Bronze Link” by Michael Coghlan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

What time of year is it, boys and girls? It’s “Summer/Beach Reading List” Time! Any number of media markets have jumped into the deep end of the pool with roundups of books that are worth tucking into your suitcase or beach tote. Let’s take a look:

The Washington Post

The 20 Books to Read This Summer does not confuse “summer read” with “mindless read,” though you’ll find plenty of options to fit the category a friend of mine calls Thumping Good Reads. There is both fiction and nonfiction on offer here, some available now and some that will be published later in the season. Among the titles that caught my eye:

  • The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Berkley). I’m not a dedicated reader of contemporary romances but I thoroughly enjoyed Hoang’s first novel, The Kiss Quotient. What makes Hoang’s work stand out is the way she navigates storylines featuring people on the autism spectrum with wit and sensitivity. There’s also a generous helping of steam, perfect for readers already hot and bothered at the beach.
  • First: Sandra Day O’Connor by Evan Thomas (Random House). The first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court overcame plenty of sexism in her rise through the judicial branch, but it was her brain, not any more noticeable body part that earned her a seat on the nation’s highest court.
  • Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman (William Morrow). I’m a big fan of Lippman’s series of Baltimore-based detective stories featuring recovering journalist Tess Monaghan but this book is a stand-alone, set in the 1960s and featuring a housewife-turned-reporter who sets out to solve a mystery.

The New York Times

The Times does everything bigger and better, so naturally their Summer Reading roundup spotlights 75 books. That sounds overwhelming, but the NYT at least had the sense to present their picks in an interactive layout with browsable categories: Thrillers, Travel, Sports, True Crime, Music, Horror, Historical Fiction, Cooking, and The Great Outdoors. Whew! Let’s take a gallop around the pool and see what’s up:

cover image from The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
  • See You in the Piazza by Frances Mayes (Crown). I enjoyed Mayes’ first memoir, Under the Tuscan Sun, quite a bit, and the follow-up Bella Tuscany was also good. I was startled to realize while researching this post that she had written yet another volume, Every Day in Tuscany, and a host of companion books that plumb the depths of Italian cooking and home decor and scenery. Not having exhausted her subject matter or her readers’ patience yet, this year she aims to take her devoted readers along with her and her husband as they visit out-of-the-way spots in — where else? — Italy. If you can’t spend your actual summer vacation in Italy yourself, you might as well read about while you’re fighting off mosquitoes at that KOA campground in Nebraska.
  • The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (Penguin). Winn tells the true story of walking journey she and her husband took along England’s South West Coast Path, which spans 630 miles between Somerset and Dorset. The Winns did not undertake this journey on a whim; as the reviewer Liesl Schillinger explains, ” In middle age, they had become homeless as if by thunderclap: In the space of two days, they lost the farmhouse that had provided both their home and their livelihood and learned that Winn’s husband had a terminal illness.” It sounds utterly fascinating, if a bit grim.

If those lists aren’t enough for you, here are some other folks who have compiled summer reading lists:

Lists, and more lists

Do you have a favorite go-to source for book suggestions? Please share in the comments section!

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