If you're truly going to go OOO for a beach vacation, the most surefire way to make sure you're actually decompressing is putting down your smartphone (bye email alerts) to get lost in a good read. Below, our recommendations for the best books worth reading front to back, getting dog-eared, then re-reading at the beach this summer—from bite-sized comedic essays to captivating memoirs.
You've probably heard of the infamous New York Times article by now that provided "36 Questions" as a blueprint for falling in love. This collection of essays from the same writer Mandy Len Catron beautifully dissects all things love, from breakups to love myths, weaving in her own experiences with scientific studies on love and relationships.
Even if you haven't gotten a chance to read Durga Chew-Bose's incredible debut collection of essays Too Much and Not the Mood, you may have seen its paint swatch cover on your friends' Instagram feeds: It's easily one of the "It books" of the year and one you'll keep coming back to. The young Montreal-based writer approaches the relationship between identity and culture with vivid detail and clarity, blending criticism with personal anecdotes.
Former Lucky beauty editor and xoJane writer Cat Marnell's chaotic memoir about drug addiction, bingeing, and partying while juggling the duties of a magazine job is a train wreck of a story, one that makes this book impossible to put down. It's at times disturbing, and often hilarious, playing out like a reality show take on the publishing world.
This one's a quintessential summer read: It's based in the Gulf of Mexico so even if you're only sunning at your local beach, you can still daydream of palm trees and pristine waters. The Shark Club is an unusual love story that begins with a shark bite, one that inspires the protagonist's (a marine biologist named Maeve) enduring fascination with sharks and the ocean.
A hilarious series of essays from comedian/blogger Samantha Irby that will have everyone around you asking why you're chortling to yourself underneath your sun hat. Everything is fair game in her story-telling cache, from awkward hookups to a demonic cat.
Nothing about this memoir by poet Patricia Lockwood—who's most famous for her viral poem "Rape Joke"—is ordinary. In it, she describes returning to her childhood home with her husband to live in her father's rectory (did we mention he's a married priest?). What follows is a dark, profane, wickedly funny tale of growing up Catholic in unusual circumstances and reconciling with a very eccentric family, all filtered through Lockwood's distinctly witty voice.
This collection of essays by Buzzfeed writer Scaachi Koul is the perfect cathartic read to make you feel better about Trump's America...well, kind of. Born to Indian immigrants and raised in Canada, Koul's razor-sharp observations on growing up as a second-generation immigrant, gender dynamics, and casual racism articulates so many anxieties of the millennial POC. It's hilarious and definitely takes the sting out of a long flight.
If you're looking for a light and quick summer read that doesn't take itself too seriously, this is it. The Devil Wears Prada author shifts her tale of an underdog taking the fast lane to the top from fashion to the world of professional tennis. A 25-year-old tennis player recruits an abusive, but results-oriented coach to accelerate her career, which becomes her entrée into a glamorous world of parties and famous people. It all makes the pro tennis world sound a lot more salacious (and it's newly available in paperback form).