There's nothing like a good book on a steamy July or August day — preferably by the pool or ocean, with a cold drink in hand. We assembled a list of notable titles from 1964 onward that were on best-seller lists during each summer season and found we were compiling a cultural time line as well as a literary nostalgia trip. See how many of the 50 books you've read over the years. And keep in mind that some may have been published previous to the summer they were hot.
1964: The Group by Mary McCarthy
1965: Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman
1966: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
1967: Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin — How's this for a horror story? You discover that your unborn child is the Antichrist, thanks to the Satanists next door. The blockbuster novel was made into the chilling movie starring Mia Farrow, and NBC recently aired a miniseries adaptation with Zoe Saldana as the unfortunate mother-to-be.
1968: Couples by John Updike
1969: The Godfather by Mario Puzo
1970: Love Story by Erich Segal
1971: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
1972: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
1973: The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
1974: Jaws by Peter Benchley
1975: Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner
1976: Passages by Gail Sheehy
1977: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough — The epic family saga features young Meggie Cleary, who falls in love with Mr. Very Wrong (the local priest), though the sweeping story also encompasses decades of the Cleary family’s struggles in the Australian outback. The beloved novel was made into a wildly popular miniseries that was must-see TV when it aired in 1983.
1978: The World According to Garp by John Irving
1979: Sophie's Choice by William Styron