By Clare Fuller
Traditionally, the sort of book that one curls up on a summer day, basking in the warmth of noon sunshine and sinking toes into the sand, are light bubblegum reads. When summertime hits, bestseller lists start to favor flimsy mystery novels or thinly veiled erotica (hello, Fifty Shades of Grey) thanks to legions of readers who want to give their brains a rest as they dip away from reality. Not to say that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that; books are, after all, primarily entertainment, and what’s the harm in reaching for the literary equivalent of a summer blockbuster every now and then?
Still, the stigma of beach reads as substance-less fluff is in desperate need of redefining. Right now, the publishing world is brimming with works that are at once easy to digest, original, and, dare I say it, intellectually stimulating. Here are five of our new favorite reads, from all different genres, to curl up in the sunshine with.
1. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
The award-winning writer behind the U.S. version of The Office makes his authorial debut with this collection of comedic short stories. The voice behind the popular TV show’s absurdly funny characters is this front and center in One More Thing, but so is a sense of melancholy, realism, and existential dread, making this work both a mature departure from Novak’s Hollywood past and a hugely entertaining read.
2. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
This latest bestseller from celebrated author Malcolm Gladwell takes a look into how society perceives conflicts between underdogs and titans–the classic battle of Biblical figures David and Goliath. Here, Gladwell looks into modern evolutions of the same struggle: how it feels to be racially discriminated against, attend a mediocre school, or cope with a disability. The book’s topics, while sometimes dark and daunting, are easy to digest thanks to his approachable writing style, which is part of what’s made Gladwell such a literary superstar.
3. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Fans of The Shining, rejoice! In the long-awaited sequel to Stephen King’s 1977 bestseller, King picks up with the traumatized Danny Torrance after the harrowing events that took place at the Overlook Hotel, following him into adulthood and a new slew of supernatural evils. King’s engaging prose has only gotten stronger with time, and this latest edition to his daunting body of work will sate any horror fan’s appetite for new fiction.
4. If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: The Graduation Speeches by Kurt Vonnegut
Just in time for graduation season, this collection of grad speeches by the prolific Kurt Vonnegut blends inspiration with his trademark gallows humor, providing a new approach to a traditional form. Be prepared to wince and laugh equally as you leaf through Vonnegut’s advice for college grads preparing to launch themselves into the throes of adulthood.
5. Hard Choices by Hilary Rodham Clinton (Jun. 10, 2014)
Regardless of your political affiliation, it’s impossible to deny that Hilary Clinton is one of the strongest female voices in the game right now. And with buzz of her potential running for 2016 election running rampant in the media, it’s important that we tune into what the former Secretary of State has to say about American society, politics, and herself.