Thursday, May 19, 2016

on my bookshelf: beach reads (books five years and older)


we are on our way to the beach tomorrow, so in light of that, i thought i'd put together a little list of some of my favorite beach reads! everyone needs those books that are just perfect for picking up and putting down. sometimes, these are my favorite kinds of books, because as much as i love a book that i can't put down (obviously...), it's also nice to be reading a book that doesn't completely consume you. it means the book is maybe not as magnetic, but not necessarily less interesting. in fact some of the most interesting books i've ever read are the ones that kind of necessitate you putting them down. they require a little time to digest. which also means that you don't have that overwhelming urge to stay up all night (for which you will most definitely be kicking yourself all the next day!;) reading it. and sometimes you want to read something that doesn't require you to think or feel too much. haha. that sounds so bad. but you know what i mean? you want a book that is basically just fun. well this list has both books that require some digestion and books that are simply good reads. and all of these books i loved. these are also all books that are five years old or older! because sometimes you really can't make just one list. ;)

1. bel canto — beautiful, beautiful book! sad ending! maybe you didn't know but i have a thing with sad (beautiful) endings in (beautiful) books. i cannot stand a sad ending in a movie because i watch movies to not have to think or feel too much other than excitement and happiness. but books somehow are different. you will love this book. it is beautifully written and so different from the typical "beach" reads.

2. tender is the night — this book just screams the beach to me, since a large part of it takes place...on the beach! this is actually a horrible story about mental illness, the complexity of marriage, divorce, the descent of humanity, infidelity, murder...i don't know why i put it on this list, haha. i just find fitzgerald's imagery so powerful, so read this book for the imagery but don't expect to be uplifted. hmm, that's the second sad book on this list. don't worry! it gets lighter!

3. a year in provence (or anything by peter mayle!) — this book is just pure delight. especially if you have a thing for food, france, the french countryside, the english, a slower pace of life, etc. this book is for you!

4. the elegance of the hedgehog — this is a novel disguised and propelled by philosophy. it is oh-so-very French, and thus oh-so-very clever and also, so simple, in that the characters are just so certain, so clear, so clean. how a book can utilize philosophy and be wrapped up in its study while narrowing its characters down to the pristine, tiny moments they experience, is the trick and the charm of this book's genius. it makes you want to go live in a flat pre-internet-era in europe, find a job doing something menial and unrewarding, and make friends with stray cats. or maybe that's just me? either way, it is imbued with the appreciation of the simple things in life and that alone makes it a worthwhile read.

5. the lost continent — i have a confession: this is the only bill bryson book i have ever read, despite loving it and finding him such a hilarious and wonderful writer. i am getting on my library website to rectify that stat! but in the meantime, i highly recommend this book. bryson is wry, insightful, witty and will cause you to look at everything with new eyes.

6. saturday — another gorgeous book. what can i say except this book is about the writing and the characters, which is as every good book should be. i don't think there's much more to say on it, is there?

7. beach music — pat conroy is a legend in the south, and this book will show you why. there is so much drama and feeling in all of his books, which sometimes is too much, but in this book just pulls you in with both hands. might fall more on the side of can't-put-down but i can't remember since i read this probably 10 years ago.

8. the steep approach to garbadale — i have been a fan of ian banks since i read the bridge (which i considered putting on this list, but it's kind of a strange book and definitely more of the can't-put-it-down variety). i actually read this book at the beach on my honeymoon! his characters are magnetic and i loved reading about scotland.

9. the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society — oh my goodness such a good book! not a bowl me over backwards book, but a really delightful book with really lovable characters all the same. this was on every reading list when it came out so chances are you've already read it (like the rest of these titles haha), but if not, go read it! you'll thank me!

10. the swan thieves - i really loved this book. i think because elizabeth kostova has such an amazing way of making art and history come to life in a way that makes you (or just me?) want to go back to school and be a historian...or an artist...or both! i really loved this story and the mystery in it. and i found the characters to be so vibrant (except the main odd but also a problem i have often grappled with as a writer).

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