Monday, June 21, 2010

Beach Reads

Today is the first day of summer and I live in a beach area. Tourists flock to my neck of the shore to frolic in the waves, sun themselves and yes, even occasionally read on the beach. It got me thinking, we always hear books advertised as "the perfect beach read." What exactly does that mean?

What does one look for in a perfect beach read? When I hear the term, I think of light, fluffy entertainment that doesn't require much thought. Like the cotton candy of books. Thought of this way, it's not exactly the most flattering phrase to bestow upon a novel.

Now, I don't actually go to the beach. While vacationers come here, I hide from the crowds and traffic by the pool in the backyard. But, the concept of a beach read is ultimately the same no matter where you read it. I can't help but wonder, why being in the sun requires a reader to indulge in happy, light fare? Isn't an engrossing storyline more important? Maybe that's just for "airplane" books, which are, in theory, read in uncomfortable places that a reader would want to mentally escape from. Once you step into the sun, do your tastes involuntarily but inescapably shift towards the same few summer bestsellers that everyone else is reading?

I know "beach read" is really nothing more than a marketing tool used to woo the occasional book buyer and shouldn't really effect me at all. For some reason, the idea just feels dirty. These poor bikini-clad women are being suckered into buying the latest popular fluff when they could be catching up on Moby Dick (Have you ever seen anyone reading Moby Dick anywhere? I think that may be a stay-at-home in the winter type of read).

In a effort to bring new books to beaches everywhere, let me share with you some of the books I hope to read by the pool this year.

Red Hot Fury by Kasey Mackenzie (Ace, 6/29) As a Fury, Marissa Holloway belongs to an Arcane race that has avenged wrongdoing since time immemorial. As Boston's Chief Magical Investigator for the past five years, she's doing what she was born to: solving supernatural crimes.

Kraken by China Mieville (Del Rey, 6/29) The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson (Berkley, 7/6) Betsy and her half-sister Laura have to go to Hell long enough for Laura to embrace her dark heritage (after a rebellious youth of charity work) and finally make nice with her mother, aka Lucifer.

Blood Law by Jeannie Holmes (Dell, 7/6) A provocative and savvy vampire, Alexandra Sabian moves to the sleepy hamlet of Jefferson, Mississippi—population 6,000, half vampires—to escape the demons lurking in her past. As an enforcer for the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigations (FBPI), Alex must maintain the uneasy peace between her kind and humans, including Jefferson’s bigoted sheriff, who’d be happy to see all vampires banished from town.

Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn (Tor, 7/6) When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope’s Fort, Colorado, is not the only legacy she stands to inherit. Hidden behind the old basement door is a secret and magical storeroom, a place where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe until they are needed again. The magic of the storeroom prevents access to any who are not intended to use the items. But just because it has never been done does not mean it cannot be done.

Siren by Tricia Rayburn (Egmont, 7/13) Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of everything--the dark, heights, the ocean--but her fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to coach her through every challenge.  That is until Justine goes cliff diving one night near the family's vacation house in Winter Harbor, Maine, and her lifeless body washes up on shore the next day.

Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber (St. Martin's, 8/3) The irrepressible star of Truly, Madly, is back in business. This time, Lucy Valentine will go to the ends of the earth to find true love for her clients…and maybe even herself.

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion, 8/3) Artemis has committed his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy. Can it be true? Has goodness taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind?

Millions love James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel and their books literally litter the beaches. I'm always glad when I see people reading, but this summer I hope to see people reading something different.

Don't share my taste for paranormal fun in the sun? What would you like to read and see others reading on the beaches this summer?


  1. What a great list Im adding the apple one to my list....:D

  2. Hmm. Never thought of it like that. I am a each reader and I try to stick to stories that I don't have to spend much time thinking about. The beach has a lot going on. Plus reading on the beach you need to be able to pick up and put down the book often due to heat, sun blinding you and beachy distractions. I also have a little one and I need to spend it watching him even though my hubby is there. I guess I figured I's get angry if I picked up a book and it was freaking awesome and I had to put it down. LOL

    I see your point though. Need to rethink my way of beach reading Awesome topic.

  3. Wonderful post! I must admit that I never quite understood the idea of a "beach read". Love the books you've chosen - maybe I'll check some of those out.

  4. I have Siren to read too!

    I don't really have a beach to read on, but I read outside in the sun a lot. My summer reads include a lot of fantasy and YA.

  5. Ooh, great list! Kraken looks really creepy!

  6. I think of "beach" reads or "pool" reads around here (land-locked Colorado)as BFBs/chunksters and usually historical family sagas.
    I definitely agree that I want it to light. I agree with Cleverly Inked... there are quite a lot of distractions and an easy read is perfect.
    I also tend to leave it it in the pool bag so I don't want to read something so thought-provoking or engrossing that I bring it to bed to read and... gasp (LOL)... forget it the next time we're at the pool. There's nothing worse than being there with nothing to read.

  7. I can't wait to read deeply, desperately either! I'll have to check out some of the others on your list as well :-)

  8. I'm not into paranormal (maybe one every now and then but not one after the other).

    For the beach (or poolside) I would go for something lighter than normal because (indeed) of the distractions. I would read chick-lit and thrillers with maybe (if that gets too much) a more "serious" book thrown in. :-0

  9. Always thought of beach read as fluffy, no brainer reads that a person can read, people watch, and talk to others, all at the same time, and still understand what's going on in the book...LOL

  10. Beach reads to me are any book that I can lose myself in enough that I can sit out at the pool or in the sand and tune out all the sounds going on around me. It can be any genre as long at it wraps me up and makes me deaf.

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  11. Oh I'm gonna keep an eye out for your review of Fury..that one sounds interesting!!!

  12. If I had a beach nearby, these would be my kind of beach reads :) Amazon suggested Kraken to me and I think they may be right once again (I think they know me better than the hubs does)!

  13. I read what I read wherever I am at--I am not really influenced by the seasons or my geographical location....

  14. These look great. I definitely going to try the books by Heather Webber. I tend to go for cozy mysteries as beach reads :)

  15. OOH!!! Discord's Apple sounds great, just added it to my wish list. I think I need a second job to fund my book buying habit....