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10 Great Beach Reads for Summer 2012

Everyone loves a good story, and summer is the perfect time to get lost in a new one. So whether you're relaxing on the beach or in a hammock, curling up with a paperback at your lakeside rental, or just cramming in chapters on a crammed-in plane, these breezy bestsellers should be at the top of your must-read list this summer. We're pretty bookish by nature here at SmarterTravel, and we've already devoured most of them ourselves.

'The Age of Miracles' by Karen Thomson Walker

A coming-of-age story with a decidedly apocalyptic spin, The Age of Miracles follows 11-year-old Julia and her family after the world's rotation suddenly begins to slow. Days become longer, gravity shifts, and environmental calamities threaten everything and everyone on Earth. "A triumph of vision, language, and terrifying momentum," says Publishers Weekly. I completely agree. I finished reading it a few weeks ago and it's still lingering in my thoughts. I loved it. I bet you will, too. (Buy 'The Age of Miracles' at Amazon)

'Broken Harbor' by Tana French

Even if you haven't read any of French's earlier psychological mysteries (and you really should—they're great), you'll have no trouble picking up this thriller about a grisly murder in a ghostly Irish subdivision. It's putting the book down once you start that may be difficult. We got ahold of an advance review copy of Broken Harbor in May and everyone here at SmarterTravel who's read it gives it rave reviews, myself included. Highly recommended. (Buy 'Broken Harbor' at Amazon)

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'Beautiful Ruins' by Jess Walter

From sun-drenched Italy to Hollywood's back lots, Jess Walter's inventive and surprising roller-coaster ride of a lost loves and idealistic dreamers weaves together dozens of stories overly nearly five decades. It's been hailed as "funny, brash, witty, and rich with ironic twists" (Kirkus Reviews) and "hilarious and heartbreaking” (Huffington Post). We can't wait to get our hands on this one. (Buy 'Beautiful Ruins' at Amazon)

'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn

On Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears and Nick looks like the prime suspect. But is he really the killer—or is something even more disturbing going on? We promise you won’t be able to put this one down until you reach the end. (Buy 'Gone Girl' at Amazon)

'The Third Gate' by Lincon Child

If ancient curses, archeological digs, and artifacts of unspeakable power get your pulse racing, you'll love this "Indiana Jones meets the X-Files" mash up by Lincoln Child (one half of the Preston and Child writing team, going solo this time). In the hands of a skilled writer like Child, The Third Gate lives up to its promise as the summer's most rip-roaring adventure yarn. (Buy 'The Third Gate' at Amazon)

'50 Shades of Grey' by E.L. James

Full disclosure: I have no plans to read this book. Ever. But if you're looking for an excuse, the beach might just be the perfect place to give it a try. Nobody will be able to tell if you're blushing or just sunburned! (Buy '50 Shades of Grey' at Amazon)

'Seating Arrangements' by Maggie Shipstead

This summer romp set on a pristine New England island isn't just smart and funny—it's also a sophisticated social satire and an insightful rumination on families, weddings, and love. "Whipsmart and engaging," says O Magazine. "The best kind of smart beach read." (Buy 'Seating Arrangements' at Amazon)

'The Uninvited Guests' by Sadie Jones

A dark and stormy night. An elegant dinner party. A ramshackle British manor. Jones makes these familiar elements feel fresh again against the backdrop of Edwardian England. “A remarkable dark comedy," says Publisher's Weekly, "but for all its charm, this is a serious book.” (Buy 'The Uninvited Guests' at Amazon)

'The Orphanmaster' by Jean Zimmerman

Part historical mystery, part touching love story, part psychological thriller, this endearing novel set in seventeenth century New York (then New Amsterdam) is for the history and mystery lovers out there. It's high on our must-read list. (Buy 'The Orphanmaster' at Amazon)

'Attachments' by Rainbow Rowell

Hands down the best pure rom-com on this list, Attachments is the story of a lonely IT guy charged with monitoring the emails of his coworkers. Naturally, he falls in love with one of them. Naturally, it gets complicated. A warm comedic treat told deftly and with tremendous wit. (Buy 'Attachments' at Amazon)

(Editor's note: As an Amazon affiliate seller, we get a small percentage of the revenue generated by any books purchased throught the links above.)

Have you read any of the books on our list? What's your must-read summer book? Share your thoughts below!

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