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August is pretty much a mad dash to cram as many last minute summer activities in as possible. As a book nerd, mine includes making headway on my reading list. Coupling this with a trip to the beach or shady retreat, and you’ve got my all-time favorite summer pastime. For those of you looking for some great books to pack in your beach bags, here are some suggestions:

This first recommendation may as well be titled Confessions of a Binge Reader because, since the end of June, I’ve read six books by Elin Hilderbrand. Appropriately designed to lure in those of us dreaming of summer escapes, the novels (including "Summer People") never disappoint. Hilderbrand perfectly illuminates the drama of family life, friendships and love affairs against the backdrop of beautiful Nantucket Island. These books make me laugh, cry and stay up way too late to finish just one, or maybe three, more chapters!

My summer reading usually includes rereading one or two favorite titles. My choice this year is "The Historian," a most excellent and creepy novel that delves into the origins of the Dracula myth. From Amsterdam to Budapest and beyond, Kostova sends her characters on a whirlwind adventure that will bring a chill to even the hottest summer days.

My recommendation list would not be complete without at least one spy book! You can’t go wrong with any of Olen Steinhauer’s novels, but "The Cairo Affair" is a perfect page turner (or Kindle swiper). Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Arab Spring, this book has it all: murder, spies, and secret love affairs. No one is who they seem to be and the multiple points of view keep the reader guessing right up until the final surprise.