There are books that wash over your hands like sunlight and beg to be read on a hot summer's day and maybe even soak into your soul all the better beside a large, lapping body of water to boot.
Here are 5 of my all-time great summertime, sunlight, ocean, and water picks! What books remind you of summertime?
1. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Considering that this book begins with the bliss of summertime and all it's herb-filled, rose-colored joy, this book practically begs to be read in the summertime, whether or not you find yourself lucky enough to dabble your toes in water while doing so. It's the prequel to Practical Magic, once made into a pretty good film, starring Sandra Bullock I believe, but it's an even better book about the Owens sister. This tale concerns their mysterious aunts' coming-of-age in the summertime, and it's just liquid gold sunshine and cool, blissful shadows. Read both if you haven't read either! Particularly salutary for the soul in this cynical day and age of Internet trolls. It's truly bottled up, or I guess paged -up, old-fashioned magic. Your summertime soul will thank you!
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
If you haven't read this classic yet, you're in luck! A. Because it's an immensely readable novel, not a stuffy "classic" at all. And B. because Lydia Davis's translation is as close to the original as to be indistinguishable from the French text, except, of course that it's in English. (I'm French-American, and I've read the book in both, most memorably one summer in my grandparent's sleepy, dull village of St. Aubin de Locquenay. A town in the Sarthe region with more cows than people. It spiced up a dull summer for a teen, although I was way too young to understand any of the sex stuff. In fact, I think I'm the only extremely plain adolescent on the planet who could empathize with Madame Bovary as I did. As for the English translation, I agree with everyone: this is a beautiful translation.) So much of Madame Bovary has to do with summertime lovin' gone wrong. It's a great summer read about the original, realest, baddest housewife of them all.
3. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
Best for rainy days. This collection of essays might be best read indoors on days too hot even for dabbling toes in cool bodies of water, because it will have you humphing and hawing with unrepressable laughter, so much so that your neighbors might start giving you funny looks of their own.
4. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
"The desire to freeze reality is about avoiding reality."
I've heard so much about Cixin Liu's Hugo-award-winning phenomenon "The Three Body Problem", but for some reason the book feels too hardcore sci-fi or winter-timeish at least for me to crack it in the summertime. Instead, I stumbled upon a book of short stories by the writer who translated Liu's popular series. Ken Liu's short stories run the gamut from tales of relationships to steampunk to folklore-- or rather a mix of all and more. Most of them are Hugo, Neubula, and Theodore-Sturgeon award-winning tales. These are melancholy, poetic tales, perfect for a quiet night in. I'm so excited to sink my teeth into more of them!
4. The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace
The Princess Saves Herself In This One won Amanda Lovelace the 2016 Goodread's Choice Award, and the beloved poet is back with another gem in her "Women Are Magic" series. This next book is dedicated to "all the princesses, all the damsels, and all the queens" who "have rescued themselves so many times now...." Enough said. Read this after a particularly low moment of hanging out in your bikini by the pool and rediscover your power!
6. Diana: Her True Story-- In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
I was never particularly invested in the Royal Family. In fact, do you capitalize Royal Family? Well, the fact that I do in my head says it all. Like it or not, they've entered the collective imagination in a major way, following the marriage of an American commoner to one of their handsome princes. The excitement surrounding the wedding made me wonder about the hysteria surrounding an earlier wedding. I had no idea, though, how much I'd be moved and inspired by Diana's humanitarian work and her beautiful soul. Plus, she was only 36 when she died! Megan Markle's age when she married Prince Harry. She accomplished so much through sheer intuition, kindness, and courage. Yes, she was as beautiful and fashionable as the day is long, but she had a uniquely feminine, maternal perspective of world events, and her whole story is very much worth knowing, especially if you've ever admired her photographs! Andrew Morton creates a really interesting work with his unique combination of Diana's own words alongside his incisive explanations of British politics, history, and, most of all, the tangle of family politics. She also definitely spent a good portion of her life on some glamorous escapes, making this a great summer read!
7. The Power by Naomi Alderman
This book sizzles with all the drama and terror of being caught outside in an electric storm in July. I mean, just check out this list of accolades! It definitely stands up to the hype! It's both gorgeously written and a thrilling read!
One of the New York Times's Ten Best Books of 2017
A Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2017
One of the Washington Post's Ten Best Books of 2017
An NPR Best Book of 2017
One of Entertainment Weekly's Ten Best Books of 2017
A Bustle Best Book of 2017
A Paste Magazine Best Novel of 2017
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2017
8. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
I actually haven't read this one yet, but it seems incomplete to have a list of beach reads without a thriller counted amongst them! It got amazing reviews, sounds like the Gone Girl of the summer. If you also thought the latter was a fun, gritty read, you'll probably enjoy this, too. Stephen King calls it, "Unputdownable."
Check my TBR list below for more ideas! What's on yours? Have you read any of the above? What did you think? Any books of you own that you believe should only be read in the summertime?
P.S. Also SO many of my favorite fun writers have books coming out??!! Tana French. Ian Rankin. Alexander McCall Smith. Alan Bradley. It's going to be a great summer/ fall!