While beachgoers and staycationers alike get ready for warmer weather, one item ties us all together: a good book. As we reach the second half of the year, we take a look at the genres and books that are trending this season.
Who among us doesn’t have a growing stack of new books on our nightstand? We bet that right now, that’s partly due to the many “great beach reads” lists that pop up in early summer.
For example, this extensive Financial Times Summer Books 2019 series breaks down recommended reads by genre, while GQ’s list of 31 best beach reads features recommendations from authors. Meanwhile, our great publicity and marketing teams are always looking for ways to get our frontlist and backlist titles in the hands of book-hungry media influencers everywhere.
We reached out to our sales teams to find out what interesting summer trends they’ve noticed recently in bookstores and ebook retailers. Here’s what they said:
1) New Voices Across Diverse Backgrounds
Booksellers across the country are predicting strong sales all summer long for books that introduce fresh perspectives. Most recently, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is off to a strong start with glowing reviews and visibility. Paperbacks of Washington Black by Esi Edugyan and There There by Tommy Orange have seen an uptick as well.
2) The Staying Power of Backlist Titles
Some readers will be playing catch-up, spending time with a few 2018 titles that have stayed on everyone’s radar. Hardcover editions of Educated by Tara Westover and Becoming by Michelle Obama remain strong sellers as we go into the second half of 2019. Additionally, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens continues its phenomenal performance in all formats, and is expected to stay popular this summer.
Extending the life of our titles will always be a key priority at Penguin Random House. Newly released paperback editions of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles are flying off the shelves.
3) Quintessential Beach Reads
For adults, “beach read” can mean many things, but certain genres seem to dominate year after year: romance, historical fiction, and literary fiction. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is off to a strong start, and so are romantic reads like One Day in December by Josie Silver and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
For kids, beach reads have become more literal. Ocean- and beach-set books like Hark! A Shark!, written by Bonnie Worth and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu, and I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean! by Kevin Sherry are big hits for summer.
4) Key Books for Young Readers and Their Parents
Classic backlist titles always get a bump in the summer, thanks to required reading lists for kids and teens of all ages. These titles include Holes by Louis Sachar, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
It also seems that younger readers (and their parents) have been swept up in the recent wellness trend, with books paving the way for open conversations on mental health. Some books, like Breathe Like a Bear by Kira Willey, illustrated by Anni Betts, are meant for kids themselves, while popular titles such as Freeing Your Child from Anxiety by Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., are resources for parents.
5) An Alternative Approach: Reiki, CBD, Crystals, and Witchcraft
This one may come as a surprise, but it speaks to a bigger trend in the industry in recent years. As many readers spend the midpoint of the year improving themselves, books with a unique approach to self-help and mental or physical health continue to surface in this season.
Whatever your summer plans, there’s a good chance you and your family will bring along books and ereaders, or maybe even have a few audiobooks downloaded on your phones. And while you enjoy your own favorite summer reads, your publishing team continues working tirelessly to get your books into the hands of readers everywhere.
Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.