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Summer books: 11 of the best beach reads

What makes a great beach read? Gripping romance? Spine-tingling mystery? Vanishing heroines? (In the case of Gillian Flynn’s 2014 hit novel Gone Girl). There’s a dash of all three in our pick of this summer’s best reads.

The Fever by Megan Abbot

In a suburban town in Northeast America, high-school girls are being afflicted with mysterious seizures – and nobody knows why. Acclaimed thriller writer Megan Abbot’s latest book will have you itching to get to the bottom of this mystery, while reminiscing on the politics and paranoias of young adulthood.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

Ever wondered what it would be like to be J.D. Salinger’s agent? When Rakoff, 23, is given the chore of answering the reclusive author J.D Salinger’s fan mail, she abandons the automated response letter the agency has used for years and starts writing back. Keenly observed and irresistibly funny, bookish types will want to devour this in one sitting.

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories is a posthumous collection written by a promising Yale student who had a job waiting at the New Yorker when she died tragically in a car crash days after graduation. Following the viral success of her final essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” her brilliant essays and stories have been gathered into a collection in this compelling read.

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

At 700 pages, this book isn’t for the faint-hearted, but you’ll breeze through it thanks to a thrillingly twisty plotline. Terry Hayes’s debut tells the story of a secret agent — with the code name Pilgrim — who is forced to face his greatest enemy after the murder of a wealthy American. Pick this up if you’re a fan of the Jack Reacher series.

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The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

This Stephen King-approved novel centres around wife who’s vanished and a husband who’s trying to understand what’s happened. But this isn’t the romping Gone Girl-parodying thriller that the plot would suggest. Prepare to have a range of emotions evoked: from delight to discomfort to heartbreak.

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell

How do you deal with life after Carrie Bradshaw? Create a whole new, suitably-meta franchise, of course. A famous writer has to fake her death to reclaim her life from her own creation in this latest novel from Bushnell. We sense life imitating art.

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz

This easy beach read tells the story of an unexpected female friendship.  Three women thrown together in college grow to adulthood united and divided by secrets, lies, and a single night that shaped all of their lives.

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? Go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes – and build yourself, according to Caitlin Moran’s fiercely funny protagonist Johanna Morrigan. A story of self-discovery and reinvention that will stay with you for years.

Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogomy by Ophira Eisenberg

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Ophira Eisenberg’s wisecracking debut memoir is a hilarious account of her salacious sexcapades and the wild years that lead her ultimately to overcome her phobia of commitment. If you’re a fan of Amy Poehler, you’ll devour this. Follow her journey to self-enlightenment – one promiscuous encounter at a time.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July

This pitch-perfect debut novel from artist, writer and filmmaker Miranda July is the one of the most original books you’ll read all year. Heartbreakingly sad, searingly funny and (at times) difficult to stomach, you’ll find oddball protagonist Cheryl Glickman endearingly unique.

How to be Both by Ali Smith

Remember those choose your own adventure books of childhood? These retro literary relics were the inspiration behind Ali Smith’s dual-narrative novel. This is a book of two halves – one of a troubled teenager, the other an Italian fresco painter –  and which half comes first depends on which edition you happen to pick up from the book shelf. Passionate and vitally playful, you’ll be gripped by the mechanics of this book which depends on a element of chance.


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