We're officially into our second week of summer, which means you're probably busy smoking meat in the backyard, exploring nature, and shaking your groove thing at the world's best music festivals. You need to take a minute to relax.
With the summer moving toward those days of crippling heat, you should probably head out to a cool body of water, work on your tan and make your way through your summer-reading list. Don't have a summer reading list or already run through yours? We've got you covered.
Here are our editors' picks for the best reads to keep you busy while you slowly melt your way through to fall:
Maggie Tuten Tyner: I could recommend Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 because of its particularly pertinent entertainment value in this election year. Or I could say On the Road, so you could revisit the Beat generation – the original hipsters – and learn that there’s much more to the moniker than skinny jeans and man buns.
But it’s summer and we should save the heavy stuff for another time. Plus, I'm simply too committed to the classics.
My top pick is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. There's just something about the juxtaposition of lying on sun-drenched sand while reading about the cold and dreary moors of late 1700's England that makes me giddy. It has romance, intrigue, tragedy – everything you could ask for in a solid summer book. This is a novel that you can revisit over and over again, and that's what makes a good beach read.
Brad Cohen: For me, reading at the beach generally means I'm in a far-flung destination like Thailand or Colombia – or that tiny patch of "sand" by the man-made lake at my dad's house in Michigan – and my book of choice brings my location to life. But this year, I'm spending my summer at home, so I'll have to do let my books transport me to new destinations.
My first suggestion is Jitterbug Perfume, a contemporary epic that takes the reader on a hilarious and poetic adventure across continents and centuries and planes of existence. I believe this is Tom Robbins at his finest.
For something new, fascinating and, um, impalingly funny, I recommend Backpacking with Dracula – part travel memoir, part history book. The beach might be no place for a pale vampire, but this isn't the count you thought you knew. Longtime Lonely Planet writer Leif Pettersen uses his trademark wit to unearth the truth about the real-life Dracula and drive a stake through the heart of the myths about "one of the most famous, nightmare-summing names in popular culture," and the place he called home.
Lydia Schrandt: I'm a sucker for good post-apocalyptic fiction (on the beach or otherwise). The genre has been overrun in recent years with mediocre young-adult stuff that I don't love, which has made a few unique takes on the genre stand out. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a haunting and lyrical tale of a post-pandemic world, but it remains oddly hopeful, exploring themes of grace and art.
My second pick would be Annihilation, the first book in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy – an exploration of what it might look like if nature started fighting back. VanderMeer weaves tension and disquiet throughout, creating a science-fiction thriller that is both thought-provoking and impossible to put down.
Meghan Tankersley:As a native South Carolinian the word “beach” makes me think of the long, hot summer days, colorful houses, and stretches of white sandy beaches of Charleston. Author Pat Conroy, who passed away in March 2016, brings the unique southern culture and often dark history of the Holy City to life through beautiful prose in the novel South of Broad.
My second recommendation is the popular Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. The series – starting with the first novel Outlander and continuing through last year's Written in My Own Heart’s Blood – follows 20th century nurse Claire Randall who gets transported back in time to 18th century Scotland and meets the raffish highlander Jamie Fraser.
Though it may technically fall under the romance genre, Outlander combines elements of historical fiction, action and sci-fi to create a unique and fast-paced read. It’s one of the few romance novels you don’t have to hide the cover in shame when reading in public, but I don’t suggest it for readers under the age of 15 as it can get quite graphic.
Ben Abramson: I always try to choose a book about or set in the place I'm visiting. It adds another level of connection, and may give you a history and geography lesson in the process. Read Edith Wharton in New England, Carl Hiaasen in Florida, or Peter Mayle in France. Better still: Visit the local public library, ask their recommendations and pick up some local knowledge in the process.