We are headed off to our favorite beach soon. With kids, I don’t get to do a lot of reading on the actual beach unless I can catch a few kid-free hours while they rest with another adult. But we do take advantage of the beautiful screened-in porch at our beach house, reading while my kids rest or read themselves.
Being a total bibliophile and rapid reader, my definition of a beach read is any book I happen to read on the beach. For the most part, though, I think vacation reading should be a little bit lighter than my normal fare. Classics require way too much concentration. These reads cannot be so heady that they make me want to go to sleep. A perfect beach read is a story you can happily dive into and live there for a while, while still being aware of the breeze on your back and remember occasionally to rub on more sunscreen.
(All that said, last year at the beach I read Everything I Never Told You, which isn’t exactly a happy-go-lucky story. It just happened to be what I had on hold at the library.)
Here are five novels that I think fit the bill just right. Please share some of your favorite beach reads in the comments!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – This book, translated from Swedish, is about a crotchety old man finding his way in life after loss. At first, Ove might seem off-putting … but persevere. He quickly becomes rather lovable, as are the characters who surround him in his neighborhood, right down to the cat he hates. Ove is an examination of why we are the way we are and how sometimes strangers become family. To me, this book is practically perfect, and a great story to get lost in. Beware, it might make you laugh out loud or cry in public.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – Intriguing with a lot of mystery, romance, and plain old good writing, Kate Morton shares the story of the Nicholson family. Fifty years ago, teenaged Laurel witnessed something shocking on her own front lawn; in the present time, she is determined to hunt down the answers to the story behind the tragedy that’s shaped her life. Switching between the present day and 1941, this delightful mystery will keep you reading all day and maybe even into the night.
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty – A lesser-known title from the author of What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies, The Last Anniversary is very much in the beloved style of Australian author Moriarty. There is a little mystery, and while we unearth it we’re treated to the lives of many intertwined, real, crazy characters. In this novel, the main character is Sophie, who is shocked to find she’s inherited a house from her ex-boyfriend’s great-aunt. The house is on Scribbly Gum Island, home to only a few houses, all of whose occupants are related. They survive happily through the fame of the island’s mysterious Munro Baby, whose parents disappeared without a trace decades before. Sophie, a single 39-year-old with a womb crying for children, navigates her way through the family drama. Moriarty’s quirky, entertaining style makes tough topics seem like light reading, and this book is well worth a cover-to-cover read. (Note: lots of language and sex talk, plus a few “trigger topics.”)
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon – If, like me, you enjoy a good young adult novel, this is one of my recent favorites. Yoon tells the story of Maddy, who lived in an airlocked house, tucked away from the world – which she is literally allergic to. A new next-door neighbor enchants her, and she has to redefine what it means for her to live. The story is great, and Yoon tells it “the normal way” as well as through e-mail and instant message conversations and Maddy’s illustrated journal entries. This is fast-paced, entrancing kind of read that will have you stuck to your beach chair until the end.
The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore – This is one of the most purely enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time, despite some of the serious subject matters. Edward Kelsey Moore says he based this book off years of eavesdropping on his female relatives. His novel follows three women, best friends dubbed The Supremes, in the present-day as well as the 60s. With a fortune-telling looney, some crazy relatives, a slew of ghosts including an intoxicated Eleanor Roosevelt, and a dash of civil rights, Moore’s first book is fun and funny, touching and wonderful.