3 August 2018

Surviving the Heat: 10 Books for the Beach

We get a lot of good reading done at the beach. It's socially acceptable to pull your book out at a beach, even in a large group, and ignore everyone for hours on end without seeming rude (this is the best part of beach reading next to being able to use your book to hide your gut or block the sun from your face). We've pulled together 10 of our favourite beach reads for you guys today to help you soak up the last bit of summer.

When I think of beach reads I always think of something that is super plot heavy and keeps you turning the pages quickly. Gone Girl has all of these superficial credentials, but also gives you a lot more. It definitely takes a good hard look at marriage and what we will do to our spouses over time. I also feel like it would have been comforting to read this book on a sunny day outside in public. I read one of the biggest twists in this book alone at night and was suuuper creeped out. I wrote a review of Gone Girl here where I essentially suggest I would be morally justified in murdering my ex boyfriend. It was my most popular/read review.

This recommendation would be literally anything by Elin Hilderbrand, but this is an especially summery-friendshippy one. She is the definition of a beach read author and she has a massive repertoire. All her stories take place on Nantucket Island which screams summer vacay, and her books are incredibly easy to read without falling into that cheesy 'fluffy' fiction category. The Castaways follows a prominent Nantucket couple and their friends after a devastating boat accident. It deals with a lot of the complexities of relationships, how you can love multiple people and feel multiple emotions at the same time.

Cheryl Strayed's beautiful memoir Wild is on pretty much every list we have ever done for this blog, so why would beach reads be any different? The reason I would suggest this one is because I loved my experience reading it in the summer. I was being crushed by London, Ontario, heat at the time and felt this was the closest I could relate to Cheryl's hike (i.e. her stifling walk through the Californian desert). This is definitely a page turner but for reasons different than Gone Girl. I love all the detail Cheryl includes about her hiking trip, and the personal stories that lead her to the PCT are so well written. Maybe when combined with the nice weather this book will motivate you to go for a hike?

While this may not scream poolside reading material to you, my work partners and I read this series out loud to each other as we drove around working for the city (sorry to my old boss, we weren't working- sorry to Cambridge residents as well about your taxpayer dollars, I don't really know what to say). It is the perfect little series to consume by the pool. You need to have nothing to do, nobody to see, and time to work through all three books in an environment where you can laugh out loud. I understand that these were meant to be erotic novels but I am still 5 and these read as comedies to me. I also think they should be mandatory reading for anyone in an adult relationship to help manage expectations a little bit.

I mean "beach" is literally written into the title... lol. We read this book for our most recent book club and while we had mixed reviews on it, I'm still glad I read it. The setting is perfect for summer and there is a bit of a love story involved. In a way I am so relieved we didn't read it over the summer because I can guarantee I would have been registering for deep sea diving classes. You can check out our thoughts chapter by chapter here!

If you read my recent review of this book you'll know I'm absolutely obsessed with it, and even if you've read it before I would still recommend it as a beach read for you this summer because it's a new story every time. The story takes place over a long period of time, focusing on the summers in Martha's Vinyard. It's incredibly addicting so you won't be bored and it will get you in the mood for a girly summer full of iced cream, Abba, and awkward sexual encounters.

This book was recommended to me by my MA supervisor Ileana. I remember her telling me that she couldn't get it out of her head, and she was also the person who leant me my favourite fiction book ever - The Goldfinch (also by Donna Tartt). The Secret History was written before The Goldfinch and is a little different in tone. It follows a handful of super rich, liberal arts students and the death of one of their peers. This is also a bit on the thrilling side, but probably a lot more on the disturbing side. Again, this will be a quick read because you will really want to know just how fucked up these students are.

I love to read celebrity autobiographies on the beach because they're usually quick and the chapters are commonly broken into essays, so I can put the book down between chapters and not feel super anxious to keep on with a plot or anything like that. This one by Lauren Graham was incredibly charming because Graham very clearly doesn't consider herself a celebrity and is very relatable, but if Lauren Graham isn't your thing we've covered a lot of others that you may be more interested in here.

This was another book club choice (read here). I have always felt that what is selected for a book club also makes for a good beach read, especially when it is a family drama. There is a tiny bit of suspense in this book in that the father starts to act more and more strange, and you aren't really sure what his deal is until halfway through the book. This book is also my ideal size for a beach read.. easy to pack and big enough that it will shade my face from the blistering sun...

Confession- I haven't read this. I really want to but I just haven't yet but let me tell you, the HBO miniseries based off this book was the best TV show I watched in 2017. Maybe the best show I've watched in a longer span of time... It's got elements of mystery but it's also a romance and a feminist story and I loved it so much. I usually prefer to read the book before watching an adaptation so I can envision the characters in my own way but in this case the casting was perfect. I can't wait to read this and I think it would be the perfect beach read- easy, but interesting and addicting.

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