‘Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose’ by Flannery O’Connor

When Flannery O’Connor died in 1964 — at the young age of 34 — she left behind stacks of her unpublished essays, criticisms and articles. These works, none of which had been widely circulated, were soon organized and edited by O’Connor’s close friends and compiled into “Mystery and Manners.” Each piece is crisp and bright, laden with prudent analysis of the South, writing and being a woman in O’Connor’s time. O’Connor’s prose is smooth and elegant — perfect for a quick read basking in the summer warmth, maybe while drinking sweet tea as O’Connor did as she wrote each piece of prose we now read.

—Hannah Kressel

‘11/22/63’ by Stephen King

“You can’t repeat the past,” Nick tells Gatsby, who responds, “Why of course you can!”

This dilemma — whether you can repeat the past and whether you should — is at the heart of Stephen King’s 2011 historical thriller, “11/22/63.” The novel, about a present-day teacher who finds a portal to 1958, examines the JFK assassination in the years leading up to the fateful day.

King’s thick description transports readers back to the late 1950s and early 1960s, interweaving history, murder, love and science fiction all in one. Though not the typical beach read, this is a summer must.

—Abby Patkin

‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates

At 179 pages, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” is the perfect summer read. The book is written in the form of a letter addressed to Coates’ son, an African-American boy of 15 years who finds himself lost and horrified as he navigates the racist maze of American society. While each page plunges deeper into Coates’ argument that racist institutions are permanent, his prose has a fluidity and rhythm that distracts from the grimness of the story. This leaves the reader with the impression that the book in his or her hands is one of beautiful poetry and not a cautionary tale.

—Victor Feldman