The hot list: Our experts take their pick of the season's beach books and party music

From sultry sex to whiny white men, from Scandi-beats to electro anthems...

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The Independent Culture

The reads

Compiled by Katy Guest

Maggie & Me

Damian Barr

Bloomsbury, £7.99

Barr's memoir of growing up bookish and gay in Thatcher's Britain (1980s industrial Lanarkshire) is one of the funniest, saddest books of the year. It is worth buying for the Dirty Dancing scene alone. Read it alongside Alan Johnson's memoir, This Boy (Corgi, £7.99).


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Karen Joy Fowler

Serpent's Tail, £7.99

You must read the latest by the bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club – if only so that those who have can talk about the plot twist without giving the game away. Published in paperback on 19 June, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is about family and difference. But what a family, and what a difference…


Selfish Whining Monkeys

Rod Liddle

Fourth Estate, £14.99

If you haven't heard quite enough yet this summer about middle-aged, middle-class, straight, white men and how they are so badly done by in Broken Britain, then this is the book for you. The subtitle is: "How we ended up greedy, narcissistic and unhappy." By reading Rod Liddle?


Shot Through the Heart

Matt Cain

Pan Macmillan, £7.99

The former Channel 4 culture editor has retired from TV to bring out, to everyone's surprise, a Jennifer Aniston romcom in book form. Hollywood actress Mia is unlucky in love, but then she meets British paparazzo Leo… And will her best friend Billy's secret be revealed? A sultry beach classic.


The Lemon Grove

Helen Walsh

Tinder Press, £7.99

Published in paperback on 19 June, this is the steamy story of a woman on a sweltering island with her husband, his teenage daughter and her too-hot-by-half boyfriend… Be ready to pass off a blush as sunburn when you read what happens beneath those citrus trees.



The tunes

Compiled by Hugh Montgomery


The Chainsmokers

This bludgeoning dance single cashes in on the most irritating social phenomenon of our times, incorporating a stream of inane 2014-speak incanted by some sub-Mean Girls caricature. It's also horrifically effective – and we'll all be repeating its refrain "but first let me take a selfie", smart-phones aloft, for the next three months solid.


Do it Again

Robyn & Röyksopp

Ah summer... the sun, the sea, the moment when carefree hedonism threatens to tip over into thoughtless self-destruction. Such is the ambivalent mood evoked by Swedish singer Robyn on her latest dance-pop stormer, bolstered by the pumping beats of fellow Scandis Röyksopp.


Delorean Dynamite

Todd Terje

Norwegian DJ/producer Terje ain't been dubbed the "king of summer jams" for nothing. This driving disco groove harks back to the summer of '85 via Moroder-esque synths, scratchy funk guitar and an overriding Miami Vice vibe. Just remember to roll up those sleeves.



Calvin Harris

A song that makes no attempt to do anything other than affirm the Harris "banger" brand featuring his own charmless vocals and a fantasy of a video involving him, Jason Statham, cars and lingerie-clad women. And that track title – really? Refuse to listen to this until at least September on principle.


Let Me Down Gently

La Roux

Way back in 2009, Ms Elly Jackson, ie La Roux, sewed up summer with two electropop anthems ("In for the Kill" and "Bulletproof"). Five years on, she has repeated the feat with this slow-burning epic, a break-up ballad that slowly reveals its dancefloor pulse, with a climactic sax solo that may cause you to expire from the sun-dappled soulfulness of it all.