help! i need a beach book to read

I’m escaping the city the last week of August and heading to sandier surroundings. The first stop is the 17 miles of free beaches on Rhode Island’s Block Island. I’ve bought my ferry ticket, printed out a list of must-see sites and reseplaceed the island’s best eats. The one thing I’m missing is a good read for the down-time in the sun (sitting under my umbrella of course!) Does anyone have a suggestion? — Erica P.

From our partners

Yes — Palace Council is a terrific beach book. It’s not trashy or sensationalistic, but is definitely a page-turner. It’s by Stephen L. Carter, who is a law professor at Yale, and it’s a political thriller set mostly in Harlem and DC during the 1950s-70s.


Anything by Jodi Picoult – good, easy reads. Enjoy!


I’m going to get Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for my vacation next week in CA. We won’t have much beach time, but I figure that it will keep me occupied on the plane :)


Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen is a good “can’t put it down” book about a circus worker in the 1920’s/30’s. Life of Pi by Yann Martel- excellent read! And anything by Patricia Cornwell if you’re into murder/mystery.

If you are interested even a little bit in archeology I would whole-heartedly recommend Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God by Joe Coomer. I am reading it right now for the third time. It is a perfect book for a beach holiday

When I am looking for summer reading I always go for a page-turner with good plot that is easy on the mind. I recommend Emily Giffin’s Baby Proof, or any of her other books. I also have Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger (the author of The Devil Wears Prada) still on my list for this summer. If I want to go for a classic then I normally turn to any of Jane Austen’s books, e.g. Sense and Sensibility.


Brie beat me to it — “Water for Elephants” is amazing. I also like anything by Nick Hornby, if you haven’t already read all his stuff. “A Long Way Down” is his most recent, and despite the fact that it’s about people who want to commit suicide, it would make a surprisingly enjoyable beach read. Honestly!

Angela M.

You know what I’m reading now… though perhaps a little late, as the rest of America has already moved on to the fourth book in the series… Twlight. It’s so fun. Even though it’s technically a young adult novel, it’s compelling. Teen age vampires – who doesn’t love them!? I can hardly wait to finish this and the start the next.


“Tell No One” by Harlan Coben–there is a French film based on the book, which I haven’t seen yet. Or pick up one of Sophie Kinsella’s books or “If Only it Were True” by Marc Levy.


Just finished “The Beach House” by Jane Green, maybe it can be ur beach book?


I second/third Water for Elephants. The Circus in Winter also, to continue the circus theme. I also hear ‘The Lace Reader’ is phenomenal. Or if you are into international espionage…one of Stella Rimington’s books about MI5 agent Liz Carlyle.


The Two Mrs. Grenvilles or An Inconvenient Woman by Dominick Dunne. Older novels, but both ab fab high society page turners.

Gold Coast by Nelson Demille – while many of his other books are espionage, this one, set on Long Island, is just a great page turning story. What great characters!

You should join Goodreads!

Tiffany S.

I’m a sucker for the Nora Roberts books…I can give up my feminist leanings while on vacation.

So NoTORIous by Tori Spelling kept my eyeballs happy during a recent trip to Roatan. Of course, I finished it by the second day and then had to read my boyfriend’s sci-fi zombie book, “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” (by Mel Brooks’ son!) which was – surprise surprise – totally awesome.


I’d recommend Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell, if you haven’t read it yet. It’s a wonderful. I bought it during my sister’s wedding and had to tear myself away from it to socialize with relatives I love. It’s often described as “Harry Potter meets Jane Austen,” and I think that’s a fairly accurate assessment.


I’m currently re-reading Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld for about the fifth time, such a great book. I also really enjoyed She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It’s not exactly a light beach read, but it’s a really wonderful story.


water for elephants (fantastic!), middlesex (fascinating!), the middle place (touching), wickett’s remedy is so amazing on audio cd. Audio is great because if you are on the beach you can relax and close your eyes (don’t fall asleep!) and you can also listen on the ferry or even when you are walking on the beach.

Katya Roberts

If you havent read it already, “The Secret Life of Bees” is a great coming of age story with warmth. It has everything an enjoyable read needs. I think they’re going to make it into a movie one of these days. A quirky one is “A Brief History of Tracktors in Ukrainian”. Contrary to the title, it is not a History book. Check it out.


All good mentions above – here are my additions

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Samuri’s Garden byGail Tsukiyama

enjoy Block Island!


I just got back from vacation, and read The Blind Assassin, on the recommendation of a bookstore-employed friend who described it as a good balance between a fascinating, easy read, and a very, very well written book.

In a more comedic vein, since people are bringing up audio books, if you have never listened to David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell read their own work, I highly recommend it


My problem is that I’m a really fast reader – so I always look for something thick when I know I’ll be reading more than usual. I would take Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a page turner and transports you to the streets of Bombay/Mumbai.


I love to read scary (for me) vampire books at the beach, because I’m such a wuss that if I read them in the dark I’m not able to sleep. I love The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and on another vampire-related note, I have recently become addicted to those highly readable books by Stephanie Meyer, beginning with Twilight. Yes, I have a vampire book problem.


Trying desperately to recommend “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski!!! This is my 4th attempt, but the web site keeps eating my e-mails!! Why, Shelterrific, why???


Ah HA!!! It seems to have something to do with my trying to post a link to a NYT review of the book. Just google “Edgar Sawtelle” and you ought to get a link to the review that ran in the June 13 NYT, if you want a better summary of the book than I can muster.

Is there a reason the site won’t take an e-mail with a URL in it? I copied and pasted it directly out of my browser and into the e-mail. Is there a different way to do it so it goes through? Seems like people post links all the time, but maybe I’m not doing it correctly?


“Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan. It’s a historical novel about the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney. I’m usually not one for history on the beach, but this turned out to be a really great read. Enjoy!


I’m a big fan of Isabel Allende – she’s a great story-teller and paints beautiful pictures with her words. Pretty much anything but I recommend starting with “House of the Spirits” – her best-known book and the one that will probably hook you the fastest. Hard to put down.

Oh, and add my accolades to “Water for Elephants”!

I also just finished “Enemy Women” by Paulette Giles – sort of a Civil War odyssey story like Frazier’s “Cold Mountain,” except it’s about a woman in Arkansas. It’s a historical novel focused on how women (North and South) were treated as a result of their husbands’/fathers’/brothers’ involvement in the war.

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