The 9 Buzziest Books to Read This Summer

Toss one in your beach bag, have all the ammo for your next cocktail-party chat.

From short stories you can pick up and put down again to breezy beach reads to impress-friends-over-fancy-cocktails fodder, here are some recs to help soak up the last weeks of summer.

1 'A Manual for Cleaning Women' by Lucia Berlin

A writer's writer whose posthumous, highly semi-autobiographical collection will catapult her into a household name. Women who behave badly oscillate beautifully between funny ha-ha and funny-sad in these perfectly clipped, nuanced stories.

$14, amazon.com

2 'Barbara the Slut and Other People' by Lauren Holmes

Author Lauren Holmes' characters are so recognizable, you'll forget it's fiction. What do they all have in common? Loneliness. In Holmes' words: "I wasn't really thinking about that as a theme while writing, but when I look back, all of the characters are in transition and in a sort of belated coming of age that I think we have in our society now. They're looking for people to connect with. Even when people were around them, they weren't really getting what they needed. Today, people are still figuring shit out in their 20s and 30s and 40s, making all sorts of life changes on their own."

$21, amazon.com

3 'Everybody Rise' by Stephanie Clifford

Gossip Girl fans, rejoice! Behold the literary version of a Jenny-esque narrated story, had she met Blair and Serena in her mid-20s. Cue lies, affairs, and mounting debt.

$14, amazon.com

4 'In a Dark, Dark Wood' by Ruth Ware

Take a childhood bestie's bachelorette party and throw in a glass house, an unhinged maid of honor, and a Ouija board. Just try to guess how sinister this plot can get (hint: VERY).

$15, amazon.com

5 'Lovers on All Saints' Day' by Juan Gabriel

The award-winning author's 2001 collection (published in English for the first time) is a poetic and heart-wrenching look at relationships from the POV of men who are, or are about to be, failing in some way. Affairs, grief, and other coping mechanisms abound.

$17, amazon.com

6 'The Ambassador's Wife' by Jennifer Steil

What at first seems like a dream life evolves into an intimate look at the strain a lifestyle of pre- tenses places on a person. Then, it unravels further into a worst-case scenario.

$14, amazon.com

7 'The Beautiful Bureaucrat' by Helen Phillips

The strangeness that shrouds Josephine's boring office job begins to penetrate her life. The good news: What becomes a nightmare for her is an adrenaline kick for readers.

$13, amazon.com

8 'The State We're In: Maine Stories' by Ann Beattie

These stories capture the crass (language, behavior) and less appealing elements of our everyday (online shopping, texting), and give voice to a teen in turmoil, bad parents, tête-à-têtes of all sorts, and so much more.

$13, amazon.com

9 'You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine' by Alexandra Kleeman

Don't be fooled by the sassy title—the cravings that lurk beneath the surface in this completely original debut will haunt what a body means to you indefinitely.

$13, amazon.com

This article appears in the August issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.

More from Marie Claire: