If you think nothing is more relaxing than curling up with a good book, we’ve got seven page-turning recommendations for best summer reads–sans anything in 50 shades of grey.
Had your fill of The Hunger Games? Turned off by Fifty Shades of Grey? Don’t worry—there are plenty of titles to add to your summer reading list if you don’t want to get swept up in the hype around these two best-selling trilogies.
Multiple magazines and publishers are weighing in on what should be in your beach bag or on your bookshelf this season. Here are seven can’t-miss page-turners and the publications that endorse them.
1. The Paris Wife: Lovers of literature will enjoy a peek at this fictional account of writer Ernest Hemingway’s first wife—the woman who loved him before he was famous—as she navigates Paris in the 1920s. Good Housekeeping touts this New York Times bestseller as a book “to curl up with.”
2. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen uses milestones in her life to examine what’s important to women at every age. Oprah labeled this as one of the best books coming out in June, while Good Housekeeping recommended it for readers seeking self-reflection.
3. The Cove: Hopeless romantics will get caught up in this unlikely love story between a young woman deemed a witch and a mysterious, mute stranger set deep in the mountains of Appalachia during World War I. Publisher’s Weekly branded it one of the best summer books of 2012.
4. The Beginner’s Goodbye: This inspiring tale traces a disabled man’s journey of finding love, unexpectedly losing it and moving on. As part of his family’s business, he begins writing beginner’s guides to life, and this can be viewed as his about how to let go. Another Publisher’s Weekly pick for one of summer’s best books of 2012.
5. Safe Haven: A beautiful stranger arrives in a small town, and trying to protect a secret from her past, keeps her distance from others. But as she struggles against letting down her guard, she can’t resist the friendship she finds in a neighbor or the love she finds in a widower. Real Simple tapped it as one of “21 Great Summer Books.”
6. Lady Blue Eyes: Fodor’s recommends this biography of Frank Sinatra’s fourth and final wife, Barbara, among its best beach reads. Barbara recounts her simple childhood in the Midwest, to her days as a Vegas showgirl and model alongside tales of her tempestuous 22-year marriage to Old Blue Eyes, including insight into his most famous songs.
7. Swamplandia: This finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction also makes Fodor’s list. In it, the heroine, a 13-year-old girl, fights to preserve her family business—a gator-wrestling theme park—amidst her mother’s death, father’s desertion, lovestruck sister and a corporate competitor that’s just moved into town.