Required Reading: The Girls of Summer

Even the most literate girls know that summer vacation is not the time to attempt Finnegan’s Wake. Rather, it’s the perfect excuse to bury one’s self in a steamy beach read. Here are some of this summer’s most delightful releases, hand-picked for any smart girl’s beach bag. Add sunscreen, sunshine, and an umbrella-garnished cocktail and enjoy!

For the girl whose best friends are diamonds: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
Sullivan, whose Commencement was lauded as chick lit for the intellectual woman, leaves no stone (get it?) unturned in her novel that centers on the joy and heartbreak of diamond engagement rings–gay marriage, money troubles, blood diamonds, adultery, and the touching life story of the bachelorette ad exec who coined the phrase “A Diamond is Forever.” Another brainy book that’s as eminently readable as it is insightful.

For the bride-to-be: Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
A blushing bride has the Nantucket wedding of her dreams–as planned by her late mother, who left behind a notebook detailing all her hopes for her daughter’s nuptials. But Mommy didn’t plan for a gauche guest, a father still in mourning, and the maid-of-honor’s impossible romance. This is as steamy as New England gets.

For the foodie: Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
Fired from a good gig in New York for refusing a customer’s request for ketchup, chef Queen Elizabeth returns to the Texas town where her mother’s low morals and murder made her family outcasts, takes a job cooking last meals for death row inmates and reunites with the sweetheart she left behind. A delicious home-cooked treat from a former Pop-Up Video writer.

For the hipster fashionista: Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann
Amanda, a vintage clothing boutique owner struggling to make it in Manhattan, stumbles upon the 1907 diary of Olive, a sheltered but independent woman who dreams of working in a department store. Amanda begins to draw strength from Olive’s tale of ingenuity, passion, and fortitude, which helps her overcome her thoroughly modern struggles with a married boyfriend, financial instability, and insomnia. Read it for the lush descriptions of retro clothing.

For the woman scorned: Ladies’ Night by Mary Kay Andrews
Lifestyle blogger Grace is banished from her palatial home–and her website–after driving her cheating husband’s sports car into the pool, forcing her to live over her mother’s dive bar. Worse, she’s sent to a court-ordered therapy group for betrayed exes. Southern charmer Andrews serves up another quirky winner about women making the most of lousy situations.

For the girl who loves to ride: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
As the Great Depression sweeps the country into despair, strong-willed Thea is sent away from her family for her role in a mysterious tragedy. Accustomed to strong familial bonds, Thea struggles in her new setting: a hormone-infested equestrienne boarding school for Southern debs. As the mystery of her past comes to light, new passions develop in this sultry read that’s as much about sex as horses.

What will you be reading on the beach, by the pool, or anywhere at all this summer? Let us know in the comments!

You can contact Betsy, the author of this post, at


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