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Top 20 Books for Vacation

Top 20 Books for Vacation

As the weather warms, so do our spirits. Whether you’ve got a beach vacation coming up or just want to spend a sunny afternoon at the park, there’s no better time than now to replenish our vitamin D stores, and no better way to do it than with a book in hand. Below are twenty new and upcoming titles with consummate warm-weather vibes, perfect for the jet setters among us—as well as those of us for whom the term “beach read” is a bit more aspirational.


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1

A Novel Obsession by Caitlin Barach

It’s a classic story: boy meets girl, boy and girl make it official, girl becomes consumed by her obsession with boy’s ex-girlfriend. In Barach’s withering debut, protagonist Naomi takes it a step further. Not content with merely stalking Rosemary, her boyfriend’s ex, Naomi starts writing a novel about her—but when she decides to befriend Rosemary for “research,” her lies quickly spiral out of control.

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2

Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse

True crime fanatics will devour this memoir about Krouse’s time working a contract job for a private detective agency. When a young lawyer tasks her with investigating a sexual assault, the case takes over her life and balloons into a landmark legal battle.

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3

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Beatriz’s family lost everything in the Mexican War of Independence, so when wealthy and handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano asks for her hand, she doesn’t think twice about saying yes. But there’s something sinister lurking in her new husband’s countryside estate. Described as “Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca” (sign us up!), Cañas’ first novel is a tale of romance, dread, and supernatural menace.

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4

Just By Looking At Him by Ryan O’Connell

Behind the shiny veneer of his life as a TV writer in Los Angeles, Elliott is a mess: his alcoholism is spiraling out of control, he can’t stop cheating on his boyfriend, and living with cerebral palsy in an intensely ableist world is no picnic. But turning one’s life around is easier said than done. Fans of O’Connell’s Netflix series Special (R.I.P.) won’t be surprised to learn that his literary debut is just as deserving of the title as his onscreen work.

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5

Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen

Ava Wong is a successful lawyer with a picture-perfect family, but behind the scenes, her marriage—and life—are falling apart. Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s college roommate, with a proposition for Ava: help Winnie manage her wildly successful counterfeit luxury purse business. But when consequences loom, Winnie disappears, leaving Ava holding the bag.

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6

The Girls in Queens by Christine Kandic Torres

Ever since growing up together in Queens, childhood neighbors Brisma and Kelly have been best friends for life. When they reunite as adults with baseball phenom Brian, Brisma’s first love and the third member of their teenage trio, it seems like cause for celebration—until Brian is accused of sexual assault, and the girls each have to decide where they stand.

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7

The Last Resort: A Chronicle of Paradise, Profit, and Peril at the Beach by Sarah Stodola

What could possibly be a better beach read than an investigative deep dive into the dark underbelly of the beachside resort business? With expert precision, Stodola weaves together travel notes, climate journalism, and scathing critiques of capitalism into a work cultural history exploring why we all flock to the beach in the first place.

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8

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

The bestselling author of 2020’s Love in Color is back with her first original novel, a tooth-achingly sweet rom-com set on a college campus. Student radio host Kiki Banjo is her school’s resident relationship expert—so when she gets caught making out with the number-one campus player, Malakai Korede, the only way to salvage her reputation is to pretend she and Malakai are seriously dating. But their fake relationship soon gives rise to real feelings.

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9

A Hundred Other Girls by Iman Hariri-Kia

Take the job or leave it; a hundred other people would kill to take your place. It’s a common refrain in “glamorous” professions like TV production and book publishing, often used to bully low-level workers into accepting unlivable pay and degrading work environments. And it’s the situation Noora finds herself in when she gets hired as the assistant to Loretta James, editor-in-chief of Vinyl magazine. As her supposed dream job quickly proves to be a waking nightmare, Noora is forced to decide where she stands—and what she stands for.

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10

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

29-year-old Ingrid Yang is nearing the end of her PhD dissertation on the poet Xiao-Wen Chou when an unexpected discovery in her university’s archives upends her entire life. What follows is a rollicking, whip-smart ride through the hallowed halls of academia—an outrageously funny adventure that leads Ingrid to reexamine her relationship with the white institutions to which she’s dedicated her life.

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11

Birds of California by Katie Cotugno

After years of tabloid infamy and a very public breakdown, grown-up child star Fiona St. James finally has her life back on track. The last thing she needs is her former on-screen brother, Sam Fox, resurfacing in her life to propose a revival of their show, Birds of California. When Fiona reluctantly agrees to meet with Sam, both are surprised to feel a powerful spark between them—but will the truth behind Fiona’s breakdown derail their fledgling romance before it even gets off the ground?

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12

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley

Acclaimed essayist Crosley tackles mind control and self-made mystics in her new novel about a New Yorker at a crossroads in her life. Lola is newly engaged, but all of a sudden, she’s running into her exes everywhere she goes. Lola suspects the sudden onslaught may have something to do with her best friend, a former magazine editor turned self-styled spiritual guru. But what is her friend’s endgame? And how can Lola outrun the reach of this woman’s burgeoning cult?

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13

In Sensorium: Notes for My People by Tanaïs

Structured like the base, heart, and head notes of a perfume, Tanaïs’ deeply intimate new book is no ordinary memoir. Expertly weaving their own personal narrative together with an incisive cultural history of fragrance, the writer and perfumer’s genre-defying work offers a truly multi-sensory reading experience.

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In Yoruba, “wahala” means trouble—and that’s exactly what Londoners Ronke, Simi, and Boo get when they welcome a new girl into their friend group. Isobel is glamorous, mysterious, and charismatic, and at first she seems like the sort of uplifting presence all three women have been waiting for, inspiring each of the ladies to be their best selves. But the exhilaration of new friendship soon gives way to distrust, with potentially deadly consequences.

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15

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

After penning 2020’s can’t-miss thriller, The Guest List, Foley elevates her suspense game to dizzying new heights in her newest release. After losing her bartender job in Brighton, England, Jess doesn’t so much ask to crash at her older brother Ben’s Paris apartment as inform him when to expect her arrival. But when she arrives, Ben is nowhere to be found, and Jess begins to suspect that the other residents in the building know more about his disappearance than they’re letting on.

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16

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

When she was in her twenties, writer Chani Horowitz’s profile on movie star Gabe Parker put her on the map—in large part because readers everywhere were obsessed with finding out whether the two shared as much chemistry in real life as they did on the page. Ten years and a messy divorce later, Chani is back in L.A., trying to relaunch her career, when Gabe’s reps ask her to reunite with the actor for a second interview. Figuring she has nothing to lose, Chani says yes. After all, it’s not like old feelings between her and Gabe could possibly resurface… right?

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17

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Perfect son, star pupil, occasional artist—Harvard senior Will Chen is the ideal 22-year-old. But after accepting a shady job offer from a mysterious Chinese patron, Will finds himself adding another title to his list of identifiers: heist leader. The goal? Stealing five priceless sculptures originally looted from Beijing and returning them to their country of origin. Expertly balancing high-octane Ocean’s 11-style thrills with a lyrical meditation on the legacy of colonialism, Li’s debut novel offers us the fictional con artist we deserve in 2022.

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18

Florida Woman by Deb Rogers

Jamie is a Florida Woman: she has the beachgoing experience, the hurricane-survival expertise, and—now—the embarrassing viral arrest story to prove it. But little does she know that’s just the beginning. When Jamie takes a community service placement at a monkey sanctuary to avoid jail time, she gets drawn into the sinister web of the three women who run the animal shelter where she works.

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19

Who is Wellness For? by Fariha Roisin

Part memoir and part intricately researched exposé of the wellness industry, acclaimed writer Roisin’s vital new book dives headfirst into the wide world of 21st-century “self-care.” In particular, Roisin explores the watering-down and commodification of culturally specific practices for mass consumption. You’ll never look at turmeric the same way again.

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20

Six Days in Rome by Francesca Giacco

In this sensual novel of rage, heartbreak, and desire, a young artist named Emilia travels to Rome to reckon with the end of a relationship. When an encounter with an American expat sparks a new connection, Emilia begins to see herself in a new light—both as a woman and as an artist.

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