ginny a single blue envelope with instructions to buy a plane ticket to London. The envelope is marked “#1,” and is the start of a sight-seeing trek across Europe to uncover the tasks in all thirteen envelopes. It’s a summer of new experiences and self-discovery, perfect for anyone with wanderlust.

4. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Anne Brashares

Four (very different) best friends must spend their first summer apart, and each has a different, life-changing experience. Lena’s off to Greece to visit family she’s never met, Bridget’s the star of soccer camp, Carmen must cope with her father’s remarriage down south, and Tibby’s stuck at home, alone and working for the summer. One single pair of “magical” pants is shipped and shared between the quartet, serving as the metaphorical bond between them as they experience the ups and downs of being sixteen.

5. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

If you’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book, this one is a good start. Any of her books would be excellent summer reads. The Truth About Forever is about Macy, who is mourning the recent loss of her father. Her boyfriend is away at Brain Camp, so Macy’s left to fend for herself. After getting a job at a whirlwind catering company, Macy mets the handsome Wes, a boy who might help Macy heal and enjoy life again.

ya summer reads

6. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

I’ll keep this short and sweet: 18-girl backpacking through Central America. That’s all you need to know, except of course that there’s definitely a cute boy. Wanderlust and Wanderlove go hand-in-hand.

7. Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan

Romance novels not your thing? Need a break from all that KISSING? Lois Duncan is the master of teen suspense novels (think I Know What You Did Last Summer and Killing Mr. Griffin). Relive her awesomeness with one of her lesser-known books about a visiting cousin with a seriously evil side. Rachel’s cousin Julia is trying to take over her life, and her intentions are definitely sinister. Beware: Lois Duncan’s novels have been known to force adults to sleep with the lights on. Good thing summer days are long and bright!

8. Dramarama by E. Lockhart

What would summer be without camp? Drama camp is nothing but drama in this short novel by one of my personal favorite, E. Lockhart. A must for thespians and former misfits.

9. Empress of the World by Sara Ryan

Nicola is attending Siegel Institute, a hothouse of smart, intense teenagers. She makes some excellent new friends, including the beautiful, blond Battle. Yes, Battle is her name. The two become friends, and then more than friends in this lesbian coming-of-age and coming out novel.

10. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Of course, I had to add a fantasy novel to the list. Percy Jackson has just discovered that he’s a half-blood, the son of an ancient god and a mortal mother. He is sent to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for kids with similar powers and lineage. However, he’s not there long before he is sent on a dangerous quest with a loyal sidekick and sassy companion. The Lightning Thief is the first novel in a series of five books, so be prepared to be hooked!

What are some of your favorite youthful summer reads? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

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Former middle school teacher and school librarian, current doctoral student in education. Reader of all things young adult. I'm particularly fond of dystopian societies, sassy female protagonists, and clever dialogue. I can often be found asleep with a book on my face.