I belong to the annoying tribe of people who feel the need to be productive. At the beach completing a book offers a sense of accomplishment, provided you choose your reading well. Beach reading cannot be too heavy (I don't think this is the time to start Proust) but it cannot be blatantly trashy. Here is my list that got me through July in the city, a week of sandy beach and I expect will take me through to seaside girls weekend in September.
You cannot go wrong with the tried and true authors. It is a shame Stella Gibbons is mainly known for Cold Comfort Farm because her books do not disappoint. Nightingale Woods is a clever Cinderella story set among 1930s gentry. Twenty-one year old widow Viola Withers is not terribly clever or sparkling, but you cannot help rooting for her. Read it! And let's hope more of Ms. Gibbon's books come back to print.
Fair warning - Brunelleschi's Dome is not strictly speaking a beach read, but you will learn a lot about Renaissance architecture. Ok, it is not a beach read at all, but it is short and feuds between capomaestros do spice things up and you really will up your ante on the construction of cathedrals earning your own esteem.
I will read anything Jasper Fforde will dish out. This is my number #6 Thursday Next book. These books are chock full of wordplay, book jokes, and familiar characters from the classics. Did I mention it is set in book world where there is a feud between Racy Novel and Women's Fiction genres?
I am eagerly awaiting the last of Corfu trilogy by Gerald Durell. Durells are quirky, kooky, and you just want to be among those dropping in on them in their villa. There is mild Mother, bookish Lawrence, gun-toting Leslie, and perpetually obsessed with her looks Margo. The writer, Jerry at the time, is the youngest. What would it be like to spend your childhood collecting animals on the Greek Isles?
Sorcery & Cecelia is for the Austen-lovers. Two well brought up girls, one in London for the season, the other moored in the country, usual Regency fair. Oh and there is magic, of course, nothing extreme, just some enchanted chocolate pots and charms. It is a silly little book and a good one at that.
I read Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle a few months back, but should have saved it for the summer! Though it would be just as perfect on a chilly fall evening. Sisters Cassandra and Rose grow up rambling in a ancient castle. They are bohemian and naive. And then Cotton brothers show up. Of course.
Remember Lemony Snicket? Yes, one in the same. Daniel Handler wrote several grown up books and I am yet to read them, certainly an oversight. Adverbs is a novel written in short stories. Can't wait!