We’re all thinking it. Nowadays, things are pretty exhausting. Whether it’s turning on your television, scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, or even just catching up with friends, news headlines seem to dominate every conversation. Sometimes that even extends to our bookshelves. And, while it’s important to stay informed and read books that help us reflect on what’s happening in the world, sometimes you just need a little break. So, here is a list of smart and relevant must-reads that are party and policy free, with just the right amount of (good) drama.
A great read for any time of year, Jess Walter's bestselling novel is one of our favorites. It's centered around an almost-love affair in 1960s Italy on the set of the epic film Cleopatra, the implications of which surface in Hollywood almost 40 years later. It's a sweeping tale, moving between those locations and times (with some other stops in between), and introducing us to a wide range of unforgettable characters, from Richard Burton to a Cinque Terre innkeeper. If you find yourself needing an escape, BEAUTIFUL RUINS should be your next pick.
Hailed by critics, loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, and featuring what is arguably one of the most iconic covers of recent years, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline in 1962. Funny and romantic, the beauty and wisdom of Jess Walter’s writing in the last chapter alone will leave musical lines of prose engraved in your memory.
A great mother-daughter duo read with a Gilmore Girls and Lady Bird vibe, Kate Greathead's debut novel begins on the Upper East Side of the 1980s, where Laura, aimlessly drifting into her early thirties, has a brief affair with a stranger. That union results in Emma, a sweet and sassy child whose antics become the center of her mother and grandparents' world as they grow, change, and learn how to understand the choices they've made.
Though he may be more familiar to some on the big screen (The Social Network, Adventureland), Jesse Eisenberg is also a talented author and playwright. His short story collection, BREAM GIVES ME HICCUPS, moves hilariously from contemporary Los Angeles and college dorm rooms to ancient Pompeii and the World Wide Web, exploring the modern world in all of its absurdity. If the news has you needing a laugh, this one's for you.
Perfect for fans of MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE, Nova Jacobs's charming debut follows Hazel, a young bookstore owner who receives a letter from her adopted grandfather. The catch? He's dead. But, it seems the once-famous mathematician has one final equation to share with her—if only she can figure out where it's hidden. Told in clues, this novel is witty, fun, and has the perfect amount of suspense to keep you turning the pages.
Set in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s, ANOTHER SIDE OF PARADISE recounts the sweeping, epic, and dysfunctional long-term love affair of successful gossip columnist Sheilah Graham and Lost Generation icon F. Scott Fitzgerald. When the two meet, it's instant chemistry. But, as they deal with Sheilah's fame, Scott's drinking, and both of their secrets, things tragically unravel. If you loved THE PARIS WIFE, Z: A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD, and other books that put you inside the hearts and minds of famous figures, Sally Koslow's latest is a great addition to your to-read list.
With a line of bestselling cookbooks, a devoted architect husband, and countless fans, chef-turned-social-media star Sunshine Mackenzie has her dream life. She also has a big secret that, if revealed, could result in a catastrophic fall from grace. And, when it comes out, she's forced to move back home to the sister—and life—she's worked hard to escape. Laura Dave's novel is smart, fun, and a total page-turner that will keep you reading for an entire afternoon.
All 14-year-old Billy Marvin needs in life is his computer. That is, until he meets Mary Zelinksy. If your happy place is a rom-com or mixtape of your old-school favorites, THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS will fill your heart and soul to the brim.
If your favorite character is Steve HarringtonIf you liked the era cameos in the Duffer Brothers’ ode to the 80s (from D&D games to Steve Harrington’s hair) you’ll love the mentions of Commodore 64s, early Springsteen & Jolt cola in the love letter to the 80s which is THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS. It follows Billy Marvin and his friends as they hatch a madcap scheme which leads Billy to falsely befriend a loner girl who happens to be a computer whiz. But just as Steve seems like a jerk initially, his heartfelt feelings towards another bad-ass female character (Go Nancy!) mimics how Billy’s feelings also lead him down the right path.
Conspiracy and espionage are the cornerstones of any good thriller, but Chris Pavone takes a unique and exciting approach with THE ACCIDENT by placing his action not in the halls of Congress or our most influential institutions, but instead in the literary world. Make no mistake though: the stakes in this one are high. The novel follows a literary agent, an author, and the veteran CIA operative trying to stop the publication of a book that could have explosive consequences. If you're at the end of your politics sabbatical and need something to help you ease your way back in, this one is for you.