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With summer vacations approaching fast (or already here, for you lucky b*stards), and chances to bask in the sun by the pool becoming more frequent, it’s time to pick a book or two worth exploring at airports and while visiting those dull in-laws. So, here are five books that merit some serious consideration. Some are old, some are fairly new, but they are all offer a one-of-a-kind transportive experience, like only a good read can.

A Moveable Feast (1964) – Ernest Hemingway
Whether you are spending your summer corralling the family in suburbia or lazily people-watching in Brooklyn, Hemingway’s memoir of his expatriate years in 1920s Paris is a lush and inviting read. Sprinkled in are encounters with the likes of James Joyce, Gertude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as Hemingway’s own zest for food, drink and the company of true friends.

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt (2014) – Michael Lewis
Rarely does nonfiction have the narrative ferocity of great fiction, yet most writers are not Michael Lewis. Explore the world of high-frequency trading through a handful of insiders. Lewis has a knack for examining data and drawing incredible truths from the chaos, and Flash Boys is no different. This is a book that is pulsing with greed and scheming so hard, it even had the SEC sweating bullets.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971) – Hunter S. Thompson
Two drug-addled friends tearing across the Mojave desert in search of the American Dream? Summer reading doesn’t get any better than this. Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo engage in some substance abuse and some serious introspection on the streets of Sin City in this cult favorite. The stories are sublime, but it’s Thompson love for language that will have you running to catch up.

I Am Pilgrim (2013) – Terry Hayes
No summer reading list is complete without some espionage and Hayes has just what the doctor ordered. Grotesque murder? Check. A race against time? Check. America teetering on the brink of destruction? Check. This is one of those whirlwind reads that is a sheer joy to dive into.

The Devil in the White City (2003) – Erik Larson
Enter Chicago during the World’s Fair in 1893. A serial killer is on the loose and a brilliant architect is attempting to accomplish the impossible. This extremely detailed nonfiction depiction is the best of both worlds: elaborate insight and a nail-biting thriller. Larson isn’t trying to show you Chicago, he’s trying to take you there.

(Image Credit: Ralph Steadman)