The Best Beach Reads Of 2017

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer
Some of us are beach people. Others are beach reads people. While your friends play frisbee or thrash about in the waves, you're happiest sprawled out on a towel, propped up on your elbows, completely entranced by a book.
Choosing the best beach read is a delicate art. First, you must consider the tone and the subject matter. Do you want to rush through an addictive thriller, or devote a chunk of reading time to Crime and Punishment? Then, there are more material concerns. Do you really want to lug a 500-page hardcover along with all your beach supplies? Or ruin an expensive book with water and sand?
Everyone's idea of fun is different, and so are our ideas of beach reads. So, we've chosen a beach read to suit every desire. While most of the books on this list are from this year, we've snuck in a few tired, true, and everlasting beach reads for your reading pleasure.
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If you want a juicy family saga to glue you to the page

The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro

Before Leslie Day Marshall moves back into Avalon Island's largest house with her Black husband and biracial children, the topic transfixing the people of Avalon is that summer's gypsy moth invasion. When Leslie moves back, gossip on that small island off Long Island flares in her direction.

As part of his getting settled in the neighborhood, Leslie's son, Brooks, falls in love with Maddie, a local from the working class corner of Avalon. Maddie lives near the Grudder Aviation factory, headed by a man called the Colonel. When a number of grisly cancer cases start arising around the factory, could the Colonel be to blame?

Read on, and watch as the plotlines intertwine in the way only summer books can.
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If you've ever felt like the black sheep of the family

How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas (2017)

After bringing five extraordinarily brilliant children into the world, the Mazel parents have one last child, Isidore. Isidore is precocious, sure, but nothing like his siblings — three of whom will receive PhDs before turning 24, one who's composing a symphony, and the other who's writing a novel. Isidore is more connected to the world and the people in it, and thus notices things his cerebral siblings don't. When tragedy befalls the Mazel family, he knows exactly how to help each sibling through his or her grief. That is, if he overcomes his overwhelming temptation to run away first.
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If you like your memoirs with a lot of humor, and even more startling honesty

Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia Williams (2017)

If you're a podcast fiend, odds are you've heard Patricia Williams' hilarious presence. Her comedian name is "Ms. Pat." In this autobiography, you'll get to know Patricia Williams, who lived through a harrowing childhood during the height of the crack epidemic in Atlanta. The child a single mother and alcoholic, Patricia grew up all too quickly. By the age of seven, Pat was already involved in dealing. By the age of fifteen, she had two children. With a hefty dose of humor, Williams tells the astounding story of her rise, from then, a struggling teen mother, to now, a comedy star.
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If you wish you wish The Great Gatsby were a literary thriller

The Party by Elizabeth Day (2017)

By page one of this devious, witty, thrilling book, you'll be as haplessly seduced by Ben Fitzmaurice's glamorous lifestyle as his old classmate, Martin Gilmour, is. Whereas Martin attended boarding school on scholarship, Ben has always been immersed in the wealth of 80s Tory Britain. Martin arrives with his wife, Lucy, to Ben's dinner party, and over the course of the evening, discover themselves orbiting a dark crime. Martin, who narrates the book, isn't entirely trustworthy himself.
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If your friends are the most interesting people you know

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney (2017)

The two 20-something protagonists in Sally Rooney's debut novel are facing adulthood without much direction — but with spectacular wit and conversation. Frances is the cool, calm, detached half of her friendship with the wilder Bobbi (whom she also previously dated). After Frances and Bobbi befriend an older couple, Frances finds herself drawn to the couple's husband, Nick. Just as quickly, she finds herself embroiled in an affair, and the first really messy emotional experience of her life.
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If you've already read every dystopian cult book in the library

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed (2017)

17-year-old Janey Solomon doesn't want to become a woman, and if you were a part of her post-apocalyptic society, you might not, either. Janey lives on a desolate island controlled by the Wanderers, a group of men who have descended from the island's original founders. Only they have any contact with the outside world.

The rest, like Janey, live according to a strict reproduction calendar. Upon reaching puberty, the daughters of the Wanderers get married and begin having children. In the summer season, while adults are busy reproducing, the children of the island run free — to some devastating results.

At 17, Janey's not convinced that this is the right way to live. She starves herself to stave off her period, and attempts to incite an uprising of the island's girls.
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If you like epic books that build up to a sweeping crescendo of coincidences

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014)

In short, alternating chapters, Doerr weaves together the lives of two children coming of age under the shadow of WWII. Before the war, the blind Marie-Laure spends her days exploring her father's workplace, the Museum of Natural History, and learning to navigate Paris. When she and her father have to flee for the coastal town of Saint-Malo with a precious jewel in tow, she feels entirely trapped in an unfamiliar setting.

For the brilliant orphan Werner, the German war effort gives him an opportunity to leave his orphanage and escape from a life working in the mines. He lands a spot at the academy for Hitler Youth, a place far more brutal than he could've known. His journey, like Marie-Laure's, ends in Saint-Malo.
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If you should be so lucky to have problems like these

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (2017)

In the third installment of Kwan's wickedly fun books, family members gather around the deathbed of the family matriarch not to offer support, but to nab a spot on her will.

If this romp about an extremely wealthy Singaporean family isn't sufficiently packed with intrigue, larger-than-life characters, and and wild affairs, then you're in luck — there are two other books in the series to go back on.
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If you're living at home

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (2017)

After her fiancé discards her like a used towel, 30-year-old Ruth quits her job and moves home. But she's not returning to the life of her childhood. Her father is losing his memory, and Ruth and her mother, Annie, are forced to watch him change into a different man before their eyes. While a bleak premise, this novel of family and love and grief (aka, the stuff of life) manages to inject humor and tenderness amidst all the sad stuff. This quirky novel is a must-read for anyone who's looking to start over in her own life.
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If you like your historical novels so alive they practically hiss

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (2017)

It's the tail end of the 19th-century, and rumors of mythical serpents plaguing English marshes are alive and well. Cora Seaborne, a famous naturalist, is determined to hunt out the so-called "serpent," hoping that it's actually proof of a new species. When she moves to the Essex town of Aldwinter, Cora finds herself drawn to the local vicar, whose reaction to the serpent rumors isn't one of fascination but rather of panic. He's concerned that his parish is succumbing to fear.

This Victorian-era love story is detailed, rich, and will have you looking for serpents when you go swimming.
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If you're a fiend for true crime

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (2017)

On August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden may or may not have murdered her father and stepmother with an ax. In this gory, addictive novel, Schmidt brings to life one of the most unexpected and fascinating crimes in American history.
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If you're a mother by day, budding criminal mastermind by night

The Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton (2017)

Marion Palm has a problem, but it's not her two kids in an expensive Brooklyn private school, or her crumbling apartment, or her husband's laziness. Marion Palm's problem is that she has embezzled $180,000 from her children's school, and an auditor has begun to sniff around. Told through the perspectives of Marion and her family members, The Misfortunes of Marion Palm features the sly, wily woman antihero you'll be rooting for all summer.
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If you want to cry behind your sunglasses

The Salt House by Lisa Duffy (2017)

Exactly one year ago, Hope Kelly's daughter took a nap and never woke up. Life has gone on in Hope's Maine coastal town since the tragic event, but her family's lives haven't. Told in alternating perspectives, we see how grief has radically shifted the world of Hope, Jack, and their two kids. When Jack's rival encroaches upon his fishing territory, the Kelly family will be forced to make another big change — this time, though, perhaps it'll be towards a new start.
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Courtesy of Penguin Press
If you’re aching to relive your college years

The Idiot by Elif Batuman (2017)

Over the course of her first year at Harvard, Selin scrambles through heady coursework, has deep and aimless conversations with friends, and is consumed by endless existential quandaries. Most of the novel focuses on Selin's semi-romance with Ivan, an evasive senior studying mathematics. It's 1995, so Selin and Ivan's "romance" is carried out through a strange new technology: Email.

Odds are, Selin's serious, curious and rambling mind will remind you of your younger self, in the best way.
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Courtesy of Lenny Books
If you have a poetic sensibility and/or are a Lena Dunham groupie

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (2017)

From Lenny, Lena Dunham's imprint at Random House, comes Sour Heart, a collection of seven stories narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants. Originally a poet, Zhang brings sparkling sentences to these stories of family, history, and makin' it in Flushing, Queens.
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If you want to revel in the heart’s strange contortions

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting (2017)

After leaving her tech-mogul husband, Hazel moves into a senior home with her father and his lifelike sex doll, Diane. For years, Hazel had been stuck on her husband's secluded compound at Gogol Industries, a Google-esque company intent on integrating technology in daily life. As Hazel acclimates to her new environment, her husband, Byron, becomes more intent on winning her back — and resorts to sinister methods to do so.

This is the raunchy, absurd, intelligent romp you've been looking for.
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Courtesy of HarperCollins
If you've been shaken by The Handmaid’s Tale

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch (2017)

The surface of the earth is irrevocably scorched. Society's remaining elite orbit the earth aboard the CIEL, a spaceship slowly draining the few remaining resources. On the ground, roving populations struggle to survive. As a result of nuclear fallout and changing atmospheric conditions, people on CIEL and on the earth's bodies have changed, rendering them incapable of fertility. Humanity's only hope is in Joan, a child warrior who's able to communicate with the earth and make things heal. Like Atwood, Yuknavitch has written a feminist dystopia that examines women's bodies in fascinating ways.
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Courtesy of W. W. Norton
If you’re addicted to Starz’ American Gods

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (2017)

Many of Neil Gaiman's novels incorporate elements of mythology, like his novel American Gods, an exhilarating take of new gods and old gods struggling to make it in America. In Norse Mythology, the author ventures to the source of his inspiration: The Norse tales themselves. After each classic myth in Norse Mythology passes through the Gaiman Charm Machine, it emerges sharp, witty, and utterly new.
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If you want to be swept away

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

20 years after her debut novel was published to critical acclaim, Roy is finally back with a second novel, expected to be equally epic. In The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Roy weave together the lives of characters set throughout India, from the mountains of Kashmir to the alleys of New Delhi.
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Courtesy of Scribner
If you want a new American classic

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Warn

Move over, Faulkner. Here's the new epic novel of family bonds in the American South. When her children's father is finally released from prison, Leonie and her kids drive through Mississippi to the State Penitentiary. But the road trip becomes an odyssey when the spirit of a dead inmate, who carries the history of the South with him, joins them in the car. Sing, Unburied, Sing is a journey through America's uglier truths.
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Courtesy of Picador
If you want to get ahead on a book-to-film adaptation

Call My By Your Name by Andre Aciman (2007)

On the Italian Riviera, a budding teenager discovers lust, love, and the aches of the heart when his family hosts a 24-year-old American scholar at their villa. With its descriptions of long Mediterranean days and even longer nights, Call Me By Your Name reeks of summer.

The gorgeous film adaptation, starring Armie Hammer, got rave reviews at Sundance. It's set to hit theaters on November 24, 2017, so be sure to read the book by then.
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If you’re a pop culture junkie

All The Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen To Be Famous Strangers by Alana Massey (2017)

We define who we are by what we like. In this collection of essays, Massey takes an incisive look to the pop culture figures who defined her own sense of self. With essays on violence against women, body image, and romance, this collection especially focuses on the way women are affected by the pop culture machine. Get ready to hear the "Winona vs. Gwyneth" argument verbalized like never before.
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If you’re helplessly plugged in

Startup by Doree Shafrir (2017)

Move over, Silicon Valley. Shafrir's satirical novel is set in the New York tech scene, where a cast of characters are swept into the rise (and viral fall) of a mindfulness app called TakeOff. A tech writer herself, Shafrir makes incisive, astute, and all too real observations on the idiosyncrasies of the industry. This a fun, breezy, utterly millennial read.
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Courtesy of Riverhead
If you wish you could laugh at your family more

Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood (2017)

After an unexpected series of financial setbacks, the poet Patricia Lockwood and her husband move back into her childhood home. Very early on, we see Lockwood’s family is something extraordinary. For one, her father is a married Catholic priest who lounges in boxers and plays electric guitar. Though she’s used to her crazy family, her husband isn’t — so part of Priestdaddy’s charm is watching Lockwood try to create a space of “normalcy” amidst her chaotic and hilarious relatives.
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Lee Boudreaux Books
If you're just starting out

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak (2017)

After graduating from Yale in 2008, Julia and Evan move to New York City to begin their bright life together. After Evan starts working a hedge fund, he's pulled into a secret and glamorous world. Bored at her nonprofit job, Julia feels left out from Evan's life. But it's 2008, so Julia shouldn't worry too much: Everything's about to come crashing once the financial crisis hits.
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If you wished your big city was more like a small town

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (2017)

In nine linked stories, Strout peers into the lives of characters in small town America. By the end, the stories have interconnected to form a wholly heartening patchwork. These struggling outcasts all get a shot at redemption. Strout reminds us that there’s always the potential for grace, for love, and for connection.
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If you want to stay up all night reading

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (2016)

A small plane leaving Martha's Vineyard crashes. There are two survivors: A young boy, and the painter who miraculously swims amidst shark-infested Atlantic water and carries them both to safety. Delving into the stories of each passenger aboard the plane, Before the Fall is a story of grief, suspense and bravery. It'll have you hooked.
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Courtesy of FSG
If you're tired of online dating

The Answers by Catherine Lacey (2017)

Mary's found a way to solve her financial issues. As part of his "Girlfriend Experiment," famous actor Kurt Sky's Intimacy Team assigns different roles to the many different women in his life, including Anger Girlfriend, Intellectual Girlfriend, and Maternal Girlfriend. Mary's cast to play the part of "Emotional Girlfriend," which has its own set of challenges.
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Courtesy of HarperCollins
If you're searching for a smart literary thriller

The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen (2017)

After his father disinherits him, Ian Bledsoe's only hope is to visit his wealthy childhood friend, Charlie, and ask for help. After Ian arrives to Charlie's island paradise in Patmos, Greece, Charlie's all too eager to lend a hand. But while money can buy luxury, Ian soon finds that Charlie's wealth comes with a few (dangerous) strings attached. Here's the perfect literary thriller set under the Grecian sun.
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Courtesy of Knopf
If your "home friends" are your best friends

From Rockaway by Jill Eisenstadt (2017)

Before Alex manages to get into a posh New England college, her life consisted of lifeguarding and drinking beer with her friends on the beach in Rockaway, New York. After a year of school, Alex returns for summer vacation with her old gang with an utterly new perspective. In this bleak '80s landscape, Alex realizes her friends aren't ever going to escape "Rotaway" — will she?
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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster
If you love mysteries with "girl" in the title

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka (2017)

When high schooler Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, three peers in her Colorado town must look inward to piece together what happened.
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