'Go Set a Watchman' Is Set To Be The Book Of Summer 2015, Plus 9 Other Books That Helped Define The Past Summers
When it comes to cinema, the making of a summer blockbuster is simple — take one part franchise, add megawatt action stars, stir in a dash of CGI, and serve. At the bookstore, however, things get just a little bit more complicated. This summer, it's almost a certainty that everyone on the beach will be holding a copy of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman come July 14. But look back at the literary blockbusters of the past 10 years makes it pretty clear that there's no formula for finding the defining book of the summer. In fact, they're all so different, there's a chance that you haven't read them all.
In honor of the release of Watchman, I've compiled a list of some of the biggest beach books of the last 10 years that helped define their respective summers — just as Lee's new story is poised to do. So, when you've finished with Watchman and you've still got a few vacation days left, head back in time with a blockbuster from beach days gone by. I promise there's something for everyone here, no matter what you crave while under the sun.
2015: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Fans of the timeless classic To Kill a Mockingbird have been waiting more than half a century for the release of another Harper Lee novel. Although copies won't hit the shelves until July 14, we already know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lee can build suspense like nobody's business. Sure, you could play it cool and wait to dig into the novel right on track to be the biggest blockbuster of the summer, but why wait — you've had 55 years to get worked up about it, so now's the time to celebrate.
2014: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Not all summer blockbusters are long-awaited classics or literary gems, but the biggest book of 2014 hit both marks right on the head. Donna Tartt's adventurous epic swarmed lounge chairs everywhere, beating out whimsical romances and capricious capers with a unique blend of high-brow narrative nuance and sheer, storytelling supremacy. If you missed Goldfinch last summer, you're in for a treat.
2013: Inferno by Dan Brown
When conjuring up an image of the traditional summer beach book, chances are Dan Brown's 2003 game-changer The Da Vinci Code springs immediately to mind. Of course, like any big winner, Brown knows better than to let a best-selling thriller sit for too long without a sequel, and what was once the summer beach book to beat soon became a series. Summer loves a sequel, so it's not hard to see why the final installment in the Robert Langdon series quickly became the number one beach book of 2013. (And if this one wasn't your thing, you were lapping up Americanah , like me.)
2012: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
With the success of the 2014 film, Gone Girl is back on the tip of everyone's tongue, but it may surprise you to hear that way back in 2012 Gone Girl had already rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists as the book to beat. If you've just now crawled out from a graduate program or a boycott on fun and you still haven't read Flynn's taught, sexy thriller, prepare to be enchanted.
2011: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
While thrillers regularly take the title of bestselling summer blockbuster, there is another type of fiction that occasionally makes it's way to the top of the pile — the heartwarming novel of affection and intimacy with a nugget of pure history at it's core. While no one could have predicted the American love affair with The Help, if you're looking for a summer read with real heart you can't do better than Stockett's 2011 winner.
2010: Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann
When murder and mayhem don't top the summer charts and sleeper sensations don't shock us all into something a little more heartwarming, romance of the light and fluffy variety is the most likely candidate for beach book of the summer, and in 2010 romance made good. With angst and adoration, with college and consequences, with first love and forbidden romance, Anthropology of an American Girl won the summer in 2010 and stands the test of time for anyone looking to be sucked down the rabbit hole of love this season.
2009: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
From the first publication of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson has regularly topped summer's best-of lists, and his books are still wildly read beneath striped umbrellas and on screened-in porches nation-wide. In 2009, however, you could hardly swing a cloth tote without hitting The Girl Who Played with Fire. In the first year of it's English-language release, Larsson's brash, brainy thriller was all anyone talked about, and if you haven't already had the pleasure, it is never too late to get in on the conversation.
2008: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow
2008 was another year of heart and soul in the sand with Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society topping charts around the country. The transporting tale of small town mysteries on foreign shores (and a little romance thrown in for good measure) is just about as wholesome as apple pie, and equally delicious.
2007: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Only rarely does a historical novel top the charts as one of the bestselling books of summer, but with A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini accomplished the nearly-impossible and reminded us all that sometimes a little sun and surf pair perfectly with a multi-generational saga of family and friendship forged under fire.
2006: Cell by Stephen King
Although he seems to be making something of a comeback in 2015, a quick glance at the charts is enough to make it clear that when it comes to summer blockbusters Stephen King has never left the building. With Cell King struck gold in 2006, but this is one genre master who knows exactly how to please the relaxing masses. History is filled with Stephen King summer beach blockbusters, but if you're looking for the perfect place to start a Kingly summer, let it be Cell.
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