Reflecting on Beach Reading

I spent a week in August at the beach with a wonderful assortment of family and friends. While I eagerly awaited diving into the stack of books I brought for the week, I didn't anticipate all of the lovely book conversations I would have as the week progressed.

I looked around on Day 1 as everyone lay sprawled on the beach either on the blankets dutifully sunworshipping or cautiously shaded by the many umbrellas we rented, as various skin types warrented. My brother's girlfriend was reading Women are like Spaghetti, Men are like Waffles. My daughter was reading the first of a Nora Roberts' trilogy (she prefers fluff-n-trash at the beach); her best friend was plowing through A Farewell to Arms for school as quickly as she could so that she could read what she really wanted, The Twilight Saga. My son was reading The Godfather. My husband was reading Vince Flynn's series featuring Mitch Rapp. My mother was reading The Oath by John Lescroart. I began reading Leeway Cottageby Beth Gutcheon, a multigenerational novel, I also brought the sequel, Good-Bye and Amen, with me (more on those in an upcoming post--Chris and I plan to discuss these at the end of the month).

The French kid who was staying with us this summer was not a reader. He looked around at everyone with their noses in books and said to me, with a baffled expression on his face, "Always ze books?" I said, "Yep! We're all about the books." He much preferred to go fishing.

About an hour into our beach day, my daughter's friend bursts out with an "AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!" as she slammed her Hemingway to the ground. "Stupid, man-written book!", she wailed. I gathered that Papa H. was not her cup of tea. She quickly moved on to the saga of Bella and Edward to cleanse her palate (I also started that series at the beach and just recently finished it--look for a review on the saga soon).

When we all had our fill of sun and surf for the day, we headed back to the house. My dad returned from golfing, and we talked about books some more. His complaint is that so many of the books they read are formulaic and he gets bored. He referred to the Sue Grafton and Dick Francis types of books. Mysteries are enjoyable for what they are, but too many leave you with a lack of satisfaction. I asked him if he had read any Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins books. He had not, so I have started a bag of books that don't follow a formula to take to Dad soon.

Following the family beach week, we had an opportunity for just my husband, kids, and I to have an end-of-summer trip to Charleston and Charlotte. We brought along our individual reading choices at the time: my husband was still reading the Vince Flynn books (that's a big series); my son was reading A Clockwork Orange for fun and Woe is I for school (nothing like waiting until the last minute); my daughter was reading The Thirteenth Tale; and I was immersed in the vampire saga. We also brought along Hatchet and one of the Newbery books we read together, The White Stag. Hatchet was an exciting tale that had everyone intrigued for a few hundred miles, and The White Stag was an fascinating tale of Attila the Hun.

All in all, August was a satisfactory month for reading, but not for posting. I now have plenty of (mentally) stored up material for posting over the next couple of months. Did you read anything good this summer you want to share?


Becky said...

I am dying to read the Twilight Saga, I have heard that they are really good.

A great book that I just finished reading is called, "Pinch Hitter," written by Dean Whitney. It was a fantastic book. I laughed, I cried, and fell absolutely in love with the characters. This author writes in such a visual way that I felt like I was right there with the characters throughout the story.

Chris said...

What a great cross-section of books from the extended family!

I only got halfway through A Farewell to Arms before I set it aside (for life, I'm glad to say). Papa H's short stories are more manageable.

And The Godfather -- how wonderful! One of my faves!

Carole said...

Pinch Hitter sounds fabulous--I hadn't heard of it, but it's going on the list! Thanks for sharing.

I'll be posting on The Twilight Saga later this week, but I'll be careful not to spoil the plot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carole! I read the Life of Pi finally this summer. I really liked it a lot. Maybe your French kid would have liked ze book since it's about ze animals! Poor thing. What did he do at the beach while you all were buried in books?

Carole said...

Life of Pi--Chris and I have had many conversations about this book. It's one that I just can't get through--there's a long section at the beginning that has to do with a sloth that I just can't get beyond. She assures me that if I can get beyond that point, it's worth it. I'll have to give it another try. Maybe 4th time is the charm!

I tried to talk to Florent about books about animals, but sadly, reading just wasn't happening with him. He liked to go fishing while we read. He really enjoyed the beach vacation as his last hurrah in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, definitely get yourself past the sloth. I think there's a lot to like (or at least think about) in The Life of Pi.