Throughout the year, my wife and I spend several holidays with her parents in Florida. They live only a few minutes from the beach providing me with ample time to enjoy the sounds and smells of the ocean. Of course being the obsessive-compulsive reader that I am, I usually take way more books than is logical to finish in one short week. However, I firmly believe that one can never be too prepared for leaving one’s precious library for such a long period of time.
I try to adjust my reading tastes to match the tropical setting and calm atmosphere of the beach. Leave it to me to “color coordinate” my reading selections to match my temporary surroundings. So in the spirit of fun, here are my top ten holiday beach reads.
1. Beach Music by Pat Conroy
Hands down one of my favorite books of 2016! I was introduced to this beautiful novel by my best friend/brother. Pat Conroy ingeniously blends family tragedy with a great sense of humor. If you think your family is crazy, wait until you meet this one! The settings are beautifully described from Rome to the gorgeous beaches of South Carolina. Conroy is an underrated master of the craft. He even took home both the ‘Newcomer Award’ as well as ‘Best Original Read’ for my Book Awards 2016.
2. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
David Mitchell is another genius, and this book has to be one of my all-time favorites. This one is perfect for the summer holidays because it jumps all over the world-as well as all over time. Here you will discover six stories separated by both continents and centuries only to find that they connect to each other in surprising ways.
3. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
I would definitely put this one as the best classic to take to the beach. Stevenson’s tale of dastardly pirates and hidden treasure is a fun read. I’m looking forward to reading Andrew Motion’s sequel Silver (probably during another holiday trip). Sure, it’s a boy’s adventure book, but who doesn’t love pirates? Maybe treat yourself to a pirate cruise after you have read this classic!
4. Dune by Frank Herbert
The first book of one of the greatest science fiction series of all time. Dune is set on the desert planet of Arrakis, where water is scarce but the spice known as melange is plentiful. There are conspiracies, assassinations, betrayals, and the awesome gigantic sand worms! I’m currently reading this one and plan to check out more in the series. There have also been a couple of film adaptations.
5. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
This is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. It tells the absurdly comical story of centenarian Allan Karlsson. On the day of the 100th birthday, he makes the spontaneous decision to run away from the nursing home that he is trapped in with no plans for the future. His subsequent decision to steal a suitcase from a mobster filled with a ton of money leads to connecting with several other downtrodden characters and one increasingly ridiculous misadventure after another. This is a fun read, as we are treated to Allan encountering one famous historical figure after another. If you want something light and ridiculous, give this one a shot.
6. Sandition by Jane Austen and ‘Another Lady’
If you are searching for something light, you can’t go wrong with Jane Austen. This unfinished work was completed by an anonymous author who does well in capturing Austen’s signature voice. Set in a resort village, it is full of the typical tropes that Austen fans can’t get enough of….love gone wrong, misunderstandings, and colorful characters. In order to get the full experience, one should read this on the beach with the sounds of the ocean washing over you. Apparently, there’s a modernization of this tale available online.
7. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
This charming little memoir is part travelogue and part philosophy. The author Eric Weiner travels to various countries to learn each one’s definition of “happiness.” His pursuit of this elusive concept is quite charming and a great read to take to the beach.
8. A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
Perhaps you are wanting something a tad more exhilarating for your day at the beach. This early thriller by the scribe of Little Women involves a deadly chase through Europe by the ultimate gentleman stalker. Alcott does a great job of rendering some truly memorable and haunting scenes.
9. The Martian by Andy Weir
Here is another great science fiction read. The Martian tells the story of a botched space mission and an astronaut who must brave the harsh Martian landscape alone with only his intelligence and sense of humor to aid him. This page-turner is a must read as Weir does an incredible job of describing the cruel terrain of Mars.
10. What I Didn’t See and Other Stories by Karen Joy Fowler
This fantastic collection from Karen Joy Fowler contains some of the best short fiction I’ve read in a long time. The opening story, “The Pelican Bar,” sets the perfect tone. There are stories that take place over a wide range of locations all over the world.