Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, it looked like a fun way to get thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.
June 11: Top ten beach reads (however YOU define a beach read!)
Well, it’s pretty rare that I find myself lounging on beaches lately (living in Kansas City, the “Paris of the Plains,” kinda makes that a challenge). But a girl can dream… through books, of course! I don’t have a really clear definition of “beach read” for myself, so I’m just listing what I can picture enjoying in one hand (with a margarita in the other), lounging on a bamboo chaise under a shady umbrella with a view of the ocean. Although now that I’m thinking about it, I’m leaning heavily on contemporary fiction, in no particular order here. Click the links on the titles for my full reviews!
1. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
The Light Between Oceans takes place on a tiny island off the coast of Australia, where a lighthouse keeper and his young wife longing to be parents but facing heartbreaking fertility setbacks one day discover a rowboat washed ashore with an infant girl… and a dead man. Moral questions, nature vs. nurture, and consequences arise in this dramatic historical fiction.
2. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
An epic love story spanning decades and continents, yet not too weighty. Also, it’s a pretty spectacular story including lots of travel, Hollywood showbiz, erudite novelists, and more. I was swept away by the imagery in this one, especially of the Mediterranean seaside.
3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I was totally transported in Water for Elephants: the depression-era circus life was really well researched and described. All of the characters were interesting and colorful, and the plot was full of excitement, gritty drama, sensual and romantic tension, humor, and more.
4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey NIffenegger
Time travel is a complicated, but if you can allow yourself to get lost in the story and characters this is ultimately a beautiful and imaginative expression of love enduring. I read this about the same time I read Water for Elephants, so these two stand out in my mind as good complements to each other.
5. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Outlandishly funny and a sweet mother-daughter relationship story, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is mostly a collection of letters, emails, notes, and official memos documenting what happened leading up to the titular character’s abrupt disappearance. Her daughter, Bee, is obsessed with Antarctica, too, so if you’re feeling hot on the beach, reading about the coldest place on the planet can’t hurt!
6. The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
Part mystery, part romance, The Art Forger is a great read with some substance and interesting information about the art world, mingling fact and fiction with history and the present-day. After reading this one, I couldn’t wait to find out more about the infamous Gardner Museum heist of 1990. When a book compels me to learn more about something, that’s always a good sign!
7. Arcadia by Lauren Groff
An awesome blend of utopia and dystopia, past and future, the definition of family, finding oneself… and hippies! I love hippies. Also the writing is beautifully lyrical.
8. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
I love it when a book can be thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time. Me Before You is a sweet, unconventional love story and brings up ethical dilemmas without being religious, political, or heavy-handed. The characters are realistically flawed brilliantly relatable.
9. Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead
My last two beach picks are memoirs full of sass, humor, and realness. Lizz Winstead, co-creator of Air America Radio and The Daily Show, debuted her collection of autobiographical essays in late 2012. I read it in 2013 and seriously she had me laughing through many parts, nodding my head in solidarity in others, and genuinely moved me to empathetic tears by the end. LOVED this book and will definitely read again.
10. Bossypants by Tina Fey
I think Bossypants and Lizz Free would make great companion books, too! Tina Fey, she of SNL and 30Rock fame, is no doubt the First Lady of making awkward awesome. I just love her and I love her memoir—full of hilarious, weird, and heartwarming accounts from her childhood, adulthood, career, and burgeoning motherhood. PS—I have read the print and listened on audio; both are stellar. I’m sure I’ll return to Bossypants again in the future.
I think I may not spend any time on a proper beach this summer, but I look forward to hanging out in parks in KC, on my gramma’s farm in Wisconsin, and at my family’s cabin on a lake in Da Youper this summer!
What are your favorite books to read at the beach?