You know what’s better then getting sunburned? Sitting in the shade and reading one of these:
1. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.
From the back cover: Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, Natalia, a young doctor, turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weekly trips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself.
Note: Thought it seems complex, this is a surprisingly accessible read. The winner of a ton of awards and the recipient of endless praise, crack it open and see what the fuss is all about.
2. City of Thieves by David Benioff.
From the back cover: During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.
Note: A page-turner in the true sense of the phrase, you could easily read it all in one sitting. Unforgettable characters plus an equally unforgettable plot equals the ultimate summer read.
3.Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike Birbiglia.
From the back cover: This is my first book. It’s difficult to describe. It’s a comedic memoir, but I’m only 32 years old so I’d hate for you to think I’m “wrapping it up,” so to speak. But I tell some personal stories. Some REALLY personal stories. Stories that I considered not publishing time and time again, especially when my father said, “Michael, you might want to stay away from the personal stuff.” Some of the stories are about my childhood, some are about girls I made out with when I was thirteen, some are about my parents, and some are, of course, about my bouts with sleepwalking. Bring this book to bed. And sleepwalk with me.
Note: For fans of comedy, this memoir is a must. A series of personal essays that hits you square on the bone, it’s light reading, but seriously funny.
4. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.
From the back cover: On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she’s privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father’s detachment, her mother’s transgression, her brother’s increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can’t discern.
Note: If you like both big imaginations and emotions then this is the book for you.
5. No one belongs here more than you by Miranda July.
From the back cover: Award-winning filmmaker and performing artist Miranda July brings her extraordinary talents to the page in a starting and tender collection. In these stories, July gives the most seemingly insignificant moments a sly potency. A benign encounter, a misunderstanding, a shy revelation can reconfigure the world. Her characters engage awkwardly—they are sometimes too remote, sometimes too intimate. With great compassion and generosity, July reveals their idiosyncrasies and the odd logic and longing that governs their lives.
Note: A collection of stories that will leave you feeling like you truly do belong. Besides, just look at that cover: a big ray of sunshine.