Beach Reads?

Each year, as we get to the beginning of summer, in addition to stores making end caps filled with sun block, bug spray and beach towels, we see end caps and tables of recommended beach reads (and not just in book stores). This category of the beach read isn’t confined to retail either as newspapers and magazines include articles dedicated to beach reads and recommended summer reading lists based on your literary leisure.

I love this! Not that I need a “reading season” but it’s exciting to see the mass interest in books this time of year. And I am a fan of the recommended reading lists — as someone who loved school, but is a few years out of matriculation — it brings me back to that time.

This past Friday, the New York Times included a cover story in the Arts Section titled “The Girls of Summer” which provided a review from Janet Maslin of the “traditional” chick lit summer fare for the beach read. 

I try and balance out what I am reading, moving between fiction and non-fiction, enough that I consider myself somewhat well-read. So, it was with great excitement that I read Maslin’s piece to find a few more books to pack in my already overstuffed suitcase. Included in the review was the latest novel from Lisa See Shanghai Girls. I have read two of See’s other novels (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, both of which I really enjoyed) so this one was already on my “things to get before I go away” list. Another book featured in the article was Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan. The write-up, and follow-up review in the NYT Book Review section this weekend (you can check out Maria Russo’s review here) enticed me enough that while I was on Amazon today getting Shanghai Girls I picked up Commencement too. (My reviews of both these books are scheduled for mid-July as the TBR pile is so large right now that they will not get on deck until early July.)

These were the only two featured in the article that I purchased this week (although I did also get the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge), but wanted to note my favorite line from Maslin that was pulled out of Jennifer Wiener’s latest Best Friends Forever, “Ms. Weiner’s characters are warmly and realistically drawn, even if the weathergirl needs to be told, about the Weathermen, ‘those guys weren’t actual meteorologists.’” (I have not read Weiner before, not sure how I happened to avoid her books, including the novel-turned-movie In Her Shoes, but based on the Weathermen line alone and the laugh it gave me, I might have to pick up BFF too!)

But beach reads? I’m not sure why we give ourself license to read these books in the summer while on vacation or relaxing. But I like that so often books (no matter what the genre) are on people’s minds to include on their “what to pack for vacation” list, especially if they don’t take (or have) the time to read on a more regular basis any other time of the year.

QUESTION OF THE DAY (please post responses in the Comments section):

Do you find that you reserve a certain genre, author, etc. to read only in the summer or when you are taking a vacation?


One Response

  1. Stephen King (On Writing), I’ll probably also re-read Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, or Bluebeard by Vonnegut. On the lighter side, I am enjoying Rock On by David Kennedy. I was disappointed with Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd. You’d think the woman who was married to George Harrison and Eric Clapton would make it interesting…
    B is for Beer, by Tom Robbins is honorable mention, though it’s no Still Life with Woodpecker.

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