To celebrate the beginning of summer, TIME editors have compiled a list of their favorite summer reads from the past 40 years. TIME factored in raw data, cultural impact and a bit of sentimentality.
What defines a summer read? To them, it’s the kind of buzzed-about book that seems to flourish in warmer months, equally ubiquitous on beaches and in subway cars.
Once you’ve perused the list HERE, take the poll and help crown the All-Time, Ultimate Summer Read.
Jaws, Peter Benchley (1974) The film adaptation’s most famous line—“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”—appeared nowhere in the original novel. But the book was a massive success, and paperback versions could be seen on display in every bookstore in the summer of ‘74. The story of a small beach-town ambushed by a shark with a taste for human flesh stayed on the bestsellers list for almost a year, and offered avid readers a good excuse to stay out of the water during trips to the beach.