There’s nothing better than delving into a good story on a long summer day. Whether you’re seeking a guilty beach read or a classic to enjoy from bed, we’ve picked the best books for the season. Escape to the exotic island of Mallorca, rugged coast of Italy, misty mountains of Appalachia, seductive city of Hong Kong or gritty streets of New York. There you will meet characters who fall desperately in love, keep terrible secrets and make surprising self-discoveries.
‘The Vacationers’ by Emma Straub
There’s no place quite like the sea in summer. The Post family escapes to the Spanish island of Mallorca for two weeks of luscious olives, juicy lemons and free-flowing wine – an alluring locale for a family with more than a few skeletons in the closet. While the sea shimmers with promise, dark secrets rise to the surface. We meet a father seeking redemption for a carnal affair, a daughter scheming to lose her virginity, a son concealing his own romantic indiscretions and a mother trying to hold her broken family together. There is something especially mesmerizing about the hidden lives of others, and “The Vacationers” delivers on these voyeuristic expectations. Each page unveils the jealousies, betrayals and guilt lurking beneath the seemingly flawless exterior of this wealthy Manhattan family.
‘Beautiful Ruins’ by Jess Walter
Whether you’re vacationing in the Mediterranean or sunbathing in the backyard, this idyllic summer read will get your imagination going. “Beautiful Ruins” begins on the rocky coast of Cinque Terre with a magnetic spark between an Italian innkeeper and a glamorous film starlet. Like a fairytale, the beautiful actress arrives mystically on a boat only to vanish just as mysteriously. Fifty years later the Italian innkeeper travels to Hollywood in search of the woman he loved and lost. What follows is a dazzling romance with a cast of characters who entertain, inspire and warm the heart.
‘Prodigal Summer’ by Barbara Kingsolver
If you loved Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible” and other tales of the majestic power of nature, “Prodigal Summer” is for you. Over the course of a hot, steamy summer, we follow the intertwining stories of three characters bound together by their connection to the earth, trees and wild creatures of southern Appalachia. A solitary park ranger finds unexpected company in an elusive den of coyotes. A young widow learns lessons in love and acceptance from the delicate moth. An elderly gentleman finds connection with his quarrelsome neighbor over a mutual reverence for the last breed of American chestnut tree. Kingsolver conveys the beauty of humanity and magic of the wild in a novel that rings true with every drop of dew and stream of sunlight.
‘The Expatriates’ by Janice Y. K. Lee
Americans travel to Hong Kong for a myriad of hopeful and tragic reasons: to get a fresh start, to search for love, to escape from themselves or to find themselves anew. Janice Y. K. Lee’s enchanting novel follows the stories of three American women living in the expatriate community who are connected by a terrible accident. A young mother copes with the harrowing loss of her youngest son. A housewife is haunted by her inability to have a child. A college graduate struggles to move on from her shameful past. Set against the atmospheric backdrop of a diverse and cosmopolitan city, “The Expatriates” offers a deep exploration of these women’s inner yearnings.
‘Anthropology of an American Girl’ by Hilary Thayer Hamann
“Anthropology of an American Girl” is a biting coming-of-age classic to rival “The Catcher in the Rye.” The novel’s heroine, Eveline Auerbach, is thoughtful, brilliant and totally original. Beginning in the late 1970s – the tail end of the sexual revolution – Eveline embarks on a journey of self-discovery through a series of intimate relationships. She falls in and out of love with a brooding musician, discovers a primal, feminine power with a graceful prizefighter and loses her sense of self with an ambitious businessman. In a victorious resolution, Eveline rises from the ashes to find her way back to her true self. Author Hilary Thayer Hamann paints a picture of growing up that takes us back to the watershed moments of our own lives. From the exhilaration of first love and shock of heartbreak to the wisdom gained from real experience, Eveline Auerbach reminds us of what it is like to live, love and learn.