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8 smoking hot books to read on the beach this summer

John Searles, bestselling author of 'Help For The Haunted' and book critic, stopped by TODAY Saturday to offer his top picks for summer read
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

John Searles, bestselling author of "Help For The Haunted" and book critic, stopped by TODAY Saturday to offer his top picks for summer reading.

With so many titles out there, how do you know which ones to pick for the perfect summer read?

Well, it just so happens that I’ve scoured the shelves and sampled hundreds of books out this summer to come up with this list that offers a little something for everyone. From dark, twisted tales to more lighthearted literary fare, I hope you find the book that’s right for you!

1. "Luckiest Girl Alive" by Jessica Knoll

Simon & Schuster

Lately, it seems every book is compared to "Gone Girl," but I believe this one is a serious contender. It’s a gripping story about a young woman who seems to have it all: She's an editor at a big women's magazine in Manhattan and she's got a handsome fiance’. But in the months leading up to her wedding, she learns that a documentary is being made that will force her to confront some very dark and shocking secrets from her past. Reese Witherspoon optioned the book for film. Also, by the way, it was written by my former assistant, and anyone who can survive a few years being my assistant deserves success!

2. "The Martian" by Andrew Weir

Crown Publishing

Ever wonder what it would be like to be an astronaut stranded on Mars? Well, this writer did and the result is a completely riveting read that’s about to become a huge movie starring Matt Damon. If you’re one of those people like me who loves to read a book before the movie comes out, now is your chance!

3. "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel

Random House LLC

Even if you don’t usually go for post-apocalyptic fiction, this book is definitely worth reading. It tells the story of what happens if a flu epidemic wiped out civilization, as we know it. Crafted with such fully realized characters and careful language, this book is every bit as poetic and touching as it is captivating. Fans of Cormac McCarthy’s "The Road" will really love it too.

4/5. "Summer Secrets" by Jane Green and "The Rumor" by Ellen Hilderbrand

St. Martin's Press

Green and Hildrebrand are this summer’s reigning queens of the chick lit genre. In "Summer Secrets," we meet a woman in her 30’s who’s a recovering alcoholic and facing down some demons from her past. And in "The Rumor," we meet two women on Nantucket whose lives are wrecked one summer by, not just one, but several scandalous rumors.

Little, Brown and Compan

6. "Dangerous When Wet" by Jaime Brickhouse

St. Martin's Press

A hilarious and ultimately heartwarming memoir in the spirit of Augusten Burroughs’ bestseller Running With Scissors. It tells the story of a rather outlandish gay man from Texas and his somewhat codependent relationship with his larger than life Texas mom. She’s got big hair and a big personality. A very funny read!

7. "Providence Noir" edited by Ann Hood

Akashic Books

Akashic Books is an independent publisher that’s made a name putting out collections of noir stories set all over the world, edited by some of the biggest names in fiction, from Dennis Lehane to Joyce Carol Oates, and more. This stellar collection is edited by the award-winning and beloved writer, Ann Hood. It features stories all set in the capitol of our country's tiniest state, Rhode Island, and includes one by Pulitzer-prize winning author, Elizabeth Strout, and another by Peter Farrelly of the Farrelly Brothers movies, and more. It’s also got a twisted story by yours truly called “The Pig” about a man who keeps his wife's ashes in a cookie jar shaped like a pig. How’s that for dark?

8. "Which Pet Do I Get?" by Dr. Seuss

Maybe you have a short attention span or don’t feel like doing any deep reading after one too many margaritas on the beach? Or maybe you just have a toddler in your like who needs something to do. Either way, this new book by Dr. Seuss is interesting since it was discovered recently in the author’s files years after his death. And now Random House is publishing it. It has all the great drawings and fun rhymes and word-play people expect from this beloved author."