Lit Thursday: Our All-Time Favorite Summer Reads

Get lost in these tales of D-list pop stars, bewitching travel essays, and love affairs with brawny dudes.

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Lena Dunham:

My all-time favorite summer read is Judy Blume's Summer Sisters. It encapsulates everything I love now (female friendship, complex women working out where they fit in an archetypal landscape), and everything I loved in my teens (stuff you could masturbate to in a hammock — it wasn't me!) Blume's forays into adult literature have all the pathos and honesty of her brilliant pre teen works... Just a little more boob. #SummerSistersForever

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Editor in Chief Jessica Grose:

I have already recommended another Alison Lurie novel – the Pulitzer Prize-winning Foreign Affairsin this publication. But I also want to recommend another, lesser known Lurie, The Truth About Lorin Jones, as an essential summer read. It takes place in 1980s New York City, and it's about a single mother who is doing deep research on a female artist who died young – the titular Lorin Jones. The research brings her to summery locales like Cape Cod and the Florida Keys (and it also brings her to summery love affairs with brawny dudes). I read it on my honeymoon, and it could not be more delightful.

Contributing writer Kaitlyn Greenidge:

Sex Toys of the Gods is a perfect summer read. Set in the early 1990s, it follows an ambitious but underemployed twenty-something gay man. He moves out of his horrible house-share in LA to housesit a D-list celebrity's home that happens to be next door to his favorite pop star's. The pop star — clearly a fictional amalgamation of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Edie Brickell — has a hot husband who the protagonist quickly falls in love with. The book is paced like the best soap operas and has amazing period details (the drama inherent in working at a video store takes up most of the first half; a plot point turns on a videocassette). This book saved me from existential despair when I spent a winter in Juneau, Alaska and reads even better when you're somewhere warm and relaxing.

Deputy editor Laia Garcia:

As soon as the temperature hits 80 degrees, the only thing I can think of is going to the beach. I become like a petulant child at a candy store: MUST GO TO THE BEACH! And once I get there and put my feet in the sand, the book I reach for is Lizzy Goodman's excellent, soon-to-be-canonical book Meet Me in the Bathroom. It chronicles the rise of New York City's music scene in the early 2000s which gave us The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, among other incredible bands.

This is the music that defined my late teens, the music that so clearly marks a really great part of my life (college!). And getting to geek out on details straight from the mouths of all these people that I loved from afar is such a treat — the book feels like a gift. I devoured Meet Me in the Bathroom in two days, and as soon as I finished it, I realized that I missed hanging out with everyone in it. That's what it feels like to read this oral history, as if you're in a bar or living room with all these people reminiscing and eavesdropping on all the juicy details. A perfect beach read, if there ever was one.

Assistant editor Molly Elizalde:

You're probably wondering why I'm including a book that was on your high school reading list — or why I enjoy reading philosophy in the summer. But flip to the back of this book and Camus writes some of the most transportive travel essays I've ever read. "Algiers opens to the sky like a mouth or a wound," he writes of his hometown, condemning cities like Paris as closed in on themselves. For anyone who finds themselves languishing in the summer heat and in their own thoughts, it's worth dusting off your copy of The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays to read these solitary, bewitching essays.

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