The beach is wonderful and all, but you have to be really rich or really lucky — or really unemployed — to spend all your time lying in the sand while reading books and sipping tequila drinks. While that certainly sounds like a nice life, there’s so much more to summer than sun and sand — and your standard “10000 great beach reads” lists don’t even begin to cover it. So, we asked a few authors and other literary types to recommend the ultimate summertime books for all situations. Rebecca Rubenstein: Light in August, William Faulkner
I read the majority of Light in August with my bare feet dangling off the edge of a pier, at a beach within walking distance of my high school. It was the last quarter of junior year, May, and Chicago’s nicer weather was already in peak form, the breeze and waves from Lake Michigan keeping in perfect time with one another. If ever there was a soundtrack to read Faulkner to, the movement of water, coupled with the soft hiss of cicadas, is it. If you’re lucky, summertime is rife with both of these, and I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to discover Faulkner’s layers and language and voice for the first time with the warmth of the sun on my back and the echo of the waves in my ears.
Rebecca Rubenstein is the editor-in-chief of Midnight Breakfast.