By Caitríona Ní Chonaill
We’ve all had them show up on our TikTok FYP, right? Perfectly shot aesthetic BookTok recommendations, making us feel bad that we’ve been scrolling for the past hour curled up in the fetal position. I’m here to tell you which ones are worth the read and that you can then recommend to a friend!
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid has taken over BookTok for a reason, with her watertight plots, memorably intricate characters, and crossover in worlds between books.
This page-turner tells the story of the Rivera family and the night they all must confront their secrets together, the night of supermodel surfer Nina Riva’s hotly anticipated annual end-of-summer party. Anyone who is anyone will be there, and the party (and family) are a source of fascination for everyone. Nina, surrounded by her glamorous siblings – brothers Jay and Hud and baby sister Kit – are tied together by the status of their famous singer of a father, Mick Riva.
Nina is not looking forward to the party. She never wanted to be famous, she only wanted to look after her family and earn enough to make them comfortable – fame came as an unwanted extra. Oh, and her famous pro-tennis-playing husband has just publicly abandoned her. Hud is also not excited, mainly because he has to face his fears and admit a dark secret to his brother, his closest friend.
Jay, on the other hand, can’t wait for the party – and to see the girl who has promised that she’ll be there. Kit has her own secrets – and has invited a mystery guest without her sibling’s knowledge.
By midnight, the party is out of control, and by morning the Riva house will have gone on fire. But before that, there’s a party to enjoy – dancing to be had, alcohol to be drunk, and secrets to uncover about each other and the past they all share….
In a world of glitz, glamour, and gritty reality, Jenkins Reid weaves her web expertly and will ensnare you on the first page!
You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
Another BookTok favourite, Emily Henry brings the heat with her sizzling romances, steamy scenes, and unforgettable connections between characters. If you’re a fan of the best friends-to-lovers trope, you’ll love this!
Poppy and Alex met 12 years ago, hating each other instantly (as you do) and vowing never to meet again. 11 years ago, however, they have no choice but to share a lift home from college and make a pact: they will take one vacation together every year. 10 years ago, Alex discovered he had a fear of flying – but Poppy held his hand the whole way. 7 years ago, they got way too drunk and nearly got matching tattoos. But 2 years ago, it all went wrong. This year, Poppy has asked Alex on one final vacation. Can their friendship be saved?
With Henry’s signature voracious pacing and tension between love interests, this will-they-won’t-they novel will keep you entertained for many long sunny hours by the pool!
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
I am going to say it now, I am a die-hard Beth O’Leary fan. Her writing is full of warmth and humour, and her books feel like a warm hug.
Addie and her sister are on a road trip to their friend’s wedding in rural Scotland – but the world has other plans and is not going to let them get there on time! At the beginning of their journey, another car bangs into theirs – and who could it be other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she hasn’t talked to since they broke up two years before.
Since Dylan and his friend are also heading to the wedding, Addie has no choice but to offer them a lift. But with many hundreds of miles to go and increasing tension (and sweltering heat) building in the car, the past will have to be discussed sooner or later…
The Road Trip is one of the best books I have ever read, as the interwoven world of all the characters, the funny one-liners, the silly situations, and the love radiating from the scenarios she creates, makes her writing some of the most comforting and captivating I have ever read.
Idol by Louise O’Neill
A powerful writer if ever there was one! Louise O’Neill has become a household name around the country, and I first found a love for her when I read Asking For It and my eyes were opened to a darker, grittier writing style and scenarios so close to home they could happen in my local village.
In this, O’Neill’s newest release, a social media influencer called Samantha Miller is at the top of her game. With a large young following on Instagram, a new book Chaste gone straight to the top of the book-selling charts, and huge events clambering for her attention, she is the moment.
Wanting to bare all and be completely honest with her fans, Samantha writes an essay about her sexual awakening with a female best friend, Lisa, when they were both teenagers. The essay gains lots of attention online and goes viral. But Lisa gets in touch to say that this isn’t how he remembers it at all. It’s Samantha’s word against Lisa’s. Whose truth should we believe?
O’Neill’s gripping writing and unforeseeable plot twists will keep your head buried in this book right to the very end!
Thirst by Kerry Hudson
Last but definitely not least is a slightly less well-known book. Thirst is set in London during a heatwave when shoplifter Alena is stopped by security guard Dave. An everyday occurrence, you might say. But for two lonely people, with nothing in common other than their location and their loneliness, trying to find their place in the world, it is the start of an unlikely but beautiful relationship.
But is Alena who she says she is? Both she and Dave have secrets to hide and pasts to keep from each other, but can they overcome their differences and help each other through their fears?
This does have several trigger warnings and is a bit of a darker novel with some grittier themes, but is a poignant portrayal of the lengths we will go for the ones we love.
Hope you’ve added something to your TBR from this list, let me know what books you’re reading this summer in the comments!