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Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Discussion: What is a Beach Read?

Over the weekend, I was catching up on my newspaper reading and I came across Janet Maslin's annual Beach Reads suggestions in the New York Times.  As usual she did a great job of providing a list for a wide range of reading tastes.  She has literary fiction, thrillers, horror, and nonfiction.  She combined big names like Stephen King and Carl Hiaasen with promising new comers like Lauren Beukes.

Also, over on RA Online, their weekly RA Run Down [out each Monday] reminded me that they have been tirelessly compiling lists of "Beach Reads."

I too began thinking about my own summer vacation plans and am already setting aside a few books to save for my own "Beach Reading."

All this talk of Beach Reads though got me thinking, what makes a something "beach read?" I realized right away that the answer is different for every person. It's not just genre too. I know from helping patrons that "beach read" can have format restrictions.  For example, I often get requests from patrons who are flying on vacation for books that are good "beach reads" but also have to be small or in paperback due to packing restrictions. And, there are others who only want ebooks so that they can load a bunch of books on their e-reader.  These restrictions add to what makes something a "beach read."

So for today's Monday Discussion, what does"beach read" mean to you?

I'll go first.  For me, compelling is the key word here.  I want a book that I know will keep me interested for long stretches of time.  But I also know that getting stuck with a book that I thought would be good, only to find out it is a stinker once on the beach is TERRIBLE.  So, I often bring a book I know I will like, often from a series I enjoy just in case.

For me, "beach read" also means I try to stay in my genre comfort zone.  You won't find me trying something new, or working on branching out for vacation.  So I tend to grab psychological thrillers, literary fiction, or historical fiction for the beach.  Formats are not a big deal for me, except that I will not bring an e-reader to the beach; I get too worried about sand damage.  Water damage I can control, but sand gets in all the crevices, all the time.  And in terms of paperback or hardcover, I prefer paperbacks, but I will not turn down a good hardcover candidate just because of its format.

I also often take day trips to the Indiana Dunes with the family throughout the summer.  For those beach days I try to start a book and get at least 30 pages in before we leave.  Then I know I will be good for the day.  In fact, one of my most memorable reading experiences last summer came when I read The Age of Miracles in one day on the beach in Indiana.

So that's a "beach read" as I see it.  But what about you?  Let me know what you call a "beach read."

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

3 comments:

Christi said...

For me, a beach read is relaxing. It doesn't really require much thought to get into and it propels me through the end. For me that usually means a YA novel, historical romance or some sort of crime fiction.

John, Librarian At Dawn said...

I only go to the beach at night :(

Elizabeth said...

I agree with Christi, I associate beach reading with something light and relaxing. My favorite beach read is Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. This is a heartwarming read and actually a very lightweight paperback. Perfect for travel :)