Summer days were made for whiling away the hours on a sunny stretch of sand, lost in a really good book. So put down the trashy chick lit and opt for one of these captivating beach reads, recommended by a few smart girls we know.
Sharmadean Reid, Founder and Owner of WAH NAILS, London
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
At the end of the month, I’m going to Jamaica to celebrate my birthday and I’ll be reading Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. It was written in 1966, but it acts as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, and reimagines the story of the infamous ‘madwoman in the attic’ from that book. In Rhys’ imagination, the ‘madwoman’ is a white Creole heiress who relocates to England after an unhappy upbringing and marriage in the Caribbean. I can’t wait to devour it on the beach in Jamaica – I love reading novels about the place I’m actually in.
Sandeep Bhuller, Art & Photography Book Buyer, McNally Jackson, NYC
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
An American epic in the form of a tiny novella—it will make you feel like you have learned something meaningful about love and life and time, without spending three months stuck on chapter two.
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
Beautifully, sprawling and melancholy. Perfect for a trip: especially to, through or from LA.
Charlotte Roberts, Co-Founder and Editor of THE MUSHPIT, London
Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness) by Françoise Sagan.
I bang on about this book A LOT. Hence why I used to have three copies but now have zero, as I keep enthusiastically lending it out. It’s reasonably short (a novella rather than a novel) and it’s just really, really good.
Shaniqwa Jarvis, Photographer, NYC & LA
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This is a true story about an unknown black woman whose cells were taken from her without her permission in 1951. Doctors then used them to launch a multimillion dollar medical revolution, developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and many of the most import vaccinations and medications of our time. The book weaves the story of Henrietta and her family in with some fascinating scientific facts and medical history. It’s a heavy read, but so amazing.
Phoebe Lovatt, Journalist and Founder of anywhere-anywhere.com, LA
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Ostensibly, The Art of Fielding is a book about baseball. No wait, come back! I said ostensibly. While baseball does indeed provide the framework for this bestselling novel, really The Art of Fielding is a captivating story about human relationships and personal ambition. Set on a fictional Wisconsin college campus, it follows a young baseball prodigy as he grapples with the implications of his immense talent. Rich with vibrant characters and truthful in its observations on love and success, The Art of Fielding is a satisfying read for a beach day, or indeed any day.
Soo-Young Kim, Assistant Editor at Complex magazine, NYC
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This YA book is for nerdy guys who love video games, but that doesn’t mean smart girls can’t read it either. I loved this book (and soon-to-be movie) because it takes place in the dystopian future where people take refuge in a virtual world. I mean, how cool is that? (The “jumping into another fake universe” part, not the whole “world is ending” thing.) From start to finish, we follow a boy through his quest to find “Easter eggs” within the game to gain fortune and fame. It’s a super fun and fast read, and filled to the MAX with ’80s pop culture. Fans of John Hughes films and Steve Jobs need to add this onto their reading list.