I wrote and deleted an entirey post because it sounded rant-y. I let myself get all in a tither over the phrase "beach reads." It gets next to me, this idea that anyone needs an excuse for reading a book that may be less than literary (although I could argue about that term, too - who gets to decide what is literary?).
We can and should read anything anytime we want to. No one needs a free pass to read something just because someone - my high school English teacher or a hipster book critic - would sneer at it. Who are they to pass judgment? Readers unite!
See? It sounds like I'm screeching.
Instead, a few books I very much liked:
The House at the End of Hope Street:
A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need
Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.
She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.
Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen.
Did you hear the big news about the book, The Cuckoo's Calling? Turns out the author, Robert Galbraith, is the psudeonym for a little writer by the name of J. K. Rowling. I'm one of the great unwashed who hadn't heard of the book until the news book. Like everyone else, I ran out and immediately bought it on the strength of Rowling's name alone (even though I didn't even finish A Casual Vacancy). I thoroughly enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling. I think it's a great detective story, and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series.
A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.
Not new, but when I mentioned beach reads earlier it reminded me of Tana French's Broken Harbor. I read it last year when we were at the beach. In a happy bit of serendipity, the book came out something like the day before we left on our trip. I waited until the morning we left, as we were literally walking out the door, to download it. I had purse on my shoulder and bottle of water in hand when I bought it. If I had gotten it a moment earlier, I would have gobbled up the whole thing and then had nothing to read.
From Amazon reviews:
In Tana French’s fourth novel, detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy and his partner are sent to the abandoned, half-constructed housing development Broken Harbor to investigate the brutal murder of the Spain family. What Scorcher thinks is an open and shut case is quickly complicated when Jenny Spain is found barely alive, and the family’s circumstances are brought to light: hidden baby monitors, a strained mortgage brought on by the housing crisis, and the increasingly erratic signs of a family in crisis. French fans will appreciate this new look at Scorcher, who was a minor character in Faithful Place; he shines as the successful but jaded detective with a troubled past. French delivers a layered psychological thriller and satisfying ‘who dunnit,’ masterfully spinning a plot packed with tension and a haunting mood that rivals the best of the gothic writers.
I'm a big fan of Tana French, except, of course, for In the Woods. I'm still upset about that one.
Have you read anything great lately, at the beach or anywhere?