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The 17 Best Books to Pack for Your Summer Vacation

Fireplaces and mulled wine are nice; no one’s arguing with the charms of hygge when it comes to curling up with a nice book. But there is something about the lazy days of summer that invites a different kind of literary drifting. We call it the beach read, but wherever your higher-mercury escape takes place (the hammock, the inner tube, the fire escape, the subway), we have a recommendation—culled from our very own ranks—for you.

As intoxicating as a sake mojito, Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is a rare treat: a literary prize-winner that’s also a page-turner. Its heroine, Keiko, is an 18-year-old Tokyo misfit who yearns to be like everyone else. Then she lands a job at Hiiromachi Station Smile Mart, one of those enchanting Japanese wonderlands that are equal parts 7-Eleven, McDonald’s, and Starbucks. As Keiko finds liberation in the self-effacing rituals of being a good convenience store employee, Murata offers a smart, deliciously perverse look at everything from how mini-marts actually work to the rules, many of them invisible, that ultimately define our identity. And because the book is bracingly brief, you can down it in one afternoon gulp. – John Powers, Contributing Editor

I finally picked up Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry this summer and tore through it in one beach weekend. Unputdownable. – Alessandra Codinha, Culture Editor

I always read a lot of music books, but for some reason when summer rolls around I read almost nothing but—band bios, artist bios and memoirs. It just seems to be the season for it. Unfortunately, this often translates into Bad Books About Good Artists—extended recountings of fairly mundane-seeming recording sessions, the inevitable band breakup via “creative differences” and substance abuse. But there’s one book

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