The definition of a summer reading evolves over time and even more so this year. As the weather warms up and the pandemic in the United States subsides, what readers are looking for on the page will vary dramatically. Some may be in the mood for oneness, others may be drawn to something more contemplative about the state of the world. But while the summer book encompasses all genres, certain themes are transcendent – weddings, the beach, romance, and escape in its many forms. Here are some new and old classics that you should revisit this season.
& # 39; Leave the world behind & # 39; by Rumaan Alam (2020)
This novel took the world by storm last fall when it debuted in a world that felt just as dystopian as the one it had created. It tells of a family in Brooklyn whose Hamptons vacation is different from the script when an inexplicable catastrophe brings the world to a standstill. The family is joined by the owners of their rental home, who turned up after being stranded in the chaos. As Rumaan Alam depicts two couples striving to understand the disaster they are facing, he examines race, parenthood, and the assumptions we make about each other.
"The talented Mr. Ripley" by Patricia Highsmith (1955)
For those of us dreaming of spending the summer in southern Italy, Patricia Highsmith's incredibly transporting mid-century novel is a very entertaining alternative. In the first of her Ripley novels, we see the title cheater's obsession find its way into a jet-set crowd of beautiful, well-heeled Americans abroad. The tension and intrigue of the building make this novel a tight novel (now being turned into a television series after the famous 1999 film) and an obsessively readable classic.
"How Stella got her groove back" by Terry McMillan (1996)
The relaxing and transformative powers of vacation come to the fore in this novel by Terry McMillan, which can also be perfectly combined with a day at the pool. Stella's tough life as an investment analyst and single mom looks successful on paper but has left her feeling like something is missing. Her carefully crafted identity is investigated after a trip to Jamaica, where an unexpected romance with a younger man forces her to rethink what she really wants.
"Sag Harbor" by Colson Whitehead (2009)
Before writing Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys (as well as the upcoming Harlem Shuffle), Colson Whitehead provided this moving and contemplative look at summertime in the Hamptons for a young black boy whose life is reminiscent of Whitehead. Fifteen-year-old Benji, a private student from New York City, spent the summer of 1985 at his family home in Sag Harbor, a chic enclave historically popular with black families. What follows is a tender coming-of-age tale fused with a keen look at the intersections of race and class.
"Evil Under the" by Agatha Christie (1937)
Agatha Christie novels have been absolutely reliable classics of summer thriller for decades. In this episode of Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective's vacation in an idyllic English hotel suffers the characteristic interruption of a horrific murder. This time it's a flirtatious woman and stepmother who saw her untimely end in a secluded beach cove, and our mustache hero must deduce which of the assembled guests did the deed. The good news? If you like this, there are 81 more Christie Secrets it came from.
"Call me by your name" by André Aciman (2007)
The '80s novel, reinvigorated by the 2017 film adaptation, has all the hallmarks of a summer reading – a mysterious seasonal romance in a stunning European locale – with real literary weight. The coming-of-age gay novel is both gorgeous and heartbreaking in its portrayal of the longing and sexual awakening of teenagers through the eyes of young Elio, an American 17-year-old whose summer on the Italian Riviera was marked by a passionate affair A formative experience is shaken with an older man, which he processes decades later.
"Summer Sisters" by Judy Blume (1998)
One of Judy Blume's four adult novels, this cult favorite retains the growing up themes featured in her beloved books for younger readers. At the heart of "Summer Sisters" are Caitlin and Vix, two diametrically opposed personalities who are inextricably linked after Caitlin joined Vix on her family's annual pilgrimage to Martha's Vineyard. The annual getaways shape their teenage years as everyone discovers romance and adulthood. Her adult life takes her on different paths, but they continue to converge throughout her life.
& # 39; The wedding & # 39; by Dorothy West (1995)
Dorothy West's last book and her first novel in 47 years, "The Wedding", are set in 1953 on the wedding weekend of the favorite daughter of upper-class parents. Shelby rocked her family and close-knit black community in Martha's vineyard by choosing to marry a white musician. The balance that was once carefully maintained is disrupted by exploring the events in her life that led to this changing moment in a beautiful and devastating examination of family, society and race.
‘Seating arrangement’ by Maggie Shipstead (2013)
Maggie Shipstead's debut novel follows the tried and true formula that a book that focuses on a wedding has, of course, tense family dynamics, long-lost friends, love, and a scenic locale, all condensed into a few days. "Seating Arrangements", which takes a sharp and satirical look at the elitist WASP culture, does not disappoint. In the days leading up to Daphne's wedding, whose parents hadn't expected her to be pregnant on her wedding day, a group of dysfunctional and legitimate guests gather on a small island where inevitable sexual gimmicks occur.
"The interests" by Meg Wolitzer (2013)
When a group of six friends meet at a summer arts camp in New York state in the mid-1970s, each with their own creative goals, their bond leads to a lifelong bond. "The Interestings" explores the ecstasy and heartbreak of artistic longings, the joy, the crushing despair of failure, and the frustration of seeing your friends famous in battle. Meg Wolitzer wonderfully explores the difficulties of following (or giving up) your dreams and the tensions associated with longstanding friendships.