Beach Reads: Five Summer Books To Make You Look Sexy And Smart

Sure, you want to look sexy at the beach—but you can do it while reading a great book. What makes for a great summer read? It’s a little different for everyone: You might want something light as an ocean breeze, full of  bare-chested hunks on the sand. Or perhaps you’d like to be enveloped in a book that lingers for month. Whether you’re catching up on the must-read doorstop of the season (like Haruki Murakami’s 1,184-pager,  1Q84), yearn for a dishy celebrity biography (try Frank Langella’s Dropped Names), want to curl up with a bestseller before it turns into a movie (The Art of Fielding), or just want another trashy vampire story you don’t mind getting a little damp poolside (take your pick), there’s something for everyone.

Here are a few queer-interest titles that will get you through the steamy months ahead.


Bring Up the Bodies

By Hilary Mantel

What It’s About: The must-read of the season is the follow-up to Manterl’s Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall. The author says you can start with the second book, but you may want to make this a two-for: Wolf Hall revisits the court of Henry VIII through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, while Bodies focuses on the political intrigue surrounding Henry’s short-lived second wife, Anne Boleyn.

Beach Burn: All you Anglophiles who thought you learned about the infamous monarch and his wives from watching The Tudors‘ steamy sex scenes will get a real history lesson.

Most Talktative: Stories From the Frontlines of Pop Culture

By Andy Cohen

What It’s About: You may be familiar with loudmouthed Cohen from Watch What Happens Live. But can you believe that he was once a closeted newsman? Here, we follow him on a journey from being a self-described “lazy-eyed” nerd meeting his idol, Susan Lucci, to a TV executive who’s helped shape one of the gayest networks in history.

Beach Burn: It’s difficult for Cohen to go even a few pages without references his Real Housewives franchise. But readers looking for an easy read will appreciate the book’s breezy pace as Cohen recounts awkward college stories, behind-the-scenes Hollywood dish, and the inspiring story of how an unlikely gay guy made it in Tinseltown.

Alan Turing: The Enigma

By Andrew Hodges

What It’s About: One of the (mostly) unsung gay heroes of the 20th century, British mathematician Alan Turing helped turn the tide of WWII by cracking the Nazi code, and is considered the father of modern computer science. But his subsequent mistreatment for being gay—and his untimely death—give the book a tragic tinge. This classic biography has just been reissued for what would have been Turing’s 100th birthday.

Beach Burn: Enigma might seem too weighty for a summertime read but, hey, you’ll get your gay history in—and look brainy to boot.


Sex, Drugs & Superheroes

By David Reddish

What It’s About: Apparently the San Diego Comic-Con is a “four-day orgy of geeks, gamers, nerds, stars, sellers, executives, celebrities, legends, has-beens, costumers, wanderers, heroes, villains and gawkers,” at least according to this book’s aroused (and conflicted) narrator. Uber-geek Liquin Sonos heads to the pop-culture mecca with his friends and delves into the kind of drug-fueled orgies you’d associate with circuit parties, not massive multiplayer online gaming.

Beach Burn: While the subtitle, A Savage Journey Into a Wretched Hive of Scum and Supervillainy, doesn’t leave much to imagination, this is a seriously sexy geek read. We recommend the Kindle version.


I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams

By Mark Dery

What It’s About: Dery declares that it is the writer’s job to “think bad thoughts” and in subjects as diverse as the homoeroticism of George W. Bush, how Lady Gaga compares to previous bi-curious rockers, the gayness of the Super Bowl, or the Mayan apocalypse, he offers a counterintuitive guide to some turbulent topics.

Beach Burn: Dark humor may not go down easy on bright, sunny days, but theses well-written essays are easily digestible. Take “Straight, Gay, or Binary”: Did it ever cross your mind that 2001’s evil artificial intelligence, HAL, might be a closet case?


Tell the Wolves I’m Home

By Carol Rifka Brunt

What It’s About: Set in New York City in the ’80s, Brunt’s wonderful literary debut focuses on a girl named June who, after losing her beloved uncle to AIDS, befriends his boyfriend. Get ready to go on an emotional journey with a tale that explores different types of love—friendship, romance and family—with all the anguish and joy that each brings.

Beach Burn: Wolves is a real page turner, with characters that feel like family. Pick it up if you’ve got a long stretch of free time, because we guarantee you won’t want to put it down.