Travel

13 Great Beach Reads From Well-Read DC Types

Finally getting away? You’ll want to bring a good book.

Photographs by Lauren Bulbin

The Food Explorer

Daniel Stone

“Stone’s dry humor and eye for anecdote animate David Fairchild’s navigation of agricultural politics and DC bureaucracy as he brings avocados, dates, and citrus to American tables.”

Sandra Beasley, Author of the poetry collection Made to Explode

Animal

Lisa Taddeo

“The novel follows a woman who is enraged at the cruel acts men perpetuate against women. Once she unravels the details of a horrific memory from her past, she decides to take matters into her own hands.”

Brittany Kerfoot, Director of events at Politics and Prose

Mama Day

Gloria Naylor

“This novel is about a Black woman in New York who meets a guy and they go to her rural island home off the Georgia coast. The culture is sensual, mystical, and full of Black power. It is a very compelling read.”

Marianne Noble, American University professor who teaches a “Beach Reads” course

Interior Chinatown

Charles Yu

“No one is better at capturing how stereotypes come to have force in American society, and Yu manages to inject this sober truth with humor.”

Richard C. Sha, Professor of literature and philosophy at American University

The Hive

Melissa Scholes Young

“This compelling family drama by a local author explores family and identity in moving, gorgeous prose.”

Hannah Grieco, Founder of the monthly series Readings on the Pike

You Had Me at Hola

Alexis Daria

“There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure—there are only things you enjoy. This fun, smart, steamy romance about two soap-opera costars has absolutely everything to enjoy.”

Rebecca Speas, Bookseller at One More Page Books in Arlington

The Man Who Came Uptown

George Pelecanos

“Nothing like a George Pelecanos novel to understand the ins and outs and quirks of DC. Pelecanos should be required reading for all new transplants to DC.”

Andy Shallal, Founder and CEO of Busboys and Poets

Five Other Good Books for Your Beach Bag

The Personal Librarian

Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

“The book I can’t wait to read is about J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite a ‘dangerous secret.’ ”

Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

They’re Gone

E.A. Barres

“DC author E.A. Aymar, writing under a pseudonym, gives us a local murder mystery—an exhilarating whodunit with strong female main characters.”

Hannah Grieco, Founder of the monthly series Readings on the Pike

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Hiro Arikawa

“Narrated by Nana the cat as he travels with his friend Satoru across Japan, this is a gently hypnotic—and, yes, heartbreaking—‘road trip.’ ”

Sandra Beasley, Author of the poetry collection Made to Explode

Four Hundred Souls

Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

“I am excited about the retelling of history that is truly representative of who we are as a country and who we hope to become.”

Andy Shallal, Founder and CEO of Busboys and Poets

Fortune Favors the Dead

Stephen Spotswood

“This mystery by a DC playwright is a delicious page-turner that shocks, surprises, and snarks in all the right places.”

Rebecca Speas, Bookseller at One More Page Books

This article appears in the June 2021 issue. 

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Top Doctors, and Great Small Towns. She lives in DC.