Reading Room

10 Great Beach (Or Pool) Reads: Sedaris, Capote, And More

Summer has arrived. Duh. That makes it high time to turn off the boob tube and grab a book and hit the beach or, if you’re like us, the pool. Here are ten great titles —some new, some old, some serious, some not-so-serious — that are sure to satisfy your literary itch this summer.

Happy reading!



Click through to see Queerty’s Summer book suggestions…

“Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” by David Sedaris

Everyone’s favorite humorist is back with a brand new book of essays, along with a few short fiction pieces thrown in for good measure. This hilarious and at times poignant collection of stories covers a wide array of topics that are sure to have you LOLing, including Sedaris’ first colonoscopy, a trip to a Parisian taxidermy shop in search of a stuffed owl, the extensive amount of dental work he’s endured, and kookaburras, among other things.

“Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father” by Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott’s mother died when she was just a toddler. In the late 1970’s, her father, Steve, an openly gay man, brought her to San Francisco, where the two made their home in the city’s Haight district. In this evocative new memoir, Abbott writes about growing up in a city bustling with homosexual men in search of liberation, as well as how the AIDS epidemic shaped her, and finding her identity during such a tumultuous time in history.

“Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns” by Lauren Weisberger

It’s the sequel everyone’s been waiting for. Lauren Weisberger follows up to her sensational #1 bestseller The Devil Wears Prada with this devilish delight. Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job a million girls would die for working for Miranda Priestly/Anna Wintour/Meryl Streep at Runway magazine. She’s now engaged and running a highend bridal magazine. Everything is hunky-dory until she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications. Soon she finds herself being led back into the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago and directly into the path of the Devil herself.

“Tell the Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt

Set in 1987, this debut novel by Carol Rifka Brunt is about 14-year-old June Elbus who must come to terms with the loss of her beloved uncle, Finn Weiss. After his funeral, June befriends her uncle’s lover, Toby, but is unaware that her parents believe Toby killed Finn by giving him AIDS. Praised by the Wall Street Journal, O magazine, and Kirkus Reviews, among others, “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” is a bittersweet story of love, loss, and redemption. The paperback version was released on June 4.

“The Bling Ring” by Nancy Jo Sales

Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales offers an in-depth expose of the beautiful, privileged teenagers who were caught breaking into celebrity homes and stealing millions of dollars worth of valuables in 2008 and 2009. Some of their victims included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Megan Fox, among others. The media asked: Why would a group of kids who already had designer clothes, money, cars, and status take such risks? And Nancy Jo Sales uncovers the answer: They did it because they could. And because it was easy. After you read the book, check out the Sofia Coppola-directed film starring Emma Watson.

“The Gallery” by John Horne Burns

The New York Times recently deemed him “The Great (Gay) Novelist You’ve Never Heard Of.” John Horne Burns wrote three novels in his short life, the most popular being The Gallery, which he wrote while serving in the US Army during WWII. Set in occupied Naples in 1944, the novel takes its name from the Galleria Umberto, a bombed-out arcade where everybody in town comes together in pursuit of food, drink, sex, and general debauchery. The Gallery is one of the first novels to look directly at gay life in the military, and the mixed feelings of the men and women who fought the war that ultimately made America the superpower it is today.

(If you want to learn more about John Horne Burns, you might also check out David Margolick’s new biography, Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horn Burns, that was published earlier this month.)

“The Easy Way Out” by Stephen McCauley

Even though it was published 20 years ago, Stephen McCauley’s The Easy Way Out withstands the test of time as an amusing, smart, and provocative story about a gay man who struggles with commitment. Patrick O’Neil is a disenchanted travel agent who’s bored in his current relationship. His two brothers are also having relationships woes, as are their parents. Basically, nobody in this book is happy, which is part of what makes it such a delightful read. Through his dark humor, sharply-drawn characters, and punchy dialog, McCauley delivers the perfect blend of funny and sad.

“In One Person” by John Irving

The central character in John Irving’s latest book, which was just released in paperback earlier this year, is Billy Abbott, a young bisexual man who falls in love with an older transgendered woman, Mrs. Frost. This coming-of-age story about a teenager’s sexual awakening is peppered with Irving’s usual laugh out loud humor and quirky, offbeat characters. Irving, who identifies as heterosexual, said he spent several years conceptualizing the novel, and drew inspiration from his own bisexual desires as a young adult.

“The Unreal Life of Sergey Nobokov” by Paul Russell

Everyone knows Vladimir Nabokov. He’s the guy who wrote Lolita, the story of the underage sex kitten and the pedophile. But few people know about his gay brother, Sergey. The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov is a fictionalized account of the young Russian man’s life, beginning with his troubled childhood, then moving into his sex-crazed, opium-infused young adulthood, before finally ending with his arrest in Berlin, where he is subsequently sent to a concentration camp for being gay. It sounds heavy, but it’s actually a very well-researched and beautiful book about a homosexual boy who grows into a courageous man.

“The Complete Stories of Truman Capote” by Truman Capote

Modern Library recently released a brand new edition of Truman Capote’s short stories and it’s just divine. If you’re not familiar with the eccentric gay writer’s work, this is a great starting point. The collection features 19 of his best stories, including some that have never been published before. They range from the gothic South to the chic East Coast, from rural children to aging urban sophisticates, and are all told in Capote’s heartfelt but haunting voice.


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