In the annual Summer Reads issue, Kirkus’ editors focus their attention on diverting (but not frivolous!) books to while away the hours on the beach or by the pool. These four nonfiction titles offer a range of unique perspectives and intriguing subjects to appeal to an array of reading tastes.

My first two recommendations deal with beauty and body image. In The T-Shirt Swim Club: Stories From Being Fat in a World of Thin People (Harmony, June 11), the brother-and-sister writing team of Ian and Alisa Karmel present “a comic and philosophical exploration suffused with hard-won wisdom and charming wit,” according to our starred review. As he recounts, Ian has struggled with body image issues throughout his life, but his comedic approach is both entertaining and refreshingly candid. While Ian used comedy to work through his issues, Alisa, who has also battled weight problems, earned a doctorate in psychology to help others in similar circumstances. As our reviewer notes, “the book could have easily turned into a clumsy plea for sympathy or a bad-tempered rant, but Ian and Alisa tell their interlocking stories with grace and humor. Ultimately, the book is about resilience and growth; for this reason, it has something to say to everyone.”

As a former senior editor at Allure, Sable Yong is well situated to examine the full spectrum of topics related to beauty and fashion. In a starred review of Die Hot With a Vengeance: Essays on Vanity (Dey Street/HarperCollins, July 9), our critic notes that Yong displays a “clever, self-deprecating sense of humor, and she recounts her career as a procession of stumbles, steps forward and back, and lucky breaks.” While it is certainly serious, the narrative is never heavy-handed or too dark, as Yong laces the text with page-turning anecdotes and laughs. She is a capable, critical guide through the thickets of the fashion industry, resulting in an essay collection that is “revealing, playful, and heartfelt.”

Next up is the latest book from the consummate multihyphenate, Questlove. Hip-Hop Is History (AUWA/MCD, June 11) is, as our starred review notes, “a memorable, masterful history of the first 50 years of an indelible American art form,” the ideal follow-up to the broader Music Is History. Anyone interested in hip-hop—from any era of its half-century in existence—is going to devour this riveting book, written with Ben Greenman. Also impressive is the author’s ability to create a narrative that will appeal to seasoned veterans and newbies alike. Indeed, “Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special.”

Finally, what is a summer reading list without some nature? Adventures in Volcanoland: What Volcanoes Tell Us About the World and Ourselves (Hanover Square Press, June 18) by Tamsin Mather introduces readers to these fascinating yet poorly understood features of the natural world. The author “first became interested in volcanoes during a childhood encounter with Mount Vesuvius,” notes our reviewer, and she keeps us captivated throughout this exciting armchair journey. “Mather combines a personal story with an era-spanning scope, turning esoteric information into a colorful, engaging account.”

Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction editor.