I hope life has been treating you well. Today is Tuesday which means it’s time to make lists! Yaaaaaay! This week’s topic via The Broke and The Bookish is Top Ten Beach reads! It sounds like an easy topic, but I’m kind of at a loss. The thing about Illinois is that it’s landlocked. I can’t just go to the beach. And lakes, even the Great Lakes, are stinky. We also have rivers, which are probably stinkier than lakes. I don’t like swimming in water with fish as a general rule, but I will break my rule when it comes to wading in the OCEAN. WADING, not swimming, mind you. I tried snorkeling when I was like 13 and had a panic attack, so I’m sticking to dry land and chlorinated pools thankyouverymuch. Occasions when I’m near an actual ocean are few and far between, so I’m breaking my “beach” reads into two pieces. Books set on beaches, and books about summertime (when the living’s easy.)
Top 5 Books Set on the Beach
1. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I don’t read a whole heck of a lot of books set on beaches. At least, not a whole heck of a lot of books I actually like (cough cough The Best of Us.) I read this a long time ago, but I recall beaches and tributaries and a confused married woman having an affair with a Catholic priest. So. Scandal? Check. Sandals? Check. Beach read. Boom. Nailed it.
2. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. This is sort of set on a beach. I mean, it’s on a Hawaiian island… That also happens to be a leper colony. It’s a pretty good book if a little depressing. Leprosy sucked, especially if you were a surfer and then had your toes fall off. Not cool, man. Not cool.
3. Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. This is my all time favorite Anita Shreve novel. She’s written an entire series of books revolving around one specific beach house. I’ve read several of them (so far) and it’s a really cool life of a house type scenario. Fortune’s Rocks is begins in 1899. In a society bound by convention and old timey bathing costumes, scandalous affairs are bound to pop up between teenaged daughters of the elite and well to do doctors. I mean, those bathing costumes were HAWT.
4. Sea Glass by Anita Shreve. This was my second visit to our woebegone beach house. Set in the 1930s, this tale features a newly married couple, Sexton and Honora Beecher. Honora spends her days collecting sea glass while her husband (who turns out to be a bit of a slime ball) sells typewriters. In the nearby town, textile mills have workers laboring under deplorable conditions. McDermott is a sexy Irish mill worker who catches Honora’s eye as the Beechers are drawn into a massive labor dispute. There’s some scandal and plenty of learning to be had.
5. Body Surfing by Anita Shreve. And we’re baaaaaaaaaaaack at the same beach house! Only now it’s modern-ish times and our protagonist is a 29 year old underemployed divorcee and widow named Sydney. A lot of living went into her 29 years, what can she say? Sydney decides to take a job as a private summer tutor for the 18 year old daughter of the Edwards family who summer at (you guessed it) the mythological beach house of Shreve’s imagination. Julie (the daughter in question) has two older brothers and once they arrive, Sydney is plunged into a set of circumstances bound to make her relationship history even MORE interesting. Families are crazy, especially when you pop into one already in progress.
Top 5 Books About Summertime
1. Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg. Fannie Flagg makes me happy with almost everything she writes, but her version of summertime in 1940s Elmwood Springs, Missouri is just a treat. I felt like I was part of the small town and desperately wanted to get a milkshake from the pharmacy soda fountain.
2. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Shush! I can list the same authors over and over again if I want to! Fannie Flagg knows how to do SUMMER, you guys! Ruth and Idgy’s summer before Ruth gets married? Ruth and Idgy at the cafe? The shenanigans of summertime in depression era Alabama?! Makes me want to sit on a porch swing and drink a gallon of lemonade, dang it!
3. Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik. So, this book centers on a neighborhood book club (which is NEARLY as cool as The Fellowship of the Worms, but not quite.) A large part of the story goes on in the summer. Every time I think of this book, it conjures up images of pools and kool-aid stands. Summertime. Charm. These are things I like.
4. Summer by Edith Wharton. Awww yeah, you didn’t see THAT coming did you? I like Edith. I like her sarcastic take on society. I like Charity Royall’s air of self importance in spite of her humble origins. I like that she works at the library. Sure, she may be naive and begin a love affair with a society fellow looking to slum it for the summer… Summer fun times sometimes lead to springtime babies… So… Be careful, kids.
5. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. I know, it’s a little overexposed right now, but I can’t even think about this book without feeling a little sweaty, and I don’t mean that because of the steamy affairs. I mean the blasted temperature. My word, how did anyone survive the summer before air conditioning? Heat rises and people do crazy booze fueled things… Love triangles, feuds, affairs, CHAOS. A good time was had by all… Who didn’t end up dead.
Shakespeare said it best in Romeo & Juliet, “For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.” Benvolio knew what was up. Hot temps lead to hot tempers. Keep cool this summer. Leave the drama to the books! What are YOUR picks for beach reads, Bookworms? Anything awesome that’s set on a beach that I haven’t read but ought to?