Writers Chatting: Beach Read 3

We all seem to be in agreement that summer is time to kick back and relax a bit. So with that in mind, here is the next in our summer’s Writers Chatting open threads.

Besides writing the next great beach read, what is your favorite beach read? A few of mine, in no particular order: Jaws, One for the Money, Jurassic Park, To Kill a Mocking Bird and as a youngster, the first three Trixie Belden books.

Have at it!

61 replies
  1. 1
    smintheus says:

    Favorite beach book: Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class

  2. 2
    geg6 says:

    When I was a kid, it was “The Pink Motel.” Today, I’d say the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I like a big fat book that’s a fun but worthwhile read (her historical details are pretty good) for lolling on the sand or by a pool for hours. Carl Hiassen books are also great Beach/pool reads.

  3. 3
    coozledad says:

    Just finished Richard Flanagan’s “Gould’s book of Fish.” All I can say is DAYUM.

  4. 4
    debbie says:

    I haven’t been to the beach in years, but last time I was there, I read “Fatal Shore.” I’m always reading fiction, so it was a real treat to read really readable history.

  5. 5

    I think of a beach read as something light that won’t take a whole lot of concentration so I can put it down if there’s fun to be had. I like SFF, so maybe Bujold’s Vorkorsigan books or GRRM’s A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    Last call for peeps who are doing Camp NaNoWriMo and want to join our Balloon-Juice cabin — send me an email through my linked website above or via Gmail at Mnemosyne dot Muse.

  8. 8

    @Mnemosyne: I’ve eyed your invitation before, and been tempted because writing is a lonely business. I’m revising right now, though, which means I’m not thinking about word count. I wish everyone well.

  9. 9
    NorthLeft12 says:

    I enjoy history with a scientific bent like Isaac’s Storm, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Great Influenza, Krakatoa, Longitude, The Golden Spruce, Into Thin Air, The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek, Dangerous River, Grey Seas Under, and The Perfect Storm.
    I am currently reading Ship of Gold which I am enjoying immensely. A good mix of history and current science on deep ocean recovery.

    I do read the odd fiction novel like LA Confidential, Pride and Prejudice, Life of Pi, Cold Mountain, The Commitments, and [a favourite] Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.

  10. 10
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @NorthLeft12: @NorthLeft12: BTW, I don’t read at the beach, I swim. I read back at the cottage.

  11. 11

    @Mnemosyne: I joined, I have to figure out the details of how it works. Do you have to upload the file you are working on?

  12. 12
    CZanne says:

    Also in edits, so my daily goal is decimation, not creation. Thus, both my “beach” read and my working is pounding on this word tonnage until the loose bits shake out. I’m staying away from high/epic fantasy in general to avoid excessive cross-pollination, but my other fiction tastes run to urban fantasy, dystopias, and mysteries, so I’d take Seanan McGuire or Laurie R King with me, should I be so self-destructive as to put myself in full sun. Or early philosophy of war and politics.

    @Iowa Old Lady: cheering you on from my red-pen corner.

  13. 13

    @NorthLeft12: Me too. I sometimes paint or write or take pictures, go hiking (in Acadia, you can do both). I don’t think I have ever read at a beach.

  14. 14
    MomSense says:


    I enjoy those books as well. I’ve been part of Terry Dresbach’s costume group since the show first aired and it’s been really interesting.

  15. 15
    MomSense says:


    Just sent you an email. No more excuses for me!

  16. 16
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @schrodingers_cat: @schrodingers_cat: Acadia? I did not know you lived, or spent a fair bit of time in Canada. My wife lived in Glace Bay for a year and we are planning a road trip to Cape Breton when I retire in just over two years.
    My Father and sister have a beautiful cottage on the Georgian Bay coast just west of Collingwood. I love it there. I just spent five days there this week. Hiking, biking, canoeing, swimming…..just wonderful here.

  17. 17
    MomSense says:


    I think she means the National Park in Maine. It’s a special place.

  18. 18
    divF says:

    @smintheus: Not to be confused with The Leisure of the Theory Class, which is when academics assemble in exotic locations (I was at a physics meeting in Molokai when I first heard this phrase).

  19. 19

    @NorthLeft12: @MomSense: Yes, I meant Acadia National Park. I have never lived in Canada, but have visited often, Bay of Fundy, Niagara, St. John, Quebec city and so on.

  20. 20
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    I don’t read at the beach because I live in the desert and sadly know exactly what extended sun exposure does to one’s skin and one’s cancer risk. It doesn’t help that there’s no place within a 100 miles of here that could even be considered “nice water”, much less a beach, or is less than 100 degrees.

    But when I was a kid camping on a lake in the Adirondacks it was Nancy Drew mysteries, Anne of Green Gables, and anthologies of sad pet stories. “All Cats Go to Heaven” had me in tears every single time.

    Last weekend way out in the middle of the Jemez in the Santa Fe National Forest it was pathophysiology textbooks for my NP program. And no cell phone service unless I drove 10 miles down a rutted dirt road. Perfection. :-)

  21. 21
    MattF says:

    Lately, I’ve been reading a ton of SFF– any of which would be good for beach reading. Charles Stross (Laundry Files), Max Gladstone (Craft series), N. K. Jemisin (Broken Earth), Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim). And China Mieville– who is entirely unpredictable.

  22. 22
    zhena gogolia says:

    I hate sitting out on beaches. But I just finished Richard Russo’s Everybody’s Fool, and it’s enormously entertaining. Laugh out loud all the way through, bite your nails in suspense, and cry at the ending.

    Haven’t thought of Trixie Belden in years!

  23. 23

    I have had a personal house guest for over a week, which has totally stopped my progress in writing. This makes me feel bad, because my publisher wants me to prepare a five page detailed outline of the last book for their attempt to convince a studio to make a TV show. Their idea to get me to rope in fans to provide publicity (somehow) in exchange for an exclusive Penny Akk short story is also bombing.

    On the plus side, my sample chapter for book five is going over extremely well. I had high hopes people would love Gerty Goat.

    To the OP, I’ve been rereading Anne McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer trilogy for the first time in decades. I’m enjoying the totally different look at female sexuality from what I’m used to in science fiction and fantasy. The main character goes through men exactly as casually as male heroes go through women. But then, in book two… I swear the second two books are semi-autobiographical, charting what must have been McCaffrey’s marriage issues. The romantic arc, good and bad, dominates both books. What makes it feel autobiographical is the petty detail. It’s not a grand love story. It’s a depiction of all the little emotions of breaking up with a boyfriend, falling in love with someone new, getting married, and then little bitty marriage stresses build up to a separation. And it stands out, in a very science fiction setting. Totally loving book three’s handling of the main character’s memory issues, and the callbacks to book one therein.

  24. 24

    Ironically, I’ve lived near beaches most of my life… and yet I’ve never read at the beach because I’m not there to read. I’m either swimming, sunning, or running about. I tend to read at home.

    In terms of writing, I am constantly kicking myself to do some more. There’s a fellow short story writer who’s been published in some of the same anthologies I’ve been – Gwendolyn Kiste – who does a monthly reminder of deadlines and submission rules for a lot of small press anthologies and literary magazines. I’ve got a link of her July list here – http://www.gwendolynkiste.com/.....july-2017/ – and Electric Spec looks promising to me.

  25. 25
    danielx says:

    Anything by Raymond Chandler, Allan Furst, Neal Stephenson…..

  26. 26
    MattF says:

    And for the writers here, this looks like an interesting competition. They’ve already got some known writers participating.

  27. 27
    Oatler. says:

    The “Danny Dunn” books like the one where he stows away of the Professor’s anti-gravity ship and saves the future for all of us with technology and science…sure…
    Or the guy Bart who had ten thousand hats?

  28. 28
    Shell says:

    Rereading Nora Ephron’s ‘Heart Burn’. Wickedly funny and goes down in a gulp.

  29. 29
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    I think of “beach reading” as lightweight fluff, so for me it’s Jimmy Buffet’s fiction (Tales from Margaritaville, Where Is Joe Merchant?).

  30. 30
    Another Scott says:

    @Mnemosyne: (Your website isn’t showing up in your “handle” here any more. At least not for me.)


  31. 31
    gammyjill says:

    I read and review books for Amazon and Goodreads. I just finished Irish author John Boyne’s newest book, “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” and it blew me away. Not beach reading at almost 600 pages, but it’s a glorious read about…humanity and goodness. It’ll be released in mid-August. Another gem that’s out now is Edward Kelsey Moore’s second novel in his series, “The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues”. Also a fabulous read. If anyone wants to read my reviews, let me know and I’ll post the link

  32. 32
    Citizen_X says:

    On the Beach?

  33. 33
    Woodrowfan says:

    @smintheus: I love you.

  34. 34
    Woodrowfan says:

    I have to index my book this summer. Any hints? Never done it myself before.

  35. 35
    Woodrowfan says:

    Summer reads are still histories but ones I want to read because I find them interesting

  36. 36
    aimai says:

    I never go to the beach, and currently am wrestling with an enormous pile of stuff that I want to be reading like “Affect Dysregulation” or “Treating traumatized children.” Its all very interesting stuff, and I’m happy to have the time to read more thoroughly than I can during the school year, but its not fun. For great summer reading of the past I recommend ColleenMcCollough’s “Masters of Rome” series taking the reader from Marius through to Octavian. Brilliant, in fact I’m reading it again right now and am midway through Ceasar’s women. I also love Shogun, though not his other books which get tedious. And outlander, though I’m not due for a re-reading of that for a few years.

  37. 37

    @gammyjill: I loved The Supremes as Earl’s All You Can Eat Café! But the new one is $15 in ebook. Oh dear. I have to work myself up to that.

  38. 38
    Another Scott says:

    @aimai: I’m not a beach person either. Just sitting around gets to be really boring for me.

    J and I both enjoyed Amy Sederis: Simple Times – Crafts for Poor People. Would probably be perfect fluff for the beach!


  39. 39
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    My Father and sister have a beautiful cottage on the Georgian Bay coast just west of Collingwood.

    I know the area well. My cousins have lived in Owen Sound for the better part of 40 years, and I visit them as often as I can. The Georgian Bay is a magnificent area.

  40. 40

    I live in San Francisco, so when I’m at the beach I mostly wonder how I took a wrong turn and ended up at the beach.

    On a trip, I really like having a book that’s long enough that it’s the only book I need for the trip, which sometimes means as danielx said Neal Stephenson. I also don’t like to re-read books, so that’s only valid for a handful of trips :)

    The last couple of trips I found out that my library has all the Discworld ebooks on file, so I’ve been reading those. I guess it depends on my mood!

    In writing news, my fish novel is going quite well; and I started a new webcomic, for those who haven’t seen me promote that either :) It’s called Against Stupidity, and it’s a somewhat goofy urban gothic story about a college student who inherits his grandma’s house and has to juggle the demands of keeping his scholarship, making friends, living in a new city, dealing with his grandma’s pets, and the unexpected karmic burden of being the sole heir to the powerful sorceress he didn’t know his grandma was. New strips every Monday and some Saturdays!

  41. 41
    celiadexter says:

    I haven’t been to the beach in decades, but my roof deck at the northernmost point of Manhattan is just as good for sunbathing and reading books that might be a bit less literary than anything I’d want to be seen with on the subway. Since I’m retired, I spend a lot of time on the roof, like right now. If you want utterly shameless but snarky chick lit, you can’t do better than One Fifth Avenu by Candace Bushnell, Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn and Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthal. (Warning — these are kind of old and might not have aged well, but they were a hoot back in the day.) If you can’t sink that low, and like mysteries/thrillers, try anything by my old high school friend S. J. Rozan. Or anything by Dennis Lehane. And for reasonably literary sunbathing company, Margaret Atwood and Jane Smiley.

  42. 42
    kindness says:

    I just started reading Al Franken’s Giant Of The Senate and it’s working. I started laughing hard on the 2nd page of the foreward.

  43. 43
    HeleninEire says:

    @kindness: I loved it. The chapter about Ted Cruz is worth the price of the book.

  44. 44
    Johannes says:

    I love PG Wodehouse, especially his Blandings Castle series (we Wodehouse fans all want to employ Jeeves, but to be Gally), but am also fond of Sharon Kay Penman’s historical fiction for light reading.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:


    You don’t — you just enter your progress every day. The one weird thing is that you enter your total to date, not your per-day progress.

  46. 46
    CZanne says:

    @Woodrowfan: I’ve indexed academic work, so it’s a similar process. I do digital indexing now, with hypertext links between the index and the main text, but the process is similar for dumbtext. If you use Word, there are some add-ons that make the job easier on the first pass; try IndexAssistant for relative ease of use and low cost. http://www.jambient.com/indexassistant/ (No association, just a former user.) For Mac Pages, I use some hypertexting tools, but it’s more complicated and requires more manual work. (InDesign will do most of the work, but an InDesign license is not cheap, and it’s a pretty major tool on its own.)

    Start with a clean, finished copy. It usually takes me two passes; I let the software give me a rough draft, then I go through the text looking for major, subject matter nouns and tagging them if the software missed it.

    I’m building the final, electronic draft of the giant box o’ words to be an interactive text with some elements of Choose Your Own Adventure; since the narrative has three major intertwined arcs, one need not follow the story in a linear fashion, and there’s supplementary material I can’t use in a print format. It’s sort of the same concept as the Enhanced Electronic Edition of Song of Ice and Fire (which pushes the electronic book format with hypertextual internal linkages to textual events, glossaries, family trees, and maps) and/or the alternate reading orders of a Feast With Dragons (which combines the last two published books into a single reading order). Which basically means internal indexing within the text – and the easiest I’ve found is hand-coded HTML/EML. Machine indexing can still be pretty flaky.

    Good luck!

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Scott:

    D’oh! I wonder if I accidentally erased it. I’ll have to check.

  48. 48
    joel hanes says:

    Favorite beach reads from years past :
    Master and Commander O’Brian
    Watership Down Adams
    Cryptonomicon Stephenson
    Three Men In A Boat Jerome
    My Life As A Small Boy Cox
    Third Tree From The Corner White
    The Once And Future King a different White
    The Winds Of War Wouk
    Hawaii Michener
    The Bounty Trilogy Hall and Nordhoff
    Never Cry Wolf Mowatt
    We Die Alone Howarth
    Rocannon’s World LeGuin
    Reindeer Moon Thomas
    Earth Abides Stewart

  49. 49

    @joel hanes: Oh man, the O’Brian books are a great ‘beach read’!

  50. 50
    joel hanes says:

    A book everyone should read, beach or no:
    A Sand County Almanac, with sketches from Round River Aldo Leopold

  51. 51
    J R in WV says:

    I’m not a big beach person, but since retiring, I mostly read. Either here or big fat SFF books.

    But the best beach read I can recommend is Duma Key, as kind of a big book with lots of slightly creepy magic with a huge finale. Stephen King. Not one of his creepier books, a former construction manager is injured, moves to a Florida island, becomes a gifted artist. Located just (fictitiously) south of the barrier island a bike ride from where my folks went for winter. So fascinating.

    My mom was an artist and took classes and painted all over the country where the novel takes place… Have read it at least a couple of times, it stays in the bedroom for when I need something comfortable to read.

    I also love Neal Stephenson’s work, have read most of what he has written, including his newest DoDo novel. Strangely, his co-author on DoDo also was one of sevral coauthors on a huge series he published, The Mongoliad – which I bought most of, and then couldn’t finish either of the first two books I attempted to read. Just boring.

    So strange… so I was leery of DoDo, but ti turned out to be great. I’m hoping it’s book one of a series. There’s a new book in the Laundry Series, I think out on July 11th. Can’t wait!

  52. 52

    @J R in WV: IMO Stephenson gets himself in trouble when he has room to sprawl, or at least sprawl even more than he already does. I couldn’t get past the second book of the Baroque Cycle, but Cryptonomicon is one of my favorite books. His one-offs are just better.

  53. 53
    raven says:

    @J R in WV: Dd you see my reply to you post in the “engineer” thread?

  54. 54
    raven says:

    Did you see my reply to your post in the “engineer” thread?

  55. 55
    Eric S. says:

    Not a writer, not really, but this seemed s good place to drop this book recommendation.

    I Just finished reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. It is not a outer space laser shoot em up but our is sci-fi. It tackled the time travel conundrum from a perspective I’ve never come across. Certain people are reincarnated as themselves and relive their lives over and over again. Kind of like Groundhog Day. It’s an easy read but tackles the time travel paradox from a different perspective. I thought it was a great, fun read. And it works for urban commuters with short, concise chapters.

  56. 56
    Murmeltier says:

    This is one of the reasons Geeno got me to finally join in. I love writing, & after years of chaos and health issues, I finally dusted off my notebook & started having a bit of fun w/ writing prompts. I also have a research project (found artifact/local history) that I’ve been jotting notes & ideas for. I have to start doing the actual researching & talking to some folks, etc. It may or may not turn into something of interest to others.

    Last call for peeps who are doing Camp NaNoWriMo and want to join our Balloon-Juice cabin

    Maybe next year. I’m not ready to dive into this one yet, although I’ve been wanting to give it a shot for several years now.

    Beach read? Well, I finished the forward to Mark Twain in Hawaii. If I could just stay awake long enough to read more than the 1st paragraph of the story. Maybe I ought to stop trying to read in bed!

  57. 57
    Julia says:

    Trixie Belden! I read those as a kid instead of Nancy Drew. Never run across anyone before who remembered them!
    And also, The Pink Motel…I loved that book. Something I read a few years ago has stayed with me ever since…Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The book is about a post apocalyptic world and a Shakespearean troupe that travels through it. Elegaic yet hopeful.

  58. 58
    Another Scott says:

    @kindness: It’s sitting on the table next to me, but I haven’t started it yet.

    Any book with the title like “Al Franken – Giant of the Senate – by Al Franken” gets an immediate chuckle from me even before I crack the cover.


  59. 59
    geg6 says:

    @Another Scott:

    It’s a very good read. Crack it, you’ll love it!

  60. 60
    stinger says:

    @Julia: I grew up on Trixie Belden, too. Still have a dozen of the old hardbacks, and another dozen of the later ones that were only in pb–much inferior tales. The first 8 or 9 are all you really need, but especially the first three. There was an occasional commenter at… Carpetbagger, maybe?… who used TB as her nym. I was so jealous I hadn’t thought of it first.

  61. 61
    gammyjill says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: I know it’s expensive – I received a free copy from the author when I contacted him – but it’s well worth reading. I have my copy and if you send me your edress, I’ll contact you and get your address and mail it.

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