Summer leisure. The only thing more pressing than which hat you’ll pack (choose the Panama) is what book to pick up. From ageless to hot-off-the press, cerebral to escapist, we’ve got you covered on reads to bring along on your next vacation.

Now, to decide which SPF to bring along …


Goodnight June, by Sarah Jio. When June Anderson settles her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and children’s bookstore, she discovers letters between her great-aunt and Goodnight Moon author Margaret Wise Brown and learns the origins of the beloved children’s classic.

Don’t Look Now, by Daphne Du Maurier. You likely have read Rebecca, but have you read Du Maurier’s creepy short stories, like the story-cum-Hitchcock “The Birds?” Every tale is deliciously odd.

Negative Blue, by Charles Wright. If the fact that Wright has won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer, and was recently appointed Poet Laureate doesn’t sell you on this later collection, lines like these might: “Into the world tumult,/ into the chaos of every day,/ Go quietly, quietly.”

Picasso: Creator and Destroyer, by Arianna Huffington. Years before the launch of leftist news conglomerate Huffpo, Huffington penned this fluid and full portrait of an artist. Reading her language is just as riveting as learning about Pablo.

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett. So what if the main character is a ten-year-old, and that you first read it when you were ten? Witnessing the garden and its caretakers awakening and blooming is never less than magic.

A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway. The young expat version of the writer offers artistic energy and insight into the beauty of living and creating art in Paris. It will leave you hungry for life and possibly a croissant.

Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy. In 1948, Ogilvy founded (with a staff of two) one of the largest advertising networks in the world. This book talks about his basic principles and processes and is full of Don Draper-esque attitude. For those longing for more Mad Men, this guy was the real deal.

Essays of E. B. White, by E.B. White. This Charlotte’s Web author began his career as a New Yorker contributor in 1925 and wrote innumerable pieces about city life and quotidiana on his nearby country farm (where, yes, there were pigs).

Don’t Kiss Me: Stories, by Lindsay Hunter. From nomadic misfits to Richard Nixon, Hunter portrays with ferocious honesty and empathy the organic, unprocessed scope of being human.

Gift From The Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Written in 1955 after solitary time on the coast, Lindbergh (wife of famous pilot Charles) wrote these lyrical essays on the balance of wifehood, motherhood, and the inner life as an artist. Her feminist quandaries are still relevant and beautiful today.

Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King. It’s a high-velocity race as three surprising heroes try to stop a killer from blowing a lot up. It’s likely to have you looking over your shoulder. Hey, it’s King.

Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. This classic goodie pokes fun at about every element of classic English literature.  This tongue-in-cheek tome might make you laugh out loud, and at least remember to not take stuff too seriously.

Artful, by Peter David. This is the book that you don’t ever mention at dinner parties, but enjoy thoroughly on that July beach vacation. This takes Oliver Twist’s friend the Artful Dodger and mixes him up with a treasonous plot and vampires.

The Collected Short Stories of Lydia Davis, by Lydia Davis. One of the most inventive and unique writers around, Davis offers a mammoth subterranean of ethos in eensy short stories. Some are even only a few lines short, with long after-effects.

The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields. This 1995 Pulitzer-winner tells the fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Flett. Full of voice and variety (at one point, we simply get a list of Daisy’s wedding trousseau), this haunting tale takes us through this heroine’s life – and death.

What are your favorite vacation reads?

Image via Jadyn Noelle 


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