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Find more To Beach Their Own
Beach reads mean different things to different people, and the Adult Books Editors at Booklist are here to celebrate a full spectrum of reading tastes and interests. Below is an eclectic selection of recently released titles, books that will be suitable for many reader sensibilities, and which offer that immersive, transporting quality that exemplifies a Good Beach Read.
Chill with a Thrill
Who needs air conditioning when you can feel cold fingers of dread running down your spine? For readers who like to chill with a thrill, offer a (fictional) serial killer in Victorian London, a (real) killer in rural West Virginia, a missing boyfriend (or is he?), and a madcap manhunt that is almost stranger than fiction.
The Doll Factory. By Elizabeth Macneal. 2019. Atria/Emily Bestler, $27 (9781982106768).
Ghoster. By Jason Arnopp. 2019. Orbit, $15.99 (9780316362283).
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon, and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD. By Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis. 2018. Grand Central, $17.99 (9781455563593).
The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia. By Emma Copley Eisenberg. 2020. Hachette, $27 (9780316449236).
None of these books requires a full commitment to a completely alternate reality—dragons can be a lot of work! Instead, offer readers a little timeslipping, or the last days of the Muslim sultan in Spain, or the literal spirits of New York, or a post-apocalyptic road trip with a goat.
The Bird King. By G. Willow Wilson. 2019. Grove, $16 (9780802148292).
The City We Became. By N. K. Jemisin. 2020. Orbit, $28 (9780316509848).
FKA USA. By Reed King. 2019. Flatiron, $27.99 (9781250108890).
Oona Out of Order. By Margarita Montimore. 2020. Flatiron, $26.99 (9781250236609).
Fuel for the Fight
It can be hard to relax when there is so much large-scale work to be done in the world. For readers who like their chill with a side of righteous indignation, try these books about the relationship between immigrant communities and food (and it’s a romance!), the dangers of our disposable culture, crime on the high seas, and intense, ultimately uplifting poetry.
American Dreamer. By Adriana Herrera. 2019. Carina, $8.99 (9781335006875).
Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have. By Tatiana Schlossberg. 2019. Grand Central, $28 (9781538747087).
The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys across the Last Untamed Frontier. By Ian Urbina. 2019. Knopf, $30 (9780451492944).
Wade in the Water. By Tracy K. Smith. 2018. Graywolf, $16 (9781555978365).
Nightmare Family, Nightmare Vacation
The family vacation is the hallmark of summer break, but lots of readers want a break from the myth of the happy family, the happy vacation, and sometimes both. These books run the tonal gamut from a sweet, Muslim-centered Austen update to wittily told family foibles to a complicated and deadly sisterly relationship to trips ruined by the shadows of colonialism in one case and an eldritch horror in another.
Ayesha at Last. By Uzma Jalaluddin. Berkley, $16 (9781984802798).
Do Not Become Alarmed. By Maile Meloy. 2017. Riverhead, $16 (9780735216532).
My Sister, the Serial Killer. By Oyinkan Braithwaite. 2018. Knopf, $14.95 (9780525564201).
Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach. By Ramsey Campbell. 2018. Flame Tree, $14.95 (978178787580312).
Weather. By Jenny Offill. 2020. Knopf, $23.95 (9780385351102).
Not everyone has time to delve into a long summer read, but that doesn’t mean those readers don’t deserve to be engrossed and transported! Therefore: short story collections and quick-reading novels that fit the emotional bill without being too temporally taxing. These titles offer everything from a deep, satisfying character work to a wacky family to international sf to a queer western librarian adventure for the ages.
Grand Union. By Zadie Smith. 2019. Penguin, $27 (9780525558996).
Goodbye, Vitamin. By Rachel Khong. 2017. Holt, $16 (9781250182555).
Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya Anthology of South Korean Science Fiction. Ed. By Sunyoung Park and Sang Joon Park. 2019. Kaya, $24.95 (9781885030573).
Upright Women Wanted. By Sarah Gailey. 2020. Tor, $20.99 (9781250213587).
Summer in the City
For many readers, the beach means sunscreen in their eyes and sand in their unmentionables. These books are for those whose idea of escape is the hustle and bustle of the city, whether it’s in the form of a deep-dive into a historical event or landmark, a peek into myriad different lives, or, the romance of a book store.
1919. By Eve L. Ewing. 2019. Haymarket, $16 (9781608465989).
Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. By Bette Howland. 2019. Public Space, $26 (9780998267500).
The Girl Who Reads on the Métro. By Christine Féret-Fleury. 2019. Flatiron, $22.99 (9781250315427).
The Plaza: The Secret Life of America’s Most Famous Hotel. By Julie Satow. 2019. Twelve, $28 (9781455566679).
These engrossing reads will transport the reader through time, whether it’s two-hundred-plus years of African American history (a cookbook can be a beach read!), twentieth-century Korea, nineteenth-century Russia, or ancient Rome—yes, henny, we got a dual biography of the Plinys up in here.
Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking. By Toni Tipton-Marton. 2019. Clarkson Potter, $35 (9781524761738).
The Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny. By Daisy Dunn. 2019. Norton/Liveright, $29.95 (9781631496394).
The Island of Sea Women. By Lisa See. 2019. Scribner, $18 (9781501154867).
The Secrets We Kept. By Lara Prescott. 2019. Knopf, $26.95 (9780525656159).
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