NPR has polled its listeners and released a list of the 100 Best Beach Books. Whether you're actually heading to a beach, or just lying in a hammock at home, there are some great recommendations if you need an easy breezy summer read. There are also a lot of meatier modern and classic classics on the list. I guess which type of book you gravitate towards will depend on how much you want to work on your tan.
Also, making the rounds for the past few years is the BBC's Top 100 Books. This list from 2003 contains best-loved books from UK audience members. This list has found new life or relevance on social networking sites such as Facebook, accompanied by the assertion that most people have only read about 6 titles on the list. So go ahead, I challenge you. Check out the BBC Top 100, and see how many you've read. (Disclosure: I've read 62.)
What I like about both lists is the emphasis on readers' choice. These are books that readers have genuinely loved reading, regardless of perceived literary quality (sometimes called snootiness). So next time you're trying to find something different to read, pick one from one of these lists!
p.s. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings tops one list, the Harry Potter series tops the other. Are we all turning into fantasy readers? Or are folks conflating the books with the movies?