This is the second part of a list of 100 books that I have compiled of the best beach reads for summer of 2014. The books are in no particular order, but divided into categories. The first half of this list has different categories, but are not higher or lower on the list. For the other 50 books, check out Just Beachy: Part I. In case you did not read it first, here is a refresher on what you are about to read (from the original post):
For me, the most important part of any summer is deciding what books to read. Whether I am heading to the beach, to the lake, to the pool, or sitting around wishing I was at any one of those places, choosing the right book is a very important decision. Now, I could give you MY top ten choices for Best Beach Reads, but I have chosen to do something a bit different. I asked my sounding board what their picks were and combined them with my own as well as the lists from the copious other sites that have released their own versions of this list. I would call it the definitive list of summer beach reads, but as I am the filter through which this information comes to you, I will admit, it may be a bit skewed to what sounds interesting to me personally. But, this is my blog, and you get what you paid for.
If you are into politics (or just want to look smart…):
Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton: A memoir focusing on the four years Hillary Clinton served as the Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. We are still two years out from the next presidential election and while no official announcement has been made that she will run for President in 2016, it is widely believed that she will be the democratic candidate. So get ahead of the curve and start preparing now.
Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis by Benjamin Kunkel: A look at Marxist theory from a contemporary standpoint. Given the current state of the economy, this book explores Leftist theories as an alternative to capitalism in its current incarnation and examines how socialist ideas could be implemented in our society.
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis: A small group of Wall Street guys discover that in our post-crash world, the market has become even more corrupt and set out to make things right. The publisher promises an uplifting read within a pretty terrifying topic. This is really happening, happening to us, and these are the guys who are trying to make things right.
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: The memoir of the beloved political icon was originally published in 1995. A powerful story of one man’s struggle to make the world a better place.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty: A look at Modern economics from a historical perspective and shedding light on the inequalities in today’s society using social and economic patterns to determine where we are headed. He examines how political interference has protected the economy previously and how it might do that again in the future.
Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits by Kevin Roose: An insiders look at the young men just starting out on Wall Street. “Roose’s young bankers are exposed to the exhausting workloads, huge bonuses, and recreational drugs that have always characterized Wall Street life. But they experience something new, too: an industry forever changed by the massive financial collapse of 2008. And as they get their Wall Street educations, they face hard questions about morality, prestige, and the value of their work” (amazon.com).
If you like your non-fiction more entertaining than informative:
Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy by Ophira Eisenberg: Comedian Ophira Eisenberg details how she went from commitment-phobic to wedded wife through a series of one night stands.
The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon: The story of Huguette Clark, who died in 2011 at 104 surrounded by controversy. She was an heiress and socialite living in New York during the 1920s who all but disappeared after her marriage ended in 1930. She recently became the topic of much speculation as she spent the last 20 years of her life in a hospital (though apparently not ill) leaving several large estates empty.
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis: A memoir written by the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kiedis details his life from a drug-addicted child to (now sober) music icon and all the messes in between.
Blood Will Out by Walter Kirm: Kirn reveals the true story of his friendship with Clark Rockefeller (actually Christian Gerhartsreiter) and how he was taken in by one the world’s most infamous con-men. Only a year ago, Gerhartsreiter was convicted of murder and is now serving 27 years to life.
I Don’t Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner: Klausner, a comedy writer and sketch comedian, shares her philosophies on dating developed through a string of bad relationships. Marketed as a “girl’s version of High Fidelity” (Amazon), this book has been hovering near the top of my list for a while now and will very shortly grace my beach bag with its presence.
Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker: A True Crime book that tells the story of the string of unsolved murders on Long Island. “In this haunting tale, he bravely and meticulously recreates the lives of once hopeful but sadly forgotten young women, while shining a light on the economic hardships that pushed them to make tough, risky choices.” (Amazon).
The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventures, and the Dawn of Empire by Susan Ronald: Queen Elizabeth I is hands down one of my favorite people in all of history. Probably because she earned herself the nickname “the Pirate Queen,” how could you not be fascinated by that? This book takes a wealth of historical information, including the Queen’s personal letters, and tells a side of the story often left out of the history books.
Take This Man: A Memoir by Brando Skyhorse: Raised by a single mother and “a rotating cast of surrogate fathers” (Amazon), Brando Skyhorse details the search for his biological father, unravels a lifetime of lies told by his mother, and discovers who he really is.
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson: This book details the making of the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and its subsequent impact on the modern world. Stories of Audrey Hepburn, Truman Capote, and Edith Head (swoon) fill this “first ever complete account of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (Amazon).
If you want to read a classic novel:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Where better to spend a summer than New York in the 1920s with your favorite party people? This tale of love and heartbreak has been everywhere for the past year or so, but don’t let that deter you. It is still a classic that captures the essence of summer like no other.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman: The book that inspired the now classic movie. What can I say that you don’t already know? The book is always better than the movie, so…
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Possibly the most quintessential book of all of our childhoods and probably the most beloved of all time. If you have read it, you already know. If you haven’t, I am not sure you can consider yourself a literate human being…
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: This book is widely considered the first great American novel. A young boy sets off down the Mississippi River for a great tale of adventure as he and, escaped slave, Jim try to find themselves a better life. Often a topic of controversy, this book offers insight into the American culture of the 1830s. As a bonus, one of the characters (Captain Jack) was inspired my Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Captain Jack Thornburgh.
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton: Set in Victorian New York, this is the story of one man, Newland Archer, caught between the values of high society in the form of marriage to his dull and shallow wife, May, and a passionate love affair with the captivating and independent Countess Olenska.
If you like your history to be mostly fiction:
The Visitors by Sally Beauman: This book tells the story of the discovery of King Tatunkhamun’s tomb from the perspective of eleven year old Lucy. Based on the actual events of 1922, this novel evokes a period of exploration in a land still untouched by the modern world. If you are looking to get away from the current time or place, this book will certainly take you there.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Set during the German occupation of France during World War II, this novel tells the story of two young people on opposite sides of the war front as they try to survive the destruction that surrounds them. Not a typical war novel, this book focuses on the two main characters as they try to find the goodness in a world gone dark.
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue: From the author of the novel Room, this book is set during the late 19th Century in a San Francisco boomtown. It tells the story of a young burlesque dancer trying to solve the mystery behind the murder of her best friend before she ends up dead herself.
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory: The first book in the The Cousins’ War series from the author of The Other Bolyne Girl. This book details the relationship between Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV. Though historical accuracy is not of great concern with the series, it is an enjoyable story and entertaining take on the War of the Roses.
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty: This piece of historical fiction tells the story of thirty-six year old Cora Carlisle who served as the Chaperone to future silent film star Louise Brooks during her move form Kansas to New York in the 1920s. Using these characters, the novel shows what it was like to experience the great shift that occurred during this period and how it affected those who lived it.
The Quick by Lauren Owen: A novel set in the underbelly of Victorian London. It tells the story of Charlotte as she searches for her brother who disappeared shortly after arriving in London. As she looks for him, “she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters” (amazon.com). The reviews promises a creepy story set in everyone’s (or at least my) favorite period for horror.
Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough: Another horror story set in Victorian London, this novel tells the tale of a serial killer who terrorized London alongside Jack the Ripper. As the police are still scratching their heads trying to discover who is behind the Ripper murders, another crime spree demands their attention.
If you like your romance with a little quirk:
Sex on the Moon:: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich: From the author of The Accidental Billionaires (the book that inspired the film The Social Network), this book tells the true story of how a college student stole moon rocks from a NASA vault to impress a girl.
How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky by Lydia Netzger: This is probably the book out of all 100 on the list that I am most excited about. “George and Irene are on a collision course with love, destiny and fate. They have everything in common: both are ambitious, both passionate about science, both lonely and yearning for connection. The air seems to hum when they’re together. But George and Irene’s attraction was not written in the stars. In fact their mothers, friends since childhood, raised them separately to become each other’s soul mates” (amazon.com).
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: Truly a love story for the modern age where we know too much about other people. How do you tell someone you have never met that you fell in love with them on the internet? A security officer falls in love with an employee after reading her emails (which is his job).
If (when) you are sick of weddings:
Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close: This book is episodic in nature (which I love in a beach book) while telling the story of a group of female friends as they navigate life after college (but before actual adulthood). I feel it does a great job capturing what it is like to live in a state of arrested development while all of your friends seem to be growing up. For a more detailed description you can read the post I wrote about this book last fall here.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman: A memoir from television writer and producer best known for her work on That ’70s Show, How I Met Your Mother, and Chuck (so, already I am so sold). In this book, she tells stories from her travels and shows how settling down and starting a family in your twenties/thirties is not always the best road.
The Engagements by Courtney J. Sullivan: The novel tells the stories of various relationships woven together through Frances Gerety, the woman in advertising who coined the phrase “A Diamond Is Forever”. The book explores exactly how true that line is (and isn’t).
If you want to read about someone else’s downward spiral:
Chocolate for Breakfast by Pamela Moore: A coming of age story first published in 1956. The story of 15 year old Courtney Farrell, a character often described as a female Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger), who splits her time between her two parents in New York and Los Angeles. “After a boarding-school crush on a female teacher ends badly, Courtney sets out to learn everything fast. Her first drink is a very dry martini, and her first kiss the beginning of a full-blown love affair with an older man” (from the cover).
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann: Dubbed a “trash classic”, this book tells the story of three best friends as they climb to the top in the entertainment industry 0f the 1960s, only to discover there is no where left to go but down.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt: From the author of The Goldfinch, this novel is about a group of college students as they head down a bacchanalian path reminiscent of the classic Greek and Roman texts they are studying.
If you are missing Gossip Girl as much as I am:
Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whitmore: A college student, Mabel, befriends her roommate, Genevra, and finds herself swept up in the world of wealth and power only to uncover the secrets of how Ev’s family got and stayed there. Set during the summer in an East Coast town, the book serves as a reminder that the grass is not always greener.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: Set on a private island, four friends from powerful families call themselves “the Liars”. The book follows one of the girls as she tries to piece together what happened to her two summers ago and why she cannot remember a thing.
The Heiresses by Sara Shepard: From the author of the Pretty Little Liars series comes what will certainly be a new series of books focusing on the young heiresses of a wealthy and powerful New York family, the Saybrooks. The family is said by all to be cursed and a blog (reminiscent of Gossip Girl herself) details the ladies’ every move. When one of the young heiresses dies tragically, the girls set out to discover what really happened that lead to the death of their beloved cousin.
If you want to come back a better version of yourself:
He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo: I am a little ashamed to say it, but when I read this book for the first time several years ago, it pretty much changed my life. It is not full of information I did not already know, but reads more like brutal honesty from a trusted friend. Sometimes we all just need to step back, look at our “relationships”, and face the truth. This book does that while remaining entirely entertaining.
What Would Audrey Do?: Timeless Lessons for Living with Grace and Style by Pamela Keogh: Primariliy a biography of the much beloved actress and humanitarian full of anecdotes about her life. If you know anything about Audrey Hepburn, you know that she is the ideal of celebrity role models and we should all aim to be a little more like her.
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin: Part memoir, part self-help, this book has some great ideas about how to be a happier version of yourself. You can read my post from last year here.
If you want to read something different:
The Fever by Megan Abbott: A suburban town is infected by a mysterious contagion affecting only the high school girls. Not knowing the cause, the small New England town becomes paranoid. Echoes Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with the group of teenage girls driving a town to hysteria.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: Set in 1987 and told from the perspective of a fourteen year old girl, this book tells the story of how one family is affected by the AIDS epidemic.
Once Upon A River by Bonnie Jo Campbell: The story of a teenage girl coming of age in rural Michigan. Based on the reviews, the book does not seem to be terribly focused on plot, but on life as a young woman in this part of the world.
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris: A man finds himself reevaluating his life when someone creates an online persona in his name. “At once laugh-out-loud funny about the absurdities of the modern world, and indelibly profound about the eternal questions of the meaning of life, love and truth” (Amazon).
The Bees by Laline Paull: While the basic premise sounds very similar to the plethora of novels being published about a young girl who is saddled with the task of taking down the dis-topian society in which she lives, this book has an interesting spin. The story is set in a colony of bees where the queen is the only one able to reproduce.
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips: The twelve gods of Ancient Greece are living in modern-day London. They reek havoc, just as they did in their heyday. Sounds brilliant.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: Two high school students fall in love. Typical, yes. The difference being that these two students know how unlikely it is that a high school romance will work out in the long run. Plus, with all of the acclaim the author has been getting for her novels, you are going to want to read this.
The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zantner: Inspired by William Shakespeare’s King Lear and set on a remote island off the coast of Canada near Maine. The King family has built a successful lobster empire on the island they have inhabited for the past 300 years, but there seems to be something mythical below the surface.