“Let’s see: plane ticket, sun block, toothbrush, mp3 player – you are all set for a summer break. Wait, some reading? Well, here comes the dilemma between the latest page-turner and the pile of research article PDFs on your desk. Why not compromise and pack a good popular science book?” So starts the July editorial in Nature Methods (4, 535; 2007), aptly entitled “summer reading”. What follows is an eclectic sample of the editors’ reading lists. If you have some favourites to add, please do so at Methagora, the Nature Methods blog, which also carries an extended list of “staff picks”.