County Life: Beach Reads

Bessie’s Books and Other Things

girls of augustWhat is summer reading? Last month Erin talked about how reading outdoors was what makes summer reading for her, as opposed to the genre or subject matter she actually chooses.

But why do people always talk about summer reading or even “beach reads”?  Is it because of holidays in the summer and that’s when some people will up their reading consumption?  Are we emotionally different in the summer? Or do our habits simply change because we can be outside and we have more daylight?  I know I eat differently in the summer, so why wouldn’t I read differently?

Many of the books coming out right now are geared towards women and often have beach scenes on the front.  One definition I found for beach reads is a “book that has a straightforward plot and doesn’t take huge concentration.  Something you could read at the beach with the all distractions that locale would entail.”

nantucket sistersI took a look at our new incoming materials and sure enough there were three books with beaches on the cover.  I’m wondering if the book publishing industry is not so subtly cashing in on our subconscious desire for the beach read by leading us right to it through their covers.  The three books in question all have very mixed reviews and probably should be viewed as fun reads rather than life defining.

Popular writer Anne Rivers Siddons has written a book called The Girls of August. Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach.  But when one of the women dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again where the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer features Maggie and Emily who meet as girls on the Nantucket beach.  After many golden summers spent building sandcastles and sharing their dreams for the future, Emily and Maggie grow apart. It seems they have little in common until Cameron Chadwick appears on the island. A wealthy Wall Street broker, Cameron takes moonlit walks on the dunes with Maggie and romances Emily in Manhattan with lavish nights on the town. When both women discover they’re pregnant, it looks like the end of their already distant friendship. But as Maggie and Emily struggle to decide what their lives will be, they realize more than ever before how very much they need a friend.

summer without youAnd the final beach read is The Summer Without You by Karen Swan.  Main character, Rowena Tipton isn’t looking for a new life, just a new adventure; something to while away the months as her boyfriend presses pause on their relationship before they become engaged. But when a chance encounter at a New York wedding leads to an audition for a coveted house share in the Hamptons, suddenly a new life is exactly what she’s got.bee summers

If you aren’t looking for a beach read, I stumbled by accident onto something that to me defines the summer read, Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan is a fantastic little gem published by a small press in Kingston, Ontario.  In the spring that she is eleven, Melissa Singer’s mother walks out of the house and never returns.  That summer, her father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him as he delivers his hives to pollinate orchards and berry farms.  The trip and the people she meets change her life forever.  Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.

I loved this book and although not light it is a quick read that left me satisfied.  All the books mentioned and more summer and beach reads can be found at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally published in County Life on August 14th, 2014.

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