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No more feeling guilty about getting sucked into those “mindless” beach reads: Turns out reading fiction can make you smarter. Really! It was found to stimulate the parts of your brain that enhance memory, language, and—get this—meditative practices for up to five days, says Gregory Berns, PhD, of Emory University. We combed this season’s hottest novels to help you find one that suits your fancy. Settle into that lounge chair.
If you like a good mystery…
The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh (Crown, 2014)
This breezy read combines soulful mysticism, the complexities of sibling relationships, and adventure travel as two sisters search for the answers to their novelist mother’s sudden and suspicious death.
If you like chick lit…
Breathe by Kate Bishop (Diversion, 2013)
Perfect for yoga junkies in search of asana-based drama, this one’s got it all: love, betrayal, personal soul-searching, and even something for those of you lusting after your yoga teacher—hey, we know it happens.
If you like literary adventure…
Point of Direction by Rachel Weaver (Ig, 2014)
Weaver’s prose is as expansive as its Alaska wilderness setting, but Point of Direction, named a top-10 debut novel of 2014 by the American Booksellers Association, is no literary yawn. The heroine, Anna, is running from a mysterious past, but still finds romance with a hunky guy, and Alaska-style adventure.
If you like social satire…
Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro (St. Martin’s, 2014)
Explore the messiness of midlife group friendship (Friends with Kids, anyone?) in Fierro’s debut novel as it picks through the relationship issues of six couples vacationing with kids at a beach house.
If you like historical fiction…
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Viking, 2014)
Two young girls—one a slave, the other her master—are moved by a sense of social justice, personal strength, and friendship to change the narrow structures that define their lives. It’s a story so profoundly meaningful and intricate, you won’t come up for air until the final page, and yet will wish that it never needed to be written.