What to Read

Alex "The Beach" Garland spins a chiller about a man waking from a coma, Colm Toibin explores the tragic sensibility of Henry James, and Geoff Nicholson gives us English people being very bad. Plus: A teenage female Holden Caulfield -- no, really!

Published July 7, 2004 8:00PM (EDT)

Summer isn't just a-comin' in -- it's here. Whether you're in the swampy East or the sizzling West -- and even if you're fortunate enough to be someplace cooler, like with your tootsies right in the ocean -- we hope that means lazy days and lots of time to read new fiction.

We didn't exactly look for beach reading for this special summer edition of What to Read, but we did want vacation-friendly books that would nonetheless remind you that you had a brain, and can sometimes use it. We wound up with a mix of the high-impact titles of the season, like Irish novelist Colm Tóibín's "The Master" and bestselling wunderkind Alex Garland's "The Coma," and some gems other reviewers mostly seemed to miss, including paperback first novels from Stephen Policoff and Andrea Seigel that you won't want to miss.

So whether your taste runs to a satirical, sex-fueled L.A. romp (that'd be Geoff Nicholson's "The Hollywood Dodo"), Henry James' struggle between art and life (Tóibín), an overachieving teen meticulously planning her suicide (Seigel) or a Cape Cod vacation gone spectacularly awry (Policoff), we've got you covered. And by the time you finish reading these five novels -- they're all pretty brisk -- we'll be back with more, before the summer's over. We promise.

Our first pick: A young actress wants to "grab Hollywood by the balls" as English people attack L.A. and all hell breaks loose

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