Best summer books for 2023 | St James's London


Best summer books for 2023

Find the best books for summer 2023 to pack into your suitcase.

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Want a page-turning paperback for the beach or a new novel for those lazy afternoons in the sun? We round up the best books to read this summer from St James’s bookshops.

All books are available at Hatchards and Waterstones, unless stated otherwise.

Top novels this summer

Uncover an author’s deception in the wake of a fellow writer’s death in Rebecca F. Kuang’s dark satirical work Yellowface. Follow the escapades of the men wanted for the murder of Charles I in Robert Harris’ latest novel Act of Oblivion. Or go on a journey of self-discovery through the eyes of a man with many lives, set against the tumultuous backdrop of 19th-century events in William Boyd’s The Romantic.

Gripping thrillers

A diving resort is plunged into chaos when a dive trip turns into a murder scene in Sarah Ochs’ unputdownable The Dive. David Baldacci returns to the shelves with his latest thriller in the Amos Decker series, Long Shadows – as his star FBI agent investigates the mysterious death of a judge. An apt title for this summer, Victor Jestin’s hard-hitting thriller Heatwave trails a teenage misfit who’s forced to make a rash decision after the suicide of a fellow schoolboy.

Travellers’ tales

Whether you’re planning a staycation or some time in far flung climes, be inspired to travel further with this summer’s best travel books. Head to Maison Assouline, whose eye-catching travel series will give you plenty of ideas. Or pick up the latest in travel writing from the charts – from Alex Bescoby’s epic travels in a Land Rover with The Last Overland, to following in the footsteps of George Orwell in The Orwell Tour by Oliver Lewis.

Romantic page-turners

Could a husband presumed dead in the Second World War be reunited with his grieving wife? Find out in Santa Montefiore’s heart-tugging tale Wait For Me. Or can a former cleaner win over high society to prove herself worthy of being a countess? E. L. James’s The Missus reveals all in another of the best romance books this summer.

Alternatively, discover tales of smuggling amid secrets dredged up from a mystical marsh in KJ Charles’ LGBTQ+ Regency romance The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen.

Famous figures

Get a glimpse into Truman Capote’s social circles and discover how love, ambition and, ultimately, betrayal landed him in hot water with Capote’s Women. Look into the creative mind of Discworld creator Terry Pratchett in Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins. Or discover how illness, Covid and Brexit have inspired Old Rage in legendary actor Sheila Hancock.

Something for the kids

Keep the kids entertained on long car or plane journeys with one of the best children’s books this summer. Find out about The World’s Worst Monsters with David Walliams’ latest release alongside illustrator Adam Stower. Or join budding detective Fayson as she leads the Di Island Crew on a quest to investigate a mysterious shadow, in Kereen Getten’s The Case of the Lighthouse Intruder.

Teens can sneak off to a quiet spot with Hiba Noor Khan’s period novel Safiyyah’s War, which sees a young girl take on a dangerous role during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis.

Sporting stories

While The Ashes may have hit the headlines this summer, cricket legend Mike Brearley has taken some of the limelight with his memoir Turning Over the Pebbles. You can also learn about lesser-known British sports with Harry Pearson’s No Pie, No Priest: A Journey Through The Folk Sports of Britain. Football fans will want to add Gary Neville’s The People’s Game: How to Save Football to their holiday reading list, as the former Manchester United star looks into the delicate state of the modern game.

Arty picks

Art aficionados will love delving into Van Gogh Masterpieces From The Kröller-Müller Museum (available at Thomas Heneage). Or they can seek out some of the new titles stocked at The London Library, such as Hilma af Klint & Piet Mondrian: Forms of life, and Hockney's Eye: The Art and Technology of Depiction.

Specialist interests

Ideal for those summer days at home or in the garden, Maison Assouline’s coffee books will help you delve into some of the greatest names and moments in history. New releases include Dior by Raf Simons and a look at the life of one of the world’s most fascinating opera stars, Maria Callas, with Maria by Callas 100th Anniversary Edition.

Wildlife lovers can sharpen their senses (or animals’ senses at least), with Ed Yong’s fascinating glimpse into the sensory wonders of the animal kingdom with An Immense World.

Find more top reads this summer and beyond at St James’s top bookshops. Once you’ve made your choice, why not seek out a quiet spot in one of these serene spaces.