The gamer’s guide to the best beach reads
The coolest books for hot summer days.
Somehow it’s already mid-July and half of the summer is already gone. Gulp.
Let’s use the time we have and get to the shore. Of course, no day at the beach is complete without a great book. (Also, sunscreen. Definitely bring sunscreen.)
Below, a list of our favorite video game-inspired books to ensure some fun in the sun.
P.S. Have other great recommendations? Let us know in the comments.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
by Gabrielle Zevin
Video games are more than just games. They’re art. They’re a way to convey love. To build friendship. This is the idea behind Zevin’s breakout book from 2022. Two friends, Sam and Sadie, decide to launch a video game together. And what they build is so much more. It’s an emotional story with ups and downs that’s as tragic as Shakespeare (from whom the book’s title originates). Zevin’s writing is astounding, and her ability to turn a phrase is only matched by her ability to make surprising story choices. It’s a must-read.
by Brittney Morris
Tired of being the voice of Blackness in her high school, Kiera, a 17-year-old honors student, creates SLAY, a multiplayer online role-playing card game made specifically for Black gamers. Players duel each other using gameplay focused on Black culture. It’s a safe space for the growing community, but Kiera keeps her involvement a secret from everyone, included her friends and family—even her boyfriend. When an argument from the game makes its way into the real world, someone is murdered, which draws attention, criticism, and trolls to the game. Kiera has to find a way to protect not only herself, but also the game and the players. This debut YA novel is Ready Player One meets The Hate You Give, and raises a lot of great questions about racism, privilege, and identity.
by Marie Lu
After six years on her own, 18-year-old Emika Chen is short on funds but has a wealth of hacking knowledge. She, and like everyone else on Earth, is obsessed with the combat game Warcross. During the Warcross championship tournament, Emika deploys a hack to steal some power-ups and inadvertently finds a flaw in the system that puts her avatar in the middle of the action. She becomes an overnight sensation and even gets a job working for Warcross. It’s a dream come true, until she discovers a nightmare scenario for the game and its billions of players.
In Real Life
by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
When the leader of an all-women guild in Coarsegold Online visits a high school class, she offers all the girls a chance to join the squad in the popular role-playing game. Anda, a nerdy coder who loves Dungeons and Dragons, jumps at the opportunity, and ends up being a natural. She’s so good, in fact, she gets a paying gig to hunt down the farmers in Coarsegold who sell in-game gold for real-world currency. What starts as an easy mission quickly turns complicated, as Anda learns many gold farmers essentially work in a sweatshop, and struggle to make ends meet. Anda tries to help but instead makes things worse—she quickly learns things are a lot more complicated than she thought. This graphic novel, illustrated by Wang, does not go where you think it will and explores unexpected topics like labor, groupthink, and global economics.
by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
In the not-too-distant future, Simon and Kat are longtime friends battling some newfound friction in their relationship. After an accident, Kat is unconscious with “locked-in” syndrome, where she can hear her surroundings, but is unable to move. The developers of Otherworld, a popular but pricey virtual reality game, offer a solution: Plug Kat into experimental technology to access Otherworld. It’s a completely immersive environment—paradise, even. Sound too good to be true? Simon discovers that it indeed is, and that’s when the book really gets interesting. You probably know Segel best as an actor on How I Met Your Mother or on Shrinking (one of the best new shows of the year), but he is also an experienced writer—he and Miller have collaborated on seven books so far.
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