I’m always experimenting with aesthetics – mixing and matching, trying new styles, or reverting to my usual. I thought it would be fun to go through 20 of the more popular aesthetics and pair books with them. Whether you’re looking to try out new books that match your aesthetic or want to venture out of your comfort zone, you’ll be able to find something you’ll love on this list. So, without further ado, here is the book you should read next based on your aesthetic.
Beachy or Coconut Girl: ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ and ‘Beach Lane’
If your aesthetic leans more toward beachy fabrics and you’d rather spend a day in the sun than indoors, then I’ve got two perfect series for you. The first is the Summer trilogy by Jenny Han, and the second is the Beach Lane series by Melissa de la Cruz.
The Summer I Turned Pretty follows Belly Conklin and her love triangle with Conrad and Jeremiah. It’s a cute love story that will have you rooting for both boys at the same time. Even better, the adaptation is currently filming, and Han has been sharing pictures of the production.
A little more adult, we have the Beach Lane four-book series. Three girls with very different backgrounds are hired as au pairs for the same family. Is this summer going to be as hot as the weather, or will it fizzle out in a few weeks?
Preppy: ‘I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You’ and ‘Heist Society’
If you prefer the preppy aesthetic, Ally Carter is your new go-to YA author. Whether you pick up The Gallagher Girls or Heist Society series, you’re in for fast-paced adventures and private school drama.
Both series were popular in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and I’m still surprised they never got screen adaptations. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You follows the first of Cammie’s semesters at a spy school. Heist Society kicks off a new series following Kat as she follows in her family’s footsteps stealing priceless artifacts.
Glowwave or Biopunk: ‘Nerve’
When thinking of what book to suggest for those who love neons and science-fiction-inspired aesthetics, the only one that came to mind was Nerve by Jeanne Ryan. And it’s not just because of the cover; the story was fast-paced and filled with the kind of near-future tech that I associate with glowwave.
Are you a watcher or a player? Vee always stuck to the background, but one day, she decided enough was enough, and she was joining the high-stakes world of the popular game Nerve. But when things start to go awry, will she be able to get out unscathed?
Soft Girl or Soft Boy: ‘My Life with the Walter Boys’ and ‘Tweet Cute’
When I imagined the types of books pastel lovers would want to read, I immediately went to light-hearted contemporary romances. That’s when I remembered what it felt like reading My Life with the Walter Boys and Tweet Cute.
Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute is everything you expect it to be: cheesy, cringy, and romantic. And that’s precisely why it’s the perfect book for you to pick up next. Pepper and Jack have a back-and-forth conversation on Twitter that eventually leads to an unexpected romance blossoming between them.
My Life with the Walter Boys started on Wattpad (and it was one of the best stories on the site at the time). The story of Jackie and her hijinks with the family that took her in has stuck with me forever. And I just found out it’s going to be a television show, so now I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to finally watch the cutest love story.
VSCO: ‘Along for the Ride’
If you were part of the VSCO aesthetic of the last few years, you’d love Along for the Ride (or any Sarah Dessen novel). While it would have been easy to suggest all of her books right now, the first you should grab has the be Along for the Ride because it’s beachy, light-hearted, and yet also deep. It’s also about to be a Netflix movie.
While staying with her dad for the last summer before college, Auden spends her nights walking around the little seaside town of Colby. She quickly befriends Eli, another insomniac dealing with his own troubles. The summer is filled with ups and downs, but one thing is for sure: Auden will never forget it.
E-Girl or E-Boy: ‘Victories Greater Than Death’ and ‘Gotham High’
For people who consider themselves E-Girls or E-Boys – or want to dip their toe in before committing to the aesthetic – you need to pick up Victories Greater Than Death and Gotham High. And yes, the latter is a DC graphic novel, but the characters remind me of this aesthetic too much to not mention it.
I never hear about Victories Greater Than Death, and that’s a shame. The second book just came out and a third is on the way, but Charlie Jane Anders already knocked it out of the park. Tina has spent her whole life dreaming of the day she’d get to save the universe, but it’s not as glamorous and exciting as she’d hoped.
Gotham High follows teenaged Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, and Jack Napier several years before donning their alter egos. They navigate high school drama the only way they know how, by doing everything possible to stay on top.
Hippie: ‘Lady Sunshine’
When I think of the hippie aesthetic, I tend to imagine flowers and the 70s “peace” movement. And that’s precisely why I had to go with my gut and suggest Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan.
The novel starts in 1979 and follows Jackie as she spends three months among the hippies we always see in history books. Then it skips 20 years as Jackie takes ownership of the land she spent that summer on.
Artsy: ‘Gemini’ and ‘New Orleans Rush’
Artsy people tend to think outside of the box and develop groundbreaking ideas. So, when thinking of what books to suggest, I was stuck between Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee and New Orleans Rush by Kelly Siskind.
Gemini is unlike any other book I’ve come across. It follows conjoined twins as they determine the best course through life so that both end up happy and satisfied. On the other hand, New Orleans Rush is a contemporary romance following an artsy girl, a down-on-his-luck boy, and a case of mistaken car-dentity.
Indie or Kidcore: ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ and ‘The Unexpected Everything’
For some reason, I could only imagine Morgan Matson books for the indie or kidcore aesthetics. And I’m not mad about it. Matson is the queen of creating stories that keep your attention captured while also making you feel like it’s something you’ve experienced before.
Since You’ve Been Gone sees Emily taking her summer into her own hands and going on adventures she usually wouldn’t. Think of it as knocking out a bucket list in one summer. In The Unexpected Everything, Andie’s life has always been portrayed as perfect. But after one scandal, she’s forced to confront her plans and the possibility of falling in love.
Y2K: ’99 Days’, ‘Fireworks’, and ‘Top Ten’
Just like Morgan Matson ruled the indie and kidcore book recommendations, Katie Cotugno is perfect for Y2K aesthetic lovers. It helps that most of her books already feel like they’re in the 2000s. Of those, 99 Days, Fireworks, and Top Ten are sure to be a hit.
Fireworks follows two best friends as they compete to be the next big singer. Olivia has always been the star, but Dana is finally being seen as more than a background singer. In Top Ten, best friends Ryan and Gabby are taking a walk down memory lane and reliving the highs and lows of life together.
99 Days is the start of Cotugno’s only duology. And let’s just say, if this is how her series go, I want more of them. While 99 Days might be hard to get through, it’s so worth it. Follow Molly as she lives through her first 99 days of being home. It’s not going as smoothly as she’d hoped.
Goth: ‘The Poison Thread’ and ‘Only a Monster’
Though goth is associated with dark makeup and darker clothes, it’s rooted in the gothic literature tradition. I went two ways with these recommendations: chilling with The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell and darkly fantastical with Only a Monster by Vanessa Len.
In The Poison Thread, two women’s lives intersect as one delves deeper into the other’s crimes. It’s a haunting read that might have you up for hours at night. Only a Monster follows Joan and Nick as they fight for their lives. Too bad Joan already knows she has to become the monster she was born to be for them to survive.
Emo: ‘Hush, Hush’ and ‘Half Bad’
Just like with the goth recommendations, I went a little off-kilter with my emo aesthetic recommendations. If you consider yourself emo or want to return to those roots, I’m willing to bet you’ll enjoy Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick or Half Bad by Sally Green.
Hush, Hush is the story of a fallen angel falling in love with a Nephilim. Patch wants to be human more than anything – that is, until he meets Nora, the very girl standing in the way of his dream. Half Bad follows Nathan, a witch with both dark and light magic within him.
Retro: ‘Malibu Rising’ and ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’
For those that enjoy anything retro, from fashion to home décor to movies, you’re going to love My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. And if you enjoy these books, make sure to check out the authors’ other works.
In Malibu Rising, it’s 1983, and the biggest party of the summer is in full swing. The novel covers just one night when what should have been a great party turns into one that nobody will forget – for all the wrong reasons.
My Best Friends Exorcism, on the other hand, might have you rethinking those 80s horror movie marathons. Abby and Gretchen have been inseparable for years, but one day, Gretchen changes. It’s up to Abby to get her friend back, but she’s going to need help.
Skater: ‘Bruised’ and ‘She Gets the Girl’
When I imagine the skater aesthetic, the only things I can come up with are Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” and skate parks. Also, the occasional thought of roller derbies. I settled on two novels that follow rollerskaters.
In Bruised by Tanya Boteju, Daya rushes into the roller derby as a way to grieve her parents’ deaths, but maybe it’s pushing her too far to truly heal. On a slightly happier note, She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick tells the story of two girls unexpectedly falling for each other while trying to help each other find love elsewhere.
Grunge: ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘Girls to the Front’
Honestly, it was a bit more challenging to settle on just one book for the grunge aesthetic, so I compromised and chose two. And yes, I have a bit of an agenda with one: The Outsiders is one of my favorite books, and everyone should read it. Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus is another book that fits perfectly into this aesthetic.
Girls to the Front follows the true story of the band Riot Grrrl in the 1990s as they work their way up the music industry to stand beside bands such as Bratmobile and Bikini Kill. The Outsiders, on the other hand, is a timeless classic that follows the Greasers and the Socs as they struggle against each other.
Vintage: ‘A Sky Painted Gold’ and ‘The Secret of the Old Clock’
If you love vintage, I bet you love the classics. That said, it’s time to switch it up a bit and add a new novel set in the 1920s to your TBR. Or how about revisiting the beginning of a classic detective series?
A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood follows a teenage girl as she’s wrapped up in the glamour and has the summer of her life. On the other hand, vintage lovers might get a kick out of reading the first Nancy Drew Mystery Series, The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene.
Royalcore: ‘Suitors and Sabotage’ and ‘The Heir and the Spare’
It might have been easy to just choose a fantasy that revolves around princesses, princes, and magic as my royalcore aesthetic recommendation. But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I went a different route and chose Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey and The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright.
Suitors and Sabotage is a Regency-era novel (perfect for Bridgerton fans) that sees Imogene and Ben falling in love while also trying to stay alive. In The Heir and the Spare, Evie must follow her mother’s dying wishes to uncover the secrets hidden long before Evie was born.
Cottagecore: ‘The Secret Garden’ and ‘Mooncakes’
Cottagecore is a fairly popular aesthetic I see on TikTok and Pinterest, and it overlaps with fairycore. So, when finding books on my shelves to recommend, I decided to mix the two and came up with The Secret Garden and Mooncakes.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a classic that tells the story of a garden that I wish was real. Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker is a graphic novel. Nova and Tam have to work together to keep Tam safe – all while Nova is still helping her grandmother run her witchy bookshop.
Light Academia: ‘This Poison Heart’ and ‘S.T.A.G.S.’
While light academia isn’t talked about nearly as much as its darker counterpart, it’s still just as alluring and deserves some good books to accompany lovers of this aesthetic. This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron and S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett are the books you need to grab next.
This Poison Heart merges light academia and magic to create a story you can’t put down. Bri is spending her summer learning to use her gift over nature when dark secrets start to be uncovered. S.T.A.G.S. follows nine students wrapped up in three deadly games. Even better, there are three more books following the aftermath of the game.
Dark Academia: ‘Ninth House’, ‘The Atlas Six’, and ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’
When you think of dark academia, do you picture dark hallways, libraries full of books, and secrets waiting to be uncovered? I certainly do. And that’s why anyone obsessing over dark academia would love Ninth House, The Atlas Six, and The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Oscar Wilde’s story about Dorian Gray is one that will haunt you and keep you thinking for decades. But it’s a tale that’s been around since the 1890s, so let’s move on to some newer releases. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo follows Alex as she’s offered a chance to attend Yale after being the only survivor of a massacre. But why and how did she survive?
The Atlas Six was initially published as an indie novel, but after a few changes, it was released by Tor. Six students are recruited for initiation into the Alexandrian Society, but only five can make it through. Even better, the story’s not over since book two is expected later this year. I can’t wait to see where Olivie Blake takes the story.