Summer lends itself to long, lazy days spent beach or poolside – with a good book in hand. This summer, we’re inviting you join our virtual #jamesbookclub by highlighting a selection of classics, currents and just-for-fun reads as curated by our team.

Up first: Amy Leahy, Associate Director of Sales at The James Chicago (and the originator of our first #jamesbookclub) shares her picks for a summer reading list . Must reads on your list this summer? Share them back with us on Instagram or Twitter via #jamesbookclub and #fridayreads and we’ll literally spread the word by adding a selection to our living libraries in New York and Chicago.    

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

Truman Capote’s “swans” were the crème de la crème of New York society living the most opulent and envied existences, until Capote dropped an infamous bomb in Esquire’s November 1975 issue…La Cote Basque 1965. It was the first installment of the writer’s long promised novel, Answered Prayers. Feeling the pressure to top his previous classics, La Cote Basque 1956 spilled all of his swans’ secrets in thinly veiled references. Focusing on the deep friendship between the glam Babe Paley and Capote – The Swans of Fifth Avenue shows what they meant to each other and how the betrayal of a friend can cut the deepest. 

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

This story follows two sisters, Emmy and Julia, through WWII-torn England and the night of the 1940 Blitz, which forever changed the course of their lives. As children they are sent from dangerous London to the English countryside to wait out the worst of the war. Emmy’s impatience and ambition get the better of her and she makes a decision with far reaching consequences. It’s a beautifully written account of ambition, family, guilt and forgiveness.

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport

This is a fun read (and the first of a trilogy) for those interested in Chicago’s high society around the time of the 1893 World’s Fair. Lucy Banning lives in her family home on Prairie Avenue among the Pullmans, the Glessners and a retailer called Mr. Fields. Her comfortable life has been carefully plotted by her parents, but Lucy dreams of more and begins secretly taking classes at the newly opened University of Chicago. Throw in an engagement of convenience, the handsome friend of her brother and a scandal with the newly arrived maid, and you have the perfect beach read.