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Arts + Culture

10 New Beach Reads for Every Type of Bibliophile

There’s no barometer when it comes to beach reads—one person’s go-to may be easy-to-follow YA titles while another’s could be hard-to-unscramble true-crime tales. Whatever your preference, we’ve got brand-spankin’-new options you’ll want to check out this August.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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1

Beautiful Bodies, Kimberly Rae

For: Memoir Devotees

At the ripe age of four, Sesame Street inspired Kimberly Rae Miller to go on her first diet. In the years following—working as a diet-pill model, fitness and lifestyle journalist, and celebrity bio editor—she tried everything to attain the unattainable: a “perfect” body. In her memoir Beautiful Bodies, Miller examines her relationship with her own body as well as those who’ve influenced social history (think: plump Paleolithic women and binge-drinker William the Conqueror); examines anthropological studies on age-old diets; and attempts to wrangle an objective definition for the “ideal body.”

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2

Sour Heart, Jenny Zhang

For: Short Story Bingers

In her ambitious debut short-story collection—the first from Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s Lenny imprint at Random House—Jenny Zhang weaves seven cross-continental coming-of-age stories. Through the loosely-connected narratives, readers follow the adolescent experiences of Chinese American girls as they deal with puberty, poverty, immigration, and more. FYI: If you were a fan of Junot Diaz’s Drown, you’ll have no problem devouring this.

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3

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land, Monica Hesse

For: True-Crime Enthusiasts

In mid-November 2012, the residents of rural Accomack County, Virginia, greeted each night with worried apprehension, waiting in suspense to see which buildings would burn down next. Vigilante groups, volunteer firefighters, and camouflaged local police had been patrolling the area to catch the repeat arsonist, but to no immediate avail. Finally, after five months of surveillance, struggling mechanic Charlie Smith is caught and charged with sixty-seven counts of arson. In American Fire, Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse delves into Smith’s case and motives on a micro and macro level, examining his troubled relationship with accomplice girlfriend Tonya Bundick, and the capsizing industries and limited employment options plaguing most of America's rural communities.

RELATED: The Best Bookstores in the U.S.

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4

Hello, Sunshine, Laura Dave

For: Chick Lit Lovers

Laura Dave, the author behind Chick Lit hit Eight Hundred Grapes, is back again with a new tale of explosive secrets, loves lost, and the inauthentic lives we curate via social media. In Hello, Sunshine, culinary celeb Sunshine Mackenzie seemingly has it all—a thriving YouTube channel with millions of followers, a slew of best-selling cookbooks, and a supportive husband—until she’s hacked and her world is torn apart. Left with nothing, Sunshine has no option but to return to her childhood home (estranged sister included) and pick up the pieces.

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5

The Seventh Function of Language, Laurent Binet

For: History Buffs

Full disclosure: The Seventh Function of Language isn’t a purely historical work, per se, but it does take a conspiracy-theory approach to investigating the real-life death of literary theorist Roland Barthes. While history books tell us Barthes was hit by a Parisian laundry van in 1980 and succumbed to his injuries after a month in the hospital, Binet asks what if it wasn’t an accident, but an assassination? Blending fact and (high-brow) fiction—and making no attempt to distinguish the two—the book focuses in on Police Captain Jacques Bayard as he delves into the case and uncovers a web of worldwide political collusion.

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6

What to Say Next, Julie Buxbaum

For: Adult YA Addicts

If you’ve already read the collected works of Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and Sarah Dessen, then it's time to add Julie Buxbaum (Tell Me Three Things) to your repertoire. Through two alternating character narratives, What to Say Next follows the unlikely friendship of Kit and David—one a popular girl grieving the recent death of her father, and the other an isolated boy with high-functioning autism. When Kit approaches David to help her uncover the events that led to her dad’s tragic car accident, he’s more than willing, but neither of them are prepared for what they’ll find or what they’ll learn about each other in the process.

RELATED: The Destination Where You Can Bed Down in a Bookshelf

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7

The Man of Legends, Kenneth Johnson

For: Fantasy Fanatics

Sci-Fi mastermind Kenneth Johnson (creator of The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk series) weaves a series of time-defying, inter-dimensional vignettes in his latest work—The Man of Legends. The genre-bending thriller combines the conventions of romance, epic, drama, and the supernatural to tell the story of Will, Jillian, and Hanna, three characters who—after unwittingly crossing paths—find themselves wrapped up in a centuries-old international conspiracy.

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8

The Goddesses, Swan Huntley

For: Psychological Thriller Fiends

A fresh start on Hawaii’s idyllic Big Island is exactly what Nancy needs after finding out her husband has cheated on her. Of course, hitting restart on a failing marriage and convincing your twin sons to quit acting out requires more than a few orange trees in your backyard and signing up for yoga classes. But, it is there that she meets Ana, a captivating instructor. As the two become fast friends, Nancy is increasingly absent at home, skipping dinners in lieu of hanging out with Ana, and soon, the magnetic qualities that drew them together turn manipulative. In The Goddesses, Swan Huntley makes it clear that even paradise has its flaws.

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9

What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories, Laura Shapiro

For: Non-Stop Scholars

In What She Ate, culinary historian Laura Shapiro tells the story of six famous women from the little-explored perspective of food. Amongst the group, there’s Eleanor Roosevelt, adored First Lady and fervent defender of one of the White House’s worst cooks; Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress; and Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan. In dissecting the women’s relationship with and attitude towards food, Shapiro shows how much what’s on our plate can say about us.

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10

The Science of Likability, Patrick King

For: Self-Help Junkies

Flip to the back cover of The Science of Likability and you’ll find this seemingly too-good-to-be-true synopsis: “100% scientific and proven ways to make friends quickly, turn enemies into friends, gain trust, and be flat-out likable.” But using 27 in-depth, peer-reviewed scientific and psychological studies (from Freud, Pavlov, Schachter, and more), author and social coach Patrick King presents readers with a set of actionable, easy-to-implement pointers. If you’re looking to up your water cooler game, communicate better with your significant other, or learn to shrug off judgment, you’ll find the skill set here.

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