Monday, June 18, 2012
What Makes a Good Beach Read?
Life is busy most days. The day job gives me a little extra time off in the summer, but inevitably we fill it up with activities. Of course, I've also dubbed this the "Summer I Publish My YA," so I've been working on that non-stop. Yet, this vacation will not be a working one. Instead, I'm ready to load up on some of the books in my mountainous TBR pile. That means narrowing the list down to about five books, at the most. Impossible, right?
The good news is I have e-readers. I own both a Nook and a Kindle (it's probably a sin, but there ya go.) So, gone are the days of juggling three books down to the beach, only to cart them back up. Now, I'm a little more careful about water and sand than I used to be, but believe me, the accessibility to a number of books at once makes a difference. Yet, that doesn't solve my original problem of what to read.
Well, I've worked out FIVE characteristics to help me choose the best possible books for vacation. Here they are:
1. It Must Be Entertaining
Of course, this is subjective, but for me, I like a book with a little action, a little romance, and a fast pace. I like to be pulled so into a book that when I finally look up from the pages (or screen), I'm a little disoriented by my surroundings. It should be as much of an escape from reality as the vacation is. And even when I'm off doing other fun beach stuff, I'm still thinking about getting back to my book. Usually, I can tell by the blurb, the first few pages, and my experience with the author's previous books whether I'll enjoy this one or not. That's always a good place to begin.
2. It Must Be Light
I enjoy deep thoughts as much as the next gal. Sure, there are times when a real tear-jerker is cathartic and meaningful, but when I'm on the beach, I don't want to be attempting to solve the world's problems or blubbering like a leaky faucet. I want something that will bring me just to the edge of emotional, but won't drop me over the cliff of despair, if you know what I mean. I want to laugh, cheer, maybe feel a slight edge of anxiety for the characters, but I want to know that in the end, all will be well.
3. It Must Be Proven
As previously mentioned, I usually stick with authors I've already read and enjoyed for beach reads. I have occasionally been disappointed by a beloved author who misses the mark (for me), but I'm usually easy to please, and will always come back for more from an author I like. The only other way a book can be proven for me is if it comes highly recommended from a friend I'm confident has a similar love of books as me. If he or she has bookshelves spilling over, four e-readers (okay, I was holding out on you. It really is sinful, I know), and a book in his or her hand every time I see 'em, then I will take their word for it I should read the recommendation.
4. It Must Be Something I Can Put Down If I Have To
As much as I love books (okay, it borders on obsession, people), I'm realistic enough to realize I will be expected to participate in the "FAMILY" vacation. There will be games of catch, sandcastles to build, waves to jump, and other various fun times to be had. Though I want a read that will be entertaining enough to draw me back again, I also want it to be something I can set aside but still jump back into without rehashing all the story information before I go on to the next chapter. This is not the time to prove to the world that I really can "make it all the way through War and Peace" in one sitting. Revisit number 2 for clarification, if needed.
5. It Must Be a Quick Read
I'm all for educating oneself through books. The importance of constant learning should never be underestimated. However, on the beach, I don't want a dictionary at my side, and I don't want to have to do an internet search to decipher all the symbolic references and allusions to history, art, and other literature. I do that enough in the day job. In other words, a beach read should be one I can flip through without brain pain caused by the effort of comprehending the story. It should have a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, and pacing that is quick throughout the rest of the book. Speed is good for some things (racetrack, boring lectures, the DMV line) and not so much for others (awesome music concerts, engrossing television, the bedroom), but on the beach, I need a quick read because, let's face it, I got at least four more waiting their turn--and not too patiently I might add.
These are my five characteristics for choosing a list of books for the beach. Did I miss any? What books would you recommend as great beach reads?
I got to get back to packing now. Thank goodness for the e-reader. Gone are the days of packing an extra bag just for books (okay, you got me, two bags). Now I just sneak a few more paperbacks in the toiletry bag and the kids' entertainment bag. Did I mention my obsession with books?
Happy Reading and Writing,
My flash fiction piece, "Mercy" can be downloaded for free at Smashwords, Kobo, or Barnes and Noble.
Into the Fire Amazon BuyLink: http://tinyurl.com/3f7vfnp
Into the Fire TWRP BuyLink: http://tinyurl.com/3mfn3zj