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  • NYS Writers Institute

What will you be reading this summer?

Summer officially started early Tuesday morning. All this daylight is perfect for outside reading!

Today at 5:13 a.m. we began the longest day of the calendar year in the Northern Hemisphere, and although sunshine took the day off -- currently gray skies and rain here in Albany -- we mark the official first day of summer with a post on summer reads by Rya Vallabhaneni, a student at Brown University studying English and Literary Arts. (Share your summertime reading below.)

Beach reads

by Rya Vallabhaneni

With school ending, the weather brightening, and the world reopening its doors, many people are packing their suitcases. They’re phoning relatives and buying plane tickets; loading the car and going swimsuit shopping.

Long afternoons spent by the ocean are being planned, and this requires a few essentials: flip-flops, sunscreen, and a good beach read.

Beach reads come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from slow-burn romances to high-speed whodunnits. They are applauded for their ability to crank out plots in record time, and typically don’t require much emotional investment. What best defines a beach read is perhaps how it is approached: if you can read a book quickly, think that was nice, and then move on, you might want to consider bringing it to Cape Cod.

Beach reads are comfort novels. They are the books we look to when wanting to take a short vacation—even just a day trip—from reality. They aren’t meant to keep you up at night, but they’re successful in their main aim: producing a feeling that comes and goes like a spurt of summer rain.

"... a vacation book doesn’t need to have anything to do with where you are; it can be a destination in itself," writes Sarah Lyall in "Vacation Reading, Unpacked," published recently in the New York Times, "By taking you out of your head in those in-between moments — waiting at the gate to board the plane, riding in the back of the bus between cities, lying in bed during the first night of jet-lagged insomnia in a faraway country — it can restore you to yourself. It cures your boredom, soothes your anxiety and provides stability and constancy."

Below you’ll find recommendations from middle school students, college students, and adults. If you don’t know where to start, try choosing a title (or author) that just sounds interesting. Chances are, you’ll find something worth tucking in your suitcase pocket.

From middle and high school students

Romance: Sarah Dessen, Colleen Hoover, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Mystery: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Fiction: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

From college students

Romance: Emily Henry, André Aciman

Historical Fiction: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Mystery: Agatha Christie

Fiction: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Coming-Of-Age: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

From adults

Romance: Elin Hilderbrand, Robyn Carr

Mystery: Tana French, Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Fiction: Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Coming-Of-Age: Mary Jane: A Novel by Jessica Anya Blau

Just for kicks: Jaws by Peter Benchley

Looking for more book picks, listen to a recent WAMC interview with Lily Bartels at The Open Door Bookstore and Gift Gallery in Schenectady, NY. She was interviewed by Joe Donahue and shared her thoughts on the following new books:

  • Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch by Rivka Galchen

  • Horse by Geraldine Brooks

  • The Shores of Bohemia: A Cape Cod Story, 1910-1960 by John Taylor Williams

  • The Church of Baseball by Ron Shelton

  • The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

As always, we encourage our friends to shop at their favorite local, independent bookstores, including the Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady.

Want to share your upcoming summer read? Post a comment below.


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