Beach Books: 10 Hot Summer Must-Reads

BlogHer Original Post
Woman reading on beach chair

I love summer. I love lounging outside in a sunbeam (don’t worry, I’m coated head-to-toe in sunscreen), a glass of sweet tea in one hand and a book in the other. One of the best things about summer is summer book releases. Sometimes the only thing that gets me through a February snowstorm is looking at the upcoming books my library catalog and plotting out my summer reading. Here are 10 books that are making “Must Read” lists this summer.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender -- I’ve been hearing about this book for months, and I’ve been on the waiting list at the library for just as long. It’s the coming of age story of Rose Edelstein, who can feel the emotions of the people who prepared her food when she eats it. It sound a little magical, a little sad, and I want to read it right now. I’ve had to settle for reading other people’s reviews of it, though, like this one from Pickle Me This:

The story is perfectly timeless, flying on its own steam, freed from the cumbrousness of period. It has the tone and appeal of a YA novel– elements of A Wrinkle in Time in addition to Ramona. And yet, YA this is not– the sadness is heavy, the emotions complicated and awful, and too much for even Rose to understand.

Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, family and finding the perfect lipstick by Molly Ringwald -- Thanks to the Brat Pack movies, I always felt like I knew Molly Ringwald. Getting Pretty Back is not a pure memoir, it’s also an advice and, in some ways, a self-help book. I’d certainly rather a dishy memoir, but I’ll take my Ringwald books however I can get them.

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman -- I need to read at least one good bit of fiction food literature every summer or my summer does not feel complete. The Cookbook Collector is going to be this year’s selection, and it gets bonus points for being set during the dot-com era.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok -- Another coming-of-age story, this time one reminiscent of a Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Ah-Kim Chang, or Kimberly, moves to the USA from China as a young girl after her father dies. She and her mother work in a clothing factory, live in a condemned apartment, and Kimberly becomes the voice for the family as her mother refuses to learn English. Mommy Needs Therapy said that reading it was “[...] fascinating in a very uncomfortable way. Because while the story itself has a happy ending, the journey it describes is so far beyond the reality of my arguably spoiled life, it is almost embarrassing how lucky I am.”

The Immortable Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skool -- Henrietta Lacks has been on everyone’s lips since it was announced that Oprah was producing a movie based on Lack’s life and very special medical legacy for HBO. Lacks left behind an immortal cell line which was used in some major medical innovations during the last century (think polio vaccine).

The Passage by Justin Cronin -- I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but about once a summer I get an itch to read something suspenseful and scary. Yes, it has vampires, and I know you are over the vampire thing and I get it, I am, too ... but these ones don’t sparkle. (At least I’m pretty sure they don’t). The vampires are the product of a military project gone wrong, and only one girl may hold the key to the survival the human race. Who doesn’t like a little post-apocalyptic fiction in their summer reading plans?

A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer -- A WWII-era novel with romance, murder and penicillin set in New York City. What’s not to like? MostlyFiction Book Reviews says, “It grabs you and may even rip your shirt in the process. I suggest that you buckle down for a satisfying read.”

One Day by David Nicholls. This UK import is already getting comparisons to the works of Nick Hornby and Helen Fielding. Dexter and Emma meet the day before college graduation and know that they must part ways, but love has blossomed. It follows them over the next two decades on the same day each year. And did I mention that Anne Hatheway has already signed on to star in the movie adaptation? Nuff said.

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson -- I was introduced to Jackson’s books right here on BlogHer when Mir wrote about her second book, Between, Georgia. I promptly read it, and each time she publishes a new book, it lands on my To Be Read list. If you were a fan of her gods in Alabama, you’ll see some familiar characters in Backseat Saints. Joanna at A Worn Path urges to you drop everything and immediately get your hands on a copy of this book.

Backseat Saints is, in a sense, the version of Arlene's story as outsiders knew it -- Rose Mae's version of Jim Beverly as her high school sweetheart and all-around nice guy, versus the portrait Arlene painted of him in gods in Alabama. It's also Rose Mae's story all her own, just as gods in Alabama was solely Arlene's. Both books are excellent stand-alone novels. But the two together are breathtaking.

Faithful Place by Tana French -- Every book list needs a good mystery novel on it. Frank Mackey thought that he had left the best behind him. He and Rosie Daly had plans at 19 to run away and live their lives together, far away from Faithful Place. When she didn’t meet him that night and he never heard from her again, he accepted it. He moved on to become an undercover cop in Dublin. Then Rosie’s suitcase is found in an abandoned building, leaving Frank to find out if she had tried, and been prevented, from meeting him that night. Trish at Hey Lady, Whatcha Reading? said that she was peeing her pants in anticipation of French’s latest. I think that’s a pretty strong recommendation, don’t you?

Contributing Editor Sassymonkey also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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