Beachworthy books, 2014

Sadly, summer is almost over, but with the bank holiday in the UK this weekend and Labor Day over here in the US next week, there might be time to squeeze in a book or two on a beach or in a park before autumn kicks in. Here are some books I recommend you throw into your backpack as you head out (or, if you’re me, carefully envelope in multiple layers of bubble wrap so they don’t get damaged). They’ve all come out this year, either for the first time or as a paperback to follow the hardback.

The Wrong KnickersThe Wrong Knickers

Not one to recommend to your mother-in-law, this one, but you probably could have guessed that from the title. Like Save the Date, this memoir of London as singleton in your 20s rang, in some place, very familiar. It would almost be uncomfortable if that wasn’t all so very long ago now.

The Actress

The ActressThis is one of those books I found out about on Twitter, and seemed right up my alley, particularly as I’m on a bit of a Hollywood kick of late. I gulped it down in less than three days on the beach (which is fast for me). It’s not quite literary fiction and not quite chick lit either – something in between. An easy read, kind of perfect for the pool, or over lunch with a glass of wine.

The Price of InheritancePrice of Inheritance

I loved Karin Tanabe’s first book, The List, so I was really excited about this one. It’s very different – though the author’s fabulously chucklesome sense of humour pervades this one too. Like The List, it has a mystery that the heroine is determined to unearth, but this one is about art theft. Yes, like The Goldfinch, only more fun – and with a very hunky bad boy.

After I DoAfter I Do

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s first book, Forever, Interrupted, was my favourite of last year. I couldn’t wait for this one. It’s about a couple who, despite being young, have been together forever, and find their marriage fraying, so decide to take some time apart from each other, in order to hopefully save their marriage. I usually need a beach to keep me in one place with a book for long stretches of time, but she managed it. If I were married, I’d want my man to read it too so we could discuss its take on marriage, which I found interesting and insightful (but then, what would I know?).

Love, NinaLove, Nina

This is a lovely, fun read about a nanny in 1980s London. It made me chuckle and reminded me of how I used to speak back in the 90s. The family Nina Stibbe nannies for are friends with Alan Bennett, so he and his wit are recurring characters. This is great – and it’s made up of letters, which means that it’s easy to pick up for a few minutes between laps of the pool or while you’re waiting those extra few minutes at the boarding gate.

Save The Date

Save the DateNon-fiction, this one: a sassy collection of essays about the joys and tribulations of being a perennial wedding guest, full of very recognisable emotions and experiences

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel PNathaniel P

I read this one way back in January, and loved it. Adelle Waldman does a fabulous if terrifying job of getting into a guy’s head as he navigates the world of dating without quite being sure if he wants to commit. It’s a really easy read in the best possible way.

The vacationersThe Vacationers

it’s been a few years since I read The Corrections, but this reminded me of Franzen’s exploration of family dynamics – in a good way.  A group of, well, vacationers (or holiday-makers, if you will) spends two weeks in Mallorca, dealing with their various issues. There’s a marriage in trouble, a teenage girl desperate to lose her virginity, a couple waiting to hear if they’re getting a baby to adopt, and simmering tensions of all kinds between all of the characters. A very enjoyable read. he

How to Tell Toledo From the Night Skyhow to tell toledo

I’d heard so much about this book over so many months, mostly from the fabulous BookRiot podcast, that I just couldn’t resist it. They’d described it as a book which explores what happens when parents bring up their kids to be soulmates, which sounded right up the alley of my romantic heart trapped inside a body it shares with a cynical mind. It wasn’t quite what I expected – it was certainly much less sweet and innocent than I’d expected – but the writing style is lovely and if you’re into science n general or astronomy in particular, and/or like to think about the differences between “head people” and “heart people”, then give it a go. It’s quirky but also resonates deeply emotionally.

Astonish MeAstonish Me

A strong contender for one of my favourites of the year, this one. It’s a beautiful, lyrical exploration of the world of ballet against a Cold War backdrop, with plenty of heartbreaking emotion and unrequited love. Lovely. Just writing this is making me want to re-read it.

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