Whether you’d prefer to stretch out in the sun with a hot romance, a classic Western, or a riveting thriller, we have the perfect summer read for you. Here are nine books that deserve a spot in your beach bag alongside your flip-flops and sunscreen.
Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
This heartwarming, heartbreaking coming-of-age tale follows a well-to-do boy from Kabul into manhood, when he becomes hell-bent on rescuing his boyhood best friend’s son from the Taliban.
Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins
In the spring of 1962, a beautiful and mysterious American actress and a young, eager hotelier meet along the Italian coastline. A half-century later, he searches for her in Hollywood with the help of a has-been producer, a put-upon assistant, and a wannabe screenwriter in this tragi-comic romp.
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
The sweeping story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in the late 1870s played off Western legends and stereotypes with realistic detail and a big cast of characters.
Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
Now that Caitlyn Jenner has helped move transgender issues into the public spotlight, it’s the perfect time to get lost in Jeffrey Eugenides’ enthralling tale of how intersex protagonist Calliope Stephanides went from “Callie” to “Cal.” Middlesex is both a unique coming-of-age novel and an epic family saga, using Greek mythology ideas of fate and metamorphosis to explore the relationship between different generations.
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
The story finds its narrator, a have-not named Richard, diving into the enchanting world of an exclusive group of students at a New England college – but there are a few consequences to hanging with these cool kids. Richly captivating, it’s easy to get hooked on Tartt’s first novel.
Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities
Wolfe’s subversively funny story of a bond trader’s plunge is the best novel about the ’80s. Set during a Wall Street feeding frenzy, it features the habits and habitats of the super-rich, as well as a great supporting cast of dirty politicians, rogue reverends, invertebrate journalists, and caustic cops.
Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
Gabaldon’s wildly popular series Outlander – which is now also a television show – spins the tale of a World War II-era army nurse named Claire Randall, who finds herself mysteriously taken back in time to 18th-century Scotland. The first novel marks the beginning of Claire’s epic journey filled with thrills, gut-wrenching moments, and plenty of hot romance.
Rosamunde Pilcher, The Shell Seekers
Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers follows one woman and the triumphs and tragedies of her family, linked by her late father’s now-valuable painting.
Stephen King, The Stand
A thousand-plus pages, hundreds of characters, and themes as heavy as the tome itself. Never in King’s work has evil been so well-defined as in his devil in blue jeans, Randall Flagg.