Summer isn’t publishing’s busiest season, but the big books that come out in June and July and August get the benefit of a major shelf-to-beach-towel popular push. And then there are the other four tried-and-true types of summer reading recommendations: the difficult books, which require stretches of undistracted time; the year’s popular books that everyone’s been meaning to get to; the doorstoppers; and the lightweight fun books suitable for packing on vacation (an easy mnemonic here would be Meaty, Beaty, Big, and Bouncy, but don’t quote me on that).
But there are also the off-the-beaten track books that might otherwise fall through the cracks of that wide-planked vacation house sun porch—or, for the rest of us not so blessed, that we just might miss if someone didn’t point us in the right direction. To start with, the Open Letters Monthly editors chimed in earlier this month with their favorite hot-weather reads, all of which are guaranteed to make you break a sweat.
And now Flavorwire has put up a tasty list under the umbrella of The Best Indie Literature of 2014 So Far—maybe not explicitly a beach umbrella, but they’re all good candidates. (OLM reviewed Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd in June, if you want a closer look.)
Entropy, on the other hand, doesn’t mince words, and its Ultimate Summer Reading List cuts a wide swath. From the ubiquitous Karl Ove Knausgaard to Muriel Spark to Sawako Nakayasu’s The Ants—perfect for your August office picnic, am I right?—there’s a little summer fun for everyone.
And if you’ve been meaning to expand your horizons without leaving dry land, try out some works in translation from Graywolf Press. They’re having a 30% off Summer Reading Sale through August, good titles all. Look, if you want to read Hillary Clinton’s book you can borrow it from the person the next towel over—and really, I do, but I’m happy to let someone else haul it around in their tote bag. I’m in the mood for something a little different this summer. I might not be taking the most spectacular vacations this year, but my reading is sure to shine and sparkle in the sun—or crinkle crisply in the air conditioning, take your pick.