A few suggestions: Jeffrey Eugenides--Middlesex, Jeanette Winterson---The Passion & Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (seconding @ottilie, anything by Winterson is amazing), Marisa de los Santos--Love Walked In, Belong to Me (light quick reads, but beautiful)
Classics....Kate Chopin--The Awakening, Virginia Woolf--To The Lighthouse, F. Scott Fitzgerald--The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, William Faulkner--The Sound and the Fury, Willa Cather--My Antonia, Truman Capote--Breakfast at Tiffanys
I love short stories and essays in the summer, easy to pick up and put down on the beach. :) Love anything by David Sedaris or Sloane Crosley
And if you like historical fiction and fantasy...you might like Time's Arrow by Martin Amis...ridiculously powerful read.
Ottilie, I do love the Fagles, but if you are a sucker for a more direct translation Latimer is the way to go! (my undergrad degree is in classics so I always prefer a more word-for-word translation, but the Fagles is so pretty). I also love Dante's Inferno (read a side-by-side italian-english translation and prepare to drool at the beauty of the language)
Virgil's Georgics are also nice, and Hesiod's Theogeny is entertaining and has tons of amazing name references!
On the subject of epic poetry, I would also recommend the Ramayana, Mabinogion, the Poetic Edda, the Kalevala, the Tain, and the Saga of the Volsungs
lineska - I LOVED middlesex. omg, so good.
I've got a master degree in classics! I've read the Latimer one, but I prefer Fitz and Fagles by a mile. Much more poetic. The Latimer one (although more accurate) lacks the beauty of Fagles' translation. Poetry should be sheer beauty. (So while we're at it, if anyone's planning on reading Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, choose the gorgeous translation by Martyn Crucefix.) I speak Italian, so I've been able to read The Divine Comedy in Italian... it's gorgeous.
Originally Posted by moonkai
You guys are fantastic, thanks! Now to start looking these books up...