The Vacationers and The Interestings

By Emma Straub
304 pages, Riverhead Hardcover

The story: The dysfunctional secrets of the Post family come to light on a trip to Mallorca to celebrate a 35th wedding anniversary.

Why people loved it: It's a perfect beach read—sly humor, sun-drenched islands and family drama.

What to read next: Last year's The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer for its similar whip-smart, painfully funny observations about friendship and family.
The Silkworm and The Cuckoo's Calling

By Robert Galbraith
464 pages, Mulholland Books

The story: Grumpy, lumbering, brilliant, one-legged English detective Cormoran Strike is back in a new mystery by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series). This time, Strike is tracking down missing Owen Quine—a writer whose latest novel, Bombyx Mori, trashes the entire London literary community. In addition to the various authors, editors and agents who Quine has parodied and enraged, he's managed to upset his lonely wife, his less-than-talented lover and a mysterious, knife-wielding woman in a cloak.

Why people loved it: The surprise-laden quest to find the murderer is unerringly combined with the romantic pining of Strike, both for his clever, generous assistant and his beautiful, narcissistic ex-girlfriend.

What to read next: Besides Rowling's first mystery novel The Cuckoo's Calling, try Tana French's Faithful Place for its equally grumpy and brilliant detective Frank Mackey.
All the Light We Cannot See and Léon & Louise

By Anthony Doerr
544 pages, Scribner

The story: Blind, young Marie-Laure LeBlanc and the orphan Werner Pfennig struggle to survive during World War II and make their way to a small French coastal town where they fall in love.

Why people loved it: Though this novel came out last spring, it really took off this summer due to its ability, as our O Magazine reviewer wrote, "to [surprise] until the last pages with its pleasures large and small: wooden puzzle boxes shaped like houses, a Braille copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, characters as noble as they are enthralling."

What to read next: Totally different in tone—but set in the same time period and with an equal, achingly addictive romance—the overlooked charmer Léon and Louise.
California and MaddAddam

By Edan Lepucki
400 pages, Little, Brown and Company

The story: In this post-apocalyptic novel, Frida and Cal leave ruined L.A. for the California wilderness, only to find new, far more threatening dangers.

Why people loved it: Lepucki became a media darling after her appearance on The Colbert Report. Add to that: the darkness of her novel is tempered by compassion and tenderness. Look for moments, such as when Cal says, "I have no interest in finding out what's beyond the territory we've already explored.... All I need, all I want, is right here. With you."

What to read next: Pick up Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam for this powerful writer's take on what O Magazine books editor Leigh Haber calls a "dystopic [universe] in which the Earth has been ravaged, mostly by humans who can't help messing with nature and each other."
Mr. Mercedes and Broken Monsters

By Stephen King
448 pages, Scribner

The story: A psychopath in a gleaming—yes—Mercedes mows down a line of desperate job seekers. The murderer, who lives—yes—with his mother, taunts a brilliant ex-cop (with whom he has a history) until the cop comes out of retirement to help solve the crime.

Why people loved it: Stephen King! And its wickedly intelligent commentary on America's economic inequality.

What to read next: The inventive fall horror-thriller Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes, about a psycho murderer in Detroit and the detective who's trying to stop him.