Blog Culture/Agency Life

Thirteenth Annual PAN Summer Reading List

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Author: Ariel Novak, Vice President at PAN Communications, headshot
Ariel Burch NovakVice President, Cybersecurity

The weather is warming up, Summer Fridays have arrived, and it’s time once again for another PAN summer tradition – the Summer Reading List (now in its thirteenth year)! We source recommendations from across PAN of books we’ve loved and those we look forward to reading – so bookmark this for your next beach day or summer trip. 


The Fantasy/Romantasy craze has taken over PAN (we’ve had many debates about the worlds of Rebecca Yarros and Sarah J. Maas!) and this year’s list has several new adventures to choose from.  

  • One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig: This book received strong recommendations from two Sunshine Squad teammates:
    “As a frequent fantasy reader, One Dark Window (and its sequel Two Twisted Crowns) totally blew me away. This lush, dark fantasy delivers atmospheric world-building, witchy tarot-like magic, and a romantic sub-thread. Plus – as my book friends know – I love a mysterious, handsome redhead and this book delivers! I cannot recommend this duology enough – my only warning is you might not be able to put it down. Be wary. Be clever. Be good.”  –  Britt Poulin

    “BE WARY. BE CLEVER. BE GOOD. I literally got this tattooed on me so you’d better read it or else you’re offending me. Gothic YA with a sassy monster in the FMC’s head like come on. To girls who dream, and their nightmares.” – Shannon Shewbrooks

  • Will of the Many by James Islington: “Recently read it for my book club and while it’s a bigger book, we all agreed that the ending especially had us on a hook – so many questions, the cliffhanger (book 2 coming in 2025)!! It’s a Roman-inspired world and technically fantasy in genre. It goes in depth about the world’s tech and can be dark at times (blood and gore, etc.) but makes it that much more immersive. At the end of the day, a magic school setting in fantasy is irresistible to me. I have no idea when I will be over this trope, but it is not anytime soon. The training montages!! Learning new abilities and skills!!  Trials and tests!! Mysterious ruins!! Defeating bullies or horrible teachers while forming friendships!! So good, just always satisfying to read. Anyway, I recommend it.” – Shannon Shewbrooks  
  • Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree: “Are you a D&D fan? Love a good cozy book to snuggle up with along with your cup of coffee? THIS IS THE BOOK YOU NEED. It’s probably one of my favorite slice-of-life, feel-good type of stories. Found family, good food, COFFEE, small-town feeling. If you’re in the mood for an epic fantasy novel with warfare, battle scenes, and expansive world-building, then this may not be the read for you right now… But I still recommend this to every fantasy reader & D&D player hehe – it’s what happens after the campaign when you decide to stop adventuring.  AND THERE’S A SECOND ONE that is a prequel – about bookstores. Bookshops and Bonedust 😊” – Shannon Shewbrooks 

Science Fiction

In an adjacent genre, we have a few great Sci-Fi recommendations. 

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: From the author of The Martian, this book follows Ryland Grace, a middle school teacher on a desperate, last-chance mission through space to save humanity.   
  • The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae: “Many people are likely familiar with Janelle Monae based on her music with hits like ‘Make Me Feel’ and ‘Lipstick Lover.’ Others may be familiar with her starring roles in blockbuster movies like Hidden Figures and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Movie. But did you know she’s also a talented fiction writer? This science fiction book, a collection of five short stories, imagines a futuristic, female- and queer-centric world from her musical album ‘Dirty Computer,’ where human memories are wiped when considered ‘dirty.’ Janelle and a team of collaborators created a new world and follow various stories of rebels and queers who live outside the laws of the land. Highly recommended for those who love sci-fi, and those who are looking for a break from the traditional hetero-centered sci-fi stories. Read the book, then listen to Janelle’s Dirty Computer album.” – Marki Conway  


PAN employees always love a good Thriller or Mystery – the more twists and turns the better! 

  • The It Girl, Ruth Ware: A group of college friends become inseparable after their first term. By the end of the year, April is dead. Fast-forward 10 years and April’s best friend Hannah is learning more and more about April’s death and realizes her friend group may be hiding something.   


If you’re looking for an impactful Memoir, check out this recommendation:  

  • Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad: “I read this book back in 2022 and I still think about it often – one of the most impactful reads I’ve ever read. Even if you can’t relate to her experiences with cancer, there’s something for everyone to connect with in this story. Will probably be reading again this summer” – Bri Ary  

Novels (Beach Reads, Short Story Collections, and More)

Rounding out our list are Novels that span all different topics and for all different moods – from inspiring, to thought-provoking, to classic beach reads. 

  • The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: “If you like cereal, then this book is definitely for you (but also, if you just like stories about cool women doing cool things, then this is also for you!)” – Emma Nugent  
  • Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk: “I read this book at least once a year. I’ve heard it described as a ‘brilliantly executed train wreck,’ and I’d have to agree. Not for the faint of heart, it’s dark, cynical, hilarious, somewhat offensive, and kind of (read: really) messed up. I. Love. It.” – Bristol Rice 
  • Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney: “This was such an interesting read to me – and I think those who live or are from NYC would find it even more fascinating as they would be more familiar with landmarks. I loved seeing how a strong-willed woman in the 1930s made her way to such success in advertising, a male-dominated industry. It follows her journey and is very relatable, despite her timeline being so different than our own. She deals with sexism (of course) and ageism, and it follows her personal life, too – including how the two intersected and the challenges she faced along the way. Honestly, Lillian’s a force of nature and someone I’d love to have a meal with.” – Marki Conway 
  • What You Are Looking For Is in the Library: A Novel by Michiko Aoyama: “A cozy collection of short tales that eventually tie together, this book is truly like reading a book on a warm day, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea. The lessons are charming and stay with you long after you put the book down. This will make you want to get to a library ASAP.” –  Kally Lavoie  
  • The Comeback by Lily Chu: “Calling all KPOP fans! If you need a fluffy, romantic comedy book to read on the beach while listening to the upcoming ATEEZ comeback, this is the rom-com for you! Sure, the book is a little predictable, but don’t we love that for a beach read?” –  Kally Lavoie  
  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver: “In my book, Barbara Kingsolver can do no wrong, and this was one of my favorite reads of the last year. The way she gets into the mind of the characters is incredible and they’ll stick with you for a long time. Loved it!” 
  • Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt: “This is a great beach read, and a very unusual book – It’s a mystery, but also lovely, heartwarming and funny — and one of the main characters is Marcellus the Octopus (trust me, it’s good!)”

For more inspiration, check out some of our past years’ lists here: 

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