If there's anything made for the summer, it's pleasure reading. Indeed, from the beach to the barbecue, there's nothing better than sitting back, relaxing, and finally getting around to reading that book all your friends have been talking about. 

However, for the less literary among us, it might be difficult to discover what, exactly, to read. Which is why, we have listed below, five of the best books of the past five years, texts that will keep you interested and engaged this summer without making the time you spend with it seem like a chore.

5. Wolf Hall 

The oldest item in the list, and also one of the most critically lauded, Hilary Mantel's 2009 novel Wolf Hall is the first in the author's trilogy about the history of the 16th century British Court, and one of the best historical-fiction novels ever. Taking the superficially dry and inaccessible life of King Henry VIII and his cronies, and breathing new life into them, Mantel's novel bridges the gap between authenticity and a uniquely modern sensibility, engaging history-buff and average-Joe alike with her unbelievably vivid sense of style and action. Better yet, the book was followed up with 2012's equally exceellent "Bringing Up the Bodies," meaning your Mantel fix will last far beyond the last pages of this book.

4. The Marriage Plot

Looking for a less political story? Look no further than Jeffery Eugenides 2011 novel "The Marriage Plot," a saga that chronicles the summer after graduation for three recent Brown alums in 1982. Eugenides, best known for his Pulitzer-prize winning Middlesex, takes a more personal tone in this later work, settling into a style that captures, almost perfectly, the innocence mixed with ennui that follows college graduation. The characters are also remarkably engaging, staying with you far after you've turned the last page, and offering a unique, in some cases, heart-breaking honesty that you can't help but remember.

3. The Fault in Our Stars

In case you've been living under a rock, this 2012 John Green tear-jerker (most notable now for the box-office crushing film of the same name) has had teens and young adults wholly entranced with its story of cancer-ridden romance for two years. And yet while, perhaps, less fun then some of the other items on the list, The Fault in Our Stars remains uplifting in its own, bed-ridden way, reminding its readers what's really important about family, love, and everything in-between. Be sure to check this book out as the summer progresses, especially if you're not short on Kleenex!

2. Freedom

If dysfunctional families are more your speed, then Jonathan Franzen's Freedom is the place to go. From its unsettling first chapter, originally published as a teaser in the New Yorker, to the very last page, this chronicle of punk rock music, political activism, women's athletics, and growing up is one of the best, most original pieces of literature of the 21st century. Spanning characters, years, and the history of a family, Freedom is the closest the last five years have come to having a truly modern epic, the type of story you'll want t read over and over again just to remind yourself how it plays out. Plus, if you can't get enough Franzen, check out this novel's spiritual predecessor The Corrections, a similar, if still unique story about another, perhaps even more disturbed, typical American family.

1. The Goldfinch 

But first and foremost comes the list's most recent item, Donna Tart's "The Goldfinch," one of the best-sellers of 2013, and the headliner of many critics "best-of-the-year" books. The novel, the story of a young boy's journey into the seedier aspects of New York City after his mother's death, is certainly a trip, taking the reader to different cities, different countries, and different psychological states of mind in the aimless but never boring journey of young Theo Decker. The novel also deserves particular acclaim for its unbelievable ability to render characters and types. The scope and span of the story is almost Dickensian in its breadth, just the recipe for an instant classic. Which is why we recommend The Goldfinch as the book to get lost in this summer, a literary odyssey that will be sure to both work your mind and have you wondering where all the time went.