Why pick up any old thriller or romance novel when there are so many to read that are set right here on Long Island?  Readers looking to learn some local history, immerse themselves in a real-life thriller, or dive into a world of make believe, there’s a book that will make LI come alive with imagination. Here are 10 of the latest beach reads, many of which are set on LI.

The Widow WaltzFor the Reader Looking for the Beachiest Beach Read
The Widow Waltz by Sally Koslow
How could there be a beach read list with out the “beach read” book? The Widow Waltz takes to the Hamptons where Georgia Waltz, the widow of a New York City lawyer, is left with nothing after her husband’s death. After selling off most of her assets including her Manhattan apartment, Georgia and her two adult daughters get a new start living at their beach house in the Hamptons. This book is filled with humor, romance, and family bonding making it the must have in your beach bag.

For the Reader Who Can’t Get Enough of Crime Shows
Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker
As much as Gilgo Beach murders have been discussed in the last three years, there is still an heir of mystery around the events and lives of the victims, or “lost girls” as Kolker calls them. With impeccable narrative skill, Kolker weaves the story of the investigation with the lives of the victims, which reads like an episode of Law & Order or The Killing. In the end, this book will leave you questioning our own perceptions about prostitution and how that plays into the investigation of this serial killer.

For the Reader who Loves Biographies The Manor Cover
The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island by Mac Griswold.
Long Island may not be the first place that comes to mind when talking about plantations, but there is still a long and sordid history of slavery in the northeast, which few venture into. The Manor vividly and intricately relays the story of the Sylvester family who have lived and worked at their Shelter Island estate for more than three centuries and 11 generations. This is the fascinating story of one family who has survived centuries of wealth and struggle to become a staple, good or bad, in Long Island history.

For the Reader Who Loved the Hunger Games
So Close to You by Rachel Carter
Don’t let the teen category dismiss this mystery meets sci/fi series (So Close to You is the first book) is an adventurous and imaginative take on the mystery surrounding the Montauk Project. Coaxed by her grandfather, teenage Long Islander Lydia Bently investigates her great grandfather’s disappearance while working on the Montauk Project 60 years earlier. Lydia finds herself sent back in time to just days before her great-grandfather’s disappearance and starts to uncover the real story around this local legend.

For the Reader Who Watches Sports out of the blue
Out of the Blue by Victor Cruz and Peter Schrager
Though not a Long Island native, Cruz does play for a beloved New York football team the Giants and his memoir spans his career. However, this is not just about finding the strength to be a great athlete. Cruz details his more personal struggles, his life leading up to going pro, and how certain choices made his career.

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For the Reader Still on a Great Gatsby Kick
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler
While the novel briefly takes place on Long Island, the Fitzgerald’s are a staple of LI history. It seems impossible to talk about books and the Island without bringing up a Fitzgerald. This novelization of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life and marriage to the famous writer F. Scott, author of The Great Gatsby, gives color and character to an otherwise unknown figure. Fowler does not shy away from some of the more tragic details of their lives, giving this novel a human touch. The glamour of the jazz age mixed with Zelda’s passion and mental instability make this a must-read this summer.

For the Reader Who Loves the Paranormal
Long Island Oddities: Curious Locales, Unusual Occurances and Unlikely Urban Adventures by John Leita and Laura Leita
Yes, yes. There are some creepy places on Long Island. Late night drive-by Pilgrim Psych Center or Mary’s Grave are always a summer to-do list. But what about the mysteriously abandoned duck farm in Patchogue? How about visiting Popper the Poltergeist? While some of these may not be the scariest of stories, this is still a compilation of the weird, paranormal and sometimes comical places on Long Island.  This quick read is perfect a late night beach trip around the bonfire.

For the Reader Who Watches Girls brooklyn-girls-book-gemma-burgess
Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess
Though not necessarily a Long Island-based read, think of it more as aspirational for all the recent college grads out there. This novel, a prime example of the new “New Adult” literary genre, follows the friendships, relationships and struggles of young women living in an apartment in Brooklyn. Though the plot sounds familiar, Burgess goes about the novel with humor, honesty, and an acute knowledge of life of 20-somethings, giving the novel a unique voice.

For the Reader Who Loves Local History
Murder on Long Island: A Nineteenth Century Tale of Tragedy and Revenge by Geoffrey J. Fleming
Long Island is no stranger to the gruesome and shocking. Murder on Long Island vividly conveys the events of a double homicide in Cutchogue in 1854. Nicholas Behan kills his employer and his employer’s wife after being fired for harassing a fellow worker. Though this is a short book, it covers a wide span of time leading up to the murders through the trial. This book tells a fascinating and little known piece of local history that will shock readers.

For the Reader Looking for Inspiration
I’ll See You Again by Jackie Hance
Jackie Hance is the mother of the three daughters who died in the tragic car accident on the Taconic Parkway in 2009. In the wake of unbelievable heartbreak, Hance recounts the day of the accident, the struggles of her marriage, forgiving her sister-in-law, and how her neighborhood came together to help her family through their tough times. I’ll See You Again is inspiring and uplifting despite Hance’s experience and shows one can survive and strive even the worst of circumstances.


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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.