The 10 best beach reads of all time
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Shore Things1 of 11
By Edan Lepucki
From Peyton Place to Beautiful Ruins, here are the ten best beach reads of all time.
Peyton Place2 of 11
This 1950s bestseller was adapted into a successful film and, later, a popular television series, the first prime-time soap opera à la Melrose Place and Grey's Anatomy. Tackling such topics as premarital sex, abortion, incest, and the lust of teenage girls, the novel stirred up plenty of controversy during the buttoned-up '50s.
DOWNLOAD NOW: Peyton Place, $10
Chocolates for Breakfast3 of 11
First published in 1956 by then 18-year-old author Pamela Moore, this coming-of-age tale is about growing up too fast, about boarding school friendships and love affairs with older guys. In a new foreword, Emma Straub writes that Moore's "scenes of prep-school boys and grand, empty apartments are precursors to Gossip Girl, complete with morning martinis and endless cigarettes."
DOWNLOAD NOW: Chocolates for Breakfast, $10
Valley of the Dolls4 of 11
Perhaps the best trashy read of its generation, The Valley of the Dolls follows three friends—Anne, Neely, and Jennifer—over the course of 20 years. These chicks pop pills ("dolls" are slang for downers), steal boyfriends and throw tantrums that make the women of The Real Housewives look tame. Trust us, it's addictive.
DOWNLOAD NOW: The Valley of the Dolls, $10
Beautiful Ruins5 of 11
Jess Walter's novel was both a big bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book of 2012. You'll delight in the novel's myriad set-pieces, be it a tiny fishing village in 1960s Italy, or the set of Cleopatra, or the offices of modern-day Hollywood. This is a novel about big dreams and secret loves, and there's an exuberance and heart to it that never feels sentimental. Read it, love it, and get ready for the film adaptation by Todd Field, who's known for directing Little Children and In the Bedroom.
DOWNLOAD NOW: Beautiful Ruins, $9
Outlander6 of 11
It's 1945 and war nurse Claire Randall is on her honeymoon in Scotland when she comes upon a ring of stones that transport her to 1743. The country is being torn apart by war and raiding clans, and Claire ends up falling in love with outlaw rebel James Fraser. This is a sexy time travel novel with a spunky, willful heroine and lots of rich history to devour. Thankfully there are six other juicy books in the series.
DOWNLOAD NOW: Outlander, $9
Crazy Rich Asians7 of 11
A Chinese comedy of manners, this debut from Kevin Kawn is a Danielle Steele novel with an international edge. When ABC (American-Born Chinese) Rachel Chu visits boyfriend Nicholas Young in China for the summer, she has no idea what kind of wealth, gossip and judgment await her. Join her as she negotiates the soap-operatic lives of Singapore's super-rich, who live in absurdly opulent mansions and travel by private planes (some are even equipped with yoga studios).
DOWNLOAD NOW: Crazy Rich Asians, $13
Clan of the Cave Bear8 of 11
Jean M. Auel's famous saga of Cro-Magnon Ayla living among a tribe of Neanderthals is riveting prehistory, with intriguing archaeological details and caveman sex on almost every page. These Neanderthals can't speak or cry, and they use sign language to communicate. Ayla's skills, as well as her willfulness, set her apart from the clan, even as she struggles to fit in. Once you've finished this addictive epic, move on to the five other books in the Earth's children series.
DOWNLOAD NOW: Clan of the Cave Bear, $9
State of Wonder9 of 11
Ann Patchett's most recent novel is both literary and readable: You'll admire the writing and consider each character even as you rush to discover its dramatic climax. In a quest that echoes The Heart of Darkness, Dr. Marina Singh must venture into the Amazon to find information about a colleague's disappearance and death. Once there, she faces off with Dr. Annick Swenson, a magnetic and forceful genius who is on the verge of a medical miracle. Smart and fun, this book will sweep you away.
DOWNLOAD NOW: State of Wonder, $9
Salem's Lot10 of 11
Before Stephenie Meyer's lovesick vampires sucked the menace out of the genre, there was Stephen King's contemporary classic about a small town in Maine and the terrifying vampires who haunt it. (Sorry, no Edward Cullen here.) Salem's Lot is an ominous story with relatable characters that will draw you in and keep you reading long after the sun has set.
DOWNLOAD NOW: Salem's Lot, $8
The Age of Innocence11 of 11
Edith Wharton won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for her salacious and elegantly written novel about love and betrayal in late nineteenth century New York. Newland Archer is about to be married to the lovely and sheltered May Welland, but when May's worldly and—gasp!—divorced cousin Countess Olenska returns from Europe to rejoin Manhattan's high society, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Enjoy Wharton's entertaining and thoughtful descriptions of clothing, ballrooms, and one man's undeniable romantic longing.
DOWNLOAD NOW: The Age of Innocence, free