Novelist Lisa Beazley’s take on the best beach books to pack in your bag this summer… wherever your travels may take you
Let’s not kid ourselves: most mums don’t actually have the luxury of reading on the beach. But there’s something about the summer holidays that conjures up visions of sprawling on a chaise lounge with a good book. When I asked my friends what they planned on reading this summer, I discovered that while everyone has their own favoured genre for the “beach” (or whatever your version of the beach might be), what we really want this time of year is a book that hooks us right in and welcomes us back with little fuss, even if we have to step away every four minutes to apply sunscreen or broker a peace deal.
With those very loose parameters in mind, I have compiled a rather eclectic summer reading sure to provide mini vacations from your long holiday.
Known for his hilarious and poignant observational essays, Sedaris is an absolute genius in my estimation so it’s no surprise that his newest collection of essays tops my list. When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at “the Sea Section,” as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realisation: it’s impossible to take a vacation from yourself.
If (when) jet lag has me up in the middle of the night (and by some miracle the kids are asleep) I plan to dive into this rom-com, which kicks off when a fateful meeting in a stuck elevator leads Alexa to play the part of devoted girlfriend for paediatric surgeon, Drew, at his ex’s upcoming wedding. But when real romance begins to blossom between them, can the accidental couple turn fiction into reality?
As a nostalgic ex-waitress, I’m a sucker for anything involving restaurants. Add to that immigrant culture and the tension between tradition and the American dream, and you can bet I’ll be loading this onto Kindle before my plane takes off. The story follows Jimmy as he tries to sell the family-run Chinese restaurant his father built in favour of a more modern Asian-fusion spot and clashes with his family – all while wrangling a wayward waitstaff, oversexed busboys, his disaffected niece, and a Machiavellian godfather figure who could derail the whole scheme.
The 11 stories in this collection by the author of one of my all time favorite novels, Fates and Furies, span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but the U.S. state of Florida – its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind – becomes its gravitational centre. Storms, snakes, sinkholes, and humidity (can we relate or what?) lurk at the edge of everyday life, but the greater threats and mysteries are of a human, emotional, and psychological nature.
I feel extra pleased with myself after finishing a good work of historical fiction – like I’ve accidentally become a more valuable trivia night player. (Full disclosure: this book has the added bonus of being written by my friend and mentor.) The Murderer’s Maid interweaves the stories of two women: one, the servant of infamous Lizzie Borden, and the other a modern-day barista fleeing from an attempt on her life.
Most know Bryson from his laugh-out-loud travel books; this is a memoir of the author’s all-American childhood in the 1950s and 60s. Since I’ll be spending most of the summer with my (all-American) parents, who are roughly Bryson’s age, and my three sons, who share Bryson’s affinity for superheroes and delusions of grandeur, I look forward to reading passages aloud and passing the book around my extended family all summer.
Reviewers had me at “seductive modern noir” and a plot that sounds sure to sweep me away. The story follows Polly, who, on the run from her mundane life as a wife and mother, finds herself assuming a new identity as a diner waitress. When her casual flirtation with the equally mysterious short-order cook blooms into real passion, the fallout from their secretive pasts may be more than either of them are prepared to face.
This article originally appeared on Sassy Mama Singapore