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June 28, 2019

In support of the beach read: 6 best books for summer

Including Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Lauren Groff, Ocean Vuong, Rachel Khong

Summer Books
0628_Beach read summer

Here are beach read recommendations.

As as an avid reader and person who makes money to write, I am here to reassure you this summer: Beach reads are a good thing.

We have societally come to know beach reads as books too insincere, too flip, too commercial, too puerile to make onto our reading lists during the rest of the year. And while I admit that I'd rather read "Conversations with Friends" (which, by the way, I also recommend reading this summer) than "IQ84" between May and August, that's not a comment on the genius that is Sally Rooney. 

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A beach read, my friends, is this: An escape, something beautiful to behold for a few hundred pages, easy enough to digest, and something to treasure, for it is rare we allow ourselves this time. For some reason or another, we take the opportunity to reevaluate where we're headed in the summers with a collective sigh. We swim, we sleep, we cook, we eat, we sit in the sun. Why discount what you choose to read during this time, even if it might be escapist? Even if it's just so you can catch your breathe.

So, in honor of my sanctimonious opinion that beach reads are valid and important, here's a list of perfect stories for you to treasure on vacation, in your living room with the windows wide open or, even, on the beach.

"Fleishman is in Trouble" by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

This is my No. 1 choice because Taffy is my, I'll say it, favorite writer. I am currently scarfing this book down (still have 100 pages to go, don't spoil anything!) because it's irresistible. It explores marriages, childbirth, friendship, what happens when we get older and feel invisible, and more and more and more. It's giving me everything I want in a worthy summer read: Feelings, room to breathe, and melting away the winter.

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"Florida" by Lauren Groff

Best-selling author of "Fates and Furies," Lauren Groff employs short story in this collection seamlessly, all set in her home state. In Florida, it's hot. It's humid. But a wild frigidity runs underneath all of these stories. It's the perfect collection to pick up and put down, because it will surprise you every time.

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"My Brilliant Friend" by Elena Ferrante 

Obviously this is not a newer release, but a solid choice regardless. Ferrante is a pseudonymous Italian novelist who has earned a prestigious reputation for her Neopolitan novels, namely with this treasure. "My Brilliant Friend" tells the story of two girls growing up together in Naples amid bucolic Italian settings I imagine to look like paintings, navigating through marriages, family drama, sex, and heartbreak. It's darker than you think it will be and more eerie than you initially feel it to be. It's particularly good for a beach read because the seaside chapters are absolutely haunting and delicious. 

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"On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Vuong

This experimental novel debut follows Ocean Vuong's earth-shattering poetry collection "Night Sky With Exit Wounds." I haven't yet picked up the novel, but it's said to resemble "Night Sky" and carry with it some of the same themes. If it's anything like his poetry, Ocean will break your heart and take you to another place, time, and in another body. 

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"Circe" by Madeline Miller

This was one of my favorite reads of 2018, so I'm here to give it another shout-out. "Circe" tells the story of the Greek goddess-turned-witch Circe, daughter of son god Helios and nymph Perse. It's one of the best adventure, love, and fantasy books I've read in a very long time; an absolute delight. You won't want to put this down.

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"Goodbye, Vitamin" by Rachel Khong

This is the perfect pool-side, margarita-adjacent treat. While this book is also not the most recent, it's worth revisiting if you missed its 2017 release. It's short, to-the-point, and feels like the frustrating-slash-fascinating-slash comforting experience of coming home for the summer to live with your parents. Read this for a new appreciation of family life these summer months. Oh, and Constance Wu is starring in its movie adaptation so you'll want to read it before you see it.

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