What’s better than enjoying a good book on the beach on a warm summer’s day? It’s still early in August so there’s still plenty of time to get a few more good reads in before the weather turns against us. You just have to make sure you’re picking the right books. The perfect summer read is a tricky thing. Not just any genre will do and even some of the classics can’t hold your attention with all the beach distractions. The trick is to find a real page-turner and luckily we’ve got a substantial list that should take you to the end of summer. Enjoy!
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Science Fiction
Plot: A time traveler who attempts to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Review: “This is a novel that hooks into the passionate human desire for a second chance—not just for the individual, but for the world as a whole…Beautiful, unsettling…King is an all-night storyteller.” – Chicago Tribune
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Horror
Plot: Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming — a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path.
Review: “Here we have . . . a real emotional richness and grandeur that emerge from masterful storytelling.” –Peter Straub
And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Murder mystery
Plot: Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide.
The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…
Review: The whole thing is utterly impossible and utterly fascinating. It is the most baffling mystery Agatha Christie has ever written. — New York Times
Devil in the White City
Author: Erik Larson
Genre: History, True Crime
Plot: A tale of the architect who led the construction of the great Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, and the prolific serial killer who used the fair as a lure.
Review: “As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find.” —San Francisco chronicle
Author: David Foster Wallace
Genre: Satire, Tragic Comedy
Plot: The U.S., Mexico, and Canada have merged into the Organization of North American Nations (their symbol: an eagle wearing a sombrero and holding a maple leaf). In order to pay off the government’s budget deficits, even time itself has become privately subsidized.
Review: “a masterpiece that’s also a monster — nearly 1,100 pages of mind-blowing inventiveness and disarming sweetness. Its size and complexity make it forbidding and esoteric.” – The New York Times
In The Woods
Author: Tana French
Plot: As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children, Rob Ryan. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours. Twenty years later, an eerily similar tragedy gives Rob, now a Dublin Murder Squad detective, the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Review: “With her utterly beautiful and brilliantly evocative prose, Tana French invites us into a murky netherworld so seductive and engrossing that we can’t turn away, even when we try. Ms. French is an extraordinary writer and In The Woods is a stellar debut.”– Lisa Unger
Never Let Me Go by
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: Science Fiction
Plot: Kathy, Tommy and Ruth live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.
Review: “classic instance of a story that’s horrifying, precisely because the narrator doesn’t think it is.”—Ramsey Campbell
Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follett
Genre: Historical fiction
Plot: In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.
Review: “A seesaw of tension… impeccable pacing… action, intrigue, violence and passion… a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale!” – Publishers Weekly
Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Genre: Science Fiction
Plot: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenager Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
Review: Layered with inside jokes and sly references that will appeal to a wide range of readers, “Ready Player One” is a smart, funny thriller that both celebrates and critiques online culture. – Common Sense Media
Author: Denis Lehane
Genre: Suspense, Mystery
Plot: A U.S Marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.
Review: “A master of the adroit psychological detail, Lehane makes the horrors of the mean streets pale in comparison to the workings of the human mind”– Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
Author: Alex Garland
Plot: Twenty-something Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss – excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.
Review: “A furiously intelligent first novel … a book that moves with the kind of speed and grace many older writers can only day-dream about” – Washington Post
The Black Dahlia
Author: James Ellroy
Plot: On January 15, 1947, the tortured body of a beautiful young woman was found in a vacant lot in Hollywood. Elizabeth Short, The Black Dahlia, a young Hollywood hopeful, had been brutally murdered. Her murder sparked one of the greatest manhunts in California history.
Review: “Building like a symphony, this is a wonderful, complicated, but accessible tale of ambition, insanity, passion and deceit.” —Publishers Weekly
The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Plot: A writer and wall street trader, Nick, finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby.
Review: “The Great Gatsby” is a magnificent novel on every level. Fitzgerald writes about the Jazz Age in language that beautifully evokes music.”
The Kind Worth Killing
Author: Peter Swanson
Plot: On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves, which soon grows into a much darker game.
Review: “[It] would have made a great Hitchcock movie.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Author: Andy Weir
Plot: An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
Review: “Brilliant…a celebration of human ingenuity [and] the purest example of real-science sci-fi for many years…Utterly compelling.”–Wall Street Journal
Author: Arturo Perez-Reverte
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense
Plot: Cádiz, 1811: The Spanish port city has been surrounded by Napoleon’s army for a year. Their backs to the sea, its residents endure routine bombardments and live in constant fear of a French invasion. And now the bodies of random women have begun to turn up throughout the city—victims of a shadowy killer.
Review: “Bold . . . [Pérez-Reverte’s] best yet . . . an ambitious intellectual thriller peopled with colorful rogues and antiheroes, meticulous in its historical detail, with a plot that rattles along to its unexpected finale. It’s hard to think of a contemporary author who so effortlessly marries popular and literary fiction as enjoyably as this.”—The Observer
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Author: Patricia Highsmith
Plot: In late 1950s New York, Tom Ripley, a young underachiever, is sent to Italy to retrieve Dickie Greenleaf, a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy. But when the errand fails, Ripley takes extreme measures.
Review: “Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley has long had a cult following as a subversive black comedy. It’s time for her novel to be recognized for what it is: a 20th century literary classic.”
Author: Tim Kizer
Plot: On May 6, five-year-old Annie Miller goes missing in a park. On May 7, her father, David Miller, fails a lie detector test. On May 9, during a hypnosis session, David confesses to murdering his daughter and gives the police the location of the knife he used to kill her. The knife has traces of Annie’s blood and David’s fingerprints all over it.
Two weeks later, a man named Ben calls David and tells him Annie’s alive. Ben is willing to let the girl go, but first David has to do something for him–something that would land David in prison for the rest of his life. Can David trust him? Is Ben even real?
Review: “You won’t be able to stop yourself from frantically turning the pages of this absorbing thriller. Just beware of paper cuts.”
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Plot: Young Jim Hawkins finds a map to a buried fortune; to claim it means a perilous voyage, pirate treachery, and the wicked mentorship of Long John Silver.
Review: “The language was clear and expressive, the motives of the characters all too credible, and when I reached the end I was breathless with the excitement of understanding that Silver was still out there. And so was some of the treasure…”
Author: Rebecca Scherm
Plot: A story of a diamond heist and all the things that can go wrong afterward.
Review: “From the first page, you know Rebecca Scherm is the real thing. Unbecoming is an assured exploration of the intricate, intense, risky processes that go into creating identity—and into dismantling it.” —Tana French