This presents somewhat of a conundrum for me, as I will not be going to the beach this summer. Further, I don't typically lie on the beach, being as I am from very fair Irish stock. I have only three shades (white, pink, and red) and white is by far the most comfortable. So this will have to be a hypothetical list: if I was hypothetically going to the beach and hypothetically possessed enough melanin to withstand protracted periods in the sun, I would be looking for 2 qualities in a beach read: laughs and mystery, preferrably with some romance splashed in. Thus my top ten (plus one)...
- The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse: Have you ever read ol' P.G.? If not, you are missing out. He is the master of the absurd and is one of the few writers that genuinely makes me laugh out loud. Poking gentle fun of the upper classes at the beginning of the last century, his romps are always a delight. This particular one revolves around Wooster, his faithful butler (Jeeves), his Aunt Dahlia, and a very expensive cow creamer.
- The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie: Agatha is a delight, always, of course, but this particular sugary treat is a madcap "spy thriller" adventure. It's one of those murder mysteries where the body is almost incidental to the crazy fun that the rest of the cast is having. And I want to be Bundle Brent when I grow up. Hijinks galore!
- Bossypants by Tina Fey: I am on the record as really loving this memoir, but if you somehow missed it's ubiquitous pull last year, do yourself a favor and enjoy Tina Fey at her pithy best. This is certainly the best audiobook I've "read" - so perfect for those of you who want to bake in your beach chair without being bothered to hold a book
- The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz: With all the Sherlockian reboots out there of late, some folks may be wondering where to turn after completing the original set of sleuthing genius. May I suggest this particular re-imagining? Horowitz was specifically commissioned by the Doyle estate to write this case, which functions as two interwoven novellas. The voice and tone are dead on and provide a most satisfying mystery
- In the Woods by Tana French: French is proving that police procedurals can still be innovative and beautifully written. This is the first in the series, though from what I gather, each book takes the point of view of a different character in the story. The ending will have you scratching your head and eager to dive into the next one (on my TBR!)
- Johannes Cabal the Detective by Jonathan Howard: This combines humor and murder - what more could I ask for from a beach read? Y'all know how much I love this book. Just do me a favor and read it already, okay?
- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene: This is my equivalent of a romance novel for the beach. Greene is definitely not read widely enough these days. He suffers from the same problem that Wodehouse does in America - not "literary" enough for the highbrows and too "literary" for the lowbrows. Middlebrows! Rise up and reclaim this amazing author! His classic depiction of lust, love, and a crisis of faith are amazing and will have you gazing dramatically off in the distance.
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys: Warning - if you haven't read Jane Eyre, do not move onto this speculative work about one of the main characters! That being said, if you have read and loved the original (and who wouldn't?), I can't imagine a much better book to read while sitting under the hot sun. Rhys paints the Caribbean beautifully.
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend: As mentioned previously, I gulped through this book in a single sitting. Clever and subversive, this boob of a teenager will have you cringing and laughing under your cabana. And make you feel like such an intellectual.
- Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones: I read this YA in my teens and was completely charmed by it's blend of whimsy, humor, and fantasy adventure. It still holds up for me as an adult. I vaguely recall seeing that it got turned into a movie at some point, but don't bother with that. Go to the book for a good laugh and a fun romp through the land of fallen stars and vain wizards.
This list, however, does not include my top beach read recommendation for the summer of 2012 - tune in tomorrow for a review of the book that I officially deem universally recommendable(ish)!
What are you taking to the beach to read this summer? Or will you be preserving your skin like me?