To celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary and their daughter’s graduation from high school, Franny and Jim Post plan a two-week vacation to Mallorca, bringing along some family friends…and a whole lot of drama. An earnest story of the things that tear us apart and bind us together, “The Vacationers” will tug at your heart and make you laugh out loud. Plus, the glistening beaches, mountain hikes, and steamy nightclubs dotted throughout the narrative provide a much-needed escape while we wait for warmer temperatures.
J. Courtney Sullivan
We’ve been ready to say goodbye to winter for weeks, and this book’s cover alone has us packing up our bathing suit in search of sun and sand. While set in a less exotic locale, “Maine” is another story of a family’s dysfunction, full of sympathetic and relatable characters that we get to know well over the course of this novel. Three generations of Kelleher women—Maggie, Ann-Marie, Kathleen, and Alice—come together to spend the summer at their family’s beach house. But not everything is as idyllic as it first appears. Amongst hot sand and sailboats, tensions arise, secrets are revealed, and relationships are tested, making us in equal parts thankful for our own families and eager to hop on a plane to lie in the sun.
We Were Liars
Told from the perspective of 15-year old Cadence Sinclair, it’s not immediately clear whether or not we can trust her version of the story. Set on a private island near Martha’s Vineyard, “We Were Liars” follows the children of a wealthy family as they return to the island each summer. From normal teenage mischief like drinking beers and sneaking out, to more disturbing and haunting revelations, this book will leave you wistful for summers on the coast. Full of suspense—and an ending you’ll never see coming—the less you know about the plot before beginning, the better.
A sweeping family epic, “The Lowland” takes us to India and then America, from the 1960s to the present, as we get to know two brothers at the heart of this story. Subdash and Udayan are close but polar opposites, taking wildly different paths as their lives become more separate. Subdash moves to America to become a scientist while Udayan gets involved in a political movement to eliminate poverty and inequality. A heartbreaking tale spanning generations and geographies, this novel’s intensity will keep you riveted long enough to forget the cold weather outside your door.
While this book might not take place in the sun and sand per se, Mars can reach 100 degrees in the summer. Mark Watney is stranded on the Red Planet, having been abandoned after a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate without him. Over the next 300 pages, you’ll get sucked into the many rescue attempts that may not seem funny at first take, but manage to make you laugh out loud. Mark’s sarcastic humor and vast scientific knowledge keep him fighting for survival as he tries to stay in contact with NASA back on Earth. A unique thriller that will have you questioning whether Mark will make it out alive, “The Martian” provides enough heat for you to stay warm until spring sets in.
Emily St. John Mandel
A dystopian novel set far in the future, “Station Eleven” reveals a world ravaged by a plague called the Georgia Flu. Mandel creates an environment in which there are no cities, no countries, and no internet, forcing the traveling theater company at the center of this story to figure out what this new culture and new world will be when it emerges. You’ll get so lost in this post-civilization society it won’t matter whether it’s warm or cold outside; The story is all-consuming and leaves you questioning life as we know it long after the last page.
On Chesil Beach (Movie Tie-In Edition)
This short book set on the coast of England takes us inside one couple’s wedding night as they struggle with their new relationship and the weighty decisions they have to make on this first day of their marriage. Told with the beautiful language we’ve all come to expect from McEwan, this book will make you uncomfortable but intrigued as Edward and Florence discover the most intimate aspects of each other. Even though “On Chesil Beach” covers just two hours of their first night as husband and wife, it will leave you thinking about the innocence of love and the heartbreak that can come with it.
Ready Player One (Movie Tie-In)
Another out-of-this-world read that will make you forget winter even exists. It’s 2044 and things are bad: unemployment is at an all-time high, they’re in the midst of the third Great Recession, and famine and poverty have become widespread. Wade Watts is a teenage orphan living in a trailer park and trying to stay out of trouble. His only escape is a virtual universe called OASIS where he’s known only as Parzival. This world is made of hidden puzzles and the program’s creator has promised fame and fortune to the first person that can unlock them all. Wade quickly becomes consumed by the idea of winning and will do anything to live a life outside of his trailer. The plethora of ‘80s pop culture references in “Ready Player One” only add to the fun and will provide an easy escape until spring finally arrives.
Kaui Hart Hemmings
With snow still coming down in some parts of the country, we can’t think of a better setting to immerse yourself in than the Hawaiian islands. Set against this lush backdrop, “The Descendants” is about a family stuck in the aftermath of a tragedy, trying to find their way back to each other. Matt King’s wife is in a coma, leaving him to take care of their two daughters, Scottie and Alex, and confront questions long ignored. With heartbreak and humor, the Kings slowly discover how to recreate the family they’ve lost. This book will take you out of yourself and make you feel like you’re in this journey—and on the white-sand beaches of Hawaii—right along with them.
Let the Great World Spin
Late summer in Manhattan is hot, and McCann’s stunning prose and detailed descriptions will take you right into the heart of the city as he paints a dazzling portrait of the lives drawn together in August of 1974. The story starts with a mysterious tightrope walker suspended a quarter mile above the city, leaping between the Twin Towers. We soon learn that the people on the ground below have more in common than just their witnessing of this incredible feat. The feelings of hope and strength radiate off the page, making you forget your still-chilly surroundings.
Women in Sunlight
By the bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, and written with Frances Mayes’s trademark warmth, heart, and delicious descriptions of place, food, and friendship, “Women in Sunlight” is the story of four American strangers who bond in Italy and change their lives over the course of an exceptional year.
With freezing temps and snow still falling in places across the country, we’re crossing our fingers that sunshine and warmer temperatures are right around the corner. And while we know that today is technically the first day of spring, we also know that it will take quite a while for it to actually feel like it.
So, until spring decides to show its pretty face, we’ve compiled some entertaining reads to help you stay warm. From family dramas to dystopian fiction, we think there’s something for everyone looking to say “so long” to Old Man Winter. These reads are like spring vacation for the mind, body and soul.
Bookshelf curated by Katharine Scrivener.
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