CULTURE & ARTS
07/01/2016 12:43 pm ET Updated Jul 31, 2018

21 Recommendations For Anyone Who Wants To Read Books And Chill

On the agenda this weekend: 📚 📚 📚 📚 📚
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It's summer. You have visions of beaches, ice-cold beverages, and three-day weekends rolling around in your brain. Sure, maybe winter is the season to Netflix and chill. But the months of June, July and August? 'Tis the time to read books and chill.

The benefits of reading books and chilling (versus the streaming TV version of binge entertainment consumption) are obvious: You can do it anywhere -- at that dreamy beach, with that refreshing drink, at every destination planned for your holiday weekend. You need not hole yourself up in a Wi-Fi-ready bedroom. You can read books and chill out in the open, under the searing hot sun of summer, without abandoning your desire to not interact with a single soul other than your favorite characters of fiction.

You can read just about any book and chill. Some people can watch 30 episodes of "The Sopranos" without blinking an eye, others prefer digestible bits of "30 Rock," and books work similarly across vastly different personal preferences. But HuffPost writer Maddie Crum aptly outlined the perfect choice for a #ReadBooksAndChill weekend: "Books you can binge-read!" she described. "Sorry, binge-read is a garbage phrase. But, y'know, page turners. Quick reads. The opposite of Knausgaard, if you will."

In honor, here are 21 books that hook you from page one and keep you hungry for more even after the last page. Go forth, dear readers, and chill:

The Assistants by Camille Perri

G.P. Putnam's Sons

There’s something about money (or the lack thereof) that makes for a page-turning read. Perri’s protagonist is a low-paid assistant who mistakenly cashes a company check that covers her student loans. When she doesn’t reverse her mistake, another low-paid assistant catches on and gets in on the scam. Anyone who’s toiled at a thankless job can relate. As our heroine muses, $15,000 is nothing to her high-powered executive boss, but to her, it’s a lifesaver. And as college costs keep rising, Perri’s novel will continue to be a fun, fantasy-filled reprieve from the joyless task of repaying student debt. -- Jill Capewell

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Riverhead Books

Hawkins’ protagonist Rachel is struggling with an alcohol addiction and still in love with her ex-husband Tom. She’s been fired from her job but, not ready to confront the situation just yet, opts to take her daily commute anyway, riding the train to and from London, staring out the window at her old house, and reminiscing about her old life along the way. One morning Rachel wakes up hungover and bloody with no recollection of what happened the night before, only to find out her favorite woman to watch on her train rides disappeared that same evening. She decides, mostly for her own sake, to play detective and piece together the night. Through the voices of three smart, flawed women who are wildly unreliable narrators, The Girl on the Train is a chilling mystery that will make you never want to get blackout drunk ever again. -- Priscilla Frank

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Knopf

For those mourning the loss of "Game of Thrones" Season 6, here's a book that takes place in post-Arthurian Britain, filled with warriors, dragons, ogres, mysterious memory-zapping mist, and long-lost family members attempting to reunite across Saxon-trolled hinterlands. Sure, you could just go ahead and read George R.R. Martin's 4,000 plus pages of "GoT" lore -- and binge you can on that. But Ishiguro offers an addicting tale of knights and courageous laypeople in just over 300 pages. Its tangled prose and unexpected parallels to our own fumbled relationship with the past fit discreetly in the fantasy structure. It's enough for you to gulp in one extended evening of reading ... you know, the time you would have spent watching "GoT" reruns of Seasons 1-5. -- Katherine Brooks

The Girls by Emma Cline

Random House

Between her parents' divorce and her friend's fast betrayal, a lonely preteen is ready for any kind of kinship, and quickly latches onto a crew of girls she spots laughing playfully at a park. She gets wrapped up in their world, and learns that there's something sinister at the heart of it. In a quiet, stealthy examination of Charles Manson and the girls who followed his beliefs, Cline manages to write what I'd call the book of the summer -- pulsing, and full of heart. -- Maddie Crum

The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin

Random House

If you’ve been watching “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson” or “O.J.: Made in America,” your brain has likely been consumed by the story of the bizarre spectacle of O.J. Simpson’s murder trial. Toobin, a journalist and former prosecutor, chronicled the notorious case in his 1996 book The Run of his Life, and its 450 pages fly by. “American Crime Story” was based off Toobin’s non-fiction account, which explores how the case ballooned to encompass so much more than a single man’s violent crime, becoming enmeshed in the politics of race, gender and celebrity. If you’re interested in bingeing on the nitty-gritty of the case, this is a good place to start. -- Priscilla Frank

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Scholastic Inc.

Love them or hate them, boy bands have been a fascinating segment of pop music for decades now -- none of which was beloved so fiercely by teenage women as the “on indeterminate hiatus” One Direction. In this novel, Moldavsky takes a 1D analog and tells their story through the eyes of four friends (who, it turns out, veer more frenemy than anything else) who make it past the security gate to get their objects of adoration ... and have to deal with the consequences. Perfect for the reader who loves a side of dark humor with their pop culture indulgences. -- Jill Capewell

The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni

Counterpoint

The Farallon Islands -- a dangerous and unwelcoming little cluster of isles off the coast of California -- is populated only by its wildlife and a small clique of scientists. That is, until Miranda, an emotionally adrift photographer, manages to secure permission to spend a year documenting the natural wonders of the archipelago. To the trained biologists, long accustomed to wearing protective gear against vicious bird attacks whenever they leave shelter, Miranda seems naive to the life-threatening realities of their environment -- especially with real medical help so far away. Then, Miranda is assaulted by one of the scientists; not long after, he's found dead. Is this a karmic revenge enacted by the ruthless forces of the island, or a very human revenge? It's hard to stop turning pages as Geni leaves us wondering whether Miranda's honesty and even her memory can be trusted, and as the natural perils of the Farallon Islands loom so ominous that getting out safe seems impossible. -- Claire Fallon

How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball

Pantheon

In an interview with HuffPost, Ball explained that he likes writing quick reads -- that books have to compete with other forms of entertainment, and in order to do so they should be like firecrackers with a short fuse. He accomplishes this in his latest book, about a lovable teen arsonist, who scribbles her angsty philosophical musings in a beloved notebook. We're exposed to Lucia's unfiltered insights, and the trouble bubbling up beneath her story. -- Maddie Crum

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer

FSG Originals

From Annihilation, the story of four women tasked with surveying a bizarrely dangerous nature reserve-like territory known as Area X; to Authority, which focuses on the operatives of the so-called Southern Reach agency tasked with investigating the phenomena associated with Area X from outside the territory; to Acceptance, the haunting conclusion to a warped collection of perspectives on a horror/sci-fi saga ... well, Jeff Vandermeer's three-part epic is worth reading all at once this weekend. If you liked the Strugatsky Brothers' Roadside Picnic or the weird flora and fauna folklore of Gold Fame Citrus, you'll love this bingeable trilogy too. -- Katherine Brooks

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Random House Large Print

Mix aging college indie rockers and their teenage children with a cat named Iggy Pop, SAT classes, a trendy restaurant, a cultish yoga studio and a restless Brooklyn summer, and you get Modern Lovers. Straub writes with fairness and intelligence toward her sometimes imperfect characters, and the unique moment in their lives she focuses on -- when a movie studio wants the rights to their old band’s song that a deceased bandmate made famous -- is a quirky and compelling place for the story to unfold. -- Jillian Capewell

So Sad Today by Melissa Broder

Grand Central Publishing

Melissa Broder became a fixture in the sad-verse of Twitter, a space where feelings of anxiety, depression, addiction could be expressed freely and unabashedly -- shared, liked and joked about. Lines like “i feel nervous about breathing” and “walk into the club like therapy isn't working” racked up thousands of likes and retweets, creating an internet army of sad girls sick of hiding their feelings. In her book of personal essays titled So Sad Today, Broder invokes her familiar combination of dark humor and brutal realness to discuss her struggles with drugs, alcohol, marriage, her body and mind. Border makes a strong case for incessant social media use and constant self-narration not as a space for frivolous or narcissistic output but a matter of survival. -- Priscilla Frank

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Riverhead Books

If you consider “sprawling” an overused adjective when it comes to book summaries, well, I apologize, because this book is truly sprawling. It moves from the rise of the Shower Posse, a Jamaican crime syndicate that popped up in Kingston in the 1960s, to the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976, to the spread of the crack trade in New York and Miami in the 1980s and beyond. The story is international ― Cuban and Colombian history come into play (yes, there’s mention of the Medellín ­cartel), punctuated by artfully written scenes of violence and dark inner monologues. If you’re into binge-watching “Narcos” or “The Wire” or brutal crime dramas, here’s a heftier, bloodier binge-read for you. ― Katherine Brooks

Shrill by Lindy West

Quercus

Lindy West, who's written for The Stranger and Jezebel and appeared on "This American Life" and "Two Dope Queens," has the kind of comedic voice you remember. (On Jezebel, she showed a penchant for all-caps; in her podcast appearances, she's dry but relentlessly pointed in her language.) She's a comedian with messages -- fat acceptance, feminism -- and the willingness to make her point known. In her recent book, West gets into why she cares so passionately, and why she's not afraid to speak up even if women who talk in public might be called "shrill" or worse. Not sure why you'd want to chill with this when there's Netflix? Um, because it's hilarious. Comedy plus substance: the perfect recipe for a book you'll never want to put down. -- Claire Fallon

The History of Great Things by Elizabeth Crane

Harper Perennial

If "chill" for you means skillful prose but a lighthearted narrative -- one graced with moments of laugh-out-loud humor -- than Crane's latest effort, a slim novel about a mother-daughter relationship, is a good pick for you. The pair tells each other's life stories in alternating chapters, funnily filling in gaps of knowledge with their own presumptions and fears. Spanning generations, Crane's book exposes the changes in how we approach love, marriage and family. -- Maddie Crum

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons

Hachette Books

The energetic, mostly millennial-led, beer-tap-having, ping-pong-playing workplaces known as start-ups seem relentlessly fun and cheerful -- you can make six figures a year and play with Legos on your lunch break?! But for every laudatory story about the new face of work, there is an equal and opposite backlash. In his memoir, Dan Lyons plays the role of old-guard journalist who, after being ousted at Newsweek, lands a marketing gig at a Boston company where it takes him months to figure out what he’s actually there for, where team members send weirdly cheerleader-y emails and thoughtful criticism is met with shunning. He’s a little curmudgeonly as a narrator, sure, and we only ever get to see his side of things, but that doesn’t mean I raced through his takedown of his Kool-Aid-drinking former co-workers any slower. -- Jill Capewell

Surveys by Natasha Stagg

Semiotext(e)

Bored of her life working in a Tucson, Arizona, mall, 23-year-old Colleen takes the life-changing plunge that so many millennials often consider — becoming an internet celebrity. Colleen posts updates about her life online, gaining followers and forming a double life teetering between young adult normalcy and the uncanny phenomenon of being sort of, kind of famous on the internet. The coming-of-age story offers a psychological dissection of the logic behind sharing your every thought with a mass of anonymous strangers, exploring the strange terrain where the personal and performative overlap and bleed into one another. Without altogether celebrating or condemning the contemporary obsession with online sharing, Stagg explores the roles we play and the selves we inhabit, online and IRL. -- Priscilla Frank

Love and Friendship by Whit Stillman

Two Roads

Filmmaker Whit Stillman penned this novel in letters to accompany his recently released film of the same name; it’s a finished adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinished work Lady Susan, an epistolary work about a beautiful, young, and cunning widow determined to use her charms (and those of her reserved teenage daughter) to secure a position atop the social ladder. Stillman subverts the original perspective, with a preface, footnotes, and editing provided by Lady Susan’s gullible nephew by marriage, to provide a rousing defense of the conniving lady. It’s a classic Austenian social set-up, but in Stillman’s hands it’s injected with more scandalous drama, more malice, an anti-heroine, and a bumbling, oblivious Mr. Collins type as the unctuous narrator. Love and Friendship offers a darker brand of comedy than Austen, and a thriller-esque narrative that entices readers to find out who will come out on top and whose social stratagems will be foiled. And then, well, you can Netflix and chill with the movie. -- Claire Fallon

Losing It by Emma Rathbone

Riverhead Books

It's summer, and sometimes we just want to read a book about summer, okay? So it goes with Losing It, centered on 26-year-old Julia Greenfield's desire to finally, dramatically, and somewhat unrealistically lose her virginity. As an adult woman she's aware that the romance won't be perfect, but she becomes obsessed with the heteronormative definition of sex, hellbent on alieving herself of the dredded personhood modifier "virgin." Then she learns her North Carolina-based aunt, with whom she's temporarily staying, is a virgin too. And so begins a very digestible tale of deciphering the differences between like, lust, love and loyalty. -- Katherine Brooks

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Del Rey

Fantasy stories tend to stick to a certain template: hero leaves home, hero’s home is destroyed or otherwise put in danger, hero promises to seek revenge on whoever inflicted said harm. In her Nebula Award-winning novel, Naomi Novik tried to work around those tropes, while still embracing the foundations of fantasy. In an interview with HuffPost, she said, “I wanted a heroine who was willing to risk her life, not for revenge, not to gain power or even necessarily to tear someone down, but in order to protect her community. Revenge is a very cold, sad motive.” Instead, her protagonist Agnieszka fights to defend her heritage, to preserve the ideals she holds dear. With the taut, wondrous style of a fairy tale, but with the warmth of a more contemporary story, Uprooted can be devoured quickly, but I suggest you savor it. -- Maddie Crum

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Random House Trade Paperbacks

Haven't read Cloud Atlas yet? Who cares? This one works on its own, as Mitchell intended it to. The novel revolves around Holly Sykes, a young English woman who seems to possess semi-psychic abilities, and a gang of telepathic deviants criss-crossing time and place (Mitchell fans will recognize some of the characters from previous books). The Bone Clocks is the definition of a fast read, stuffed with characters and gripping high points and surprising twists. Take it with you on vacation and you'll avoid having to speak to a tiring stranger on the plane or an irritating relative at the hotel. This book in front of your face means you're busy.  -- Katherine Brooks

The Royal We by the Fug Girls

Grand Central Publishing

The Fug Girls -- Heather Cox and Jessica Morgan -- have been the unforgivingly snarky voice in our head for nearly a decade telling us that "tights are NOT pants," thanks to their deservedly popular celebrity fashion blog Go Fug Yourself. Then they went and wrote the ultimate summer chill read for their target audience: A royal romance, inspired very loosely by Will and Kate, heaping with aww-worthy sweetness and lol-worthy jokes. The novel follows Bex Porter, a down-to-earth American girl with a penchant for so-bad-it's-good TV, to Oxford for her year abroad, where she finds herself unexpectedly plopped in the midst of Prince Nick's inner circle. Initially uninterested in the future king and the lifestyle that would come along with him, Bex ends up falling for the sweet, goofy, thoughtful boy she discovers Nick to be. Being part of a royal couple, of course, totally upends her life -- especially when her more spotlight-hungry twin, Lacey, starts tagging along -- and Bex's determination to stay her own person while fulfilling the royal expectations seems doomed. Let's be real, though, this is a romantic comedy between two covers, and the blend of happily-ever-after with relatable real-world problems only makes the hopeful message more poignant and powerful. Best of all for a binge read, the Fug Girls did not skimp: this book is nearly 500 pages long. Bye, I'll be in my room for the next two days. -- Claire Fallon

HuffPost

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