Fill up that trust canvas bag (or your iPad library) with these beach reading recommendations.
Emma Jane Unsworth, Animals
It’s summertime and you’re probably going a little buck wild—it’s OK we’re all still young at heart. My hangover cure: Two Advil, coconut water, as many carbs as you can handle and this drug-and-alcohol-laced black-out of a dysfunctional friendship. Laura’s getting married and trying to grow up. Her best friend Tyler is her gateway to depravity. A sobering tale about the limits of friendship. Shame spiral not included.
Clementine von Radics, Mouthful of Forevers
This is the kind of poetry that inspires tattoos. Think about that. How good does a sentence have to be for you to want to commit to it full time? Avid Instagram user von Radics’ poems are so visceral you could be reading your own journal. Put this one in your bag and carry it with you everywhere, consult it often.
The Country of Ice Cream Star
Newman had to create a whole new language for her epic novel spanning the world of survivors decades after a plague shatters America. No one lives past 20, and only Ice Cream Star, the teenage leader of her band of child ruffians, has the nerve to search for a cure. It’s got love, war, religion, sacrifice, humour, pathos—you just gotta keep up with what they’re saying first. Bear down and keep going.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants star was once told to use a pen name if she wanted to be taken seriously as a poet. Her third book Dark Sparkler flies directly in the face of that suggestion by ruminating on the tragic lives of actresses. The gang’s all here—Brittany Murphy, Marilyn Munroe, Lindsay Lohan (her page is blank). These poems will keep you up, Googling for hours.
Joan Thomas, The Opening Sky
Campbell, Still No Word
Poems for when you’re home alone and the A/C is on the fritz. Poems for how sticky nostalgia feels at night when you can’t sleep. Poems for the particular way your heart hurts. Shannon Webb-Campbell is a real talent, we should all feel lucky to have her. This is a good collection to read in private with no distractions. Bonus points if you have a lake nearby.
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion
She’s been referred to as the Nora Ephron of our time—high praise, but well-deserved. Daum’s essays are not confessions, but that’s what they’ll feel like as she gives voice to all those dark needling thoughts you’re pretty sure you shouldn’t say out loud. Read this on a crowded bus to take your mind off that sweaty forearm touching you and look smarter than you do normally at the same time.