By Caitlin Orr | Contributor Published: 06/23/2013 1:00 pm EST
It’s finally summer. For some of you that means school is out and you finally have some time to relax. For others, it means that you’re looking forward to getting away and escaping to the beach for a bit. And then, if you’re like me, it means that you need something to distract you from the sweltering heat outside. If you’re looking for something that’ll really get you in the spirit of the season, here are five books that could be perfect for you.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
This novel goes down as easy as a glass of lemonade on a scorching summer day. Set in the small North Carolina town of Mullaby, the story follows Emily Benedict at the beginning of the summer as she arrives in the town where her mother grew up. Faced with her giant of a grandfather, ghost lights that arrive in her backyard every night, and a family secret that everyone but her seems to know, Emily sets out to discover her past and correct the wrongs found there.
Like every Sarah Addison Allen novel, The Girl Who Chased the Moon features an extremely layered cast of characters. Everyone in the town seems to have a role to play as the past and the present come crashing together. A short but sweet novel, it’s the perfect companion for a summer afternoon spent on the front porch or on the couch. It’s guaranteed to leave you feeling better about the world—and maybe wishing you could step into Mullaby, NC for a while.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Connie Goodwin arrives in her grandmother’s falling-apart home near Salem at the beginning of the summer in order to clean it, sell it, and get out fast. She has a life and a doctoral dissertation to get back to at Harvard, and an advisor breathing down her neck. However, plans change when Connie discovers a Bible belonging to Deliverance Dane that contains an old key. Connie’s search to discover who this woman was leads her into the events of the Salem witch trials, hints of an unknown source of power, and an awareness of a growing threat to those whom Connie holds dear.
Katherine Howe’s novel about witches and discovering one’s own past is perfect for a stormy summer night. The atmosphere of Salem and the house make the novel pop, as do the characters that quickly grab the reader’s sympathies and don’t let go. The historical flashbacks provide an added layer of depth to what could have been an academic treasure hunt, bringing the past to vivid life. A history lesson without the painful lecture—what could be better?
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
His name is Odd, he’s a fry cook, and he sees dead people. These are what you must know about Odd Thomas as he begins his first adventure in the desert town of Pico Mundo, CA. Odd tries to pass his days as quietly and uneventfully at possible, serving as one of the world’s best fry cooks in the morning and seeing his soul mate, Stormy, in the evenings. However, with the arrival of ominous spirits that only Odd can see and a disturbing man seemingly obsessed with serial killers, Odd’s gift lets him know that a horrific tragedy is fast approaching and only he can prevent it.
Wherever you are, it’s probably not as hot as Pico Mundo. While you’ll be grateful for less intense heat, you’ll also be entertained by the eccentric cast of characters Koontz throws at you. Although the stakes are high, Odd is such a likable protagonist and full of quick humor that the pages will fly by, leaving you ready to read the rest of the series over the summer months. Additionally, the long-awaited film adapation of the first novel is due out in August, so get ahead of the crowds now and find out what’s so intriguing about Odd Thomas.
Duma Key by Stephen King
This horror novel follows Edgar Freemantle, a hugely successful contractor who, having survived a terrible on-site accident, finds himself with brain injuries, an amputated right arm, and a divorce in the works. Advised to take a year-long vacation to a new place, Edgar relocates to Duma Key off the coast of Florida. Seemingly uninhabited except for one other house, Edgar settles in for a year of peace. However, the house seems to reignite his artistic talent, and Edgar’s paintings begin to grow more ominous and powerful, particularly as he begins to have psychic visions relating to his elderly neighbor on the island.
Like a little menace with your summer? This little-heard-of but well-received King novel is perfect for your slow summer days—or maybe even for a beach vacation of your own. The slow burn plotting and intricate character details will keep you reading with the lights on long past when you should’ve gone to bed.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
If you haven’t heard the buzz around the HBO adaptation of this series, here’s the quick rundown: Various noble families are vying for power, honor, and the right to rule in a world where seasons can last for years. As winter approaches Westeros, the stakes raise ever higher. Told from various character perspectives, this compelling and intensely complicated series features dragons, battles, and political intrigue.
Martin’s novels, clocking in around 900 pages per volume, are heavy tomes for any time of the year. However, summer is the ideal time to try and plow through them during lazy weekends sitting out in the backyard. With enough characters, storylines, and histories to keep any mind sharp during the slow summer, A Game of Thrones is the perfect summer series. Besides, you’ll be sitting in the warm summer sun while the characters are bundling up for winter.