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Jul 11 2012

Hit the beach…reading!

by Dea Anne M

I’m heading for the Outer Banks at the end of the week and I’m excited—not only by the prospect of some down-time at the ocean, but also by the promise of hours of uninterrupted time to read. When I worked as a bookseller, the publisher reps would invariably try to sell certain titles as “the perfect beach read.” Actually, “beach reading” is a fairly broad category. It’s usually a book that goes down easy but it can be any author from Sophie Kinsella to Clive Cussler to Michael Chabon. Some people prefer non-fiction and there are certainly some beach worthy titles out there (Under the Banner of Heaven and The Tipping Point are two that come immediately to my mind) but for my beach reading it’s fiction all the way. I’m normally an enthusiastic reader of non-fiction but somehow it just doesn’t hold my interest near the waves as a well as a work of writing that carries me away to a different time and place. My co-worker and car pool buddy, Fran, describes a similar phenomenon. She is reading Agatha Christie but says that she is only able to read her when she’s away from home.

For this trip, I will, as usual, be overpacking books but I figure that it’s better to have too many than not enough. That sad situation actually occurred one year and I was forced to run to the grocery store in Gulf Shores AL to buy an emergency paperback. It turned out to be Dark Debts by Karen Hall, an excellent horror novel set in and around Atlanta that scared me silly (for me, a good thing) and proved impossible to put down. This time around, I’ll be steeping myself in Regency England as I re-read some of my favorite Jane Austen, specifically Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. Also coming along will be Georgette Heyer’s Frederica and The Grand Sophy. I’m excited as well about a new thriller writer I discovered recently, Cornelia Read, and I’ll be taking along her novels A Field of Darkness and The Invisible Boy. I also hope to take along The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and I may re-read Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.

Do you need some ideas for your vacation reading?

For “brainy” beach reads check out this list.  If Chicklit is your thing then take a look at this.

This year, GoodReads is asking readers to cast their votes for top beach reads, and back in 2009 NPR asked readers and their own Books Board to nominate the 200 “best beach books ever”. You can check the lists out here and here and get inspiration for great new reading or books you’ve read before that you can enjoy rediscovering.

What are some of your favorite beach/vacation reads?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jimmy L July 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM

“it just doesn’t hold my interest near the waves as a well as a work of writing that carries me away to a different time and place.”

If you’re sitting by the waves, why on earth would you want to be in a different time and place?

Dea Anne M July 11, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Good question, Jimmy! I guess like to think of myself as someone who can be at the ocean and 19th century Manhattan at the same time…the ultimate multi-tasking.

Patricia D July 12, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Well, Dea Anne, you absolutely can’t go wrong with The Grand Sophy. There are folks who will insist that Frederica is the superior book but for my money it’s Sophy all the way. However, I’ll grab my battered, yellow paged copies of either one of these titles on the way out the door if I know I’m in for a horrid wait somewhere, or I’m going to be dealing with the airline industry. Don’t forget about Arabella and Friday’s Child, my other two Heyer go to titles. Too bad, unlike Eight Cousins or Rose in Bloom, I can’t find a free copy of these somewhere for my phone.

Veronica W July 12, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Wow, what an ambitious list. I envy the person who can read at the beach. I find the sea breezes and the waves too distracting. Frederica is wonderful, however I also love The Corinthian, which is very hard to find. Thanks for the tip about Cornelia Read. I like thrillers and have never tried her.

Robin D. August 2, 2012 at 4:45 PM

“Emma” by Jane Austen is a very enjoyable classic book that is suitable for any audience or occasion. It is so sophisticated and captivating that it is difficult to stop reading the book. It is such a nice book for reading while using public transportation, too.

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