Books perfect for beach—August 14, 2009
As I was preparing to go on vacation last week, a story on National Public Radio about the “100 Best Beach Books Ever” drew my attention. After all, I was going to the beach on one day of my trip and I hadn’t yet picked out my reading material, so I immediately pulled the list up on the NPR website to check it out. This list was compiled from the submissions of 16,000 public radio listeners who cast 136,000 votes to narrow the list down to 100 titles.
First, I will admit that it was a very comprehensive list of fiction, representing classics, modern classics and just plain good reads. Next, I have to admit that my idea of a “beach book” is a little bit different from many of those NPR listeners.
My first criterion for a “beach book” is that is should not cause bodily harm if accidentally dropped on the face while reading. Several of the NPR list books weighed in at 500 – 900 pages, making them too heavy. The longest book I took, at 318 pages, was “Boomsday” by Christopher Buckley. This book also met another criterion – it must have humor. Like most of Christopher Buckley’s fiction, “Boomsday” is humor with a message wrapped around a current hot topic. In this case, the hot topic is Social Security reform, or the lack thereof, and the reaction in the not so distant future when young people will be taxed unmercifully to pay for baby boomers’ extravagant retirement living.
I also prefer paperbacks for the beach because they are lighter and less of an investment if they happen to get wet or left behind. There was one John Grisham I had not read, so a paperback copy of “Playing for Pizza” went into the trip bag. This bittersweet story of a washed up American quarterback who finds redemption and a bit of character playing American football in Parma, Italy has it all – humor, romance, soul searching, action and only 300 pages.
A good mystery will always find its way into my beach bag. “Hex Marks the Spot” by Madelyn Alt combines great elements – murder, romance and witchcraft – into a fun read with some great one liners that will make you chuckle out loud. Since I wanted to try a mystery author I had never read, I took along Nancy Cohen’s “Murder by Manicure.” This is part of the “Bad Hair Day Mystery” series and features Marla Shore as the slightly bumbling crime stopper but first class beautician. This was a quick read with lots of possible suspects and enough action to keep the pages turning. In other words, it is the perfect “beach book.”
Come find your perfect “beach book” at the Hastings Public Library.