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Here Are 4 Fabulous Beach Reads — Whether You're On A Beach Or Not

A composite of book covers showing: Dream Girl by Laura Lippman, Death of a Showman by Mariah Fredericks, The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald, and A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole.
NPR

No matter if you aren't on a beach at this very moment — late summer is the time for losing yourself in novels. Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries series, has some recommendations for books that can be devoured anywhere — some old, some new.

(These recommendations have been edited for clarity and length.)

Dream Girl, by Laura Lippman

Dream Girl, by Laura Lippman
/ William Morrow
/
William Morrow

I love the Tess Monaghan series. My mom lives in Annapolis, so I always love reading about the goings-on next door in Baltimore. Dream Girl — it's Tess Monaghan adjacent — it's pretty dark. It's a little bit of a departure for Laura Lippman.

It's got a male main character who's a writer. He's got some dark secrets that may or may not be coming out during the course of this novel. It's almost like horror, a little bit. He's an unreliable narrator. He's kind of drifting in and out of a drug-induced haze and stuff is happening, but he's not really sure if it's really happening, or if he's imagining it, or if it's drugs. It's a very engrossing read.

Death of a Showman, by Mariah Fredericks

Death of a Showman, by Mariah Fredericks
/ Minotaur Books
/
Minotaur Books

It's kind of fun for fans of Downton Abbey — this is what people were doing on the other side of the pond in New York City. So we've got a main character who is a lady's maid, so you're seeing what she's doing in the servants' quarters, but then she's observing all the beautiful ladies in Manhattan, the wonderful clothes and the sumptuous food.

But then the maid, is also out on the streets of New York and kind of seeing the restlessness and the poverty that's going on. Of course, I don't know about this maid because it seems like everywhere she goes, there's a murder. I personally wouldn't hire her. They're really fun books — I've been learning, though, as I read.

The Deep Blue Good-By, by John D. MacDonald

The Deep Blue Good-by, by John D. MacDonald
/ Random House Trade Paperbacks
/
Random House Trade Paperbacks

I always think of The Travis McGee Series as kind of like ... dude lit. It's definitely kind of the hardboiled mystery novels that my dad loved. They started in the 1960s and they went on into the '80s and they're a little dated. He's a hardboiled P.I., so he has that kind of P.I. mentality that every woman he meets is going to fall in love with him — and they usually do. But they're also so much fun to read because they're set in Florida and John D. MacDonald loved Florida. He just writes about it so lovingly and he's so concerned about the environment. I can't recommend these books enough for somebody who truly wants to kind of take a visit through time.

A Princess in Theory, by Alyssa Cole

A Princess in Theory, Alyssa Cole
/ Avon
/
Avon

A Princess in Theory is based on a funny idea — we all get those emails from the "Nigerian prince" or wherever he's from. A character in this book is getting those emails — she's a Black grad student and, you know, she deletes them as we all would. But hers actually turn out to be from a real prince — she's a foster kid and this guy is really trying to tell her that she has a connection to this country. Every time she deletes the email, she's actually throwing away her her future because this guy wants to marry her. This is the first book in a series called "Reluctant Royals" — there's really something for everyone in this series — if you're interested in romance and you like funny, witty books.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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