Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Best Beach Reads?

Reader Crystal passed along a recent article from NPR soliciting nominations for the best beach reads ever, which they then narrowed down to 100.

What's a beach read? NPR defines:

"When you read one, your surroundings recede, time bends and you're transported, mesmerized, enthralled. These are page turners to be sure, but that doesn't mean they're brainless. This year's list will be fiction only; any genre, any period."

Personally I feel like the key is the page-turning part. You're at the beach! You're relaxing! There are distractions! The brain should not be overly taxed, but the book should still be really fun and engaging to read.

Which is why I was a littttle surprised to see NPR's choices for the top 100, including such literary heavyweights as Dostoyevsky's THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV and Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet.

Don't get me wrong - I love me some Lawrence Durrell (I represent his estate in the US for crying out loud) and you should absolutely buy JUSTINE and take it to the beach or wherever else you want to read it because it's incredible. It's just not quite what I'd think of as a "beach" read. It's a great literary masterpiece after all, and thus I see it more in the "lounging by the fireplace in cold weather" arena.

I think we can do better than NPR.

So. What are your favorite beach reads of all time?

I'll start with SPHERE by Michael Crichton, CRYPTONOMICON by Neal Stephenson (NPR got that one right), and anything by Jane Austen.

What are your favorites?


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hannah said...

Camus Camus Camus. The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall, First Man, even the essays. Camus *is* summer for me.

Helen Ginger said...

Not a new book, but one of my favorites - and I've been thinking about it lately since I saw that it'll be out soon as a movie: The Time Traveler's Wife.

When I first read it, I was awed by its structure.

Straight From Hel

Kate said...

I think of beach reads as being light and funny. So I would say, “The Devine Secretes of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”, “Bridget Jones Diary”, or “How I Paid for College”.

JoAnna said...

If we're talking page turners, I'll be the first to admit that that was me and The Da Vinci Code.

reader said...

THE RUINS, by Scott Smith.

abc said...

(My favorite AQ book is Clea.)

I like a good scary, freaky, dark John Connolly novel. Now if I could only get me some beach!

Scott said...

Nathan, you hit my author first time: Michael Crichton. The two best beach reads for me were Timeline and Prey. Since then, I've read them all.

Which means it's been awhile since I've been on the beach. :(

Melissa said...

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

Holly Bodger said...

If I'm on a beach (and I live in Canada so this NEVER happens outside of maybe 12 minutes in July), I want funny or fluffy. Or short since I only have 12 minutes.

If I do make it to a real beach (say, in Mexico...Oh, sweet Mexico) I usually save this time for the newest Maeve Binchy or John Grisham. I want to be able to read the entire thing from start to finish (the pool boy would obviously be bringing me drinks during this time).

henrythesecond said...

In Watermelon Sugar, Richard Brautigan - Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut - Wicked, Gregory Maguire

JohnO said...

I'm going to stump for some Canadians. First, Robertson Davies. He doesn't get NEARLY the love he deserves in the States, which is a crime, you Yankees, a crime!

My favorite is What's Bred in the Bone, about an a painter who has some unusual experiences during WWII. The entire Deptford Trilogy (Fifth Business, The Manticore, World of Wonders) is amazing as well.

They're not hard reads, but they're sneaky-deep, and fascinating -- especially if you're a fan of the arts, as many of his books deal with theater, opera, or magic (World of Wonders).

For fluff, try Whale Music, by a Toronto writer named Paul Quarrington, a completely charming story of a reclusive rock star's rebirth, loosely based on Brian Wilson's life.

And I'm taking Charlie Haas' The Enthusiast with me on vacay next week.

Jenny said...

To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis, and any Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett (except the first one, which I just wasn't interested in).

Ink said...

YA: Watership Down
Mystery: Anything by Agatha Christie
Thriller: I'm reading Mystic River right now. It'll certainly do.
Fantasy: Lord of the Rings. What else?
Science Fiction: I concur with Nathan - Sphere
Horror: I'm torn... It by Stephen King or Floating Dragon by Peter Straub.
Literary: The Naked and the Dead

Of course, now I'll spend all day going "Ooh ooh! I just remembered X and Y and Z!"

Bane of Anubis said...

Yeah, Crichton, Brown -- those are definitely beach readers. Early Grisham and King, too.

J. Koyanagi said...

I'm going to go with The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

Leslie said...

Anything by Janet Evanovich, but especially "Fearless Fourteen". I think that's the best of the Plum Series.

Bittersweet Fountain said...

I can't say I've ever read a book on a beach, which is saying something since I lived in Hawaii as a child and now live in Florida. When I go to the beach it's all about being in the water, but I get the idea of a beach read.

If I want a page turner I go with one of Brandon Sanderson's standalone novels, like Elantris or Warbreaker. If I want a sappy romance I'm all about Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. If I want classic I go with The Great Gatsby. If I want a book that feels like an old friend, I'll spend an afternoon with Card's Ender's Game. However, if what I really want is to not think, I'm not above picking up any one of the seven Harry Potter books.

Genella deGrey said...

I think something piratical would be fun.

Anita said...

THRILLERS: Anything by Harlan Coben or David Baldacci
FUN FOR WOMEN W/MYSTERY ELEMENT: Evanovich's Steph Plum series

Ink said...

Classic: Don Quixote

Though Dumas, or the Scarlet Pimpernel, or Jules Verne would be good too. And Moby Dick is good anywhere.

Em said...

Valley of the Dolls - nothing says summer to me more clearly or camply!

Alice Luther said...

"Gift from the Sea," Anne Morrow Lindbergh

lauren said...

I went on a cruise / beach vacation with my extended in-law family in January, and I brought ULYSSES with me. My stepmom-in-law kept trying to shove fashion mags at me. I didn't know how to explain to her that reading something that allows -- no, forces -- me to linger over the language, to consider the reason why every single word and phrase was used is absolutely my idea of vacation bliss!

(On that vacation, I also sang karaoke on the cruise ship every night, danced like a maniac, and drank a Faulknerian amount of bourbon, so none of the fam was worried about me by the end...)

Shadows said...

What a fun game! Page turners for me:

Memnoch the Devil - Anne Rice
Duma Key - Stephen King
Midnight/Darkfall - Dean Koontz
Angels and Demons/The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown

Wicked Game - Jeri Smith-Ready

Heidi Willis said...

ooh! I read Sphere on the beach in Hawaii, so it's always one of the first books I think of as a beach read!

Anything Crichton works, though, and Grisham and Dan Brown. A good mystery like Robin Cook or the old Patricia Cornwell books. Also, chick lit and YA in general, which I only tend to read at the beach.

I read good lit in the summer...I just don't take it to the beach with me.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Tell you what: I am a huge fan also of Lawrence Durrell, and even more of his brother Gerald whom you also represent. Gerald Durrell wrote three books about his childhood in Greece--I too had a partial childhood in Greece and someone passed me one of his books at that time that helped me relate so much, and I've read them over and over again throughout my life.

Fantastic beach reads: My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, followed by Birds, Beasts, and Relatives, also by Gerald. The third is called The Garden of the Gods but I don't think it's in print in the US (I have an old battered British copy).

Finally, you can't get any more beachy or saga-y than The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher--sweeping romance and a wonderful family saga, and my personal number one favorite book of all time, Coming Home, also by Rosamunde Pilcher. They're both hugely comforting.

Nathan Bransford said...


Ha -- that's true, Gerald Durrell is great for the beach.

Gerald Durrell for summer and Lawrence Durrell for winter?

Dara said...

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan or Peony in Love by Lisa See. Both books transport me back to a distant time in China and even though I know the stories, I'm always enthralled.

MJ said...

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Austenland by Shannon Hale
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
(Not Fiction but...) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Birth House by Ami McKay

And I agree - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a great choice for a beach read!

DeadlyAccurate said...

Gotta agree with Janet Evanovich. For SF/fantasy, I'm going with A. Lee Martinez. Wide variety of subgenres, all standalone novels, easy to read, humorous, and fast-paced.

Stephanie Faris said...

Before chick lit became an industry taboo, I felt it was the best for beach reading.

But then, don't ask me. It's been about that long since I've had a vacation!

WendyCinNYC said...

I second "Bridget Jones' Diary." A beach read, for me, has to be something funny where I'm able to jump in and out of reading as I make sure my kids aren't drowning or throwing sand at each other.

Added benefit of BJD is that Bridget isn't skinny and gorgeous, thereby making me feel better about my publicly bikinied body.

Anonymous said...

Love Sphere...with a spherical love! Most people don't understand the truth underlying it's basic premise: We create our own reality! And we can be taken to heaven or hell with that selfsame creation!

Totally cool...

Scott S.

Kim said...

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but when I went to Hawaii a couple of years ago I finally broke down and bought the first Harry Potter for my beach book. And I really enjoyed it.

Mira said...

Oh, I'm up for the challenge of better than NPR!

Beach is chick lit for me - which includes Jane Austen. Janet Evanovich, Meg Cabot.

But I wouldn't turn down a Grisham or Dan Brown page turner. Or a light, funny mystery - I recently discovered Jo Dereske.

And right now I need to re-read the Half-blood Prince. Must compare to movie. Must be done.

stephanie said...

Anything by Peter Mayle but Hotel Pastis in particular. Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club. Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors. Maybe even Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate. But Mayle probably heads the beach list for me.

SammyStewart said...

Light, distracting reading: Anything by James Herriot or P.G. Wodehouse. I would also second the motion for Jane Austen and Kurt Vonnegut. Also, Stoker's Dracula. It's a good beach novel. A compendium of short stories by Roald Dahl would serve well, too.

For YA/MG, I'd suggest Wings by Aprilynne Pike, anything Kate Dicamillo, anything Eoin Colfer, and of course, the indispenible and hilarious Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

Laura Martone said...

I'm with Bittersweet Fountain (awesome name, BTW) - when I go to the beach (which is usually somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico), I'm utterly focused on playing in the sand (ever the kid at heart) or hurling myself into the waves, so although I always lug a book with me, it doesn't always get opened. When it does, it's usually a Nicholas Sparks novel. His are sappy page-turners - ideal for my beachified brain.

Laura Martone said...

Mira - Uh-oh. If you enjoyed the recent HP movie, I wouldn't compare it to the book if I were you. The book was FAR better than the movie, sad to say.

Course, that's just my opinion. :-)

gregory huffstutter said...

In my mind, can't do a better beach read than Carl Hiaasen's "Tourist Season"

Rebecca H said...

I think Frank Herbert's Dune is a fabulous beach read. Complex, engaging, and great storytelling!


I got sucked into the Harry Potter vacuum and just recently found myself there again with the whole Twilight fan clan Yikes!
..BUT, I do not consider these beach reads.

I prefer the settings of my beach reads match those of both my mind set and my surroundings.

My choice:
1) MOLOKA'I by Alan Brennert
2) HOTEL HONOLULU by Paul Theroux

Brandon said...

Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name is pretty fantastic. Not just at the beach--I've never really been to the beach, actually--but in general. I mean, it's set in a seaside Italian Villa, very Mediterranean. Great story, sparkling prose that draws you in, keeps you turning. A little heavy, but pleasant just the same.

Definitely anything by Austen, I agree.

Quartet in Autumn might work well, too. Slim, but powerful in a subtle, understated sort of way.

Catherine Hughes said...

I agree about 'Timeline' and about 'The Time Traveller's Wife'. But also I nominate Jim Butcher's Harry Dreden series and Justin Gustainis 'Evil Ways' and 'Black Magic Woman'. Oh, and I read James Clemens' 'The Banned and the Banished' series whilst on my honeymoon in Lanzarote.... Seriously, I had time to read!

Ink said...


Plus, you know, there's a lot of sand in Dune. Very beachy.

Marsha Sigman said...

The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. I could not put the first one down (also the older ones are in paperback which is a must for beach reading).

Mira: Don't compare. I did an entire blog entry entry on it. They just can't do those books justice with a movie.

Laura Martone said...

Regarding NPR's 200-book list, though... THE FOUNTAINHEAD? Really? That's not my idea of a good beach read... FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (or any sort of chick lit) seems way more appropriate for sun, sand, and surf!

Ayn Rand, sheesh.

nkrell said...

I have to agree with anything Jane Austen.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I'd go with Pat Conroy's Beach Music or Delicate Edible Birds, Lauren Groff's collection of nine short stories.

~ Wendy

Margaret Yang said...

I want quirky and funny and yet unexpectedly making me think.

Jennifer Government by Max Barry

Nikki Hootman said...

SciFi - Jack McDevitt, Lois McMaster Bujold.

Dana Fredsti said...

Anything and everything OTHER than heavy literature. I want to relax with my summer reads (and ideally I like to read while lying on a raft in a pool, although that's difficult to do in San Fran). Needs to be paperback. Mysteries, horror, goofy chicklit... I love finding series or one author to read each summer. One year it was Lovecraft, this year it's the Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson. Harry Ptter, he Casca, the Eternal Mercenary books by Barry Sadler, the Art Lovers mysteries by Hailey Lind...Anything by Barbara Hambly and Charles de Lint. Oh yeah, and I'm with Sierra on Rosamond Pilcher. And I'm greatly enjoying the current trend of zombie novels. Gone With the Wind can be re-read at least every other year. Books! Give me books, dammit!

David said...

Ditto what Huffstutter said about Tourist Season. Anything by Hiaasen, really. I'd read Hiaasen's shopping list.

On another note, it's lists like this that make me continue to hate NPR. In my opinion, a list that contains this many "heavy hitters" as "beach reads" just serves to alienate readers and makes the listmakers look like intellectual showoffs. About 80 percent of these books should be read nowhere near a beach.

They do realize that the beach is that big sandy thing with water on the edge where Corona is magically transformed into a beer that tastes really good?

Anjali said...

I'll second Time Traveler's Wife and the Lisa See books, which I could not put down.

Bill Greer said...

Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books. I'd also agree with anything by Carl Hiaasen and "The Ruins" by Scott Smith (which I actually read on a beach in Mexico).

Here's one of out left field and would never be considered literary: "A Salty Piece of Land" by Jimmy Buffett. The perfect beach read, if you ask me.

I've tried taking David Sedaris books to the beach, but I end up laughing myself silly on the plane or in the airport and I finish them before I even get to the beach.

Word verification - uncor: when you don't want to band to come back out and play more songs.

Model1911a1 said...

With the Old Breed, EB Sledge

He writes of beaches being more and more forgotten as each day passes.

Amber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea Cremer said...

The Love Letter - Cathleen Schine
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
Anything by Christopher Moore
Ditto for Laurell K. Hamilton

Thomas Burchfield said...

My problem is that I don't read on the beach (I'm restless and like to Wander About, Look at Things, and Play in the Water), so this is actually hard for me to answer.

But if you put a Super Soaker to my head, I'd probably say someone like comic Westlake or Lee Child (whom I read when I took vacation in New York last October); light action-adventure.

At the Red Room this week, I've posted an article on the San Francisco apartment where Dashiell Hammettwrote "The Maltese Falcon", "The Dain Curse" and "Red Harvest."
Just click on my name . . . .

Amy said...

Most recent page-turner I've read is American Wife. I wish I'd read it at the beach, instead of being interrupted by work while trying to read on my commutes.

Amber said...

I agree with both you and Scott: Michael Crichton, certainly. I'd take State of Fear, personally. Anything my Jodi Picoult. You'll be at the beach all day, in suspense.

Not my personal favourite, but I know a lot of people who would bring Nora Roberts.

If you're looking at YA, though... The Bartimaeus Trilogy (preferably book one, The Amulet of Samarkand) by Jonathan Stroud. A page turner, but the footnotes make it hilarious.

And I don't care where they stash it: YA, sci-fi, fantasy... Terry Pratchett is always good.

@Andrea: Good Omens is one of my favourites.

DebraLSchubert said...

Anything by Susan Isaacs, Ann Rule, Chelsea Handler, or Kristin Hannah.

Thermocline said...

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Reading about enjoying the outdoors is a great match with actually enjoying it. Plus, I always leave one of his books feeling a tad smarter and in a better mood.

WV: Forat. The front part of a rat, from molars to the tip of the nose.

CKHB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Writing Muse said...

Read Blood Stream by Tess Gerritsen on a beach in was perfect.

CKHB said...

"Smart" chick lit and similar (I'm currently ranting on my blog about how chick lit does not deserve the bad rap it's gotten recently):

The Thin Pink Line by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson

I could also re-read The Corrections a million times and still be happy.

MattDel said...

If we're talking escapist reads (which I go with because I don't really go to the beach very often if at all -- us New Englanders are in a similar boat to our Canadian friends), then I have to go with any off this list:

Simon R. Green's Nightside
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files
Terry Pratchett's Discworld
Most H.G. Wells stuff
Any Sherlock Homes story

Maya / מיה said...

Anything by Jennifer Weiner, Marian Keyes, or (to get a bit more literary) Barbara Kingsolver, and I'm good!

I'm also reading THE HANDMAIDEN'S TALE right now and it's engrossing, although it demands just a bit more concentration.

Irina said...

"My LIfe in France" by Julia Child

Karla Doyle said...

The beach is too crowded, I'd rather be on my patio, steps away from a well-stocked refrigerator. Regardless, summer reads need to be light and entertaining, just sweep me away to another life and don't ask me to think too much.
My picks would be Kristin Hannah or Emily Giffin.

Maya / מיה said...

By the way, this will probably sound weird, but I associate the perfect "beach read" with anything that goes well with frozen berries or popsicles-- in other words, a book that is just as refreshing and sweet. When I was little I would read and reread Noel Streatfield's "Shoe" books (especially DANCING SHOES) out on the hammock in my family's yard, while eating paper cups of frozen blueberries I swiped from the freezer... perfect summer reading.

Definitely no BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. However, I'll admit that I once took HEART OF DARKNESS with me on a college trip to Brazil... and while I only read a few pages while I was there, it was awesome to read about Marlowe passing the jungle while my river boat was! I also usually want to devour something substantive (but fun, like Dickens) when I go to a country where I don't speak the language... I guess I want to make up for feeling like an idiot each time I try to interact in the spoken language. Sadly, that effect hasn't stuck now that I've lived by a beach in Israel for more than a year... now I tend to go for chick lit!

RW said...

I have a little supply of Robert Little spy thrillers that I save for the rare occasions that I get to go to the beach.

T. Anne said...

White Platonic Dreams by... oh wait that's my book!

But seriously, anything by Jen Lancaster now that's just beachy.

Mercy Loomis said...

Anything by Robin McKinley. I love all of her books.

Mira said...

Laura and Marsha - oh, thanks, but I've read Half-Blood Prince, I just want to re-read it to compare.

Although I thought they did a wonderful job with the movie, I agree - books are always better than the movie. There's only one exception for me - the Wizard of Oz, which I think far outshined the book.

Someone mentioned Prachett? Definitely!

Yamile said...

Last January my husband and I went on a getaway to Cancun, sans kids, for the first time in 8 years! And you know what I did? I read "Daughter of the Forest" the 1st one by Juliet Marillier of the Sevenwaters Trilogy, and I was so absorbed reading that I let my husband sleep for hours, under the scorching sun and its reflection on the white sand. When I woke him up he was so happy I had let him rest, but he didn't notice until much later how burned he was.
So, "Daughter..."definitely a page turner, but too engrossing.
Now, I'm reading "The Vampire Lestat" because I recently bought the whole Vampire Chronicles. Also, because it's less scary to ready it at the beach, under the blazing sun than in the middle of the night.
I'm on my way to the beach right now, and I already have my little paper back tucked into a ziplock bag.

Dana Fredsti said...

Maya, I LOVE the "Shoe" books! Which reminds me of other childrens faves... The Betsy and Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace and the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Heck, the Narnia books. My sister got me started on reading by handing me The Silver Chair and saying, "Read this! You'll love it!"

Betsy Ashton said...

Anything escapist from Baldacci to C.J. Box to Barry Eisler to The Kite Runner.

Dana Fredsti said...

Now if only someone would provide me with a vacation, a pool, a raft and some sunshine...

frohock said...

Can't-put-it-down-I'll-bite-you-if-speak-to-me kind of good read? My picks would be:

Horror - The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti

Contemporary - Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie

Literary - A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

Teresa Frohock

Anonymous said...

Most YA fiction. Entertaining, speedy, enveloping, and thought-provoking. They whole genre is practically defined by your description above.

Cynthia said...

I second Moby Dick-- I reread it every year... Raymond Chandler I adore, or Arthur Conan Doyle...I want to read the Time Traveler's Wife when I go to Greece next month, but will end up rereading Frankenstein for school.

Such is the life of a grad student :)

Nathan Bransford said...


I know, seriously, kind of ironic to be writing the beach read post when it is completely freezing outside in SF.

Marilyn Peake said...

For me, the HARRY POTTER books are great beach reads. Funny story ... I was leaving for vacation the day after the final book in the series, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, came out. I decided not to pre-order in it in case it was delivered while I was away, and I figured the stores would all be sold out of it the first day it came out. I was kind of bummed. Then, after passing through security at the airport, I discovered a most enchanted thing: piles of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS in airport bookstores! We all bought a copy, got in line, sat down on the floor and started to read. We noticed other people nearby also sitting on the floor, reading the same book. Our surroundings disappeared. When we got on the plane, we had a really funny airline steward. Over the intercom, we periodically heard him say things like, "OK, let’s get this plane off the ground - Wingardium Leviosa!" and, "If you need anything ... don’t bother me, I’m reading HARRY POTTER!" He was very funny, and handed out lots of extra snacks that day.

SPHERE by Michael Crichton is definitely a great beach read, also CONGO.

Recently read THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd. Loved it! For me, it definitely fulfilled NPR’s requirement that "... your surroundings recede, time bends and you're transported, mesmerized, enthralled." Felt the same way about THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver.

Also recently read THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry, and think it would make a great beach read.

Read THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy on one vacation; couldn’t put it down.

Laura Martone said...

Mira - Oh, no, I understood that. I realize that you were just planning to re-read HP 6. I'm just saying that trying to COMPARE it to the movie might be a mistake. I loved the book - and I WANTED to love the movie, but I ended up only liking it. I mean, I cried at the right place (course, I cry easily at the movies), but the tension was minimal.

Often, I enjoy the books better than the movies... except with WONDER BOYS. The book's great, but the movie is inspired!

Yamile - I LOVE Anne Rice's vampire books, but I especially love reading them at night. Don't ask me why - but I LOVE feeling scared... so the setting in which I read horror novels makes a difference. Like the time I read THE SHINING in a walk-in refrigerator. Yeah, don't ask about that either.

wonderer said...

I'm with Dana - give me the beach, then we'll talk. ;-)

If that's taken care of, I'd pick rereading childhood favourites. Nostalgic and immersive. Also agree with JKR, Pratchett, Dan Brown, and chick lit.

Anatole said...

The Sookie Stackhouse novels.
They are engaging and interesting to read, even if not the most thought-provoking thing out there.

Malia said...

Okay, I've never commented on here. I'm one of Nathan's lurkers, but not a troll. I hope. Anyway, I had to give a couple of my favorites that I couldn't put down. I read a lot of YA so "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins and Shannon Hale's "Book of a Thousand Days" are both excellent page-turners. Oh, and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Good, fun stuff!

Ink said...


I totally agree about Wonder Boys. That was one of the best movie adaptations I've ever seen. Great film. Is it sacrilege to say it's better than Chabon's words on the page? As penance I will now have to read The Yiddish Policeman's Union. Life is tough.


Joi said...

Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books--any of them! They are the perfect blend (at least for me) of literature and ridiculous humor.

Other Lisa said...

Reporting in from Venice Beach,'s mid-seventies, sunny and lovely here (sorry!).

And I can't ever remember lists of anything. Top 10? Favorites? Forget it. At best I remember what I'm reading now (which is a novel called "Montengro" that so far is pretty cool).

I tend to read mysteries for fun. Especially British mysteries, but any good mysteries. Funny ones are okay, but not too fluffy and not the ones that feature too many recipes for baked goods.

Oh - word verification: BATHER - HAH!!!!!

Marilyn Peake said...


I also felt that the sixth HARRY POTTER book was much better than the movie. I recently spoke with a filmmaker who told me that the problem with the movie might have been that they went for a PG rating, rather than PG-13. The sixth book revolves so much around the nature of good vs. evil, but the movie downplayed the intensity of that and spent a great deal of time on the dating drama of teenagers. David Yates directed both the fifth and sixth HARRY POTTER movies, but he had a PG-13 rating for HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. He’s also directing two movies for the final HARRY POTTER book: Part I and Part II .

Matilda McCloud said...

For the beach, I like a book I can't put down, but isn't too literary, and yet is thought-provoking too. I think I'm going to buy THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett to take on vacation. But I'm going whale watching so I may not be able to do much reading!

Marilyn Peake said...

What's up with summer? I keep finding typos in my posts. :(

Anonymous said...

That's funny Marilyn. We were on vacation when it came out too, on our way home actually in a motorhome. I had to buy 3 copies, and we all read straight through until we finished, much to the dismay of my disgruntled husband who was driving.

Laurel said...

Anything by Dean Koontz (my first Koontz book was Watchers and I read it at the was an act of desperation and I loved it.)

Chick Lit: Mary Kay Andrews and Fannie Flagg (Particularly partial to Daisy Fay and The Miracle Man)

Anne Rice

That being said I don't really distinguish my reading material by surroundings. I'll read anything, anytime.

Anonymous said...

It's odd that the (link) list of books to vote from includes books like:

Snow Falling on Cedars
All the Pretty Horses
and, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

I've read those books and hell, I had to PAY ATTENTION when reading them or I'd have been way, way lost.

I thought "beach read" meant, fun and easy?

Mira said...

Laura and Ink - I've not read the Wonder Boys. Loved the movie, though. The book is now on my beach reading list!

reader said...

Bill Greer --

"The Ruins" by Scott Smith (which I actually read on a beach in Mexico)..."

Ah! Jealous here.

Marilyn Peake said...

Nathan and Dana,

I’m getting ready to go on vacation in Alaska. It’s also very weird to find myself discussing "beach reads" right now. LOL. How about some great "glacier reads"?

Marilyn Peake said...

Anon @12:21 PM -

Great story! LOL.

Marsha Sigman said...

I want to add to that I did love HP and the Half Blood Prince movie but just not as much as the book.

Beach Reads should be paperbacks for practical purposes and about hot guys because.....well I forget but just because they should be!

Bane of Anubis said...

OK - all this Harry love is rankling my synapses... As a disclaimer, I think the books are entertaining; however, I think the last several were over-written/less than ideally crafted (and I don't fault the movies for their takes). Books 5 & 6 both reminded me of Robert Jordan's later WOT books - where nothing really happens until the end. Book 7 has 200 - 300 pages of filler ("camp time") in the middle that delay, as opposed to draw-out or heighten, tension. Of course, if it's a world you love, it's easy to forgive/ignore this loose writing, but I much more appreciated her first 2 books b/c they were entertaining/exciting throughout. (And I was really looking forward to book 7 b/c it was going to be set outside of school -- she had an entire world to work with, but didn't employ it)

Dana Fredsti said...

Other Lisa, that is not kind. You have beaches where one can wear board shorts for surfing instead of dry suits!

It's cold and spitting fog here today. I have to wonder what inspired you to write about beach reads, Nathan. C'mon, loan me your sunlamp! I'll give it back!

Marilyn, I have a glacier read for you - TERROR by Dan Simmons! Set in the Antarctic. And that spelling just looks weird.

Athena's Little Helper said...

Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb. It's a funny whodunnit murder mystery--not too heavy but still enough to keep the pages turning.

Marilyn Peake said...


Thanks so much for the recommendation. I looked up info about the book – am going to buy it. Looks fascinating!

Anonymous said...


You're weirding me out. Our vacation this year involved glaciers too, only we went to Glacier National Park. I didn't read this time though, I wrote. My daughters read Beastly, & Love Stargirl. Beastly has a great winter scene.

ANON 12:21

Laura K. Curtis said...

Gaiman's American Gods, for sure, along with Stephenson's Snow Crash.

Laura Martone said...

Ooh, who knew that today's innocent question would launch such a good discussion?

Bryan - I'm so glad to find other WONDER BOYS fans (it's one of my absolute favorite movies), and, no, it's not sacrilege to say the movie's better. There's always THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY for a good Chabon fix.

Marilyn - Yeah, the rating thing (and fixation on teenage matters) could be the issue. I have to say, after watching the sixth one, though, I'm not terribly excited about Yates directing the last two. And, can I just say, what the heck is up with TWO movies for the last book? That's as bad as KILL BILL I & II - completely unnecessary. Not enough happens in the last HP book to justify two whole movies.

Which brings me to Bane's point. Although I've been utterly sucked into the HP world, I fully agree that JKR is a lazy writer at times. All the things she introduces (like the time-turner) and never uses again... and, yes, the last book was a disappointment. My husband has, in fact, echoed your sentiments: "They spent 200+ pages in a tent, for God's sake!" He's even more annoyed than I am.

Laurel - I love Dean Koontz, too, and WATCHERS was my first taste of him, as well. Weird.

Mira - Oh, do read Wonder Boys! Just remember... it's not the movie, which might just be Michael Douglas' best performance ever.

OK, I'm done. For now.

Anonymous said...

Okay...posting anon this time...because I read smut on the beach. I don't want to think or work too hard. I want to escape and relax.

Mystery Robin said...

I'll add that I think a beach read can be literary (i.e. your Jane Austen pick) but should have language that's easy to get into so you can be absorbed into the book.

So, I could totally do Bronte, but not Faulkner at the beach - despite my love for Faulkner.

I think mysteries and chick lit cry out for the beach - Elizabeth Peters, Agatha Christie, Stephanie Plum - and I've been wanting to pick up Holly's Inbox - perfect beach read.

Of course, when I'm actually at the beach I'm trying to keep 3 small kids from drowning, so this is all metaphorical for me.

Mira said...

Bane and Laura - re. the last HP book - I agree. It was not her best.

I'm not sure if she was just under too much pressure to get it done, so she went too fast, or if they stop editing her because she had become so big. No matter how big an author is, they need feeback.

But even tho' it wasn't her best, it was pretty darn good.

Marilyn Peake said...

ANON @12:21 PM,

I'm planning to photograph. Need to quickly learn how to use my digital camera in manual mode, so that I can use it like my old 35-mm film camera. :)

Anonymous said...


I took over 600 pictures. Have fun. As soon as I can get my family to board a plane, Alaska is my next goal.

The beach didn't agree with my oldest daughter. She's a jelly fish magnet.

Anon 12:21

Marilyn Peake said...

How about HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski ? Just kidding. Great book, but people on the beach might wonder why you keep turning the book around in circles, like you don’t know which way is right-side-up for reading a book. :)

Marilyn Peake said...

Anon 12:21 -

600 photographs is awesome! I love travel photography - one of my hobbies. Wish I could travel most of the year. :)

Gay Degani said...

The NPR list is interesting, but too many books that require cool air conditioning, a soft sofa, a nearby kitchen, and an acute mind.

I like my beach reading well-done, brilliant even, but not hard to follow. I want to be able to watch dolphins in the waves should they appear.

Beach to me: One of the lighter-weight mystery/thriller guys like Lee Child/Elmore Leonard/ and the other Floridian who wrote Basket Case and Sick Puppy. Excellent writing, but fun and easy to read.

Some scary books too I can only take in the bright glare of the summer sun: Afraid by Jack Kilborn is a good example.

Then there is the whole chick lit thing, "Bridget Jones" for one, "Devil Loves Prada."

The only "serious" book I want to take to the beach is Jonathon Franzen's "The Corrections" so I can walk it out into the salty water and accidently drop it on purpose.

Sorry fish.

Other Lisa said...

Ooooh, I liked Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" a lot.

@Gay, I read the Corrections. Snork!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

THE TWELVE, of course, by our own Stuart Neville.

And not just cuz I like him, either.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

WendyCinNYC, I love your reasons for selecting BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY--and I agree. Although they've been said, I also think THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE and Meg Cabot books are perfect for the beach. And if you're not eating while taking in the sun, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES!

Ironic about the cold weather down in San Francisco. Up here in Washington, it's SUNNY! Those of you in California (my native state) can rub in the weather most days, so I had to jump on this one. Note: it was sunny when Nathan was up here, too, so we have a witness that Washington weather can be beautiful. :)

Lupina said...

How about a book about a beach? I enjoyed Anita Shreve's "Body Surfing"

Erin said...

Reads where I was sunburned on a recent vacation b/c I just couldn't stop: "Dark Places" and "Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn, Steig Larsson's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and "Honeymoon With My Brother" by Frank Wizner. Others I got sucked into despite my best intentions at other times: Twilight, Harry Potter, "Good in Bed" by Jennifer Weiner, and "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult.

Ink said...

Other Lisa,

The YPU is sidling up my TBR pile. But it's a pretty big pile...

Anonymous said...

Series or “complete works” make good beach projects if you’re a fast reader.

I just got introduced to John Marsden’s YA Tomorrow series (7 books, which are followed by his Ellie trilogy). They will go fast though: they were so gripping I couldn’t put them down, but chain-read the 10 books in considerably less than a week. I could picture doing this at the beach.

I like to re-read Paul Scott’s Jewel in the Crown quartet every few years, and the beach would be a good place to do it. The quartet is followed by an epilogue of sorts, Staying On, and his biography (by Hilary Spurling) would round the project off nicely.

Other complete works projects that would be good for the beach would be Dick Francis and John Le Carre.

Another series: Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries.

Lupina said...

Nathan, here is a follow up question that perhaps you could ask sometime soon to help someone I know...what book would you ask family and friends to have sent to you if you had to spend 2-3 months in the county jail? Said person first requested Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow"

The Decreed said...

The Hobbit for nice and easy, LOTR if you wanna step it up, Frank Peretti's The Visitation, or, yes, Dan Brown's Angels and Demons.

Laura Martone said...

Lupina - Why, DIFFERENT SEASONS, of course! It contains RITA HAYWORTH AND THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION - an inspiring read for anyone in lock-up. Or so I would assume.

Vacuum Queen said...

After college, I was hesitant to read anything due to reading overload. Or something like that. The frivolous John Grisham brought me out of my slump and into the world of reading for fun. Fast and easy. Loved anything he wrote. Still do.

Vacuum Queen said...

Oh geez....I forgot how much I loved Bridget Jones Diary as well as the Nanny Diaries. Great guilty pleasures.

Terry said...

Anything that's set in a foreign country, preferably a warm climate, or at least an exotic place.

Say Crete, or Corfu, the Amalfi Coast, Spain, all with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Of course, one of the problems I find with so many of these, is that, while the locale is interesting, maybe even the plot, but the writing is pedestrian. I'd really love to read some with good writing.

I always like a good noir, beach or no.

Molly Malone said...

Justine is probably my favorite novel of all time, but I have to agree that it's an odd choice for the beach. Unless that beach is on a deserted island. In which case, I would most definitely select it as a "desert island must."

Terry said...

I just noticed Brandon's recommendation. Andre Aciman's, Call Me By Your Name.

I'll have to get a hold of that one.

Thanks Brandon. Just what I'm looking for.

Laura D said...

For the nostalgia beaches bring out in me for my childhood, I'll pick Huckleberry Finn.

Shell said...

I don't get the term 'beach reads,' since if I'm on the beach I promise I'm not reading. Maybe if I ever got to spend enough time on the beach...

But the definition NPR gives: "When you read one, your surroundings recede, time bends and you're transported, mesmerized, enthralled" belongs first and foremost to Lord of the Rings. The spring I spent reading it for the first time, everything else receded and I was transported far, far away from my front porch. However, I would gladly take the new Spellman Files with me to the beach, or an Agatha Raisin or Hamish Macbeth, and that doesn't include everything I'll think of as soon as I post this. Now if I can just get me a beach...

Sue M. said...

It was the summer of 1980, or maybe 1981, and I was on my first trip to Cozumel. Ah, the smell of diesel fuel... Anyway, there was one book and one book only that EVERYONE was reading -- in the airport, restaurants, and on the beach -- and if you weren't reading it, well, you were totally broke and couldn't afford it. It was The Bourne Identity by Ludlum.

April Hollands said...

I just read a great beach read which was, coincidentally, partly set on a beach. Mucho Caliente by Francesca Prescott. Brilliant escapism with a very down-to-earth protagonist and a hunk of a love interest.

Other Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Other Lisa said...

Take 2:

I love going to Puerto Vallarta - one of the things that strikes me every time is how many people read on the beach. That's what the vacationers do, by and large. Well, that and drink margaritas. And there are all of these different coffee places and hotels that have little book repositories, either for sale, loan or trade. If you judged the state of publishing by this town, you'd be hard-pressed to see the crisis.

Crystal said...

Nate - did you really say Jane Austen? I think I might be in love!!

For me, it's so hard to choose...
Lord of the Flies
The Count of Monte Cristo
Don Quixote
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Year of the Fog and No One You Know, both by Michelle Richmond (who breathes live into San Franciso like no one I've ever read!)
any of Marian Keyes chick lit books about the Walsh sisters which are all good for a laugh on the beach

My husband also just finished The Strain by del Toro which he read in like 2 days - a personal best for him, usually it takes him a year to read a book.

Anonymous said...

"Cheever," Blake Bailey's John Cheever biography.

Glenda said...

Well, I just came back from the beach and read three books while there. Of the three, my favorite by far was a Jane Austen twist: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOOMBIES! LMAO! I also read Cast's 5th book: HUNTED and some Christopher Moore quick reads. They're great too. CM's best is probably A DIRTY JOB.

Mary said...

A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey

Ink said...


I loved Michelle Richmond's The Year of Fog. A great San Francisco book, though harrowing. Looking forward to reading No One You Know. Very nice lady, too, which is always a bonus.

My best,
Bryan Russell

Jean said...

I'm off to the beach next week with The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace
The Defector by Daniel Silva
Rococo by Adriana Trigiani
...but I'm a shell seeker, so I spend lots of time in the sand and probably won't finish them :)


terri said...

An oldie but a goodies, 'chick lit' before chick lit was cool:

"KINFLICKS" by Lisa Alther

Simply one of the most darkly sardonic comedies ever. This book is ready for a return to popularity.

For action/adventure, Tom Clancy or Larry Bond.

For horror, Stephen King (I prefer the earlier Castle Rock books, The Stand, or IT)

If something chewier is on the menu, pick a James Michener title at random. I am currently on a 6-day trip and "Alaska" is my weapon of choice.

For the romance readers, consider "The Far Pavillions" by Colleen McCullough. I don't like romances and I loved this book.

For sci-fi, I really really tried to get through and like "2012" by Whitley Strieber. Got too weird for me, but it has a brilliant and innovative premise that kept me turning pages through the first half. A true sci-fi-er should love it all the way through.

I like the history's mysteries tone of Dan Brown, even when it's pure fantasy. To me his books are like tortilla chips. Even the flakey and half-baked ones are still tasty.

Nancy Coffelt said...

Cryptonomicon! I KNEW I liked you, Nathan!

I scanned the excellent recommendations and apologize if this book has already been mentioned - AHAB'S WIFE, by Seter Jeter Naslund.

If I actually get enough downtime this summer to lounge, I'm digging out GOOD OMENS.

I never get tired of that book.

Jennifer Spiller said...

Okay, so I read and write Romance. I also love Urban Fantasy and Crime Novels, but I don't like to read any of these on the beach. I want to enjoy the beach. I actually prefer weighty tomes for beach reading, the type where I can read a paragraph and then just stare into the ocean thinking about it. However, on a recent cruise, I devoured Dorothy Dunnett's second Lymond book . Can't remember which one that is, but it was perfect.

Moostafa said...

RELENTLESS, by Dean Koontz. It's fast paced, but it's not a thinker. My tiny little brain seems to shrink under the summer sun, so I need simple, cinematic writing.

Erika Robuck said...

I just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society on the beach. Perfection.

Jil said...

Dick Francis - easy to read-about a world I know (steeple chasing) and always interesting.

A Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. So beautifully written it can be put down and picked up at any time

Haste yee back ;-) said...

The best *beach reads*...

This way to the restrooms .....>

Haste yee back :-)

pearlypiper said...

I read "Sophie's Choice" at Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. Another guest gave me her copy as she checked out. Couldn't put it down, my best beach read ever.

Deb said...

Having read "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" by Oscar Hijuelos on the beaches of Hawaii, I can vouch that it was the perfect beach read. I tasted the food, I swayed with the music. The book moved me in a way it might not have had I read it in bits and pieces before bed each night. Man, I loved that book.

Pam said...

Any of the John Sanford "Prey" novels featuring Lucas Davenport. They're easy to absorb, require little to no concentration, and filled with fast-packed page-turning action.

Pam said...

Oh, and James Lee Burke would be another fav, maybe even more than John Sanford, because Burke has a talent for those beautiful passages describing nature. What better than being out in nature and absorbing it through the written word as well.

mvs said...

"The Beach" by Alex Garland - about backpackers in Thailand... we've all seen the movie with Leo.

sharonedge said...

I write for children and young adults, and that is what I read for pleasure. I love Riordan's Percy Jackson series, starting with The Lightning Thief. Scholastic's 39 Steps series is fun, and the book I'm reading now, Masterpiece by Broach, makes the list, as well.

I could name my own top 100, but I'll stop here.

Penney said...

I'm going to go with something funny that I can share with my equally obnoxious friends but still put down when a game of sand volleyball picks up and don't care if I never see it again (just in case of you know, a giant tidal wave hits while we're playing sand volleyball or something...) and go with Tucker Max.

Jamey Stegmaier said...

I'll list the books that I've read that I couldn't put down once I started:

The Lost Legends of New Jersey by Frederick Reiken
The Da Vinci Code (Brown)
His Dark Materials trilogy (Pullman)
The Time Traveler's Wife

Also, I tried this at the beach last year: Bring some of your own writing to share with those around you. There's no better feeling than knowing that people are reading your work (although, there's no worse feeling than if they put down your work for James Patterson).

Wilkie said...

I definitely agree with some of classics- I love Jane Austen and Dumas. Sometimes I just want pure entertainment for a "beach read" though. New author John Lacombe's Winter Games was the last fast-paced adventure I read.

Surly Jason said...

Can I plug Alien Hand Syndrome ( as I helped write and edit it?

It would be good on beaches ...

Link said...

Maarten Troost's "Sex Lives of Cannibals"

Anonymous said...

The best 'beach-read' I've ever read was a novel that, at the time, was generating a tremendous amount of buzz, and which, foolishly, I assumed I was going to detest - this novel, at the time, was being cut to pieces in most literary circles, and for that reason I had actually allowed a part of my mind to be made up for me before I had even set eyes on the first page.

It was being cut to pieces of course because it was selling well, and because it was an easy-read.

The funny thing is that I actually did read this book at the beach. I can remember it well, because I was the designated driver that day, and while my friends proceeded to get goosed, I sat there, sober, and read this novel.

It was The Firm, by John... something, I can't remember his last name.

Goodman, or something like that.

I've often wondered what happened to that guy? He just vanished, as typically happens with authors.

How many writers do we know of who wrote a best-seller, but had no idea how they had managed to do it, and so never wrote again.

Too many!

Can anybody say Robert John Waller!

That guy, of course, wrote the best-selling novel: "The Brides Of Madison County". Ah, but then after his success there we never heard from the fellow again.

So typical. So typical.

If I had to choose a second great 'beach-read' I would probably name a book authored by a novelist whose name, funnily enough, has completely escaped me: the book was titled "The Pelican Brief" and it was a damned fine book.

Here, I'm going to sign my name now. People seem to hate it that I've posted, like, two comments here anonymously.

The Goose.

(I'll try to register if I can figure out how to do it.)

Jen P said...

@anon 11:59 PM Not sure if you're serious or I missed your beach dry sense of humour - both books you mention (The Firm and Pelican Brief) and had forgotten the surname - "I've often wondered what happened to that guy? He just vanished, as typically happens with authors" - are John Grisham, who definitely didn't fall into obscurity.

Have to agree with some of the others:

Melissa's - The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (heavy to carry though, more of a garden summer read than beach read for me)

Ink - Christie mysteries - oh yes, how many of those did I read as a teen on summer holidays!?

But I too (like WendyC and MysteryRobin), spend more time on beaches looking after and playing with my three under three, so what do I take to read? Anything that's not too heavy (can you possibly imagine before you do it, how much stuff you need to carry with three kids to a beach?) and stories that I can read in short snaps and still follow who is who and what happens (ie: a page or two at a a time) which is not very satisfactory but sometimes the only reading I can get done.

Two Flights Down said...

Every Summer needs some Jane Austen. It just happens. I wind up with a Jane Austen book and it always turns out to be the medicine I need.

Lately, though, I've been enjoying Murakami books. I've already read Kafka on the Shore and now I'm loaded with Norwegian Wood for my 14 hour flight from Japan. I'm excited about Norwegian Wood, but I don't think it could top Kafka on the Shore for me--but I'm always open to the unexpected.

Oh, and I have this theory that Miyazaki Hayao will be on my flight. That theory really had nothing to do with summer reads, so it's time to go back to my corner.

Juliette said...

Totally agree with Time Traveller's Wife, but I also love to read anything by Ben Elton when on holidays. I live on the south east coast of Australia, so heaps of beautiful beach time! Mind you - Ben's dry English wit and clever plots works when I go to thew Snowy Mountains on holidays, too!

Juliette said...

Oops two typos in one sentence. not cool. Sometimes I can blame crazy Aussie spelling/grammar (colour, neighbour, realise etc), but not this time!

Mind you - Ben's dry English wit and clever plots work when I go to the Snowy Mountains on holidays, too!

Ink said...

Two Flights Down,

Have you read Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles? Masterpiece.

Paul Äertker said...

Island by Gordon Korman.

Firefly said...

Whale Season by NM Kelby, Bleachers by John Grisham.

Dreamstate said...

Chick lit, definitely. Preferably Sophie Kinsella (Remember Me, Undomestic Goddess) or some of the other British authors (Wendy Holden, Helen Fielding). Light and humorous, but with surprisingly insightful themes.

JStantonChandler said...

If I had a week at the beach with nothing to do but read, I'd take Susan Whittig Albert's Beatrix Potter mystery series or Laura Child's Tea Shop mysteries.

Ah...blissful beach week. Where have you gone?


marym said...

Anything that takes place in Paris with those lovable lost generation types. Ah, Hemingway. I also read The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham every summer.

Steven Till said...

Sphere. Good choice, Nathan. Crichton is one of my all-time favorites. I would throw Timeline by him in the mix. That's my number one choice out of all of his novels. If you haven't read it, pick it up and give it a try. As well as Prey. Another great read.

Myra said...

A couple of years ago on vacation I feigned sickness and hid in the bathroom to finish New Moon by Stephenie Meyer.

I ain't lyin', neither.

This year, I purposefully left my ARC of Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver at home so I wouldn't do it again.

It was a good choice. I would've been in the bathroom the whole trip.

Matilda McCloud said...

I've noticed THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE on a number of lists. I bought this book in an airport bookstore thinking it would be the perfect "airplane read," but I got so confused by the plot after a couple of chapters I had to put it down. I think it might be a challenging beach read (at least for me!).

I do agree that THE DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD should be on the list--perfect beach book. If you haven't read this one, definitely stick it in your beach bag this summer.

Chuck H. said...

Wodehouse, P. G. Wodehouse.

Eric said...

Homer's Odyssey. I read it every summer.

Sally Tomato said...

I totally second Harry Potter and Dan Brown books. I move that series make good beach books, because you can extend the magic through the summer.

The Little Lady Agency books

Not yet read them, but I bet Jeeves & Wooster would be nice

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants

Stand alone reads:

The Awakening if you are in good mental health

The Chyrsalids by John Wyndham - fun sci-fi from the 50s

Travelogues like the Kindness of Strangers or Holy Cow

RK said...

I read two fantastic young adult novels at the beach this summer:


Poison Study

I actually finished the first and then re-read it again immediately.

Mike said...

On The Road. Beatnik fun on the beach.

Marjorie said...

The best beach read is my blog: marjorie-digest. I just did a phenomenal interview with the legendary actress, Anna Berger.

Yes, you do know who Anna Berger is. She started her career (in 1954) on the Goodyear Television Playhouse and most recently appeared as "Cookie" on "The Sopranos."

I was thrilled to interview her and listen to her talk about her work.

Anonymous said...

Bukowski is always good for the beach, particularly "Women" or any collection of short stories.

mab said...

Mists of Avalon, Plainsong by Kent Haurf, The Historian and a favorite of mine, Jane Eyre

Ryan Crafton said...

I would for for 'Jaws' by Peter Benchley, especially if your goal at the beach was to enjoy the sand and the sun and not so much the surf.

Anonymous said...




That's a great suggestion there! Wodehouse. Man, that's the best answer so far.

I wish that I had written that.

Wodehouse, unfortunately - and maybe a bit shockingly - has fallen off the map in recent years. It's incredibly depressing when I think about how many people of my age group have no idea who Wodehouse even is.

Which of the Wodehouse novels is your favorite? - if I had to choose one, I'd have to go with 'Right-ho, Jeeves'.

This was the novel in which Gussie Fink-nottle (not too sure about the spelling there) got liquored up before reading a speech and distributing the prizes at Market-Snodsbury Grammar school - Bertie's aunt subsequently referred to Gussie as being that 'inebriated newt-fancier'.

That's beach material - no question about it.

Great answer, guy.

The Goose.

Laura Martone said...

marym - I love THE RAZOR'S EDGE! What an amazing book.

Pam - And I just have to second your passion for James Lee Burke. I'm from Louisiana, and I love the way he describes the southern part of the state in his Robicheaux books. In fact, I've begun re-reading the entire series. I'm so happy to hear that someone else appreciates him, too!

Micki said...

I'll weigh in with A Civil Action (Jonathan Harr) and Snow in August (Pete Hamill)!

Micki Ginsberg

Jess Haines said...


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a great thread, you guys - I've written some stuff down in my little black book.

So many great books, but such little time to read them.

I'm also a computer-gaming enthusiast, and right now there are a lot of great games to be played as well (such as The Sims 3, and Empire: Total War).

But does anybody here read in the bathtub?

I'm more into reading books in the bathtub than I am at the beach.

The Goose.

Anonymous said...

Godfather, Jaws, Shogun, Taipan, LOTR, Hobbit, Harry Potter, Hawaii, From Here To Eternity, Clan Of The Cave Bear

Chuck H. said...

@anon 10:21

All of 'em. I like the PBS series with Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie also.

evilcat said...

First, I agree with Nathan completely regarding the proper definition of a beach read. Only NPR would attempt to call War and Peace a beach read. As for my votes, I'm definitely in the Hiaasen camp. Commenter David put it particularly well. The Island of the Sequined Love Nun, by Christopher Moore, is another great beach read. And The Beach, by Alex Garland, and I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, both of which actually made the NPR list.

Scott said...

You know, with all the time I've spent on beaches in my life--and I know the coast between Monterey and about Point Reyes pretty well--I have to admit I've never read anything on a beach. There's too much to do at the beach to spend the day sitting in one place reading.

I love reading whenever possible when I'm indoors, but if I'm outdoors, I'm moving around doing stuff.

susanamai said...

I totally understand Sphere. Frankly, anything Michael Crichton (RIP) constitutes a good beach read. i.e. the vastly under appreciated Jurassic Park and The Lost World which is simultaneously intelligent and terrifying.

You know that the other day I found out that my friends didn't know who he WAS? sigh...

Anonymous said...

White Gardenia by Belinda Alexandra
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

All addictive and intelligent reads no matter what the season!


Kerrie said...

Since I live in Colorado, I don't get the chance to sit by a beach and read, but here are my mountain stream reads:

I had no idea what to expect when I picked it up, but Water For Elephants was a great read.

I'd also recommend Someday My Prince Will Come and The Ivy Chronicles--both were very funny.

Terresa said...

My top three this summer:

The time traveler's wife

Water for elephants

Outlander series

Anonymous said...

I've just this afternoon finished a book by Douglas Adams titled "Last Chance To See".

The highlight of the book involves an 'international transit lounge', two 'transit authorities', three weary and angry transit passengers, and a refreshment-kiosk.

A search to buy a condom in China was also rather astonishing - the condom was meant for a microphone, to water-proof it for recording the sounds that a dolphin might hear while swimming in the Yangtze river.

The Chinese merchant, unable to understand English, but understanding a little mime, which Douglas had plucked up the nerve to perform, wanted to sell them some birth control pills.

What an amazing book - I can't believe that it took me so long to get around to reading that?

I think I might start reading it again tonight? I can't believe how quickly I advanced through that?

Michael Younger

lora96 said...

Bel Canto, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, East of Eden, More Than You Know, Love Walked In, Jane Eyre, Emma, Washington Square..that's my short-list...books I finished and thought immediately, "I HAVE to read that again!"

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