Top 10 Tuesday: Best Beach Reads

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish. Want to make your own list? Clicking the image will take you to this week’s post. Happy listing!)

I love summer vacations. They give you a chance to get away from the day-to-day grind of everyday life, and help you refresh your body and mind. Despite my hatred of all things sandy and salty, I love visiting the beach. The sound of the waves, the beautiful sunshine (the hot surfer dudes…), and the time to sit back and take it all in.

But a vacation is no excuse to slack on your reading. So this week’s list is all about those books that make for great beach (or any kind of vacation) reading.

1. Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature’s 50 Greatest Hits (Jack Murnighan) – Want to hear the high (and low) points of 50 of the world’s greatest stories, all in one book? Think of the education you’ll get. And the bag space you’ll save!

2. Anything by Jasper Fforde – I particularly recommend his Thursday Next series, although the Nursery Crime series is fabulous as well. Adventure, some romance, lots of nerdiness and zaniness. Warning: you may get so interested in the book that you forget to do fun vacation activities.

3. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Frances Mayes) – Great descriptions of amazing food, people, and faraway places. Easy to set aside for a time while you get dinner or join that bonfire at the beach.

4. Tartuffe (Moliere) – You’ve always got to have at least one classic with you when you head out on vacation. Tartuffe is perfect because it’s hysterical, and is fun to read aloud with friends.

5. Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe that Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign (Stephan Talty) – What beach vacation is complete without some stories about pirates?

6. Bossypants (Tina Fey) – A quick, funny read for the plane or car ride. Another great one for reading aloud, and easy to put down while you do fun stuff outside.

7. The Grand Sophy (Georgette Heyer) – When is it not an occasion for Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels? The Grand Sophy is considered to be her piece de resistance, and is at turns adorable, hysterical, a bit shocking, and romantic.

8. Clive Cussler novels – Although the books with Kurt Austin are good, my favorite books are definitely the ones with Dirk Pitt. Adventure, danger, the occasional damsel in distress…perfect for a vacation read.

9. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (Rhoda Janzen) – After Rhoda’s controlling/abusive husband leaves her for a man he met on, and Rhoda is seriously injured in a car accident, she seeks refuge in the one place she never thought she’d return: her family’s Mennonite community. A great, light read with some moments of deeper meaning mixed in. And the cover and title are a great conversation starter.

What tenth book would you add to this list?

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20 thoughts on “Top 10 Tuesday: Best Beach Reads

  1. What a great list! I am going to HAVE to get my claws on the first one, since I’m always reading some heavy classic on the beach or by the pool.

    1. Glad you like the list! This one took me awhile, because “fluffy beach reads” aren’t my typical reading fare.

      Beowulf on the Beach is totally great, and surprisingly in depth and meaningful. Murnighan is an excellent writer, and he’s written at least one other book as well. Definitely check it out.

  2. Under the Tuscan sun is a perfect beach read. I would take Bossypants with me to the beach because it sounds so hilarious. To your list I would add Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson for some thrills and chills.
    Thanks for the beach recs!

    1. I first read Under the Tuscan Sun in a 14th century monastery garden in Prague. So although it’s about Italy, I forever associate it with the Czech Republic. :p Bossypants is great — I love Tina Fey.

      In creating this list, I thought of a quote that’s in my Commonplace book. I don’t have access to it currently, so I’ll have to paraphrase. The author talks about how people’s asking him for book recommendations for their vacation tempts him to recommend books written in deepest despair — something to scare them as they loll on their beach towels. “Let Baudelaire’s ‘wing of madness’ hover over them like a scavenging seagull,” he finishes. I was sorely tempted to make a list like that. 🙂

    1. The Misanthrope is good, but Tartuffe was the first Moliere I read, and I have a soft spot for it. I was reading it on a plane once and realized I was giggling out loud in a rather lascivious manner. : / The poor person sitting next to me must have been a little weirded out!

    1. Fforde’s writings make for good anytime writing! 😀 Those books come dangerously close to supplanting Pride and Prejudice as my all-time favorite read. I wish they’d make movies!

  3. I so like the idea of Georgette Heyer at the beach. Good one. Also UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN – one of my all time favorite books! I also loved BELLA TUSCANY.

    My list included some Jasper Fforde books, too. The Nursery Crimes series. 🙂

    1. Heyer is fast becoming one of my favorite authors — her historical romances have everything I love: romance, mystery, action, humor…she’s quite possibly the perfect author.

      Bella Tuscany was good, but I have such good memories associated with Under the Tuscan Sun that I can’t even really compare the two. The film is great as well, although very different from the “novel.”

      I’m glad that other people enjoy Fforde as much as I do. I rave about the Thursday Next series every chance I get, and the Nursery Crime series is a great spinoff series that manages to be awesome all on its own.

  4. Oooh Bossypants! Good call — def not my normal read, but I love Tina so much I think I’ll have to give it a try this summer!

    1. My Best Friend recently got me totally obsessed with “30 Rock,” and I’ve come to love Fey’s sense of humor. So getting my own copy of Bossypants was a no-brainer for me. It was so much fun to read!

    1. That’s the danger of Top 10 Tuesday. I generally have to add a book to my TBR list every other week or so. 🙂

      Murnighan has also written another book called (I kid you not) The Naughty Bits: The Steamiest and Most Scandalous Sex Scenes from the World’s Greatest Books. 😉 So tempting…

  5. It brings a smile to my face whenever I see Jasper Fforde’s name on a top 10 list! Yes, any Dirk Pitt adventure would be great for vactation. Also, I’ve just added Under the Tuscan Sun TBR list – totally forgot about this one!

    1. I saw Fforde on several lists, which makes me happy. He can never be overrated.

      I was introduced to Clive Cussler in high school, and have been just a wee bit obsessed since. I like the older stuff better, but it all makes for fun adventure reading.

  6. I really need to get my hands on some Georgette Heyer. Also, I completely agree with your recommendation of the Thursday Next series…it’s so much fun!

    1. There are lots of Heyer books from which to choose. Her mysteries are kind of “eh,” but I definitely recommend The Grand Sophy and The Masqueraders. Her Regency stuff is fantastic.

      Have you read Fforde’s Nursery Crime series? The Big Over Easy is my favorite of the two out so far, but The Fourth Bear is nothing to sneeze at. Great adventure stories, with classic Fforde humor.

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