Need the perfect book to take to the beach this summer? We’ve put 12 books into real life-based categories that might correspond with something you’re going through, like a break-up, a need to unplug, or a need to better yourself. Sink your teeth into one of these picks, six new and six old, wherever you so choose. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a multilingual mobile beach library like this one in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv, check out one of the library, head to your local bookstore, or load one up on your e-reader for some summer fun.
1. The obligatory summer-based beach novel
“A Hundred Summers’’ by Beatriz Williams, 2013
Lily Dane returns to her summer oasis in Seaview, R.I., for Memorial Day in 1938 only to find that her former best friend and former fiance (who are now married) have decided to call Seaview home. As if this isn’t enough of a blunder, a physical hurricane barrels up the east coast without warning, threatening the coastal community. The former friends and former lovers are forced confront old feelings and the past, making this page-turner a perfect beach read.
2. The ‘Get over your ex because he broke up with you right before the summer’ novel
“Ladies’ Night’’ by Mary Kay Andrews, 2013
So you’re feeling vengeful? Your now ex-boyfriend did something terrible and you really wish you could get back at him? Live vicariously through Grace Stanton, the protagonist in Mary Kay Andrews’s novel “Ladies’ Night.’’ Stanton catches her husband having an affair with HER assistant and then drives his pricey sportscar into the family pool. Of course, Mr. Stanton isn’t happy: he kicks her out of their house, locks her out of the bank accounts, and even takes away access to the blog that she has used to make a name for herself in the media industry.
She is forced into “divorce therapy’’ per the courts and during her weekly meetings with three other divorcees, realizes there’s something funky going on with their “divorce coach.’’ The now unmarried woman initiate their own “Ladies’ Night’’ on Wednesdays and find closure in more than one way. This one will definitely help you get over the jerk. You don’t need him, anyway!
3. The ‘This book is definitely better than the movie’ novel
“The Count of Monte Cristo’’ by Alexandre Dumas, 1844
Alexandre Dumas’s French classic “The Count of Monte Cristo’’ has been translated and retold a million ways, but the book never seems to bore us. Between his treacherous escape from the Chateau d’If and his plots of vengeance against traitorous friends, we get sucked in every time we crack the worn pages on our copy.
4. The ‘I don’t need sleep anyway, bring on the nightmares’ book
“Don’t Look Now’’ by Daphne du Maurier, 1971
This collection of short stories includes two that were adapted as horror films by Alfred Hitchcock (“The Birds’’ and “Don’t Look Now’’). If that is any indication of how scary du Maurier’s stories are, and this is your cup of tea, we think it’ll be worth the time investment — just don’t plan on sleeping any time soon after finishing one in the collection.
5. The ‘We read this in high school, but we actually want to read it now’ novel
“The Great Gatsby’’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
Maybe it’s the shimmer of Baz Lurhmann’s film adaptation that drew us back to a novel from our sophomore year of high school. Whatever it is, we can’t wait to relive Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan’s tumultuous relationship and relive the symbolism that we dreaded learning about as teenagers. Bring it on, Fitzy.
6. The ‘I never knew a dog could narrate a book and bring me to tears’ novel
“The Art of Racing in the Rain’’ by Garth Stein, 2008
Garth Stein’s debut novel “The Art of Racing in the Rain’’ is the only book told through the eyes of an animal that we have ever read, and it’s so good that we want to read it again. The book chronicles the lives of Enzo (named after the Ferrari supercar) and his owner, Denny Swift, and the journey that they go through from puppydom with a bond that is strengthened through death, self-discovery, and the creation of a family bond that proves unbreakable. This one is a tearjerker, so keep some tissues handy.
7. The ‘I want to sound smart at parties so I read nonfiction’ book
“Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Political Marriage’’ by Jeffrey Frank, 2013
Jeffrey Frank penned this nonfiction work that chronicles the political and private relationship between presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. The pair shared a bond that lasted nearly 20 years and survived fights and slights, both large and small. Frank does a tactful job of bringing out the intelligence of both men never before explored. Reading this will definitely give you something good to talk to someone about at a party.
8. The ‘Check yourself before you wreck yourself’ self-help book
“Choose Yourself’’ by James Altucher, 2013
We all get stuck in a rut sometimes. The economy is on an upswing, but jobs are still hard to find. How do we make ourselves stand out from the pack? How do we continue to stay positive when things look so bleak? James Altucher knows how and he outlines these tips and tricks to being happy, making millions and living the dream in “Choose Yourself.’’ If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, this one should do the trick.
9. The ‘I need a dose of female empowerment’ summer novel
“The Secret Life of Bees’’ by Sue Monk Kidd, 2002
When adolescent Lily Owens and her “stand-in mother’’ Rosaleen run away from their small town to escape racism and Lily’s abusive father, their lives are forever changed by three sisters in Tiburon, S.C. Sue Monk Kidd’s critically acclaimed novel set in 1964 teaches lessons on civil rights, first love, and feminism while documenting the tangled web woven by Lily’s mother. The 318-page work is the perfect book to kick back with on a screened in porch during the summer months.
10. The ‘Your life could be worse so buck up, Chuck’ novel
“Claudia Silver to the Rescue’’ by Kathy Ebel, 2013
When we first read about this book it somehow reminded us of the ABC comedy “Ugly Betty’’ and all of the things that could go wrong, having gone wrong on that show for poor Betty. In this book, things seem to keep going epically wrong for the title character — and it makes us feel just a little bit better about our quarter life blues. Indulge in this one if you need a hilarious boost and want to wade through some wavy waters with Claudia.
11. The ‘I don’t care it was written for teenagers’ guilty pleasure novel
“The Hunger Games’’ by Suzanne Collins, 2008
“The Hunger Games’’ blew up in a “Twilight’’-like fashion and when we started reading the first book in the series, we understood what the hype was all about. Between the fight for survival, the underlying love triangle, and the anarchism, the book has a trifecta to reel us in and beg for more. Check this trilogy if you’re in the mood for easy to read (but maybe hard to digest) sci-fi with a twist.
12. . The ‘Once upon a time, there was no such thing as cellphones’ historical novel
“The Aviator’s Wife’’ by Melanie Benjamin, 2013
Well-written historical novels are gems, and this is one of those rare finds. Written by Melanie Benjamin, “The Aviator’s Wife’’ tells the story of Anne Morrow, daughter of the US ambassador to Mexico in the 1920s. She travels to Mexico City to spend the winter holidays with her family and falls in love with Colonel Charles Lindbergh. The story spans four decades and features cameos by real-life personalities Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart. If you’re aching for a departure from the connected world we live in, take a dive into this historically based fiction work.