Top Ten Beach Books

“One of the saddest things in life is the things one remembers.”

Agatha Christie

Just in case we do actually get a summer at any point…

  1. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier. I have no idea why I think of this as a beach read – it’s not exactly a thing of sweetness and light – but something about it just draws me in during the summer. It’s set in summer, of course, a brief and fleeting one before the collapse of a world; and there’s also something delightful about its 1930s setting that says “sunlight” to me.
  2. Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie. Standing in for all of Christie’s mysteries, but of course Death on the Nile has its own holiday resonances. Again, it’s that ’30s vibe that gives it a beachy feel for me: I think it’s something to do with the fairytale of a proper British summer.
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger. I love dipping in and out of this magical realist romance: it’s got a bit of depth to it but it’s also easy to pick up and put down again, probably because of its episodic format.
  4. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green. Another one that I find really easy to dip into – I enjoy Green’s voice, and the slightly sarky, slightly offbeat tone of his romance is refreshingly geeky. I’ve only read the ending about twice, though, because it’s just too depressing.
  5. Notes From a Big Country  – Bill Bryson. His columns make me laugh my head off – perfect for some light reading.
  6. Robot Dreams – Isaac Asimov. Or any of his short story collections, really. Character development is zero, but there’s always a range of ideas being worked out in his stories, and they always leave me slightly unnerved.
  7. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett. Pratchett is always a choice when it comes to any light reading, and I much prefer his later novels (well, before I Shall Wear Midnight, anyway) – they are deeper, more exploratory, more serious and more fantastical.
  8. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. A slightly camp tale of Heaven, Hell and the Antichrist, Good Omens is also set in an English summer, and it understands what English summers are like, which makes it a great companion for beach trips in Britain, where it’s never really quite warm and always about to rain but you sit there and “sunbathe” anyway out of sheer bloody-mindedness.
  9. Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel. A gentle, quiet read that feels weirdly hopeful for a post-apocalypse scenario. There are touches of melancholy which keep it from being jarring, but overall it’s a lovely book to spend time with.
  10. Cat Stories. I really don’t think this one needs elaboration.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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