Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beach Reads! Top Ten Tuesday

What's in a beach book that simply spells summer?  Must-haves:  romance, strong pacing, unusual characters, and a super-summery setting.  These all have 'em, and they're bound to be at your library or used bookstore, so you can stock up!  Want more?  Visit The Broke and the Bookish's blog hop today and you'll find plenty.

1.  I still remember my first trip to Maui.  My travel partner?  Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosely.  We hung out by the pool for long hours, and Easy Rawlins kept me perfect company.

2.  And then there's The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy.  Perfect South Carolina beach setting, riveting plot, way better than the movie, and hefty enough to last much of that weekend at the shore...


3.  Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman.  Again, a Southern shoreline setting, this time in Florida, plus Hoffman's typical uber-readable prose with a touch of magic and more than a smidge of romance.  Actually, almost anything by Alice Hoffman would be a great beach read.

4.  Going Bovine by Libba Bray.  This Printz-winning Y.A. title's gripping, funny, and surprising at every turn, so for those of you who enjoy the occasional dip into time-traveling, slightly-dystopian picaresques, it will make a terrific page-turner for adults and mature teens to share on a lazy summer day at the beach.  It features a teenage male protagonist, so if you're taking 'the boys' to the beach, this one might hold particular appeal...

5.  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston.  For those seeking a gorgeously lyrical American (and feminist) classic (if you read The Color Purple, you'll notice that Walker got a fair bit of her inspiration from this Harlem Renaissance novel) that keeps you gripped from start to finish, this would be the perfect book to read outside under a tree on a steamy summer day.  I first read this novel in summer, and always remember it in that hot, languid context. Read it, and you'll see why. 

6.  A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  This one I recall buying at a used bookstore in Bakersfield, CA, in July.  Every day the thermometer read over 100 degrees, yet this one kept the scorching heat in a backseat with its beautifully drawn characters in a somewhat-generational saga of India in 1970's. 

7.  Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.  This "children's" novel winds up on most of my lists, because of Rushdie's humor and unabashed-glee in language play enlivening contemporary themes, a unique-yet-familiar plot, and memorable characters (Batcheat, Khattam-Shud, and Butt the Hoopoe are three you won't forget).  It's one of those books that absolutely provokes you to read passages aloud to whoever's sunning next to you, you know?  And its strong plot will keep middle-grade readers through adults turning pages.  Plus, in the end, it's an allegory about freedom of speech.  What's not to like?

8 & 9.  Empire Falls by Richard Russo or The Cider House Rules by John Irving.  These two 'family' sagas feature beautifully drawn characters, surprising plot twists, and New England settings that truly capture the time and spirit of the place.  Plus they're long enough to get you through most of a week at the shore...

10. Steps and Exes by Laura Kalpakian.  Set on a fictional island in the San Juans that's ruled by a cast of individualistic, liberated women, this lyrical novel won't change your life, but it will transport you into a place and time apart, full of the sights and sounds of summer and the shear fun of a good story.

Anticipation... This year, my first summer book will be Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.  I spent many summers on Martha's Vineyard, where I understand it's set, and I'm eager to 'travel' from my home in northwest Washington state to the easternmost reaches of our country via Brooks's stellar prose.  Thanks again to As The Crowe Flies And Reads for providing me this opportunity to return to one of my favorite places on the planet as soon as June hits the calendar.

I'm looking forward to hopping toward summer today too.  Thanks again to The Broke and the Bookish, and do stop by the hop to find your own mesh bag full of this summer's great reads...

MFB,
L

p.s.  I linked all the books to Amazon.com today, because I believe that beach reads should be, above all, page-turners, and the only way to tell if one suits you in that way - if the voice and the characters and the plot suck you in by page three - is to "look inside".  Whenever possible though, I prefer to purchase my books from my local independent bookseller, my local used book stores, or from betterworldbooks.com.  I encourage you to try them first, too!

12 comments:

Sidne,the BCR said...

One and five, great reads. I'm going to take one from your list and add to my list, now which one will it be. hummmm!
check out my teaser
http://sidnebkclubreviewz.blogspot.com

Laurie said...

Hey, Sidne!
I still can't figure out how to comment on your blog, so I hope you'll be reading this...
And I'm wondering which of your books (already visited this morning!) you'd recommend for me: I'm going to the library later...
Also, I left a message for you on the bookblogs ning re: the mail!

Anne said...

I love Alice Hoffman and am looking forward to reading Caleb's Crossing too

Yvette said...

Good list. I am a major MAJOR fan of Richard Russo's work. I've read EMPIRE FALLS twice and will probably read it again. What a great writer.

Birdie said...

Hi Laurie--Really great choices (at least the ones I'm familiar with). I also really appreciate that you set out your criteria for a beach read up front. I should have done that as well.
And I've GOT to read Their Eyes Were Watching God soon! So many trusted friends have recommended it.

Laurie said...

Anne - Yes, Hoffman's always fun for a (somewhat) light but magical read. Even her middle-grade/YA books are worth sampling, in my view.
Yvette- EF is by far my favorite Russo, although I'm one of the rare readers who also favors Straight Man...
Birdie - Yes, do read Their Eyes! I'll take up Miss Pettigrew for an even swap!

Brenna said...

I love that we both had Haroun on our lists! Such a terrific read. I've got A Fine Balance on my TBR and hope to make it a summer read.

Trisha said...

The only one I've read from the list is Hurston's! I absolutely loved it though. :)

LBC said...

Going Bovine looks like so much fun. I keep hearing good things about Libba Bray.

Check out my Top Ten Tuesday

Laurie said...

Brenna - A Fine Balance: I read it and listened to it on CD at the same time, which kept me engrossed for long periods each day. Do you "read" audiobooks?
Trisha - Yes, Their Eyes is one of my all-time favorites.
LBC - It is indeed fun: imperfect, but a rollicking ride!

jackieisreading said...

Oh, I am such a Richard Russo fan! Have you read "That Old Cape Magic"? Such a fantastic summer read!

Generic Cialis said...

Nice list! But definitely my favorite is That Old Cape Magic because the plot it's so interesting.

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