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Video: The best summer beach books

TODAY
updated 6/20/2008 2:06:50 PM ET 2008-06-20T18:06:50

Are you looking to get your hands on one of this summer's hottest new books? With so many to choose from, it's tough to know where to start looking. Thankfully, help has arrived in the form of John Searles, book editor for Cosmopolitan magazine and author of "Strange But True." Searles shares his list of the season's sizzling reads.

"Dear American Airlines"
Most people who travel find themselves trapped in airport hell at some point. That’s the case with the main character in Jonathan Miles' hilarious novel. On the way to his daughter’s wedding, Benjamin Ford is stranded for an eternity at O’Hare. As he waits, he begins to write a scathing letter to American Airlines. The letter ends up turning into a funny and mesmerizing novel that tells the story of his life.

"The Writing Class"
This book appealed to me since, as a novelist, I’ve taken and taught my share of writing classes in my day. Jincy Willet has a kooky and charming style of storytelling. She throws in all kinds of crazy details, which bring the pages to life. In this book, she spins the tale of a writing teacher who presides over a class full of oddballs. When one of her students turns up dead, she sets out to solve the mystery. Anyone who’s ever wanted to write or taken a creative writing course will get a kick out of this book.

"All We Ever Wanted Was Everything"
This is a smart, darkly comic beach book written by Janelle Brown. It opens with a woman who is going about her morning and happily listening to the television news as her husband’s pharmaceutical company goes public. She is mentally racking up all the dollars and planning how nice it will be when he has to work less. But wait: she quickly finds out that her husband is leaving her for his tennis partner! That’s when her world is turned upside down. 

"An Absolute Scandal"
For anyone who wants a juicy summer read full of scandal, this is your book. It’s about a few wealthy families who are all drawn together during a financial downturn. Suddenly, these people who’ve always had everything don’t. Penny Vincenzi's booka perfect page-turner for the beach.

"The Beach House" 
Jane Green's breezy novel is about an elderly women who rents out some of the rooms in her Nantucket home one summer to make some extra money. A cast of characters fills her life and an unexpected visitor as well; this is good summer fun.

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"
This is a great selection for a book club.Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows'novel is about a book club formed as an alibi during World War II in order to protect its members from arrest by German soldiers. Two things fascinated me about this book: First, it’s written by a woman and her niece. Second, the book is told through a series of letters. It comes out in a few more weeks, but people can order it online, or of course, at their local bookstores.

"Careless in Red"
What’s remarkable about Elizabeth George is that she’s an American who writes the most authentic British mysteries. Fans have been eagerly awaiting this latest installment in her Inspector Lynley series. This time out, the inspector steps down from Scotland Yards after the murder of his wife. But he can’t stay away from crime-solving for long. He soon stumbles upon the body of a young man. This is a riveting read for mystery lovers.

"When You Are Engulfed in Flames"
In a note at the beginning of the book,David Sedaris labels these as “realish” essays inspired by his life. Anyone who knows Sedaris’ writing loves him for his crazy tales. This book is chock full of them. My favorite tale is the one about his weird neighbor from years ago. There’s another about him accidentally coughing a throat lozenge out of his mouth and onto the lap of a rude woman who is asleep beside him on an airplane ride.

"Summer of Naked Swim Parties"
This book wins the prize for the best title of the list. It’s by a first time author, Jessica Anya Blau. With the show ,"Swingtown" coming out this summer, there’s been lots of talk about the 1970s. The title of this book says it all!

"Loving Frank"
If you missed this one in hardcover, be sure not to miss it in paperback. Nancy Horan's novel is based on the true story of the love affair between Frank Lloyd Wright's and a woman named Mamah Cheney; both of them left their family to be together, creating a Chicago scandal that eventually ended in violence.

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