Poolside reads could be a genre all its own, in our humble opinion. There’s nothing quite like lounging in the sun next to some heavily chlorinated water, refreshing drink nearby and book in hand. Because one of our Summer Reading Bingo squares dares you to read in your swimsuit, we thought we’d do our best to help you find that perfect pool read–in graphic lit form, of course. Here are our top ten picks.
Adult Graphic Novels
Nothing says summer reading quite like a supernatural murder mystery with two messy besties at the center of it. Or is that just us? Hell Phone follows the exploits of best friends and neighbors Sissy and Lola after discovering a mysterious (and mysteriously vintage) cell phone that leads them to a dead body. As the weirdness continues to unfold, Sissy and Lola are forced by the Hell Phone to go full detective mode and figure out what the hell is going on. Benji Nate’s dialogue is uber readable and the colors pop in a way that feels oh, so summery. Bonus: cute outfits at every turn.
The story at the heart of Paper Girls may begin the day after Halloween, but the vibe of this series is perfect for summer. Follow the adventures of four twelve-year-old newspaper delivery girls in 1988 who get sucked into a time traveling adventure while you sip on some sangria. Another reason this is a timely choice? The comic’s television adaptation premieres in July.
If there was a manga series mascot for Betty’s Books it would be Maison Ikkoku. Seriously. We are obsessed. The plot houses a rag-tag crew of neighbors in the dilapidated apartment building Maison Ikkoku, with a chewy rom-com center. Emphasis on com. This series is perfectly satisfying, and with the changing seasons playing their own starring role, the summer fashion will have you shopping for a new swimsuit in no time.
Alright. This one is a bit of a joke, we’ll be honest. But only sort of; the horror genre and summer have always been friendly. Gyo is one of Junji Ito’s best known works, and follows a couple stuck in the middle of a terrifying development in the world of nature: sea creatures suddenly begin crawling out of the ocean with creepy, crawly, bug-like legs, and of course, wreak absolute havoc. If you read this by the deep blue itself, major props. And if you start to smell something foul… RUN!
If you couldn’t tell from the title, this is a true summertime tale. The book follows a pair of separate city-dwelling best friends who spend every summer vacation together. As the two traverse the familiarly terrifying cusp of teenagedom together, they discover new parts of themselves and each other. Nostalgic and bittersweet, this book is considered a modern classic, and for good reason.
Where This One Summer is a meditative and cerebral coming of age story, this book’s take on the trope is frothy, fluffy, and lightly fantastical. It follows fifteen-year-old Morgan who feels stifled by her small town and hides her sexuality from its inhabitants, including her closest friends. But when a strange girl rescues Morgan from drowning, everything begins to change… Reading in this crazy heat, the beautiful water illustrations throughout this book will have you feeling hydrated in no time.
Kay O’Neill’s art style just feels like summer encapsulated in a picture, especially in this short and sweet fantasy following a young girl named Lana’s discovery of an animal called the aquicorn. As she grows closer to the colony of sea-horse-like creatures residing in the reef of her hometown, Lana learns how to protect the ocean she and her new friends love so dearly.
Most of the fantasy stories in this list have had a light touch, but 5 Worlds is where that changes. This story is a Fantasy, with a capital F, and a perfect one for summer: Oona Lee, the protagonist of 5 Worlds, is a sand dancer, a trained magic user who can manipulate sand. Oona and two other kids, An Tzu and Jax Amboy, find themselves at the center of an ancient conflict spanning multiple worlds. Epic yet somehow still light thanks to the beautiful art, 5 Worlds just looks like it should be read near a body of water.
Does this even require an explanation? Don your swimsuit and dig into this artistic feast of color, learning all about the ocean and what lives inside it. You won’t run out of material to read and gaze at, we promise.
Not only is this pick nautical-themed, but it works with you to weave a self-insert adventure out on the open seas. With this book by your side, imaginary pool games are sure to go to the next level. Sails up, matey!
We’d be remiss not to include this water-proof bathtime book, so here it is as a little bonus treat. Whether donning a swimsuit in the tub or bringing the bath book in the swimming pool, this pick is the only one that can follow you in once it’s time to cool off.