The Juiciest New Books to Add to Your Summer Beach Reading List

Ruby Grais
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Summer Books
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Photo: Allison Kahler/STYLECASTER

Summer is here, and with the bikini comes the ubiquitous beach book. But sometimes you need a little more than the usual slew of mindless melodrama or bodice-ripping romance. Sometimes you need something darker, a dangerous escape to different time periods, unfamiliar landscapes, and even complex inner lives.

MORE: 13 Upcoming Movies You Need to Put on Your Summer Bucket List

If you’re daring enough to lose yourself in a good read, take one of our summer picks to your next excursion or staycation. Here you’ll find something literary, magical, suspenseful, scandalous, and, of course, sexy to satisfy all of your summer cravings.

 

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"The Favorite Sister" by Jessica Knoll
"The Favorite Sister" by Jessica Knoll

A darkly comedic thriller that takes on reality TV and familial dysfunctions, this novel is about Brett Courtney and her business partner/older sister, Kelly, who is thin, beautiful, and everything Brett wishes she could be. Three other entrepreneurial women with their own shameful secrets round out the cast of the fourth season of reality show "Goal Diggers." Of course, there’s the usual bitchiness, backstabbing, and scandalous behavior that is to be expected of reality television, except with a never-before-seen twist: murder.

For fans of "Real Housewives" who crave suspense, The Favorite Sister is an entertaining ride between the blurred lines of fiction and reality that leads dizzyingly to a jaw-dropping conclusion.

$15 at Amazon

Photo: Simon & Schuster
"When Life Gives You Lululemons" by Lauren Weisberger
"When Life Gives You Lululemons" by Lauren Weisberger

Fans of The Devil Wears Prada will be delighted by this spin-off that follows Andrea Sachs’s memorable fellow assistant, the glamorous, neurotic Emily Charlton, who has long left Miranda Priestly and now works as a stylist and image consultant to A-list celebrities. When her successful career is threatened by a rival and her client roster shrinks, Emily connects with her best friend Miriam Kagan and former supermodel Karolina Hartwell to save the latter’s reputation when she is set up by none other than her husband, a senator keen to make it to the White House. This likable trio’s hilarious travails as they navigate the world of wealth and scandal in Greenwich, Connecticut, promise not to disappoint.

$24 at Amazon. Out 6/5/2018.

Photo: Simon & Schuster
"The Kiss Quotient" by Helen Hoang
"The Kiss Quotient" by Helen Hoang

A “stellar debut,” according to Publisher’s Weekly, this heartwarming novel is about Stella Lane, an autistic woman who might be great at constructing algorithms but not so great at relationships, with which she has little to no experience. She hires a gorgeous escort, Michael Phan, to teach her all that she needs to know about sex, but what starts off as an arrangement obviously leads to love! With a refreshingly diverse cast, The Kiss Quotient is already racking up rave reviews for its writing and realistic portrayal of the complexities of romance and dating.

$9 at Amazon. Out 6/5/2018.

Photo: Penguin Publishing Group
"Sometimes I Lie" by Alice Feeney
"Sometimes I Lie" by Alice Feeney

Amber Reynolds seems to lie in a coma as she narrates this novel, but she is completely aware and able to hear and understand what is going on around her, including the dubious relationship between her husband and sister and the presence of a menacing ex-boyfriend who often sneaks into her hospital room while she lies there helpless. Unreliable narrator Amber, who sometimes lies, takes the reader to the past through her unhappy childhood diary entries and back to the terrifying present where everything comes together. This exciting debut novel featuring the makings of the perfect psychological thriller: murder, mayhem, and madness.

$17 at Amazon

Photo: Flatiron Books
"Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore" by Kim Fu
"The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore" by Kim Fu

Nita, Siobhan, Dina, Andee, and Isabel meet at a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, personalities will clash as they go through the motions of their camp activities. That is, until the five girls set off for an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island where they are stranded and forced to survive. Alternating between these harrowing events and the future when, as adults, they struggle through their lives from the lingering effects of trauma, this novel depicts the choices the young girls make to survive in a particularly chilling light. As adults, they are fully realized and complex and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.

$16 at Barnes & Noble

Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
"Everything Here Is Beautiful" by Mira T. Lee
"Everything Here Is Beautiful" by Mira T. Lee

This sprawling and stunningly written debut about mental illness and the ties that bind family together tells the story of Chinese-American Lucia Bok who is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Before the onset of her illness, Lucia falls in love with much older one-armed Russian immigrant Yonah, but a desire for a child means she leaves him for the younger Manuel. After she and Manuel move to Ecuador with their baby daughter, Lucia descends farther into her illness. A touching story about belonging as an immigrant and the frustrating, heartbreaking lengths one will go to cure a loved one, Everything Here Is Beautiful is ultimately a love story between Lucia and her older and more capable sister, Miranda. They might live out their own separate lives, careers, and relationships under the shadow of Lucia’s illness, but they are bound undeniably by their deep, abiding love for one another.

$17 at Amazon

Photo: Penguin Publishing Group
"The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

This Hitchcockian best seller features Anna Fox, an alcoholic, opioid-addicted recluse with agoraphobia who spies on her neighbors through her Nikon lens and her browser. When a new family moves in across the street, she becomes completely obsessed with them, especially when she witnesses a violent crime in their townhouse. Of course, no one is going to believe her. This novel then quickly turns the classic suspense genre on its head where nothing in Anna’s world is what it seems, not even the shady Anna herself.

The twists—and there are many—are definitely rewarding in this claustrophobic but engaging thriller by the pseudonymous A.J. Finn.

$16 at Amazon

Photo: HarperCollins Publishers
"Social Creature" by Tara Isabella Burton
"Social Creature" by Tara Isabella Burton

Louise Wilson and Lavinia Williams are on opposite ends of the social spectrum; Louise is barely making ends meet in Brooklyn while the younger Lavinia is on a “sabbatical” from Yale so she can party it up in New York City. Drawn to Lavinia’s wealth, carefree attitude, and glamorous lifestyle, Louise sacrifices her own needs to keep up with her new friend, and the two spiral into an intense friendship filled with booze, drugs, and sex, which ends with one of their untimely deaths.

Tara Isabella Burton has a gift for crafting suspenseful scenes while giving Louise and Lavinia each a fully formed inner life that makes them unforgettable.

$24 at Amazon. Out 6/5/2018.

Photo: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
"Our Kind of Cruelty" by Araminta Hall
"Our Kind of Cruelty" by Araminta Hall

In this dark, sexy thriller, emotionally damaged Mike Hayes and his girlfriend Verity “V” Walton often play a game they call "the Crave" where V will allow herself to be hit on by a man at a bar so that Mike can aggressively come to her defense—after which they have passionate sex. It all goes pretty well for eight years until he accepts a temporary job in the U.S. After his return to London, he finds out that V has left him for another man whom she plans on marrying, but Mike is convinced that it is still a part of their game and will stop at nothing to get her back.

And what if Mike’s right? The questions are endless in this twisted and unsettling page-turner.

$15 at Amazon

Photo: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
"The House of Impossible Beauties" by Joseph Cassara
"The House of Impossible Beauties" by Joseph Cassara

If you can’t wait for Ryan Murphy’s "Pose" coming out soon on FX, this glitzy novel will satisfy you for the time being. Covering a period during the late ’70s and early ’90s, the real-life House of Xtravaganza in Harlem is the backdrop of a fictional story about Angie and Venus Xtravaganza along with a diverse cast of characters who made the House their home. Under the looming specter of drugs and the AIDS epidemic, these dynamic ballroom stars screw, fight, and love in this heartbreaking but hopeful story of family and the true meaning of home.

$15 at Amazon

Photo: HarperCollins Publishers
"The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin
"The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin

In 1969, the four Gold children visit a traveling fortune-teller in their neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When she predicts the date that each one of them will die, this knowledge affects the siblings through the next four decades in their lives as they each grapple with questions of fate, self-fulfilling prophecies, and their own mortality.

One of the buzziest books of the year, The Immortalists has garnered widespread acclaim as a moving family saga touched with a little magic, and, ultimately, hope.

$15 at Amazon

Photo: Penguin Publishing Group
"Freshwater" by Akwaeke Emezi
"Freshwater" by Akwaeke Emezi

Steeped in Igbo mythology, this electrifying debut novel from Nigeria-born Akwaeke Emezi explores mental illness and trauma through protagonist Ada, who has been inhabited by ogbanje since birth. These godlike spirits, each with its own distinct identity, narrate the chapters in Freshwater with sparkling, sweeping prose. Once they take over Ada after she is sexually assaulted at college, her life unravels and she recedes into her own mind. Then Asughara, the most powerful and vengeful spirit, takes her on a dangerous emotional journey to ensure she will never be hurt again.

$16 at Amazon

Photo: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
"Tangerine" by Christine Mangan
"Tangerine" by Christine Mangan

In Christine Mangan’s debut novel, it’s 1956 and Alice Shipley has just moved to Tangier with her new husband. She’s surprised when Lucy Mason, her college roommate and former best friend, shows up unannounced at her doorstep since they’ve been estranged for a year after a tragic accident at Bennington. While the mysterious circumstances surrounding the tragedy are explored in flashbacks, in the present, Alice’s fear of her new environment and Lucy’s talent for deception make it easy for Lucy to manipulate and dominate her friend. And things don’t get any better when Alice’s husband disappears.

Set against the lush backdrop of Morocco, this story of a twisted, obsessive friendship is heading to the big screen soon with Scarlett Johansson attached to star.

$16 at Amazon

Photo: HarperCollins Publishers
"The Ensemble" by Aja Gabel
"The Ensemble" Aja Gabel

This exciting debut follows four young friends in the Van Ness String Quartet and their complex relationships with each other through 18 years. There’s romance and heartbreak, success and failure, betrayal and redemption, and much more as they struggle with their egos, jealousy, the pressures of their profession and, each other. But in the end, these four form a perfectly imperfect family, and watching them struggle and grow through the years is a moving and wonderful delight.

$21 at Amazon

Photo: Penguin Publishing Group
"The Honey Farm" by Harriet Alida Lye
"The Honey Farm" by Harriet Alida Lye

Recent college graduate Silvia and painter Ibrahim are drawn to a free artists' colony (and to each other) at a honey farm in Ontario. They’ll meet mysterious owner Cynthia, who needs the extra help after her farm has been ravaged by pests and drought. But something doesn’t feel right in this so-called paradise, and Silvia and Ibrahim will soon discover the dark secrets of Cynthia’s past and the horrors that lie ahead.

Honey-dipped prose and expertly crafted tension make this exciting debut a sweet and sinister treat.

$26 at Amazon

Photo: Liveright Publishing Corporation

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  • "The Favorite Sister" by Jessica Knoll
  • "When Life Gives You Lululemons" by Lauren Weisberger
  • "The Kiss Quotient" by Helen Hoang
  • "Sometimes I Lie" by Alice Feeney
  • "Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore" by Kim Fu
  • "Everything Here Is Beautiful" by Mira T. Lee
  • "The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn
  • "Social Creature" by Tara Isabella Burton
  • "Our Kind of Cruelty" by Araminta Hall
  • "The House of Impossible Beauties" by Joseph Cassara
  • "The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin
  • "Freshwater" by Akwaeke Emezi
  • "Tangerine" by Christine Mangan
  • "The Ensemble" by Aja Gabel
  • "The Honey Farm" by Harriet Alida Lye

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