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Summer Reading: 12 Books to Take to the Beach

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

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Best for: Fans of great American epics, like Freedom

When a group of teenagers meet at an artsy summer camp in 1974, they nickname themselves "The Interestings." This expansive novel follows the friends through many decades as they move in and out of each others' lives. Full of both humor and heartbreak, the story is a touching look into how friendships transform over the course of a lifetime. The novel also explores the role of money and class in relationships, the true meaning of talent and success, and how it can all change in an instant. (Available on amazon.com, $16.)

The Love Wars by L. Alison Heller

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Best for: Fans of romance novels, like To Have and To Hold

As a matrimonial attorney at a top Manhattan law firm, Molly Grant is a pro at navigating the messy divorces of the rich and famous. But when a client comes to her with a case against her ruthless husband, it hits close to home, bringing back memories Molly has long tried to forget. Yet despite her boss's warnings to drop the case, Molly is unable to walk away, finding herself in a downward spiral of professional and personal complications. (Available on amazon.com, $12.)

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

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Best for: Those who can't get enough of The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties

As a typist at the New York City Police Department in the 1920s, narrator Rose Baker learns all the seedy secrets of Prohibition Era society, typing out the fates of criminals each day on her keyboard. Rose, who yearns for the conventional morals of yesteryear, fully abstains from the drinking and smoking in which the other young female flappers around her mirthfully indulge. But when she befriends a glamorous new stenographer at the precinct, Rose's world is turned upside down as she falls into the high-stakes, rule-breaking culture of the Jazz Age. This thrilling page-turner cinematically captures the opulence—and sordidness—of the Prohibition Era in New York. (Available on amazon.com, $18.)

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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Best for: Fans of dystopian fiction, like The Hunger Games

This riveting debut by a young British author takes place in the year 2059. The novel's heroine, Paige Mahoney, works as a spy in a secret cell of Scion London, a security force that controls several major world cities. Paige, a clairvoyant, scouts for information by reading other people's minds—an act that's considered treason. When she is arrested and captured, Paige becomes a pawn of a powerful, otherworldly race, and is forced to learn how to harness her powers if she ever wants to regain her freedom. (Available on August 20 on amazon.com, $17.)

The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen

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Best for: Fans of chick lit, like the Shopaholic series

After managing to survive the worst year of her life—which included a messy breakup, family drama, and difficulties at work—Olive Watson wakes up on New Year's Day 2012, ready for a fresh start. But she's shocked to find that it's only January 1, 2011, and she's forced to relive the same horrible year all over again. With memories of the past year that only she can remember, Olive faces the chance to rewrite her future, and she must decide whether to change nothing or everything the second time around. (Available on amazon.com, $12.)

Is This Tomorrow? by Caroline Leavitt

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Best for: Fans of gripping mysteries, like Gone Girl

In the era of the Cold War, divorced working-mom Ava and her 12-year-old son Lewis move to a less-than-welcoming Boston suburb, where the neighbors are still haunted by the threats of Communism and nuclear bombs. When Lewis befriends two other fatherless kids, things seem to be looking up for the pair. That is, until one of Lewis's new friends vanishes, and Ava finds herself in the spotlight of the neighborhood parents' suspicions. When the mystery of his disappearance is finally solved decades later, the central characters are forced to confront what they've lost in the years between. (Available on amazon.com, $12.)

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

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Best for: Fans of books that follow lives of several characters, like Girls in White Dresses

This expansive novel about love and marriage follows the lives of four very different characters: one was married in a heat of passion, another married for comfort, the third thinks he is the runner-up, and the fourth is in a committed relationship but refuses to get married. Covering nearly a hundred years and multiple generations, these four storylines unfold in surprising ways. Throughout the novel, diamonds serve as the ultimate symbol of commitment—"diamonds are forever," after all—but the symbolism also begs the questions: can anything—including love—truly last forever? (Available on amazon.com, $16.)

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

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Best for: Fans of historical fiction, like New York: A Novel

From the bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns comes a tale of multiple generations of a troubled family in the Middle East. The plots follows the characters' lives and choices around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek islands—and spans more than half a century, moving through wars, births, deaths, and deceit. The novel explores themes like sacrifice, betrayal, and love, but ultimately focuses on the persistent power of family. (Available on amazon.com, $15.)

Where the OM Am I? by Sara DiVello

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Best for: Fans of memoirs, like Eat Pray Love

After years of dutifully climbing the corporate ladder to become a head honcho in PR, Sara is finally driven to the brink and seeks out sanctuary in yoga teacher training. But instead of peaceful meditation, she encounters a whole new level of cattiness and competitiveness in her fellow yogis. Sara's irreverent and hilarious memoir details her journey of self-discovery as she moves from corporate to corpse pose. (Available on amazon.com, $15.)

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

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Best for: fans of Southern stories, like The Help

In the summer of 1963, spunky, 9-year-old Starla runs away from her strict grandmother, determined to piece together the family that left her years ago when her mother abandoned her. As she's wandering down a country road, Starla accepts a ride from an unusual woman who has a lot to teach Starla about life. A luminous portrait of courage and the bonds of friendship, this coming of age story is as endearing and spirited as they come. (Available on amazon.com, $17.)

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Best for: Anyone who enjoys family-oriented novels, like Sisterhood Everlasting

Born with innate psychic senses to "see" future events and other peoples' secrets, sisters Kate and Violet knew they were different from a young age. While Violet embraced her senses and became a psychic medium, Kate turned away and suppressed her clairvoyance, settling in the suburbs as a mother of two. Years later, after an earthquake hits in the middle of night and Violet warns of another more devastating one to come, the sisters are forced to reconcile their feelings and face truths they've long tried to hide. (Available on June 25 on amazon.com, $17.)

The Week Before the Wedding by Beth Kendrick

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Best for: The bride-to-be who loved Something Borrowed

All Emily has ever wanted was a drama-free life, and it looks like she's about to get one. With an amazing career, a wonderful house, and a fiancé most women can only dream about, all that's left is her wedding weekend in picturesque Vermont—or so she thinks. With the arrival of a less-than-welcome uninvited guest, Emily's best-laid plans take a nosedive, as she starts to question what—and who—she really wants in her life. (Available on amazon.com, $12.)