If you find yourself packing for points more temperate, and find yourself—as I invariably do—looking for that perfect read, I have a few suggestions.

The beach read is a difficult choice: a somewhat unattainable hybrid of respectable novel and fun—maybe even slightly naughty—holiday brain candy. I mean, let’s face it, the erotica must remain tucked in-between the mattress and the box spring; and the Proust must be prominently displayed in the living room, leaving visitors oblivious to the fact that when they leave, the book will return to its actual purpose of propping up the coffee table’s wobbly leg.

The Da Vinci Code set the standard; and now, it seems all we weary travelers can do is try to slide the Jane Austin book jacket over the Hunger Games sequel. Hope has arrived. Here are some respectable and thoroughly entertaining suggestions for the plane, the porch or the sand.




Dan Brown

After a hiatus that seemed like an eternity, the Angels and Demons author is back, and so is symbologist Robert Langdon. In this installment, the professor is called upon to unravel a mystery involving a 14th-century Italian art work.

A Delicate Truth

John le Carré

It’s espionage gone wild in le Carré’s 23rd spy novel. Here, jihadists are plotting, defense contractors are suspect, and the CIA is frantic to keep the world safe. It’s all in a day’s work.

Red Moon

Benjamin Percy

I know very little about this novel except that critics are raving. Descriptives such as ‘dystopian Orwellian exploration’ make me want to run out and buy it.


Steven King

This beach-quality summer thriller is set in a North Carolina amusement park in 1973. A tortured ‘carny’ struggles to come to terms with and solve the mystery of recent tragedies.



Leading Man

Benjamin Svetkey

This novel by the long-time Entertainment Weekly writer plumbs the depths of celebrity culture, while telling the heartbreaking tale of a small-town guy who loses his love to a movie star.

Bad Monkey

Carl Hiaasen

The leading (or only) author of South Florida, Hiaasen’s detective-mystery comedy is back. Here, he takes his familiar recipe, adds a touch of voodoo, some grisly flourishes and a sprinkle of comic pulp to create the quintessential beach read.

Big Girl Panties

Stephanie Evanovich

I want to suggest this novel with a caveat: It may be naughtier than its description. Couple that with that fact that I loathe the word panties, this recommendation may backfire. Here a woman, trying to recover from the death of her husband, strikes up a ‘friendship’ with her personal trainer.

The American Heiress

Daisy Goodwin

This one is not hot off the presses, but I have to recommend it. In this compelling novel, a young American heiress follows the trend among the late-19th-century rich and lands herself an impoverished English duke. She gets a title and he gets his family estate refurbished—quite the unlikely backdrop for a romance.

More Arts & Entertainment articles.