Summer bliss doesn’t involve reading Russian novels the size of a dictionary or boning up on the theory of relativity. No, when the sun is shining and the water beckons, it’s time for beach reads, fluffy, fun and maybe just a little mindless novels that are the perfect accompaniments to sunscreens, sunglasses and large floppy hats.
“People don’t read classics at the beach,” a reference librarian at Highland Public Library said. “They go for new releases and best sellers. Women like chick literature while men might go for the newest mysteries or science fiction.”
If you’re pondering what to pack in your beach bag, check out the beach book reading lists put together by booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, peruse the displays of new releases at the library and remember besides the printed page, eBooks and audiobooks can easily be downloaded for a day of surf and sun. And because everyone else seems to have a list, including Oprah, we thought we’d share one of our own.
If you loved "The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger, the best seller made into a movie with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, then you’ll want to get the just released sequel, Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns (Simon & Schuster, $25.99) to watch the cold blooded editor-in-chief and her former assistant meet up again.
We’ve had books about so many interesting subcultures – young urban professionals who snort too much coke (think "Bright Lights, Big City" by Brett Ellis), spendthrift women such as Sophia Kinsella’s "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and its many sequels and even beheaded queens – Sena Jeter Naslund “Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette" (William Morrow $16.99), and Mary, Queen of Scots in "The Other Queen: A Novel" (Touchstone $25.95) by Philippa Gregory. Now we have in Kevin Kwan’s "Crazy Rich Asians" (Doubleday $25.95) hilarious novel about a group of ultra rich Chinese families living in Singapore and how they react when the scion of one of the wealthiest – and snobbiest families — falls in love with an ABC (American born Chinese) woman who – gasp – works for a living as an economics professor and has a mother who sells real estate.
Carl Hiaasen’s novels are always deeper than they read because of the way he uses humor so successfully to skewer a whole rash of people including dim witted, drug addicted starlets and the paparazzi that feed on them, Florida real estate developers who destroy the environment and corrupt politicians who let them. In his new book, "Bad Monkey" (Knopf $26.95) we find Andrew Yancy, formerly of the Miami Police Department and now working as a health inspector, with a human arm in his freezer. Needing to prove it was murder to save his job and hopefully get a promotion, Yancy first must deal with a fugitive from Kansas who happens to be his ex-lover; a Bahamian voodoo witch known as the Dragon Queen as well the kinky coroner he wants to get to know better.
We’ve seen some tough and damaged women lately like the dragon-tattooed Lisbeth Salander in Steig Larsson’s triology. But it’s hard to think of anyone tougher or more damaged than Vanessa Michael Monroe in "The Doll" by Taylor Stevens (Crown 2013; $24). Monroe, who appeared first in "The Informationist," is back with her uncanny abilities to speed learn any language or dialect, hunt down bad guys and get the job done no matter what. This time around, Monroe is given a no-win choice, deliver a beautiful actress to the man who paid for her to be kidnapped or watch her best friend die.
"Fear in the Sunlight" (Bourbon Street Books 2013; $14.99), the fourth of Nicola Upson’s novels featuring real life mystery writer Josephine Tey finds the heroine in a small Welsh resort village during the summer of 1936 celebrating her 40th birthday and also finalizing a deal with Alfred Hitchcock to film her novel "A Shilling for a Candle." But with Hitchcock and Tey around, there’s bound to be a murder and before long, the body of Hollywood actress is found in a local cemetery. Upson, who loves Tey’s 1930s and 40s mysteries, uses the real events of Tey’s life as the basis for her series – giving us a glimpse of the glamour of that long ago era.