Erin Collazo Miller of About.com addressed the question in “Top 8 Smart Beach Reads,” in which she answered, “Smart beach reads are books that are well-written and have well-developed characters, but aren’t hard to understand or depressing. They are deep enough for book clubs, but don’t require work to read.”
That’s a good way to think about it. “I think of traditional beach reads as fluff — fun, junk-food reading,” she continued. “There isn’t enough substance in a traditional beach read for a book club to discuss. My ‘Smart Beach Reads’ list tries to pick books that are more substantial but still fun.”
Many serial mystery authors — think Charlaine Harris, Janet Evanovich and Diane Mott Davidson — make perfect beach reads. Or, jump into the light, chick-lit end of the pool with books like “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” And there are always the latest releases. New notables include “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett or “Now You See Her” by James Patterson.
When the same question was asked of the local chapter of the Romance Writers of America — a group that invariably loves to read — the list was endless, ranging from romantic suspense to contemporary to historical.
“‘If Wishes Were Horses’ by Robert Barclay,” member Winona Cross said.
“‘The Family’ by Mario Puzo,” said Mary Jo Springer, current president of the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America. Linda Goodnight, a winner of RWA’s national Rita Award, recommended “In Harm’s Way” by Irene Hannon.
No matter where the suggestions fall on the spectrum, readers can’t deny a beach read means summer and vacation. In fact, Reader’s Digest’s list of beach reads is found under the travel section of its website. The list includes books that are not necessarily new, but are definitely favorites. Laura Kelly, editor in chief of Reader’s Digest Select Editions, said, “These books are truly satisfying page turners.”
The choice is not only endless, but yours.
The list includes “The Blue Bistro” by Elin Hilderbrand (in at No. 1), “Northern Lights” by Nora Roberts and “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova. While heavy on female authors, the list includes two guys: Lawrence LaRose, with “Gutted,” and Austin Murphy, with “How Tough Could It Be?” Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 Northwest Expressway, is worth the visit for the ambience alone. In fact, once you step into its cozy atmosphere, you may never leave to find the beach. There are many different categorized sections, and while not one is labeled “beach reads,” there are plenty to choose from.
If you’re looking for fiction that has already made a splash, check out the display of books that have recently been turned into movies. There’s Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre,” David Nicholls’ “One Day,” Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants” and Mark Logue and Peter Conradi’s “The King’s Speech.”
The most important thing to remember about a beach read is that the choice is not only endless, but yours. Whether it is a new romance by Nora Roberts, or something to the tune of “Oklahoma Courthouse Legends,” a collection of essays by Kent F. Frates, reading is an excellent pastime, be it the latest mystery thriller, memoir or cookbook. Reading any book at the beach, local swimming hole or even on your own back porch definitely qualifies as a beach read.
Just remember this: When asked what she considers a beach read, Dawn Tingler, local resident and avid reader, said in a word: “Anything!”