Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beach Reads to Sink or Swim to

It is August already, and I have yet to make it to the beach. Were I still living landlocked in Iowa, where I grew up, this might be excusable, but when you live in a coastal city, at least one dip in the ocean during the sunny season is mandatory. So tomorrow I'm packing my beach bag (have you seen the gorgeous bags we stock in the Card and Gift Room?!) and heading for the waves. I've got my suit, I've got some snacks (check out our adorable hand-dipped "beach pretzels" on display at the front register!!), but...what should I read?

The term "beach read" has a bad association in my mind, akin to "airplane reading" and shelved in my imagination somewhere between Fifty Shades of Gray and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Not that there's anything wrong with a light summer read. But, I would argue, there's also nothing wrong with reading something literary while watching the tide come in.

I finished Moby Dick on Revere Beach--a beach accessible by T (blue line) from Boston. I began the tome on the Cape, and when Ishmael writes about the restlessness that span of blue called the Atlantic conjures up in him--inspiring him to knock the caps off the heads of passing pedestrians--I knew exactly what he meant. Already read it? Monique Roffey's new novel Archipelago will take you on an equally exciting sea voyage through the islands of the Caribbean.

I distinctly remember the exact way Virginia Woolf describes a bay in To the Lighthouse because I was sitting on a beach in Acadia National Park admiring the "great plateful of blue water" before me. For those who need a good romance during balmy summer months, Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out, is the perfect escape. A much more accessible and straightforward read than her later novels, The Voyage Out is a coming-of-age story, love story, and travel narrative wrapped up in one delightful read.

If beach read means laughs in your mind, Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals is the perfect summer getaway packed into a book. The Durrell family escapes a dreary England for the sunny beaches of Corfu, where they are plunged into many adventures in nature. For something reflective yet light, tuck Anne Morrow Lindbergh's classic Gifts from the Sea into your picnic basket.

If you are someone who likes brevity during the summer months, the newest edition of The Best Women's Travel Writing has just arrived from Travelers' Tales. Each of these lively adventures takes only minutes of your time, and can be set down and picked up again between dips in the ocean. Happy swimming.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I second your recommendation of Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals. I don't think many people know about this book, but it is one of my all-time favorites. People are more familiar with his brother's more literary endeavors, but this is such a fun treat. Makes me want to escape to Corfu every time I read it.