A powerfully good read is a must on any summer packing list. When it’s truly captivating, a good book can cushion the blow of many travel irritations. Delayed flight? Now you can find out what happens in the next chapter. Overly chatty seat mate? Time to take out that Kindle. Crying baby two rows back? Plug into an audio book and tune it out. And while they’re excellent in transit -- just picture the horror of being in gridlock traffic without a compelling audio book -- it’s even better once you’ve arrived. After all, what could be more heavenly than a breezy hammock with an ocean view and icy beverage? Well, the same scene -- but with a really gripping page-turner.
Our editors at Oyster.com have listed out the summer reads they’re packing into their carry-ons and beach totes. Just like with sunscreen, we wouldn’t dream of heading on vacation without these titles.
1. "The Passage" Trilogy by Justin Cronin
"I am super excited to start Justin Cronin’s 'The Passage' Trilogy. I hate having to wait for the next book in a series, and the third and final book in this trilogy was just published in May, so it’s a great time to dive in. Though these are fantasy novels, they are literary and have received a ton of critical acclaim -- not typical for books described as post-apocalyptic vampire fiction. I think they’ll be the perfect antidote to anyone suffering 'Game of Thrones' withdrawals this summer. They’re also long, so you won’t blow through them too quickly on your lazy beach days and plane rides." -- Kelsey Blodget
2. "The Expatriates: A Novel" by Janice Y.K. Lee
"I started reading this one with high expectations -- I loved Lee’s debut novel (a 'New York Times' bestseller) 'The Piano Teacher,' and had read glowing reviews of 'The Expatriates.' Often, this can lead to disappointment, but fortunately Lee did not let me down. Set in present-day Hong Kong, this quick read -- at times funny, at times sad, at times sweet, at times truly heartbreaking -- follows the lives of three American women all transplanted to Hong Kong. Despite varying backgrounds and interests, their stories ultimately overlap to transport the reader to a foreign, and yet familiar, place. Especially when traveling, I like to read stories that bring me to a new destination, and Lee’s description of Hong Kong -- and those who live there -- is amazingly accurate and enthralling." -- Jane Reynolds
3. "A Brief History of Seven Killings" by Marlon James
"Winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, Marlon James’ sprawl of a novel is high on my list simply for the fact that this self-identified queer writer isn’t afraid to rake everything over the coals. Hypocritical United States interventionism, Jamaican gang violence, constricting moral codes, and the artifice of celebrity are all fair game in this tale of an attempted assassination on Bob Marley. However, it’s the voices that scream and sigh and disappear throughout the novel’s hundreds of pages that are the real feat. Everything about this book is white hot and fast, making it perfect for jumping into the ocean or pool to cool off." -- Kyle Valenta
4. "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr
"There’s a reason 'All the Light We Cannot See' by American author Anthony Doerr won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Not only is it beautifully written -- with stunning detail and rich metaphors -- but the story is captivating. It follows a blind French girl and a German boy in occupied France during World War II, whose lives become intertwined amongst the surrounding devastation. For anyone that loves historical fiction or simply appreciates brilliant writing, this book will have you staying up to read one more chapter." -- Lara Grant
5. "Before the Fall" by Noah Hawley
"A few months ago, I read that Noah Hawley (the creator of 'Fargo' on FX) was coming out with a new novel, and my heart kicked into triple time. Within about 15 seconds, I was reviewing my pre-order confirmation email from Amazon and calculating the number of days until the book’s ship date. This was all while knowing absolutely nothing about the story, other than it was from Hawley’s brilliant, dark mind. Now I know that 'Before the Fall' is a thriller about a mysterious plane crash in Martha’s Vineyard. I’m trying to save it for an upcoming beach trip on the North Carolina coast, but the wait’s tough, because I know it’ll be every bit as gorgeous, grisly, surreal, and spine-chillingly twisty as 'Fargo.'" -- Anne Olivia Bauso
6. "The Memory of Us: A Novel" by Camille Di Maio
"Camille Di Maio’s novel 'The Memory of Us' has all the great ingredients of a beach read: forbidden love, family secrets, historical fiction, and the pangs of grappling with morals. Here’s the rundown: Filled with old money, charity fundraisers, and eligible men constantly courting her, socialite Julianne Westcott’s life is seemingly flawless. That perception of perfection begins to crumble, however, when she discovers an epic family secret -- she has a blind-and-deaf brother who has been institutionalized since birth. Then things get even juicier. It’s also during this time, while discretely visiting her brother, that Julianne encounters Kyle McCarthy, a groundskeeper studying to become a priest, and the two fall for each other. Now, as WWII kicks in and the Blitz is destroying England, she’s faced with making a life-changing decision. Need we say more?" -- Alisha Prakash
7. "Wuvable Oaf" by Ed Luce
"I've always been a sucker for graphic novels. If you're late to the party, it might surprise you to know how sophisticated and adult they can be. Books like Craig Thompson's 'Blankets' or Ellen Forney's 'Marbles' tackle the profound material of first love and manic depression respectively. This summer, I'm adding Ed Luce's 'Wuvable Oaf' to the lineup."
"The story is centered on Oaf, a lumbering gay ex-wrestler living with a brood of cats. Oaf roams through San Francisco's underground black metal music scene on a quest for love, with his kittens in tow."
"This offbeat story of love proves that both graphic novels and gay culture are bigger and far more delightfully complex than you might expect." -- Maria Teresa Hart
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