Okay, I did have to look up the definition of a beach read. It's either something light and fluffy, something you don't have to read intensely, or something that you can be interrupted while reading. I don't know that the potential of being interrupted while reading is a good requirement for choosing a book, but let's go with it!
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Confession: This is probably the only chick-lit I've actually read.
I love pretty much everything about this -the story, the conflict, the characters, but most of all the voice of the narrative. Hilarious. Excellent first POV story-telling, just excellent story-telling in general.
(As an aside, if anyone has chick-lit suggestions, I'm totally open.)
Confession: I totally lied. I just remembered Hale's fantastic Austenland novels. Personally, I loved both of these equally, for different reasons. Austenland is more on the 'light and fluffy' side, a fun and quirky love story, while Midnight focuses on recently divorced Charlotte reevaluating her life while trying to decide whether a murder has been committed on her vacation. They're very different stories, but they're both funny, they're both wonderful, they're both clean, and they're both perfect for Jane Austen fans.
Taking place directly after WWII, this book is told entirely through letters and telegrams. A writer, searching for her next idea, stumbles onto the story of an island occupied by the Nazis and how the inhabitants coped with it. It has its moments of sadness, but it's primarily a light-hearted love story, and the epistle format make for short segments and plenty of great stopping places for when those sneaker waves, er, sneak up on you.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
This isn't your normal beach read -it's not a chick lit or a love story, this is about a mysterious bookstore and the employee determined to discover its secret. There's a secret society, an insanely expensive font type (seriously, if you want to make some money, design a popular font!), cryptography, an activist blogger, and Google. This is a really fun story, with low-key espionage, computer nerds, and the most amazing bookstore in the universe. *sigh* If only it were real...
Let's just face the fact that this should be a re-read for anyone looking through this list. This would be a great book to take to the beach; you can revisit all your favorite scenes, you're always looking for the time to read it again, and you know what's going to happen so you won't be *too* annoyed if you're interrupted.
As You Wish by Cary Elwes
Speaking of The Princess Bride, if you haven't read this yet, you're insane. Sorry to break it to you, sweetheart. If you at least have it on your TBR, we can put away the straightjacket. For now. In this memoir, Cary Elwes (aka, the onscreen Wesley, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts) has compiled all kinds of memory, trivia, fun facts, and tidbits about the filming of The Princess Bride, and not just his own, either. In one of the most wonderful book surprises ever, the pages are loaded with sidebars and asides by the majority of the cast, the director, the producers, and William Goldman himself, all recalling their own memorable events during the creation of one of my favorite movies of all time.
Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn
Steampunk goes to Bollywood in a tale of brewing war, political intrigue, espionage and -yes- love. A YA novel, first in a trilogy, great for you ladies who already read everything in the YA section. ;)
Spelled by Betsy Schow
(Release date June 2)
A delightful, fun romp taking a (huge) twist on The Wizard of Oz story you thought you knew. Hilarious. I loved Schow's clever and plentiful tweaks to give familiar things -like UPS and designer clothing- a proper fairy tale feel. And each chapter starts out with excerpts from helpful books like the Definitive Fairy Tale Survival Guide and Thomason's Tips to Ruthless Ruling. And the first chapter is called Dragon Slaying for Dummies. I mentioned it's hilarious, right?
Geek Girl by Holly Smale
This is for the young at heart or anyone who felt like they were an awkward teen in high school. Hilarious narrative, heart-warming story, a female character who is genuinely strong (not the Hollywood sexy, must-be-super-ninja-spy-assassin-to-be-strong variety), and great character development. It's a quick read, but the compelling voice does make it hard to put down.
Always Neverland by Zoe Barton
So this one is middle grade, but if you loved Peter Pan at any point in your life, put this one in your beach bag. Especially if you wish you'd been Wendy. Especially, especially if you wish you'd been Wendy, but you didn't actually want to be Wendy in that she played mother and house while the Lost Boys fought pirates and had adventures with Indians.
And there you have it, eleven great beach reads. (Two Austenlands, remember?)
I'd love to hear your beach read suggestions!