Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.
This week’s theme is Top Ten Beach Reads. When I hear the words “beach reads”, I picture a blanket, a sun umbrella, some palm trees, white sand, gently rolling waves… Bliss!
What makes a good beach read? Nothing too heavy or sad — no tears allowed at the beach! It should be engrossing enough to hold your attention despite all the beach-y distractions — but nothing that you couldn’t put down at a moment’s notice in order to run back into the surf or go get another piña colada. Extra points for a summery setting, maybe an island getaway or a beach town, a cottage on the dunes, or even a barbecue or two.
As usual, the big challenge was in limiting myself to just ten… so here is my top 10 list containing slightly more than ten books:
1) Firefly Beach by Luanne Rice — or really, pretty much anything by Luanne Rice. This author specializes in stories of sisters and families, usually in beach town settings, somewhere with a coast or a harbor. You can practically feel the sea spray and hear the waves crashing when you read these books.
2) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. This story of four friends, one pair of jeans, and and an unforgettable summer strikes just the right balance of ups and downs, with plenty of self-discovery and girl power.
3) Another sisterhood book: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. Southern fiction at its best! Mothers, daughters, friends, secrets — just emotional and involving enough to enjoy on the beach, maybe with a mint julep to help move things along.
4) What’s beach reading without a good family saga or two? Something that spans generations, sweeping in scope — enough to keep you from nodding off in the sun. A few “classic” family sagas perfect for the beach would be Evergreen by Belva Plain, The Immigrants by Howard Fast, or The Bastard by John Jakes.
5) An afternoon at the beach is the perfect time to sink your teeth (ha!) into the first volume of a good, juicy urban fantasy series. I’d go with Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1) by Charlaine Harris, Tempest Rising (Jane True, #1) by Nicole Peeler, or Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, #1) by Gail Carriger. Nothing says summer like vampires, werewolves, and selkies!
6) How about something utterly silly? The island setting makes this one a beach read for me: Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore. Almost all of my top 10 lists include a Christopher Moore book. Why stop now?
7) If this is a serious beach vacation — we’re talking a week in Maui, not just a couple of hours at the local strip of sand — then a big chunky book with lots of plot will keep you going for days (or weeks) at a time. I’d pick A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin or Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Not the sunniest subject matter, but you won’t lose interest and you won’t run out of reading material.
8) For that New England summer feel, there’s Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead, a story of a WASP wedding weekend in which nothing goes as planned.
9) I think I need to mention a young adult favorite of mine: Sea Change by Aimee Friedman, about a city girl forced to spend a summer on a remote island with big secrets. There’s love, there’s a mystery, and there are beautiful beaches! I have the impression that not that many people have read Sea Change, which is a shame. It’s lovely and romantic, yet with a lead female character who stands up for herself and makes some healthy choices.
10) And my final selection is one that I took on vacation a few years ago, and which worked out perfectly for me as a beach read: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales by Kate Bernheimer (editor). This collection includes stories by some truly amazing writers (Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Karen Joy Fowler, and more). Each story is captivating, but you can easily toss the book aside in between stories for a quick dip in the water or a game of beach volleyball.
What will you be reading on the beach this year?
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