I’m still over a month away from my St. Lucia vacation, but I’ve been compiling my reading list for months. Every time I go away, I have a suitcase for clothes and a carry-on for books. (“But Danielle, that’s why they created e-Readers!” NO.) My absolute favorite place to read is on the beach. Everything else melts away and you’re just left with the feel of the pages between your fingers and sand between your toes, the smell of salty sea air and fresh paper, and the sound of the waves crashing. It’s my happy place; nothing beats it—clearly, I mean, just listen to how dreamily I talk about it. I know I’m not the only one with this particular love in my life, otherwise authors wouldn’t launch new summertime novels so easily. (Many of these books are considered chick lit for obvious reasons, but that’s what makes them the best for nibbling on during a sunny afternoon.) When I take a glance at the bookcase in my bedroom, I can pinpoint specific vacations just based on the book spines. Below are a handful of favorites and my recommendations to anyone in need of a good beach read this season.
A Trip to the Beach by Melinda & Robert Blanchard
Read on a Carnival cruise, 2007
I don’t read many nonfiction books, but this one intrigued me. It’s the true story of a husband and wife team who decide to abandon mainland living to open the restaurant of their dreams on Anguilla and spend their days living on “island time.” It’s all steel drums and palm trees until a hurricane turns their lives upside down. Don’t read on an empty stomach; the Blanchards write with recipe descriptions so vivid, you can almost taste the words.
The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares
Read in Hawaii, 2008
I loved the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, so when I came across Ann’s first novel for adults, I snatched it right up. It’s the story of three twenty-somethings; two sisters as different as land and sea and the boy they’ve been linked to since childhood—a little love triangle drama perfect for indulging in beneath a beach umbrella.
Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
Read in Florida, 2009
I blame Elin for my weird urge to visit Nantucket someday. This was my first time reading her work, but I quickly devoured many more in the years following. Barefoot is the story of three women escaping their stress at a summer cottage, where they befriend a local college boy. This is a bittersweet one now, as Elin Hilderbrand revealed just last week that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Read her announcement by searching for her blog post on http://www.huffingtonpost.com.
Still Summer by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Read on a Carnival cruise, 2010
This one has bit more darkness to it. It has vague touches of “Captain Phillips;” when a storm leaves four women (three friends and one of their daughters) crewless, they are left vulnerable to the elements, and worse, pirates. The story is, by all counts, vacation gone wrong. Their harrowing journey back to land and reality is a total page-turner.
Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer
Read in Myrtle Beach, 2011
Yet another story about three women on Nantucket. Three sisters return home to their widower father for a summer after an almost two-year separation. After their mother’s death, the girls left the island to focus on their own lives. Now, unhappy with their own realities, they are forced to come back and reconcile both with each other and with the fact that their father is moving on.