This week the lit-loving-lasses at The Broke and The Bookish would like us to help you fill your beach-bags with good books! With no further ado, here are my top ten beach reads:
1. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
The story of a decades-long friendship between wealthy wild-child Caitlin Somers and working class Victoria Leonard is the ultimate beach read. Most of the novel takes place during summers at Martha’s Vineyard, which as a West Coast pre-teen I vaguely understood as a place where rich people from the East Coast liked to vacation. Now I know that it is an island. True to Blume the novel features a bona-fide female friendship: as weird and gross, competitive and complex as that can be. There are also a lot of great summer songs referenced throughout, like ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. Bonus!
2. Belles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, and Frank B. Gilbreth
This sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen finds the Gilbreth clan trying to keep the family together now that the visionary patriarch has passed. They decide that with everyone pitching it to help they just might manage, and the book begins with a hilarious beach vacation at the family lighthouses. The kids are older and the ladies are at the forefront with scandalous bathing suits and unbearable suitors, defending their trim little ankles from lecherous old men. It’s a funny and fast read, perfect for summer vacation.
3. Tricky Business by Dave Barry
As irreverent as one would expect from any novel penned by Dave Barry. A nightly casino cruise fronts a drug-smuggling operation, and hilarious hijinks ensue as one crazy night everyone from the on-board entertainment to local news crews gets drawn into the action.
4. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
Any of these books about sketchy Pennsylvania princesses would make for a great guilty-pleasure beach read. I devoured the original eight in a summer, the tightly paced drama and plot twists never stop! Just when you think these girls can’t be more entertainingly awful, they are. Sex and the City by way of Clue.
5. The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #1: Baby-Sitters on Board! by Ann M. Martin
This was one of my favorite Super Specials as a kid, I re-read it a few times, mostly because I thought a cruise to the Bahamas followed by three days at Disney World sounded like the best vacation ever! The ones where the Pikes went to the beach were usually among my favorites in the regular series. I just like the ocean, okay? Jeez. Plenty of hijinks in this one, including Mary Anne getting a poorly disguised crush on a girl.
6. Girl Goddess #9 by Francesca Lia Block
Short stories are great for the beach because they provide natural breaks for a swim, beach volleyball (ha!), or sandcastle construction. This collection sticks in my head as a summer book, probably due to Block’s L.A.-centric writing. This book has would-be mermaids, surfer girls, sisters-in-ska, and skater chicks. A bit melancholy for the beach, perhaps, but we can’t all be Annette Funicello.
7. Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker
The second book of the Abarat series finds Our Heroes of Day uniting against the foes of Night, to prevent a permanent midnight in Abarat. I liked this installment better than the first, because it got more into the mythology of Abarat (rather than introducing a rather unwieldy cast of characters). Tough to get spooked by the creepy stuff on a sunny beach!
8. More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs by Q.L. Pierce
A great one to share with friends, maybe at a beach campout? Scary enough to spook those with fanciful temperaments without keeping them up all night. There is an especially good one featuring siblings at a beach, who are intrigued by a mysterious island. Must be read at night for maximum effect.
9. Interstellar Pig or The Duplicate by William Sleator
Beaches figure heavily into both of these slim sci-fi novels. Barney makes the acquaintance of three attractive and competitive neighbors at his parents beach house, and gets sucked into a game in which the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. On the beach after a storm David finds a machine that makes (near) perfect copies of living things, an invention that seems like the answer to his prayers but soon proves to be more trouble than it’s worth.
10. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader C.S. Lewis
Easily my favorite of the Narnia series, the audiobook once inspired my brother and I to lie on my mom’s waterbed with a fan on while we rocked around to make waves and sprayed each other with a bottle of saltwater. Just like sailing! Actually, a lot more comfortable than sailing, truthfully. Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace’s trip to the magical island locales of this story made for a much more exciting read than some of the other novels in the series. I’m looking at you, The Silver Chair.
The only reason Ship Breaker and The Odyssey aren’t on this list is because they were on last week’s. So, you know. Good beach reads to be had there.
I will leave you with the song everyone is saying will be the summer song of 2012: