These 10 Books Are the Beach Reads You Need for Summer
These books set in the American West are perfect for your upcoming travels.
There’s no better time to tuck into a great book than on summer vacation. We’ve gathered the most popular recently published books set in the West that are adored by Goodreads members to bring along with you on your upcoming travels, whether that’s as simple as unwinding in your own backyard or hitting the highway for a road trip, maybe up the coast. Here’s what we found.
The Trackers by Charles Frazier
Goodreads Description: “From the New York Times bestselling author of Cold Mountain and Varina, a stunning new novel that paints a vivid portrait of life in the Great Depression. Hurtling past the downtrodden communities of Depression-era America, painter Val Welch travels westward to the rural town of Dawes, Wyoming. Through a stroke of luck, he’s landed a New Deal assignment to create a mural representing the region for their new Post Office… In The Trackers, singular American writer Charles Frazier conjures up the lives of everyday people during an extraordinary period of history that bears uncanny resemblance to our own. With the keen perceptions of humanity and transcendent storytelling that have made him beloved for decades, Frazier has created a powerful and timeless new classic.”
Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon
Goodreads Description: “In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.
The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at 20. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.
But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.
When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually… make peace with who they are.”
Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang
Goodreads Description: “Daiyu never wanted to be like the tragic heroine for whom she was named, revered for her beauty and cursed with heartbreak. But when she is kidnapped and smuggled across an ocean from China to America, Daiyu must relinquish the home and future she imagined for herself. Over the years that follow, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive. From a calligraphy school, to a San Francisco brothel, to a shop tucked into the Idaho mountains, we follow Daiyu on a desperate quest to outrun the tragedy that chases her. As anti-Chinese sentiment sweeps across the country in a wave of unimaginable violence, Daiyu must draw on each of the selves she has been—including the ones she most wants to leave behind—in order to finally claim her own name and story.
At once a literary tour de force and a groundbreaking work of historical fiction, Four Treasures of the Sky announces Jenny Tinghui Zhang as an indelible new voice. Steeped in untold history and Chinese folklore, this novel is a spellbinding feat.”
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Goodreads Description: “A dazzling epic of betrayal, love, and fate that spans five generations of an Indigenous Chicano family in the American West, from the author of the National Book Award Finalist Sabrina & Corina. Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930’s Denver on her own, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished and how they were threatened. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.
Written in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s singular voice, the wildly entertaining and complex lives of the Lopez family fill the pages of this multigenerational western saga. Woman of Light is a transfixing novel about survival, family secrets, and love, filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom are just as special, memorable, and complicated as our beloved heroine, Luz.”
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang
Goodreads Description: “An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape—trying not just to survive but to find a home.
Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.
Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and re-imagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it’s about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.”
The Guide by Peter Heller
Goodreads Description: “The best-selling author of The River returns with a heart-racing thriller about a young man who, escaping his own grief, is hired by an elite fishing lodge in Colorado, where amid the natural beauty of sun-drenched streams and forests he uncovers a plot of shocking menace.”
In the Face of the Sun by Denny S. Bryce
Goodreads Description: “In this haunting novel, the author of Wild Women and the Blues weaves together two stories as they unfold decades apart, as a woman on the run from an abusive husband joins her intrepid aunt as they head across the country from Chicago to Los Angeles, and confront a painful and shadowy past that has reverberated across generations.”
Something Wild & Wonderful by Anita Kelly
Goodreads Description: “From the author of Love & Other Disasters comes a sparkling grumpy-meets-sunshine romance featuring two men’s sweeping journey across the Western wilderness. Alexei Lebedev’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail begins with a single snake. And it is angling for the hot stranger who seemed to have appeared out of thin air. Lex is prepared for rattlesnakes, blisters, and months of solitude. What he isn’t prepared for is Ben Caravalho. But somehow—on a 2,500-mile trail—Alexei keeps running into the outgoing and charismatic hiker with golden-brown eyes, again and again. It might be coincidence. Then again, maybe there’s a reason the trail keeps bringing them together…
Ben has made his fair share of bad decisions, and almost all of them involved beautiful men. And yet there’s something about the gorgeous and quietly nerdy Alexei that Ben can’t just walk away from. Surely a bad decision can’t be this cute and smart. And there are worse things than falling in love during the biggest adventure of your life. But when their plans for the future are turned upside down, Ben and Alexei begin to wonder if it’s possible to hold on to something this wild and wonderful.”
Calling for a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah
Goodreads Description: “A moving and deeply engaging debut novel about a young Native American man struggling to find strength in his familial identity, from a stellar new voice in literary fiction.
Told in a series of voices, Calling for a Blanket Dance takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle through the multigenerational perspectives of his family as they soldier through a myriad of difficulties: his father’s sudden kidney failure and subsequent disability, his mother’s struggle to hold on to her job and care for her husband, the constant resettlement of the family, and Ever’s own bottled-up rage at the instability all around him. Meanwhile, all of Ever’s relatives have ideas about who he is and who he should be. His Cherokee grandmother urges the family to move across the state to find security; his dying grandfather hopes to reunite him with his heritage through traditional gourd dances; his Kiowa cousin reminds him that he’s connected to an ancestral past. And once an adult, Ever must take the strength given to him by his relatives to save not only himself, but also the next generation of family.
How will this young man visualize a place for himself when the world hasn’t given him a place to start with? Honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, Calling for a Blanket Dance is the story of how Ever Geimausaddle found his way to home.”
A Calm & Normal Heart: Stories by Chelsea T. Hicks
Goodreads Description: “From Oklahoma to California, the heroes of A Calm & Normal Heart are modern-day homesteaders, adventurers, investigators—seeking out new places to call their own inside a Nation to which they do not entirely belong. A member of the Osage tribe, author Chelsea T. Hicks’ stories are compelled by an overlooked diaspora inside America: that of young Native people.”
Hula by Jasmin Iolani Hakes
Goodreads Description: “Set in Hilo, Hawai’i, a sweeping saga of tradition, culture, family, history, and connection that unfolds through the lives of three generations of women—a brilliant blend of There, There and Sharks in the Time of Saviors that is a tale of mothers and daughters, dance and destiny, told in part in the collective voice of a community fighting for its survival.”
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