Hot Temps and Hot Tempers: Top Ten Tuesday Beach Reads

June 11, 2013 Book Club, Chick Lit, Classics, Friendship, Top Ten Tuesday 44

Howdy Bookworms!

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.

Try and resist this. I dare you. (Image Source)

Try and resist this. I dare you. (Image Source)

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?

44 Responses to “Hot Temps and Hot Tempers: Top Ten Tuesday Beach Reads”

  1. Rory

    I have a love-hate relationship with Anita Shreve. I feel like she enjoys killing people off in novels (like Sea Glass). I did enjoy Fortune’s Rock.

    And I don’t know how people survived without A/C, I don’t have it and it’s going to over 100 degrees today and I just want to cry!

    • Words for Worms

      I’m love/hate with Anita Shreve, too. At this point my only unabashed LOVE from her is Fortune’s Rocks, but I keep reading them in hopes I’ll find another like it. 100 degrees suuuucks. Seriously. They didn’t have air conditioning OR deodorant. The whole world must have been so STINKY!

  2. Vikk @ Down the Writers Path

    I absolutely love your list and the running commentary. Makes me want to run out and pick up all the books and settle down by the sea–or Gulf, in my case. I haven’t read Anita Shreve yet. Your comment about popping into a family when the craziness has already begun is great advice for anyone who wants to write.

    I read my first Wharton, a very small book called Xingu, a few months ago and loved it.

  3. Daddio

    Happy Tuesday list to the only girl I’ve ever seen RUN across 30 yards of ocean after seeing fish in the water. Snorkeling is loads of fun!

  4. Kelly

    I was struggling with what to get my husband for Father’s Day, then I read this and was like BOOM! Old timey bathing suit. Make it happen.

  5. Turn the Page Reviews

    Great list! So many people have the same feelings about Anita Shreve, but I have never read that series. Most of my list is set on a beach-even has pics of beaches. I can’t wait to get my toes in the sand!!

    • Words for Worms

      Anita Shreve is a wonderful writer, but her tales tend to be cloudy day downers, which is kind of funny since some of them are set on beaches. But you know. Beaches in the northeast, not tropical paradise beaches. I guess that’s the difference.

  6. Ashley F

    I hate lakes. The concept of jumping off a dock into god knows what with plants and muck on the bottom does not appeal to me at all. I’m ok if I can walk from a beach into the water but seriously, nobody wants to walk into Lake Ontario. I don’t even like beaches because me and sun don’t mix. I’m the one over there hiding under the umbrella.

  7. Wayne

    My deceased mother, brother and sister-in-law, sister, and niece actually took a vacation to Moloka’i. I decided to pass: I’m more of a Maui or Kauaʻi type of guy. Not much to see on Moloka’i unless you’re really interested in lepers or Father Damien. So I think I’ll skip the book.

    • Words for Worms

      I’ve heard that since Moloka’i was never developed into a touristy area as much as the other islands it’s the most “authentic” Hawaiian experience. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been, but I believe things I read on the internet.

      • Wayne

        “Authentic” doesn’t necessarily mean good. Before Yugoslavia started breaking up I traveled down the middle of Croatia where the cuisine was uniformly bad. A soggy lettuce and tomato salad and “mixed grill” which was greasy lamb, chicken and probably beef. The people were nice though, considering they’d endured a socialist system. I suppose the food has improved 🙁

  8. lostinliterature108

    Oh my gosh!!! So much to say!!!!

    First…. “Scandals, check, sandals, check…” Love that! You’re just a word master.

    I have read sooo many beach reads, that take place on the beach. Most of them by the same author, who is one of my favorites, Robin Jones Gunn. Her most recent books all take place in Hawaii because that is where she lives now. But she has also taken me to the beach in Mexico and California. Lots of her characters intertwine in the different stories. They are all very uplifting, light on the drama, but very heartfelt.

    I just read Gatsby last month, for the first time, and really didn’t know much about it other than the setting. I REALLY liked it! I know it’s kinda saturated right now, but it’s definitely fit for a summer read. And yes, I saw the movie and REALLY liked that too! Even got to see Leonardo DiCaprio in one of those suits. It worked for him.:) And he was a Great Gatsby. (intended):)

    Lastly, I’m sorry you can’t get to the beach often. I get there at least once every summer but many times more than that. I think I told you before that I did my own survey with readers all up and down the beach to see what they were reading. SSSOOOOO FUN! And bonus, it totally embarrassed my kids.

    Happy Summer/Beach reading

    • Words for Worms

      LOL- oh your Gatsby pun has me giggling girlishly. Words are so delicious. Enjoy the beach on my behalf. Just, you know. Avoid the fish. Because they’re scary.

    • Words for Worms

      LOL seriously, they were the only books I could think of set at a beach! If you’re going to try Shreve, start with Fortune’s Rocks. It’s amazing.

  9. Jennine G.

    I’m sensing some themes here for certain authors! Lol. My problem with naming beach reads is that I’ll read anything on the beach…you could as easily find me on the beach with Les Mis or a text on the history of the English language as anything else!

    Oh and Gatsby is never overexposed! Gatsby’s entrance into today’s culture could be nothing less – neither Gatsby nor Fitzgerald would approve of anything less 😉

  10. Lisa G

    Like some one else said, I too, read everything everywhere so “beach” read means nothing to me. But! For family craziness set near water try Elin Hildebrand. The Island or The Castaways are my two favorites. The Castaways made me weep big sopping tears though, just a heads up.

  11. Lori

    I really liked Fortune’s Rock and Sea Glass, mostly because of the setting on the ocean. I am creating a summer reading list for my 19 year old son and I’m including The Great Gatsby both because it’s a must-read classic and it’s short compared to the others I’ve chosen. Also, I don’t want him living with the current movie version in his head.

    • Words for Worms

      Thanks! I felt like I’d be repeating myself if I did that, it was a topic not too long ago… Of course, Fannie Flagg overlapped, but, I love her, so that’s bound to happen.

  12. PinotNinja

    I’m about to leave for vacation and Fannie Flagg sounds like the perfect plane read to put me in a relaxed and happy mood when I land (6 torturous hours later). Thanks for the great suggestion!

  13. Lindsay Law

    My favourite summer book is probably To Kill a Mockingbird – it perfectly evokes the lazy, hazy, almost hypnotic heat of summer, when everything seems a little delirious. Plus, it’s also a brilliant book.

  14. Sarah Says Read

    Oh I loved The Mermaid Chair, that was a good book. And Moloka’i, of course.

    For real though, thank goodness for A/C! Poor folks who lived in the Gatsby-era, before central air was every place you went.

    • Words for Worms

      I am such a sweaty beast. I’m like the only person in my pilates class who RAINS sweat. It’s disgusting. I don’t think I’m dainty enough for a fainting couch, even. It’s a good thing I live now. Very very good thing.

  15. Lyssapants

    So, in the Gatsby movie, they’re all “it’s so hot here! let’s go to the hotel and drink booze – where it is also hot! oh yes, and men, please keep wearing your three piece suits!” whereas this was me: GET IN THE POOL! TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!
    the end.

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