We’re already in the heat of July, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about summer, it’s that if you don’t take care to plan some fun outdoorsy activities, it will pass by in the blink of an eye! And yes, reading outside counts as a fun outdoorsy activity. Here are a few choice summer beach books to help you plan your next lawnchair/iced tea/SPF 30 afternoon:
A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers
Businessman Alan Clay, facing foreclosure and struggling to pay his daughter’s college tuition, makes a desperate move to Saudi Arabia in an effort to boost his career—but, of course, such a journey is never simple. A National Book Award finalist and one of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the year, A Hologram for the King examines America’s recent financial crisis through the perspective of someone who arguably worked to propagate it, even as it relentlessly destroyed his country’s economy—and ultimately wreaked havoc on his life.
Life, by Keith Richards
Remember when the autobiography of Rolling Stone and all around archetypal rock star Keith Richards came out, and you thought, “Finally, an intensely personal behind the scenes look at the insane existence of Keith Richards! I am going to READ THAT!” And then somehow other things got in the way? Well, it’s not too late! And summer is the perfect time to sit back and devour story after amazing story of Richards’ larger-than-life relationships, dramas, feuds, and, of course, legendary musical career. I’m pretty sure that just reading this one will make you into a little bit of a rock star.
Maya’s Notebook, by Isabel Allende
A suspenseful coming-of-age story by the acclaimed author of The House of the Spirits, Maya’s Notebook follows the difficult life of Maya Vidal, who was abandoned by her parents as a teenager and raised by her grandmother, Nini. When Maya’s increasingly dangerous exploits lead her into a dangerous criminal underworld in Las Vegas, Nini helps her escape by relocating her to an island off the coast of Chile. There, Maya struggles to come to terms with her past by unburdening herself in a journal. Allende’s lyrical prose reveals the beauty of Maya’s inner life in this spellbinding story.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
An obsession with comic book heroes, a vivid portrait of New York City in the 1940s, and two young cousins with sky-high ambitions; Chabon’s brilliant, Pulitzer Prize–winning novel has it all. If you’ve long been meaning to pick up this boisterous book, there is no time like this summer!
Family Pictures, by Jane Green
Green’s novel is an utterly absorbing story of two very different families who live on opposite side of the country, but are bound together by a mysterious secret. Sylvie and Maggie are both about to become empty-nesters, and each is feeling a hollowness in her life as she enters middle age. Their children are leaving home, and their husbands travel more often than they would like. However, the long-buried secret that unites them, once revealed, threatens to blow their families apart and change their lives forever. A fast-paced read filled with compelling characters and unforgettable situations, Family Pictures offers the perfect weekend escape.
The Spymistress, by Jennifer Chiaverini
A fascinating story inspired by the real-life actions of Elizabeth Van Lew, a staunch Union sympathizer living in Richmond, VA, during the Civil War, Chiaverini’s novel highlights Van Lew’s incredibly brave and daring actions as a spy gathering intelligence against the Confederates and working to construct the Richmond Underground. Van Lew was posthumously honored by an induction into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, but her valiant actions during wartime have rarely been celebrated. In The Spymistress, her heroic story is finally told.
The Perfume Collector, by Kathleen Tessaro
Beautiful Grace Monroe is not quite at ease in the new life she’s married into; shy and retiring, she’s uncomfortable with her husband’s expectations that she become the toast of wealthy 1950s London society. When Grace learns that she is the benefactor of an enormous inheritance from a mysterious French woman, she journeys to Paris to unravel the mystery of how a magnetic woman named Eva d’Orsey built a fortune and inspired three separate and distinctive perfumes. As Grace pieces together Eva’s fascinating past, she begins to consider the kind of future she actually wants for herself. A beautifully written and haunting mystery about two fascinating women, Tessaro’s novel is not to be missed.
Mistress, by James Patterson and David Ellis
Ben is a bit of an oddball. In an effort to soothe his racing mind, he spends his days obsessing over various things, from presidential trivia to movies to people—including the beautiful Diana Hotchkiss. Though Ben knows he doesn’t stand a chance with Diana, he still admires her. And when she turns up dead, he shifts his steel trap of a mind to focus on finding her killer. An unconventional thriller with a very unconventional protagonist, fans of Patterson’s fast-paced, action-packed novels won’t regret bringing this one to the pool.
The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown
When three very different sisters return to their childhood home, where their Shakespearean professor father raised them in what might kindly be described as an “eccentric” fashion (he even named them after characters in Shakespeare’s plays), they must confront their unusual pasts before they’re able to come to grips with their complicated, turbulent lives.
An Unexpected Grace, by Kristin von Kreisler
After surviving a terrifying office shooting, Lila Elliot is having a difficult time moving on with her life. Even worse, she’s been saddled with the care of Grace, a formerly abused golden retriever. Lila is not a dog person, and Grace is wary of her as well. But as Lila gets to know Grace, she finds in her a kind of comfort and solace that she never could have imagined. A beautiful story of love and connection, An Unexpected Grace will warm the hearts of dog lovers and dog-wary alike.
What beach reads are you digging into this summer?