Put on your headphones, lie back in the sand, and let others do the reading for you. Essayist Sloane Crosley's witty collection How Did You Get This Number recalls close encounters with a grizzly-bear wedding guest, a kleptomaniac roommate, and a passel of Portuguese circus clowns.
Ann Brashares (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) conjures a supernaturally tinged romance in My Name Is Memory, about a dizzying first passion that's rekindled again and again over centuries.
And best-selling author Jane Green's affecting novel Promises to Keep chronicles a year in the life of two very different sisters, their lovestruck friend, their long-divorced parents,and the food that sustains them, recipes included!
Next: 3 new television shows to inspire your next do-it-yourself endeavor
If you're keen to give your home an eco-makeover, don't miss the green innovations of This New House (DIY Network), which peeks inside the nation's most earth-friendly living spaces (your cohost is Kevin O'Connor of This Old House).
If you dream of pulling up stakes and going back to the land, follow the exploits of The Fabulous Beekman Boys (Planet Green), a bickering pair of Manhattan professionals turned gentlemen goat farmers.
And if you long to pull the old easel and painter's smock from the back of your closet, tune in to Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo), a competition series from producers Sarah Jessica Parker and the team behind Top Chef and Project Runway.
Next: Artsy, grown-up film classics and world cinema to enjoy
Curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and grown-up classics newly available from the superb DVD label Criterion Collection. Though its subject is loss and inheritance, the vividly drawn French family drama Summer Hours, starring Juliette Binoche, brims with life and energy—it's the kind of richly textured drama you want to absorb without distraction and talk about afterward.
Or go on a great-movie binge with Essential Art House Volume V, the latest in Criterion's well-priced series of canonical world cinema—this batch of six includes Milos Forman's bittersweet Loves of a Blonde and the heartwrenching romance Brief Encounter.
Next: Podcasts for lovers of nature, science, and gripping storytelling
When a remote bird sanctuary or the Masai Mara is calling your name, plug into the Nature Conservancy's Nature Stories. The cast of characters ranges from baby elephants to ancient cave people to the "bilingual sparrow" (Nature.org/podcasts).
If your wanderlust reaches to the outer limits of the mind and universe, try The Guardian's Science Weekly (Guardian.co.uk/audio), which delves into everything from the latest climate change news to the evolutionary roots of music-making.
For a suspenseful oceanic voyage, listen to writer Deborah Scaling Kiley's masterful "Lost at Sea," about a shipwrecked sailor's narrow escape from a watery grave—just one of the gripping yarns available from storytelling collective The Moth (TheMoth.org).
Next: Need some new tunes? We have 3 albums for you to check out
Veteran soul singer Bettye LaVette, who stole the show at the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors with her rendition of Pete Townshend's "Love Reign O'er Me," sticks to an English beat with Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook, featuring spins on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin.
A blues-rock band with a shimmering pop finish (and a lead singer who evokes Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams), Grace Potter & the Nocturnals revel in the heat and sweat of summer on their new self-titled album.
And anyone who's ever shimmied—or made out—to a Curtis Mayfield song will adore the ultradanceable funk of Milwaukee's Kings Go Forth on their debut album, The Outsiders Are Back.
Going away? Get prepared for your vacation with O's essential summer travel tips