10 Beach Books For Smarty Pants Readers


During the summertime most people opt for mindless, easy-to-read books to page through while sunning themselves on the sand. Not exactly the John Grisham or Sophie Kinsella type? Uphold your brainy reputation and choose from the mix of newish releases we’ve pulled together for the benefit of beach blanket bookworms everywhere!

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky

Opted to stay poolside instead of taking a road trip this summer? Pick up David Lipsky’s chronicle of traveling alongside David Foster Wallace on the last leg of his Infinite Jest book tour. Enjoy the rest stops and gasoline fumes from the safe distance of your terry cloth towel.

by Justin Kramon

Our friends over at GalleyCat called Justin Kramon’s debut novel, Finny, a “super summer novel,” and we have to agree. The story, which follows Finny Short, a charming red-headed misanthrope, does a good job of tracking the funny/sad moments in all of life’s relationships.

Role Models by John Waters

John Waters’ Role Models introduces us to a new Pope of Trash, a man who is undeniably fond of the extreme and shocking but also has a genuine and keen appreciation for true beauty, Hollywood glamor, and great literature. His explorations of the cultural icons — from squeaky-clean Johnny Mathis to Cy Twombly to Manson girl Leslie van Houten to “outsider porn” directors — are the perfect alternative to flipping through a weekly gossip rag.

Hitch-22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens

Another memoir, and from a cultural icon who is considered just as controversial as Waters. While this might be a little on the heavy side for a beach read (the first chapter features the suicide-homicide of his mother and her lover), Hitchens’ perspectives on both the people and places he has encountered are fascinating, and delivered with his signature wit.

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen

We rushed out to buy this “literary gangster zombie novel” after reading this enthusiastic review on our friend Sarah Weinman’s blog: “Oh I want to shout about this book from all available rooftops. I want to jam it down the throats of literary snobs too hung up on the usual Lit-boy suspects, afraid of people who can entertain like a mofo, spin out a story at Usain Bolt-like speed with characters who will break your heart as they steal your soul.”

The Believers by Zoe Heller

Zoe Heller’s novel (which recently came out in paperback) examines a New York family of left wingers who are struggling to find and/or maintain their faith in something bigger than themselves. It’s the kind of thing that you really lose yourself in. The catch: Her characters can be so unlikeable that we’re willing to bet that you’ll be glad to return to your real world friends for the ride home.

How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley’s latest collection of essays is a hilarious followup to the best-selling I Was Told There Would Be Cake. Crosley’s sardonic, David Sedaris-inspired style is clever without being too heady, making this excellent material for reading on a beach blanket somewhere.

8. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

David Mitchell’s latest has been much anticipated by the literary crowd. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a historical romance set in Japan at the turn of the 19th century, focusing on an engaged young man who falls in love with a Japanese midwife. OK, so it doesn’t scream “beach.” But being spotted with it will win you instant cred with book snobs.

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy

Maile Meloy’s Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It will be released in paperback on July 6. Named one of the ten best books of 2009 by The New York Times, this collection of short stories has been widely acclaimed for tackling the complexities and layers of relationships. Warning: This one should not be read in public if you dislike laughing and/or crying in front of strangers.

by Bret Easton Ellis

The man who brought us Less Than Zero and The Rules of Attraction has gifted us with a new novel just in time for summer enjoyment. Imperial Bedrooms revisits characters from Less Than Zero, exploring the underbelly of Los Angeles where nothing can be accepted at face value. Reading this will be just as much fun as watching a Hills marathon, except you get to be outside!