Summer is a time for sunshine and beaches, ice cream and relaxation. School is out, and whether you are headed to camp, have a job lined up, or just plan to lounge by the pool, a good book should always be within close range. When I started looking for a book to begin my summer reading list, I came across Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories. Its cheerful yellow cover caught my attention, and I figured I would give the anthology a try. What better way to start off a summer reading then with a book dedicated entirely to summer?

I’ll admit I was slightly skeptical at the fact that all twelve short stories revolved around romance. Would there be enough variation to keep me interested? I didn’t want to be stuck reading a cliche story about a guy and girl meeting on a beach and instantly connecting — at least not twelve times. I was immediately surprised when I opened to the first story, a whimsical tale about the hunt for a lake monster.

In this sunny anthology, we have everything from dark carnivals with demons to an awkward encounter that ends in pizza and secrets. Each story is unique, with distinct style and tone from each writer. The authors span a number of genres and include well-known YA writers such as Cassandra Clare, Veronica Roth, and Lev Grossman. While I had my favorites amongst the stories, each one brought something new to the table and caught my attention.

Above all, what I loved most about this book was its attention to representation. There was representation of the LGBT community, people of color, and disabilities. While books are still struggling to represent diverse voices, this title excels. It’s not just a fun summer read either; along with the feel-good stories, you get some bittersweet and sad ones as well. One character spends his time reflecting on being trapped in his hometown after high school to take care of his alcoholic mother. Another story reflects on serious topics such as suicide and how different communities react to mental illness. It is a far cry from the cutesy jacket of the book I picked up, proving once again that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

I’m not normally an anthology reader, but this title is far more than the sum of all its parts. It has adventure, intrigue, and self-discovery — all things I think a love story should hold. It has a story for everyone and shows many different aspects to the traditional love story. For those who couldn’t get enough, there is a companion anthology dedicated to winter, titled My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. Though I haven’t read it yet and probably won’t until winter rolls around, if it is half as good as this book, I am sold. Be sure to add this to your book pile by the pool!


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