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This summer was either a hot girl summer or a sad girl summer – or maybe both. While “sad girl summer” is a generalized term around many different feelings, I think a lot of people have embraced the feeling of sadness, acknowledged it, and let it be rather than running away from it. .
Sad Girl Summer is, on the surface, about the sad girl. But it’s what the sad girl does for long days that makes the kind of sad girl summer. The sad girl is lying on the floor, My year of rest and relaxation-style, staring at the ceiling, trying not to be sad anymore. Whether it’s through a project she starts, a person she meets, a drug she takes, or something else, when the melancholy main character encounters the desire to leave the melancholy behind (whether she is able to or not ), this is where summer books for sad girls shine.
Often these main characters are considered “unsympathetic”: they are sad, dirty, angry, not pleasant, and have probably spent weeks on the couch in the same sweatpants eating hot Cheetos. But they’re also fundamentally real, and that’s what keeps us all coming back to them, because they’re the characters that so many of us identify with.
And while summer is winding down, the kind of sad girl summer is one that persists all year round, the hot weather is unnecessary. Here are 12 books that express the languid, nostalgic nature of the sad girl’s summer to read all year round.
12 summer books for sad girls
Happy For You by Claire Stanford
Evelyn feels stuck: she hasn’t finished her thesis, everyone around her is getting married and moving on, and she doesn’t know where to turn. She eventually takes a job as a researcher at an internet technology company, where she will help develop an app to determine happiness levels. The strangeness of her new job rocks Evelyn on her own journey to wonder if she’s actually happy, and if not, is there anything she can do to change that.
Three Rooms by Jo Hamya
No one knows the pitfalls of real estate market terrors and rising rental prices like the sad girl of the millennial. This novel follows a young woman on a quest to find, as Virginia Woolf put it, “a room of her own.” But she’s a millennial in the 21st century, and between her low-paying jobs and the high cost of rent, she can’t afford it. So she moves from room to room, sharing with others, migrating to a couch and her own childhood home in search of a place to finally belong, struggling to maintain and live her own life while unable to support the mere object of a roof over his head.
Our Women Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
Miri’s wife, Leah, is finally back after a long mission on the high seas that didn’t end well. But even though Leah is back, she’s not the same. Miri tiptoes around her, trying to give her space but also to find the Leah she loves underneath. She can sense something different – something that has come back with Leah – but she doesn’t know what it is or if it will let them go back to how their lives were before.
We Play Each Other by Jen Silverman
Cass was a rising New York playwright, winning a prestigious award and landing a star actress in her play. But after a humiliating downward spiral and scandal, she must get out of town and reset. So she heads to LA to live with a friend and totally disappear. She intends to stay in the sunny LA apartment and wallow, but when she meets a burgeoning filmmaker, she’s drawn into the new world of screen magic and cast in a film in course of achievement on an all-female Fight Club. But Cass is still grappling with her past and what it means to her to be a writer.
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
Kiara and her brother, Marcus, barely earn rent. Their family has broken up and they’re each trying to get by – Marcus by becoming a rap star, Kiara by looking for jobs to pay the bills. When she has a misunderstanding that leads to a job offer, Kiara is, at first, thrilled. Unfortunately, that quickly turns into something else – but she knows she needs the job, and then she becomes a key witness in a huge scandal in the city, and it all comes crashing down. This Oprah Book Club pick and Booker Prize long list is more intrigue-laden than the other books on this list and is a mystery on the surface, but at its core it’s about following the life of a woman, day to day, through her struggles and attempts to grasp what’s going on around her, that’s what the sad girl summer micro-genre is all about.
Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour
This book follows two women, rather than one, and leads them to the point where their lives converge. Sara is a dynamic bartender with a closed past; Emilie struggles as an undergrad and is looking for something new. When women meet, their connection is instant and palpable. But they struggle to understand each other as individuals, which affects their experience together.
Post-Traumatic by Chantal V. Johnson
Vivian is a hardworking lawyer who defends patients at a New York psychiatric hospital. On the outside, she has it all and is an inspiration to everyone. But deep down, she struggles with that image and still feels the effects of her own childhood traumas as well as the current challenges that come with being a black Latina woman in America. She has a carefully constructed regimen of diet and weed to control what she can, but when she’s forced into new territory, she may have to change everything to finally face her past.
Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho
This summer book about a sad girl follows two young Taiwanese American women for two decades as their lives shift and change around each other and their friendship. Fiona and Jane have been best friends since 2nd grade, and with each passing year their bond grows stronger. When Fiona moves to New York to care for a sick friend, Jane is left behind in California, the two part ways for the first time in their lives and their friendship begins to change as they start a new life together- same.
The Strength of Such Beauty by Barbara Bourland
Caroline is a sad girl who tried to escape, but got caught in the process. She was a marathon runner, an Olympic athlete who ended up meeting a prince from a small European kingdom. With this, she became the new princess. But over time, she realizes that her crown isn’t giving her what she wants. it’s actually keeping her trapped in a life she doesn’t want at all. As she reflects on her last escape attempt and her past actions to bring her to this moment, she tries to figure out exactly what will make her happy and what to do about it.
What a Shame by Abigail Bergstrom
Mathilda is determined not to be sad anymore. She’s been through a terrible breakup and the death of a loved one, and she’s done crying. Well, she wants to stop crying. So when yoga and decluttering don’t work, Mathilda’s friends help her find new and increasingly bizarre ways to move on. What starts out weird becomes more dangerous as Mathilda desperately tries to put her sad girl life behind her.
The Four Humors of Mina Seçkin
Sibel is a hopeful 20-year-old doctor who plans to spend her summer in Istanbul to study for MCAT. Instead, she finds herself trying to diagnose her own possible chronic illness, and does so using the four humors theory of ancient medicine. She still travels to Turkey, accompanied by her American boyfriend, her sister and her grandmother, and as she learns more about her family history and her own past, she begins to learn more about herself, her illness and how she might move forward. .
Sad Janet by Lucie Britsch
Janet is a lot of us: she’s anxious and sad and not sure why. She works in a dog shelter and her family is too intrusive in her life. But this summer, she hears about a new pill that provides short-term happiness. She is skeptical, but intrigued. After the final breaks in Janet’s life, she begins to think that maybe short-term happiness is what everyone wants for her, rather than the real thing, and she’s willing to try anything to get rid of it. sadness, even just for a little while.
If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat, check out this list of happy fiction or read a roundup of some of the best releases of summer 2022.