People Staff
June 20, 2013 05:00 PM

Our staffers have found three of the best kind of vacation books: they’re engrossing and long enough to keep you mesmerized until the sun sets.

Let us know what you think of our choices – and what you’re reading.

Tom Gliatto, TV Critic
His Pick: The Plantagenets by Dan Jones

Why would you pack a 534-page book of medieval British history in your beach tote? Because this account of the powerful line of kings from Henry II to Richard II is so commandingly readable – by my count, there are no more than four dull paragraphs in the whole thing. Jones sweeps us through wars, crusades, murders and succession crises. But history’s judgment lies chiefly in how these rulers navigated the growing demands of their subjects. Some, like Edward III, were truly worthy of the crown. Others were awful. Yes, we’re talking about you, Richard!

Kim Hubbard, Books Editor
Her Pick: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

My heart usually sinks when the second chapter of a novel introduces an entirely new set of characters – I was just starting to like the first ones! But Sullivan’s winning me over with this decades-spanning tale of four very different couples and the determinedly single career girl who dreamed up “a diamond is forever,” the slogan that helped make engagement rings de rigueur. There’s plenty of romance and sparkle, but don’t let the chick-lit cover fool you: this is one smart summer read.

Caroline Leavitt, Book Reviewer
Her Pick: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

What better way to cool down in the blazing heat than with this edgy, smart chiller? A time-traveling serial killer, the woman who keeps getting away from him, and a house with a deadly secret … the only better ingredient for summer might be the mint in your lemonade.

Check back every Thursday for another round of staff picks, and see more book reviews each week in PEOPLE magazine, on newsstands now. Plus, check out last week’s can’t put ’em down novels and more great book finds here.

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