One of my favorite things about summer is finding a great poolside or beach read and getting lost in the story. Every summer I try to read as many books as possible and I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites from over the years. You know, the ones you start reading at 10AM and by 3PM you’re eight chapters deep and look like a lobster. So slather on some suntan lotion and get ready to escape in a fantastic page-turner! (Spoilers ahead)
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann was the first of its kind, filled with tales of friendship, sex, drugs, and adultery, turning chick lit into a genre of its own. The story is about three best friends growing up in the late 1960s’ New York who never want to grow old, and more importantly, look old. Their eyes are set on reaching the top of the entertainment industry. They have money to burn and have a weakness “dolls” aka, amphetamines and barbiturates. It’s the perfect combination for self-destruction.
Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis is set in the wealthy West Side of Los Angeles during the 1980s, Less than Zero takes us on an insider’s tour of the upper classes descent into drug addiction, and total fucked-up-ness. Clay returns to LA for Christmas break after spending a semester at a boarding school in New England. He’s excited to see his friends, especially his girlfriend Blair and his best friend Julian. As he goes from party to party he realizes how much everyone and everything has changed, and how sick and twisted some of his closest friends have become. Julian has become addicted to heroin and he’s prostituting himself to pay off a debt to his drug dealer. This brilliantly written book has a sad ending. It’s one of those books you just can’t put down.
Thing Of Beauty, The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia by Stephen Fried tells the tragic story of the ‘first supermodel,’ Gia Carangi. Gia was discovered at seventeen in Philadelphia and moved to New York City to start her modeling career and soon after she was gracing the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan. The fast paced New York City lifestyle sucked her in and not long after she became addicted to heroin. This tragic and mesmerizing tale tells the story of her self-destruction by those closest to her.
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis details Anthony Kiedis, the frontman of the Red Hot Chili Peppers severe drug addiction. Kiedis started using drugs at the tender age of 11 with his father. The years that followed are a combination of a descent into hardcore drugs all while creating some of the best selling albums that we are still listening to today.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen tells the mesmerizing true story of eighteen year old Susanna Kaysen’s stay in a psychiatric facility during the late 1960s. Kaysen agreed to check into the McLean Hospital located in New England for a few weeks. Two years later she was still there. Her horrifying story is a first hand account of what she experienced and what she witnessed while being locked away in the ward.
As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew by Jen Chaney Gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how Clueless came to be the cult sensation that it is today. In this brilliantly captured book you learn about how the Jane Austin novel Emma influenced the script as well as how the cast, costumes, sets, and the soundtrack were created. Take a look at never-before-seen casting and production notes, call sheets, and photos. Read the cast and crew’s stories and their tribute to the late Brittany Murphy. A perfect book to throw in your beach bag or read poolside as you sip mimosas.
Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER by Julie Holland paints a vivid picture of Holland’s years working at the infamous Bellevue Mental Hospital in New York City. “Julie Holland thought she knew what crazy was. Then she came to Bellevue.” Hear the fascinating, heart-breaking, horrifying and almost hard to believe stories of some of the patients she dealt with on a regular basis. From drug addicts, to rich professionals, to the lice-infested homeless, Holland has seen it all.
Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein tells the tragic life story of Eddie Sedgwick starting with her aristocratic, wealthy Massachusetts family. Hear from her family, her friends, her rivals, and her lovers, as they paint a picture of a young girl who had everything, but her heart was set desperately on attaining fame. Growing up in the 1960s, Eddie moved to New York City and was dubbed the first “It Girl,” and became a part of Andy Warhol’s Factory. She lived a fast life of sex, drugs, rock n roll and fashion, and died at the young age of twenty-eight from a drug overdose.
Helter Skelter: The True Story of The Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi takes us on a chilling journey of 1969 in Los Angeles, when cult leader Charles Manson and his followers began terrorizing LA. They brutally murdered nine people in four different crime sprees over a five week period. In what shocked the world, Vincent Buglisoi, who was the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trials, gives us a disturbing but fascinating look at the Manson murders all the way up until the conviction, and everything in between. Hear about the detective work that went into solving the brutal Manson murders, which were described as the biggest crime in Los Angeles’s history. Learn what were myths and rumors versus what was the truth.
Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Skyes takes us on a tour of the glamorous world of Park Avenue Princesses, aka “PAPs” (think Gossip Girl but for the twenty-something), as they navigate their way through the world of New York society. Bergdorf Goodman is their second home and they’re obsessed with Hermes, Manolos, and finding the perfect pair of Chloe jeans. They’re “It Girls” who love to gossip over Dom Perignon as they take a PJ, aka private jet from New York to Paris. However, in their eyes life can be rough. Will they ever find true love? And what I mean by true love is will they ever find a rich man to give them a Harry Winston diamond? If you’re a fan of Sex and the City you’ll love this light-hearted, amusing satire.