Alternative Summer Book List

GOD do I hate “chick lit.”

I am filled with quiet despair, walking along the beach and seeing titles like “Mr. Wrong Now” or “Beauty and the Shoe” or some other horrible “beach reading.”

If you want disposable literature, read a magazine. If you want quirky, alternative summer reads, try one of these:


World War Z

by Max Brooks

This is an “oral history of the zombie wars.” The premise is that, after the recent zombie crisis, the author traveled all over the world and took down lots of different people’s stories.

It sounds like a dumb premise, but the book is ridiculously good. Brooks has a real ear for dialogue, so the accounts seem realistic. This is alarming to those of us who are highly suggestible. *coughmecough*

Plus, the neat thingy on the website said I have a 36% chance of survival in the event of a zombie war. Sweet!


by Gary Shteyngart

Lovable Russian Jew Misha Vainberg, fat and rich and dumb but with a beautiful soul, takes usabsurdistan through this bizarre and laugh-out-loud funny tale of life, liberty, and love.

This is prose like you’ve never see it before. Shteygart is truly a master. This is only his second novel (he also wrote The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, which is very good but not as abjectly brilliant as Absurdistan). Catch up on him before he releases his third novel, which I have no doubt will blow all our minds, all while we laugh hysterically.


The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

This is an oddly touching tale of a father and son in a post-apocalyptic world.

The Road the fastest read of all time because it’s impossible to put down. McCarthy (who also wrote No Country For Old Men, among others) writes in lyric prose about a savage time and its dead environment. The language is spare, minimalist.

Beautiful, frightening, and ultimately heart-breaking, this is a must-read — but not for the faint of heart.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?androids

by Philip K. Dick

Ever see the movie Blade Runner? Well, this is the novel it was based on.

Philip K. Dick is one of the most prolific and influential science fiction writers of all time. In my personal opinion, he generally does best in his shortest stories–get in and get out, with a blow to the brain like nothing else.

But this is a notable exception. If you read just one classic science fiction book, let it be this. Philosophical, entertaining, and as original as they come, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? makes for a great beach snuggle.

Am I missing anything? What are you favorite “alternative” beach reads?

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