On Monday it was almost 70 degrees here in Rhode Island. I drove around with the top down. (The heat was still on, but the top was down none the less.) It sure beats two weeks ago when we got six inches of snow, and I completely freaked out over footprints in the snow. Summer is just around the corner, so let’s talk about what we’re going to read on summer vacation this year. I burn through a novel a week, and here are my top 10 picks from the best I’ve read lately.

BJ Knapp Top 10 beach reads 2016#10 Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell This story takes place over the course of a school year in 1986. Eleanor and Park are both misfits who find each other and fall in love. But it’s too bad that their respective misfit-ness could be just the thing that tears them apart. I loved this book because I am a sucker for stories set in the 80s. But Rainbow Rowell really captured the teen angst of feeling understood in all aspects of life as a teen.

BJ Knapp Top 10 beach reads for 2016#9 Kindred by Octavia Butler What an original concept! Dana is a black woman living in the 1970s, until she mysteriously gets pulled back into the antebellum south. Rufus is a boy in trouble, he’s drowning and she saves him. She gets pulled back every time Rufus is in trouble, but the problem is he lives in the time of cotton plantations and slavery. Can she escape back to the present without being enslaved herself?

BJ Knapp top 10 beach reads 2016#8 Arranged by Catherine McKenzie I listened to this one in the car on a trip for work, and got kinda obsessed with it. Anne Blythe thinks she signed up for a dating service, but she really signed up for an arranged marriage service that touts marriage as friendship instead of as love. She decides to go with it, because she has been so unlucky in love. Can she really make it work with a man she married moments after meeting him for the first time?

BJ Knapp Top 10 Beach Reads 2016#7 Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr This one is a quick and light read, the perfect chick lit story. Kimberly Long is a legal secretary by day, and a chick lit book blogger by night. She has to review a book by her high school nemesis, and she so badly wants to hate the book. In the meantime, things are heating up with her love interest at work, but she isn’t sure if that other woman he’s hanging around with is just a friend.

BJ Knapp Top 10 beach reads 2016#6 Fab by Mark Gillespie This is a novella, but Mark Gillespie really packs in a great story in a small package. I think my friends got tired of me constantly talking about this one after I’d read it. It’s about Jagger Salmon, a man who just happened to be walking by when Mark David Chapman was assassinating John Lennon. Jagger shoves John Lennon out of the way and saves his life. John Lennon repays him by offering him a job, and he learns the truth about what John Lennon is really like.

BJ Knapp Top 10 Beach Reads 2016#5 Guessing at Normal by Gail Ward Olmsted Jill Griffin works at a motel and meets a touring rock star staying at her motel. She falls for him and is pulled into the fast and glamorous rock and roll lifestyle. The two build a life together and she helps him write a masterpiece that rockets to the top of the charts. But can she handle constantly playing second fiddle to his fame?

BJ Knapp Top 10 Beach Reads 2016#4 Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry This is an honest peek at what it means to be a woman working on Wall Street. Isabelle is an executive at a top investment firm, makes the crazy salary and works even crazier hours. She rarely sees her family and she starts to question whether the financial payoffs are worth it. A group of women at the office begin to organize to combat the blatant sexism in the workplace. Eventually something has to give, right? Can women really have it all?

BJ Knapp Top Beach Reads 2016#3 Layla by Celine Keating Layla’s mom passed away just before the epic road trip they were planning on taking together. Layla takes the trip anyway and learns the secrets of her mother and the father whom she barely remembers. This book was awesome. Layla went from city to city and met all these characters from her mom and dad’s past as protestors of the Vietnam War.

BJ Knapp Top 10 Beach Reads 2016#2 Peace, Love and a Dead Hippie Chick, by NR Leigh Definitely one of the best books I’ve read in awhile, I couldn’t put this one down. It’s set in the mid ‘90s and is about three women who are, in different capacities, following the Grateful Dead. One is an ambitious drug dealer, another is nursing her drug addicted mother but longs to go with her boyfriend to follow the Dead. The last one leaves her Midwestern home and hides out in New Mexico. Eventually their stories intertwine, but the journey leading up to that point was amazing.

BJ Knapp Top 10 Beach reads 2016#1 Beside the Music by BJ Knapp. (Yeah, I know it’s shamelessly self-promoting. But if I don’t promote me then who will?) This book is about what happens to a marriage when an 80s metal band moves in to the house. Throw in a run for public office, a meddling mother in law, and screaming fans on the front lawn and you have the chaos of Brenda Dunkirk’s current life. Her husband moves out to get away from the band’s chaos and her boss is threatening to fire her if she doesn’t get her act together at work. She must decide if it’s possible to be one man’s wife and another man’s muse.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.