I went on a seaside reading spree, which is surely the best kind. To me, a beach book requires two things: smart writing, so I feel as if I’m accomplishing something, and a plot so engrossing that I can’t stop, not even to go for ice cream. I have three new recruits to suggest for nightstands and beach bags alike.

(Tyson, reading in Coronado.)

First discovery: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which I picked up because it hit the top of the best-seller list, and then bought because I turned it over to find that my friend had blurbed the book on back.

I held my friend accountable for my purchase. “Nothing not to like,” he promised.

OK, I said.

Then, I read it in two days.

This book goes down easy, friends, a murder-mystery-modern-marriage-media thriller. It’s perfect beach fare. Also, Reese Witherspoon is already producing the adaptation.

Secondly, Three Junes is a book that’s been around awhile, and I feel sheepish for ignoring it this long. The thing won the National Book Award, and I dogeared page after page after page of sentences I want to memorize. And, it keeps you in it, all day long. The book follows a family across the years, checking in for three separate months of June. The last one ends in the Hamptons. This helps. I got mad at my poor fiance for talking to me while I read the last three pages. Yes, it’s that good.

Lastly, I finally finished Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table, after dragging it around for months. It’s been rained on, walked on, left in the sprinklers and filled with sand. Another sign of a good beach book: how bedraggled the thing looks at the end.


This book’s been through it all. It was as gorgeous as you’d expect from Ondaatje, who also wrote The English Patient. It’s set on a ship — a trio of boys crossing from Sri Lanka to London — and it’s about love, and comings-of-age, and hiding in rowboats at night. I adored it.

Tyson is reading The Catcher in the Rye, which he somehow missed in high school. “It’s really good,” he marveled aloud. And yes, it is. Now, he’s reading The Great Gatsby. I’m jealous that he gets to discover these treasures for the first time as an adult, but I have some stern words for his English teachers.

Now, I’ve started The Witches of Eastwick, commencing a John Updike spree, but I need more summer books for my stack. Can you recommend anything you’ve read and loved? I’d be grateful!