8 More Books to Pack in Your Beach Bag This Summer

Claire Handscombe

Heading to the beach this summer? Then you'll need a book or two. Preferably books that transport you beyond your beach chair and into another era entirely -- the glorious era of pre-Covid, and pre-2016.

After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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If you've loved Taylor Jenkins Reid's recent novels -- Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo -- you might want to dig into her back list. This one was her sophomore novel. It’s about a couple who, despite being young, have been together forever, and find their marriage fraying, so decide to take some time apart from each other, in order to hopefully save their relationship.

Astonish Me, by Maggie Shipstead

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This is a beautiful, lyrical exploration of the world of ballet against a Cold War backdrop, with plenty of heartbreaking emotion and unrequited love.

How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, by Lydia Netzer

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The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman

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Adelle Waldman does a fabulous if terrifying job of getting into the head of mildly insufferable young writerd as he navigates the world of dating without quite being sure if he wants to commit.

Love, Nina, by Nina Stibbe

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This is a lovely, fun read about a nanny in 1980s London. It made me chuckle and reminded me of how I used to speak back in the 90s. The family Nina Stibbe nannies for are friends with legendary playwright and actor Alan Bennett, so he and his wit are recurring characters. This is great – and it’s made up of letters, which means that it’s easy to pick up for a few minutes between laps of the pool or while you’re waiting those extra few minutes at the boarding gate.

The Price of Inheritance, by Karin Tanabe

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I loved Karin Tanabe’s first book, The List, so I was really excited about this one. It’s very different – though the author’s fabulously chucklesome sense of humour pervades this one too. Like The List, it has a mystery that the heroine is determined to unearth, but this one is about art theft. Yes, like The Goldfinch, only more fun – and with a very hunky bad boy.

Save The Date, by Jen Doll

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This one is a sassy collection of essays about the joys and tribulations of being a perennial wedding guest, full of very recognisable emotions and experiences

The Vacationers, by Emma Straub

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it’s been a few years since I read The Corrections, but this reminded me of Franzen’s exploration of family dynamics – in a good way.  A group of, well, vacationers spends two weeks in Mallorca, dealing with their various issues. There’s a marriage in trouble, a teenage girl desperate to lose her virginity, a couple waiting to hear if they’re getting a baby to adopt, and simmering tensions of all kinds between all of the characters. A very enjoyable read.

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Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

Washington, DC

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