15 Unrepentantly Trashy Beach Reads for Summer 2016


It will be 89 degrees Fahrenheit in New York today, which makes it official: from now until September, we’re living under the sign of “beach weather.” This means that publishers big and small, laboring under the false assumption that readers want “light” material to thumb through on the beach, will stock bookstores everywhere with feathery “beach reads.” But we all know that no one wants to read about wispy bourgeois friendships and blond children while tanning. On the contrary, when we go to the beach, we want to be seen toting some spectacular trash. With this in mind, here is a list of unrepentant garbage of the sort that will scandalize even the orangest beach guy.

Kuntalini: New Lovers #7, Tamara Berger (April 26)

It was only a matter of time before a writer lurked her way into the potentially cash-rich zone between yoga and erotica, but no one could have guessed it would be done so well. Kuntalini starts with a sexual awakening in a yoga class, but where it goes from there is surprising, trashy, funny, and worth reading aloud on the beach.

Blitzed: A Secret Baby Romance, Lauren Landish (May 10)

If you want to know what creeps in the back of the American mind, go straight to the most recent list of self-published best-sellers. Last year (at this time), we noticed a preference for step-brother erotica. But 2016 is all about quarterback porn. This one comes packaged with a secret baby for a little bit of added value.

The Happy Medium: Life Lessons from the Other Side, Kim Russo (May 24)

I’m starting to believe that Kim Russo does communicate with the spirit world. How else to explain the genius behind The Happy Medium, a book that merges self-help and trendy occult stuff? I wonder which long-dead self-help guru ghouled her into writing this garbage.

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy Isenberg (June 21)

“Who’s the whitest boy on the beach now?”

GOA. Confession of the Psychedelic Oyster, Vasiliy Karavaev (April 24)

If the title alone hasn’t sold you, take a look at the publicity copy for this self-published enigma:

This book is for all those who were enthralled when reading ‘Shantaram’, and those who have had a chance to visit Goa. But also for those who plan to immerse themselves in the noisy, bright, unmatched vibes of the universal capital of downshifters, two-week tourists, yogis, Israeli demobs, freaks, smokers, and dancers of all types.

Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Führer, Walter Shapiro (June 14)

A serious book by a respected academic, columnist, and former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter — yes, Hustling Hitler is all of these things. But it’s also called Hustling Hitler, and the cover looks like an old tabloid.

The Collected Works of Spinoza, Volume II, Benedictus de Spinoza (Author), Edwin Curley (Translator) (June 7)

An undertaking of immense scholarly value, the second volume of Spinoza’s collected work will be released in June, after decades of arduous labor. The main draw is the Theological-Political Treatise.

My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency, Doug Henwood (June 7)

This year has confirmed that no turn of events is trashier than an election, so why not cuddle up with this smart book on HRC (who also made last year’s list!)? The cover alone will get you some looks.

Bucky F*cking Dent: A Novel, David Duchovny (April 5, 2016)

It’s hard to think of a trashier actor than David Duchovny. Can anyone say for certain whether we can separate him from his character on Californication? Certainly the title of his new novel would suggest that we cannot.

My Struggle: Book Five, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Don Bartlett (Translator) (April 19)

Banal, ego-driven, badly written, melodramatic, self-aggrandizing in a backhanded way: I maintain that Knausgaard’s My Struggle is the trashiest project of our generation. This is why reading it is often compared to “doing crack.” Do some crack on the beach.

End of Watch: A Novel (The Bill Hodges Trilogy), Stephen King (June 7)

I’ll confess that I have no idea what the new King novel is about, but it’s fair to say you won’t win any glamour points for carrying it in your beach bag.

The Girls: A Novel, Emma Cline (June 14)

Cline’s debut sold for millions of dollars, so be careful not to drop it in the sand when you’re walking along the shoreline. Nor should you drop it when find out it’s about girlhood, obsession, and Manson-style cult in 1960s Northern California.

Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck, Peter Manseau (March 29)

One terrible, depressing story follows another in Melancholy Accidents, a chronological series of American newspaper clippings that tell of killing and injury from accidental gun violence throughout our history. All this death could be trashy if it wasn’t so sad.

Of Julia and Men, Peggy Hinaekian (November 18, 2015)

I learned of Of Julia and Men this morning by way of an email with the subject line “Naughty grandmother of 80 writes erotic novel.” Decide for yourself! [Where is our copy of this? – Octogenarian Erotica Ed.]

War Porn, Roy Scranton (August 2)

This is not a trashy book, really, but fellow tanners might believe you’re actually surveying a collection of war porn, one fronted by an image of a corncob-missile phallus. And what would they think of you then? Meanwhile, you’re trying to enjoy a novel praised by E.L. Doctorow, who was a model of integrity.