What’s a beach? I’m a redhead. I burn. I don’t do beaches…
OK, I’m being snarky. Sorry. Just couldn’t resist. I do have“beach books”. I just call them “bedtime books”.
Reading is both my vocation and my joy, but I tend to pick more comfortable books before I go to sleep. Because I need the semblance of a brain to read them, I do not choose most scholarly works when I am settling down for the night. What I do like are books with interesting styles, biographies of other writers (preferably crazier than I am), or anything with a good storyline.
A while back I found a short book by Jose Saramago called “Death with Interruptions”. Sound like a cheery read before going to sleep? Actually, it was a delight. His difficult-to-do-well, free form style would not have been acceptable for a new author in the US publishing world (fortunately he was Portuguese), but he was talented enough to carry it off with panache. The story is whimsical, filled with compassion and humor, and the short length lets the reader fall into the fictional world without having to emerge until the end. That was probably the only time I laughed about death.
Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. Now I’m “out”. I have a weakness for a good adventure story and I love Sharpe. He’s a bit of a rogue but still a nice guy and has really rotten luck with women. Kind of an interesting twist on the “new girl in every book” routine. With Sharpe, they either leave or die on him. Not exactly good male romantic escapes but the technique works. Cornwell writes fabulous battle scenes but not so gory that I have nightmares later.
Last beach book: anything by Andrea Camillari. For those of you who have watched the Commissario Montalbano series from MHz International Mysteries on PBS, you know how much fun this guy is and the fabulous the scenes of Sicily. Camillari writes taut little mysteries that are funny, poignant, and clever. His style never gets stale and the interaction between the characters evolves slowly and comfortably. Lots of food in the books too. What better way to fall asleep: filled with visions of Sicily, good meals, and the idea that justice really does reign even in the land of the Mafia.