What makes a book a good beach read? Should it be short or long? Fiction or nonfiction? Frivolous or intellectual? Common logic seems to suggest that the best kind of book to read during your summer vacation is one with as much complexity as a bucket of sand–you know, chick-lit, celebrity memoirs, James Patterson novels. Why think when you can tan? These sorts of books have never really worked for me, though. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the turn-off-your-brain appeal of such titles, but I think I’m just a different breed of vacationer. When I’m sitting on the beach, looking out at the ocean, I don’t feel dumb and lazy—I feel profound!
Thoughtful, meandering memoirs like Donald Miller’s religious Blue Like Jazz appeal more to me when I’m beach-bound. The breeze along the shore, the sand in my toes, and the sound of constantly crashing waves somehow heighten my senses and enhance the reading experience. I feel more. I absorb more. Maybe it’s because I’m finally not distracted by the tempting black hole that is YouTube, but books just seem better to me when I’m on vacation–so why waste my time with inane trivialities? This year, I’m hoping to tear through Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card’s philosophical follow-up to his sci-fi classic Ender’s Game.
Of course, I’m not completely against all popular books—you are reading this on EW.com, after all! This year’s trip to the beach could be the perfect time to finally join the masses and read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What do you think Shelf Lifers? What books do you like to read at the beach? Got any recommendations for me?