This past week, with my family being in town and lots of evenings after work spent at the beach, I got to read several books in the sand. I’ve been working so much on my next novel, Map of Us, and the future of shopfiction™ that it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to really enjoy the books that made me want to be a writer in the first place.
I honestly haven’t felt this great in such a long time and I really do credit the beach reads.
I know they are frequently criticized for being too “light” and “fluffy,” and as an avid beach reader I’ll admit there are several that make me frustrated. On occasion, the female protagonists are portrayed in a very unfavorable light. In one I read recently the main character’s sole purpose was to keep her husband happy. She never pursued a career or ambition of her own until the last few pages (I would have preferred to read a sequel when she had moved on to this…). And her husband ultimately chose her over the woman he was considering having an affair with because his wife was a “better cook.” I couldn’t believe a woman had written that story, others had agreed to publish it, and advertising money was spent pushing it as mainstream fiction.
But many beach reads are written well. In college a “serious published writer” came in and spoke to my English class. After I read a passage from one of my favorite beach reads, she deemed it “terrible,” and said I shouldn’t strive to write like that.
I completely disagreed because I think the beach read makes people reflect on life, while also making them feel good about it, and there’s a power and purpose in that. It’s also extremely hard to pull off. Most writers are very deep thinkers. Channeling that depth into a story that’s easy to consume, enjoyable, and something that people don’t want to put down, is worth striving for, in my opinion.
I walked away from all the beach reads below feeling understood, a bit lighter, and enriched in a positive way.I hope you enjoy these selections as much as I did and get to read some under a beach umbrella this spring or summer (I got this affordable white one from Amazon and also love these ones here and here!).
Jane Green—Falling, Tempting Fate, and Summer Secrets: Come summer, I always look forward to reading books by Jane Green and if she doesn’t have a new one out, I’ll re-read old favorites I haven’t read in a while like Falling, Tempting Fate, and Summer Secrets. I’m counting down the days till the release of her newest book, The Friends We Keep, a story about lifelong friends and second chances, out June 4th. You can preorder it here.
Emily Giffin—The One and Only, First Comes Love, Where We Belong, All We Ever Wanted: Emily Giffin has always been one of my favorite authors. I’ve read and re-read all her books so many times I can’t even loan them out to friends anymore because I’ve underlined too many of the passages. The One and Only is probably my current favorite because I really loved her exploration of loving someone society thinks you shouldn’t. But you can’t go wrong with any!
Sue Monk Kidd—The Mermaid Chair: Most read and fell in love with The Secret Life of Bees, and weren’t as big of fans of The Mermaid Chair but I loved this story of a woman trying to find herself later in life. Sue Monk Kidd’s voice is so compelling and relatable.
Elin Hilderbrand—Read about the beach while you’re on one in Elin’s unputdownable novels. I love her stories and Winter in Paradise was one of my recent favorites. She also (somehow!) cranks out two novels a year so the good news is when you finish one, there’s another being published just around the corner.
Lauren Weisenberger—When Life Gives Your Lululemons: Lauren gives you insight into the lives of the rich and famous in her humorous novels. I read this book on Sullivan’s Island while I was on my own book tour and really enjoyed the storyline.
Christina Lauren—The Unhoneymooners is the latest book by my favorite writing duo, Christina Lauren. It’s available May 14 and I’m really looking forward to finishing it by May 15. After reading and loving Love and Other Words, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, and their others, I’m sure it won’t be hard to.
Nicholas Sparks—Did you guys know I like his books? Just a reminder…My favorites are Nights in Rodanthe and Safe Haven. My favorite of his movies is The Lucky One!
Sally Hepworth: One of my favorite writers has a new story out, The Mother-In-Law and it’s next on my list! I also really loved her other books especially, The Things We Keep.
Taylor Jenkins Reid—I’m about to read the rest of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books (starting with One True Love), because Daisy Jones and the Six was one of the best books I’ve read in such a long time. Maybe ever. Reid is a remarkable storyteller and I’m in awe of this story and the complexity with which she wrote her characters. They were so real I still think about them often.
Do you have any favorite beach reads I’ve missed?! Let me know what you’re reading! I love seeing photos of you all enjoying Waiting at Hayden’s at different beaches so keep sending! And thank you for your continued love and support for the story.