Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have A Summer Vibe

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


Many thanks to Kristin Lukten av Trykksverte for coming up with this topic, but it is a tricky one for me! Dark and monstrous and gothic are my usual go-to vibes: dreary nights in November when mad scientists beheld the accomplishments of their toils…

But Summer! We are looking for warmth, sunlight and whimsy on the one hand, and perhaps that oppressive August pre-thunder storm heaviness on the other, which is (a little cliched perhaps) a great setting for passionate violence and murder.

Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare

Possibly not the first Shakespeare play to come to mind when talking about summer – we will come to A Midsummer Night’s Dream later – but there is something wonderfully summery in tone here.

Messina, the end of conflict (seemingly), the Merry War, the Masked Ball… and oh! those wonderful gulling scenes which take place in

 the pleached bower,
Where honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter, like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
Against that power that bred it

Case Histories, Kate Atkinson

The first of the Jackson Brodie series of detective novels which are masterly, hilarious and deeply deeply knowing and literary. This one is set in a blisteringly hot Cambridge Summer…

He opened a window. There was no air in the bedroom. Heavy weather. If a thunderstorm didn’t break the heat soon, people would start to go mad….

Jackson wondered if he was in love with Julia and then the sky suddenly darkened to the color of ripe Agen plums, thunder growled in the distance, and the first drops of heavy rain thudded onto the café’s canvas awning and Julia shrugged (in a commendably French way) at Jackson and said, “C’est la vie, Mr. Brodie, c’est la vie.”

The Secret Place, Tana French

May comes in restless, fizzing in the warm air. Summer is almost close enough to touch and so are the exams, and the whole of third year is wound too tight, laughing too loud at nothing and exploding into ornate arguments full of slammed desks and tears in the toilets. The moon pulls strange hues out of the sky, a tinge of green you can only see from the corner of your eye, a bruised violet.

It’s the second of May. Chris Harper has two weeks left to live.

Okay, so May is not quite Summer, but the tone of this novel with its pent-up passions and mystery and magic and teenage girls, it is like a thunder storm waiting to break.

The Dry, Jane Harper

First on the scene, the flies swarmed contentedly in the heat as the blood pooled black over tiles and carpet. Outside, washing hung still on the rotary line, bone dry and stiff from the sun. A child’s scooter lay abandoned on the stepping-stone path. Just one human heart beat within a kilometer radius of the farm.

So nothing reacted when, deep inside the house, the baby started crying.

Foxglove Summer, Ben Aaronovitch

The air was warm and still and smelt of chalk. The late morning sun was hot enough to create heat ripples along the dusty white track. I could hear birds squawking away in the nearby trees and a steady, rhythmic thwacking sound from just over the fence…

The air was still fresh but the sun was already sucking up the moisture from the fields and you didn’t need to be chewing on a straw to know it was going to be another hot day.

Probably my favourite in the Rivers of London series, taking place outside London! And the moment when Beverly and Peter sire a new River God is glorious.

The Muse, Jesse Burton

JULY WAS A GOOD MONTH in Arazuelo, and Olive drank it in; the smell of sage fields and rosemary, lizards making their way like small secrets out of the walls, jerky and neurotic in motion, ever wary of predators in the sky. But when they stilled themselves to bask, how poised they were, such pragmatists of nature, soaking up the heat of the sun.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The next day was broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest, of the summer… The straw seats of the car hovered on the edge of combustion; the woman next to me perspired delicately for a while into her white shirtwaist, and then, as her newspaper dampened under her fingers, lapsed despairingly into deep heat with a desolate cry.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it… Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

Red, White and Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston

The sky is wide open and bluebonnet blue for miles, the sun low and heavy with an early morning start, and Alex has his sunglasses on and his arms bare and the doors and roof off. He cranks up the stereo and feels like he could throw anything away on the wind whipping through his hair and it would just float away like it never was, as if nothing matters but the rush and skip in his chest.

There is something summery about the tone of this book: whimsical and full of energy and good will, and it carries scenes from Wimbledon and a summer lakehouse vacation – and can any quote feel more summery (and tongue-in-cheek) than

“Hashtag vacation nips”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

I may as well bookend this list of ten with Shakespeare and A Midsummer Night’s Dream with its love potions, Puck, Titania and Oberon and magical woods is so perfectly whimsically summery that I cannot omit it.

Even if the weather, when it is described, is so awful, twisted by the feud between Oberon and Titania! The setting, however is pure summer and nature:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night, 
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight.

Summer, Ali Smith

You’ve got to feel for Ali Smith: choosing to write a seasonal quartet starting with the Brexit vote in Autumn, and culminating with Summer in 2020… there must be so many re-writes and edits going on right now!

“In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world’s in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.

“This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?


Again, a David Mitchell book is an event, and a thing of beauty! But the music industry is not my natural setting and again I was caught between this and another book – Daisy Jones and the Six in this case – and Daisy Jones was read first. This time, because it was nominated on a book club I was part of.

Bonus: The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.

Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.

This one has been on my TBR for years. Literally years. I have heard nothing but praise for it, but so far have never quite got around to reading it! Go figure!

So, there we go: a range of books that I got in 2020 – save for the Scott Lynch – and do regret not reading during the year. Is regret the right word? Probably not to be honest: I do not regret the reading that I did do last year at all. But these are books that I would like to find time to catch up with this year – before prize season hits us again!

Pop in the comments below your thoughts on these – maybe let me know which I should read first!


  • June 9: Books I’ve Added to my TBR and Forgotten Why (stolen from Louise @ Foxes & Fairy Tales)
  • June 16: Books on My Summer 2020 TBR (or winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere)
  • June 23: Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10! Option 1: pick a past TTT topic you’ve done and re-do/update it (Perhaps you’d remove certain books you put on the list back when you first wrote it, or perhaps you have 10 MORE books you’d add to that list now. You could also re-visit TBR posts, whether seasonal or series you need to finish, etc., and tell us if you’ve read them yet or not. Any variation of this idea works. Feel free to be creative.) Option 2: pick a past TTT topic you wish you’d done, but didn’t get a chance to do (the list of topics is below).
  • June 30: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

21 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have A Summer Vibe”

  1. The Dry has me super curious. I’ve seen that one around a bit and have been mulling getting it. Been wanting to try Aaronovitch as well.

    Love that cover of Midsummer’s!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous list. I like how many of these didn’t just scream summer, but they make total sense to be here.

    I didn’t like The Great Gatsby when I read it in high school. Wonder if my opinion would be different now.

    Thanks for visiting my blog today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh what a lovely list! I agree with both of the Shakespeare selections. I hadn’t even thought of those, but they are both so very summer-y. Loved The Dry, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby! They’re all great summer choices. And I own The Secret Place but haven’t read it. You’ve made me even more excited for it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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