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The books of summer: 10 sizzling beach reads

 / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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You may have the sunscreen, bathing suit and towel packed and ready to go, but a trip to the beach isn't complete without the perfect book!  Cosmopolitan's John Searles, author of “Strange But True” and “Boy Still Missing,” recommends these ten books:

A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini

Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner, spent more than 105 weeks on the Times list and has editions published in thirty-four countries to date.  In his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, he takes us back to Afghanistan as he entwines the lives of his characters with the devastating events from the 1970's to the present.  His characters guide us through the communist revolution, the Soviet occupation, the civil war under the mujahideen, the terrifying reign of the Taliban, the American invasion after 9/11, and the reconstruction since that time.  It is a story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship and an indestructible love.

The Last Summer (of You and Me)
by Ann Brashares

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants author delivers her first novel for adults in this summer read.  It is the story of a beach-community friendship triangle among three young adults.  Brashares takes us the town of Waterby, on Fire Island, and reminds us of the complexities that can arise when female friendship and young love all strike the same small group.  Her plot twists carry us through the sting of friendship, the great ache of loss, and the complicated weight of family loyalty.

Drop Dead Beautiful
by Jackie Collins

This is the 25th novel for bestselling author Jackie Collins.  All 24 of her previous books have been New York Times bestsellers and many have been the basis for film or television miniseries.  Collins is known for giving her readers an unrivaled insiders knowledge of the glamorous lives and loves of the rich and famous.  In her newest novel, out June 26th, she re-introduces her readers to Lucky Santangelo, last seen in 1999's Dangerous Kiss.  Lucky is proof that it's not always easy being rich, gorgeous, successful and a happily married mom, but Mafia princess turned Hollywood producer and real estate mogul again proves she is up to the challenge.

I Love You, Beth Cooper
by Larry Doyle

From the pen of a former Emmy award-winning writer and supervising producer of the "The Simpsons", this book is an account of the 17 hours that take place after Denis Cooverman stands up to give his graduation speech, but instead uses the opportunity to announce his love for Beth Cooper.  Beth, the head cheerleader, has only the vaguest idea who Denis is, but this homage to and deconstruction of classic teen movies reminds us all that we all once knew or were a "Beth" and a "Denis".

A Good and Happy Child
by Justin Evans

Fitted somewhere between horror and psychological drama, Evans' first novel explores the notions of demons - how real they are and how real we are able to make them.  The novel opens in a New York therapist's office, where thirty-year-old George Davies is seeking help for a unique problem: He can't bring himself to hold his newborn son.  Desperate to save his dwindling marriage and redeem himself as a father and a husband, George begins to delve into his childhood memories.  From there readers become immersed in a world of demonology and subsequently themes of religion, psychology, and medieval history.

Promise Not to Tell
by Jennifer McMahon

Set in rural Vermont, Promise Not to Tell is Jennifer McMahon's chilling debut novel about a woman whose past and present collide when she returns to her small hometown to care for her aging mother on the same night a young girl is killed.  The crime mirrors the murder of her childhood best friend who had been murdered in the Vermont woods thirty years earlier.  The similarities of the crimes draw the stories protagonist, Kate, into the new investigation as she begins to realize old friends were never quite what they seemed, and the ghosts of her childhood are far from forgotten.

The Accidental
by Ali Smith

Smith's last book, Hotel World, was the winner of the Whitbread Award for Best Novel and a Man Booker Prize Finalist.  In her latest novel, Smith introduces her readers to Heather O'Neill, who plays Amber, a mysterious stranger who wangles her way into the lives of a vacationing English family spending the summer in a remote cottage.  Her "accidental" encounter transforms the lives of four variously unhappy people.  However, after a disturbing event, Amber is compelled to leave. The family is left to re-evaluate who they are post-Amber and to decide how to live with the changes she has brought about in them.

Damage Control: Women on the Therapists, Beauticians and Trainers who Navigate Their Bodies
Various Authors Edited by: Emma Forrest

Traditionally, women share their secrets with their hairdressers. But what about their manicurists, masseurs, chi gong teachers, and tattoo artists? In Damage Control, women wax poetic about the experts and gurus who help them love themselves, sharing stories of everything from friendships born in the make-up chair to the utter dismay of a truly horrible haircut.  In this book Minnie Driver finally meets a Frenchman who understands her hair . . . and tries to teach her not to hate it, Marian Keyes remembers the blow-dry that pushed her over the edge, Francesca Lia Block tells the ugly story of the plastic surgeon who promised to make her beautiful, and Rose McGowan explains why it's harder to be depressed when you're glamorous . . . and shows how it takes a village to transform from mere mortal to movie star.

Poolside
by Various Authors

A waterproof collection of fourteen stories about the satisfactions (and tribulations) of learning to swim, making huge splashes, and just floating, among other aquatic pursuits.  The book includes stories from bestselling and highly regarded authors including: John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, A.M. Holmes, Amy Bloom and David Foster Wallace.  You can read it by the pool, in the pool, or even in the bathtub.

On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan

McEwan is the author of two collections of stories and ten previous novels, including Enduring Love, Atonement, Saturday and Amsterdam, for which he won the Booker Prize for in 1998.  His newest book is set in July of 1962.  Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence's response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence's anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite.  On Chesil Beach is a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

For more tips and information, visit Cosmopolitan online.

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