Life·7 min read

11 Buzzy Books For Your Imaginary Beach Bag

Jennifer Weiner's "Big Summer," Stephanie Danler's "Stray," and Emma Straub's "All Adults Here"
May 14, 2020

Right now, we’re craving the simple things: sun, a comfortable chair, and a good book. ‘A good hug’ left off list for obvious reasons. As we kick off a socially distanced summer, here are our favorite books for escaping reality and avoiding large groups of people.

For when you’re quarantining with your parents...

“All Adults Here” by Emma Straub

Straub—the owner of one of HQ’s favorite local bookstores, Books are Magic—understands community better than anyone. This book focuses on the OG community: a family. The matriarch, Astrid Strick, tries to wrangle the personalities of her adult children while grappling with a mistake she made in the past. Straub’s voice is funny and clear, and it'll have you yelling down the hall (or FaceTiming your fam) to say “hi, I appreciate you.”


For when you forgot to keep a social distancing journal...

“Stray” by Stephanie Danler

Stephanie Danler’s new book gives you a first-person fix. The “Sweetbitter” author’s memoir reads like a novel: lyric, engrossing, and page-turning. It’s about her parents’ substance abuse and finding forgiveness. But above all, it’s about how places—for her, Southern California—hold memories and truths that we can only see when we let ourselves live in them.


For when your friend who’s usually radio silent sends you five texts in a row...

“Big Summer” by Jennifer Weiner

What’s the catch here? HQ favorite author Jennifer Weiner takes a hard look at female friendships in this witty read. The story centers on Drue and Daphne, former best friends who haven’t spoken in six years. So when Drue asks Daphne to be her maid of honor, she thinks there might be something fishy going on. This one will have you on the edge of your couch watching the shifting dynamics of a fraught friendship.


For when you’re missing the office…

“The Herd” by Andrea Bartz

This one show's you the underbelly of co-working spaces. At The Herd, a women’s only NYC co-working space, ‘the future is female’ and the past is the patriarchy. But when the club’s glamorous founder disappears the night before a major company announcement, the headlines become even more intriguing than the taglines on the merch. A fast, fun thriller that’s very of-the-moment.


For when you’re looking for a “beach read”...

“Beach Read” by Emily Henry

You can judge this book by its cover. “Beach Read” is, yes, the perfect book to bring to the beach (or the slice of sunlight on your fire escape). It centers on a female romance writer and a male literary novelist who rent neighboring beach houses over the summer. When they’re both stuck with writer’s block, they decide to swap genres. Anddd the plot thickens.


For when extra free time makes you think of your alternate lives…

“Rodham” by Curtis Sittenfeld

You can live out an alternate political reality, too. In “Rodham,” Curtis Sittenfeld—author of “Prep,” “You Think It, I’ll Say It,” and more—imagines a world in which Hillary Clinton never married Bill. “Sliding Doors” gets the DC treatment and you get a look at how a personal choice could have forever altered the American political landscape. 


For when you need some inspo to get you through quarantine...

“Brave, Not Perfect” by Reshma Saujani

Challenge accepted. Saujani’s book stresses the importance of raising young girls to be (you guessed it) brave, not perfect. It’s part personal journey—charting her failed run for political office before becoming the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. And part manifesto for women and girls everywhere. The message? Take risks. Be bold. And the world will be better for it. Oh, and it’s available in paperback now. 


For when your attention span is shot…

“If It Bleeds” by Stephen King

The shorter the better. This collection is made up of four new novellas (aka very short novels), from the King of storytelling and suspense. If he can’t hold your attention, nothing will. Warning: like most of his stories, these are best read in the daytime or with a strong night light.


For when you’re feeling claustrophobic…

“Shiner” by Amy Jo Burns

Here’s a story to make your world feel bigger in comparison. This beautifully written novel centers on a 15-year-old girl, Wren, who lives in a remote West Virginia mountain cabin with her parents. Her dad is a cult-like preacher in their small community. When Wren realizes that there’s a larger world outside the life she’s always know, the tension between an imagined future and her claustrophobic present crackles on the page. 


For when you miss your friends…

“The Book of V” by Anna Solomon

Get to know some new, fictional friends. This book weaves together the lives of three very different women: a Brooklyn mom-slash-writer in 2016, a political wife in the ‘70s, and a woman living in ancient Persia. Their stories come together in an unexpected way that comments on the female experience through time. Perfect for a book club discussion, or just quarantine shower thoughts. No judgment if you’re no longer showering.


For when you need some excitement...

“Little Secrets” by Jennifer Hillier

Thriller alert. “Little Secrets” revolves around a golden couple, Marin and Derek, whose perfect life is shattered when their son is taken. A year later, the case goes cold and so does their marriage. But when Marin hires a P.I. to continue looking for her son, she finds out secrets about her husband that jolt her into action. Tightly plotted like a TV show, this is a book you can binge.


PS: These are editorially selected, but if you purchase it, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.

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