Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books I Actually Read at the Beach


My favorite part of taking a vacation is figuring out what books to take. Beach vacations are especially tricky, because I know I will have a lot of time to read, but I’m never quite sure what I’m going to be in the mood for until I get there. Sometimes all of the books I carefully curated before I left turn out to be not quite the right thing once I arrive.

I also don’t like traditional beach reads: since I’m always very happy on vacation, I’m willing to read bleaker books than I usually want to read at home. In fact, I seem to prefer it.

The best part of vacation reading is the serendipity. I’ve been lucky to stay at beach hotels with lending libraries, and I find I often prefer to abandon my own stack in favor of the books others have left behind.

rose under fire

Rose Under Fire was not as devastating for me as Code Name Verity, but still a very hard–and very worthwhile–book.

blue is the warmest

Graphic novels are such fast reads that I don’t usually take them on vacation, but they’re also very thin and easily slip into the side of a suitcase. After enjoying Blue Is the Warmest Color on a beach vacation, I now make sure I have at least one graphic novel with me when I travel.

at least and at small

At Large and At Small is a wonderful collection of “familiar essays” by Anne Fadiman, ranging from Charles Lamb to insomnia to coffee. Vacation requires a balance of books to dip into and books to get lost in, and an essay collection offers opportunities for both.

lush life.jpeg

Richard Price’s Lush Life is one I found on the shelf of a hotel lending library. Urban crime fiction, even very literary urban crime fiction, is not my usual cup of tea, but I liked it so much I came home and read Price’s Samaritan, also very good.

madonnas of leningrad.jpeg

The Madonnas of Leningrad combines two of my weird reading shelf interests–the siege of Leningrad and what happened to art during World War II.

lost in the forest.jpeg

If I had read the dust jacket description of Lost in the Forest, I never would have read this book. There are at least five things in the book description that would make run in the opposite direction. But Lost in the Forest turned out to be so absorbing that I came home and read another Sue Miller novel.


I love Nick Hornby’s writing about books for The Believer, so it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise that I also loved his novel Juliet, Naked.

happiness is an inside job.jpeg

I should probably read Happiness Is An Inside Job every year. Wise, warm, thought-provoking, Boorstein manages to both comfort and challenge.


I love everything about Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. I still marvel at how many different problems and issues Medina threw into this book, yet they all work together to progress the plot, themes, and character development. Such an impressive YA novel.

skye high.jpeg

I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the world who would take Pearson Hesketh’s Skye High: The Record of a Tour Through Scotland in the Wake of Samuel Johnson and James Boswell to a beach in Mexico. It’s the kind of book I used to read a lot in my teens and early twenties, so there’s a nostalgia factor there that’s quite pleasant. It’s also quite pleasant to read about blustery Scottish weather while baking on Mexican sand.






5 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books I Actually Read at the Beach”

  1. Kate @ Midnight Book Girl Avatar

    I still need to get to Rose Under Fire and Juliet, Naked- both have been on my shelves for far too long!

    My Top Ten Tuesday

  2. Akilah Avatar

    I loooooooved Juliet, Naked.

    We are opposite. I want fun stuff for the beach. But I also am finding that I’m preferring more lighthearted fiction in general lately.

  3. annettepimentel Avatar

    So many books now added to my TBR list. Thanks!

  4. omahatim Avatar

    Richard Price is my cup of tea. Clockers is great too. I just finished his new one from last year, The Whites. It’s a movie script waiting to happen.

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