Sunday, June 8, 2008

WHAT'S IN _YOUR_ BEACH-BAG?

Well, now, here's a question: What's a "beach read?" What's a good beach read? And what are some of your favorites of the species?

Once in awhile, I find OUTLANDER on someone's list of "great beach reads," but usually none of the other books. (This sticks in my mind, because one of the early public appearances I did when OUTLANDER was released, was a "Great Beach Read" program done with several other authors for a public library—wherein we were supposed to talk about our own books, but also give a list of other books we thought were great beach reads. I remember the occasion, because it's the first—and thankfully one of very few—occasion on which I forgot I was supposed to be somewhere. I was in fact shopping for bunk-beds with my husband—and my children all "turned" last month, being now 26, 24, and 22, so you know it was awhile ago—when he got a frantic call (he having one of the new-fangled car-phones) from his secretary, to the effect that the Glendale (I think) Public Library was looking for me, and why wasn't I on their stage? We rushed there instantly, and I made it in time to be last on the program, but still, Highly Traumatic. I shudder when I hear the words "Beach Read.")

Now, personally, I've always figured that "great beach read" is one of those left-handed compliments. It implies that the book is a page-turner, all right—but probably not something filled with Deep Meaning, as my husband says ("Does this have lots of Deep Meaning?" he asks, suspiciously, when I hand him a new excerpt to read. "Or does something actually happen?"). Nobody describes WAR AND PEACE as a great beach read (though in fact it is, size quite aside. It actually is a page-turner, though the translation makes a difference. I got an edition translated by someone whose first language was apparently French, resulting in male characters not infrequently threatening to give each other "a bang on the snout!" Which was mildly distracting. But I digress…).

The implication is that the book should be entertaining, but something you can easily put down in order to play volleyball, and it won't really matter if you doze off and let it fall on your stomach where it will absorb sun-tan lotion and all the pages become transparent. And when you leave the beach, you can toss it in the trash can if you've finished it, and into your trunk if you haven't, there to be ignored until next Thanksgiving, when you discover it while cramming your trunk with turkey, bags of fresh cranberries, and whatever other family-specific food you consider indispensable to the occasion (my stepmother's family traditionally serves buttered rutabagas at Thanksgiving. I consider this perverse, but as long as I'm not personally required to eat rutabagas—and no force of nature would compel me, I assure you—more power to them).

On the other hand—a beach read has the assurance of being entertaining, and of probably being popular. A beach read is something that everybody (in a given summer) is reading. Which is of course Highly Desirable, if you are the author of said book. I mean, if it comes right down to it, do you want the New York Times to say your book is "a brilliant, if depressing, portrait of humanity, filled with insights on dependency and longing,"—or do you want it to say, "#1" on the Bestsellers list? Yeah, me too.

(Mind, if anybody happens to want to look for Deep Meaning in my books, it's there [g]—no, really—but I do think there ought to be a Good Story on the uppermost layer of a book.)

Now, I personally am no judge of a beach read, because a) I read all the time, regardless of location, and b) I don't live near a beach, and c) if I did live near a beach, I wouldn't be sitting on it, reading. I hate sitting in the sun; it makes me sweaty and dizzy, and the last thing I'd do is read a book while doing it. But tastes differ.

IF we were to define a "beach read" simply as a book that's very entertaining, but "light" (in the literary-fiction sense of the word)—what would you pick? (Or if you define a beach read differently, how would you define it?)

The nearest equivalent of a "beach read" for me, is probably a "plane book." I.e., what you read on a plane to distract your mind from the knowledge that there is nothing under you but 30,000 feet of thin air (though my husband, who flies planes, assures me that air is really much more substantial than it appears). That would be things like Nora Roberts romances and futuristic mysteries, Michael Connelly thrillers, Janet Evanovich's comic romance/mysteries, Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries, John LeCarre' spy/intrigue novels, and the like (I gather I'm not alone in these preferences, since these are the books commonly found in airport bookstores). Not THE LOVELY BONES; I read half of that on a long flight to Sydney, left it on the plane, and never felt the urge to get another copy and read the rest of it. I know a number of folks loved it, but I thought it was hollow and mildly repellant—though I freely admit this impression may have had more to do with the effects of being on an airplane for fourteen hours, than with the book itself.

(I should note here that while I have referred to the books I read on planes as "toilet paper books," this is not a diss. It's because such books perform an indispensable function—but you use them only once.)

Speaking historically, though—it seems to me that many of the great "beach reads" of the last 15-20 years have indeed been "big" books: James Clavell's SHO-GUN (one of my all-time favorite books ever!) or TAI-PAN, Judith Krantz's SCRUPLES, PRINCESS DAISY, etc., James Michener's monster sagas, etc. These are books that would get you through an entire vacation.

I don't know whether it's the current economic climate affecting publishing (paper costs keep rising, as does the cost of shipping books), or whether there's a change in public taste, but you see fewer "big" books than you used to. (Mind, when a new "big" book appears, it gets a lot of attention—vide THE HISTORIAN, or MR. NORELL AND WHOEVER THE OTHER GUY WAS—on the sheer basis of size. The assumption being, I imagine, that if a publisher was willing to pay to print this, it must be good. Sometimes this assumption is true; sometimes not so much.) What's the "beach read" of this summer? (I've been so busy lately I haven't paid any attention to publishing news at all. I'm also neck-deep in the research for ECHO IN THE BONE, plus a "Lord John" short piece I'm doing for an anthology, that involves yet another chapter of the Seven Years War. My guess is that neither Francis Parkman's MONTCALM AND WOLFE, nor Kenneth Webb's THE GROWTH OF SCOTTISH NATIONALISM would be in most people's beach-bags.)

So…what's in your beach-bag?

115 comments:

  1. The Host by Stephenie Meyer is both my "beach read" AND my "airplane-on-the-way-to-the-beach-read." Here's hoping that it will be both page-turning and tghought-provoking.

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  2. Dear Rachel--

    Mm, yes, I think that's definitely a beach-read. I read the first half, but sort of lost interest; it was a good story, and while the premise isn't original (being a cross between INVASION OF THE BODY-SNATCHERS and I AM LEGEND), it does have an interesting twist--but both the characters and the prose were too slickly superficial--I kept sliding off the page, rather than sinking into it; probably just my mood. I've seen a _lot_ of people lately who thoroughly enjoyed it, though--hope you will, too!

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  3. Pardon my question, Diana, but would that be Keith Webb's "The Growth of Nationalism in Scotland"? I did a search for "Kenneth Webb" and couldn't find him anywhere...

    Thanks :)

    Muse

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  4. I don't think of it as "beach reading" but instead "summer reading." I don't read for fun during the academic year too much--mostly read stuff for my classes or research for my work. So my fun summer reading? Honestly--your _Outlander_ is my first choice. I just finished it the other day...again. :-) I'm actually waiting for my Stephenie Meyer books to arrive, those are great summer fun reads. I'm currently looking for new fun stuff to read, so I will be watching the comments closely. :-)

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  5. What are my beach reads? Hmmm...I go and sit on the beach at the tip of the thumb in Michigan every year for eight days. I pack at least 12 books and sit for oh...8 or 9 hours at a time and read. THAT is what I call a vacation. And for those of you who have never experienced the beaches of the Great Lakes, they are nothing like any ocean beach in the world. The sand is clean, the water is cold, the breeze is cool and it's rare that one gets all sweaty and hot and disgusting, but I digress...so, my beach reads are...

    Moning's Highlander series (not the Fever series)
    The Nine Tailors by Sayers
    Outlander
    Anne Gracie's Perfect series
    and maybe one or two new ones from an author I haven't tried yet.

    Since when I'm not writing, I'm reading, I want to return to the books I love and am content with when I'm supposed to be on vacation.

    I'm not looking for anything deep and meaningful though in their own right, each book mentioned has something meaningful for me. I'm looking for a read I can relax and lose myself in, that I can imagine myself into and that yes, I can put down if I have to (though I don't do volleyball ;) ). In essence, since my DH spends the days with his dad (since we usually vacation one of the two weeks they do) I'm looking for a good friend to spend the day at the beach with. Those particular books just happen to be the 'best' ones I have. And when it comes time to put them back in my bag and leave the beach behind for the day, I can set them down because I know all of them almost by heart.

    So, those are my regular beach reads...

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  6. Well, I think that Sophie Kinsella's books are perfect "beach reads" They're all funny, romantic and "relaxing" to read.

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  7. The closest I'll get to a beach this summer will be a convention in Anaheim, and my "plane read" is a surprising one (for me, anyway): Miyuki Miyabe's brilliant Brave Story, translated by Alexander O. Smith. It's an 816-page novel for younger readers, the winner of this year's Batchelder award for translation of a children's book, and a second reading for me within a year. The first chunk is a challenge for some, but once Wataru is in the land of Vision, watch out -- you will be completely sucked in. Love this book!

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  8. I think "beach reads" should be lighter in tone, preferably humorous. Something like "Devil Wears Prada", maybe. Not "great literature", but entertaining enough to keep you occupied for a few hours. Disposable, as you said.

    As for Deep Meaning -- well, as you know from the discussions going on on the Compuserve board the last couple of weeks, I love that sort of thing [vbg], but I wouldn't want it in either a beach read or an airplane read. Ditto for really emotionally intense scenes. I want something fun and relaxing to read on beach or plane, not something that stirs up really strong feelings. (If I took OUTLANDER to the beach -- or on a plane, for that matter -- I'd be careful to stop before the Wentworth section. Much too dark and depressing for a beach read, and far too emotionally intense to read where other people are around [g].)

    Karen

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  9. Dear Muse--

    Keith! Right you are. I hadn't the book in front of me when typing, but yes, that's the one. Thanks!

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  10. Dear Karen and nightsmusic--

    Absolutely. To every book, there is a season. [g] And the books we turn to for comfort, friendship, or escape are as (or more) important than the ones we read for mental challenge, education, or novel [sic] insights.

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  11. I, too, read all the time, and rarely go to the beach (I lived on Maui for 19 years and rarely went even then--did NOT like to get sand in my ears and I sunburn easily), the following are some (other) authors I've enjoyed immensely, and they make good reading any time: Robertson Davies, Robert B. Parker, Elizabeth Hand, Janet Turner Hospital. And thanks, Diana, for your great reads!
    Judy

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  12. I, too, read all the time, and rarely go to the beach (I lived on Maui for 19 years and rarely went even then--did NOT like to get sand in my ears and I sunburn easily), the following are some (other) authors I've enjoyed immensely, and they make good reading any time: Robertson Davies, Robert B. Parker, Elizabeth Hand, Janet Turner Hospital. And thanks, Diana, for your great reads!
    Judy

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  13. Dear Judy--

    Oh, did you read Elizabeth Hand's MORTAL LOVE? I think that's the only one of hers I've come across, but I thought it was (literally) marvelous.

    Totally with you on Robertson Davies, too--I've been wanting for some time to go back and re-read his two great trilogies.

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  14. I tend to prefer 'Outlander' (and the rest, as well as Lord John) about halfway through the summer. This is after I've finished the "beach read" list, when I'd really like something a bit more substantial, but before I have to -- I mean, get to -- read the likes of Virgil and Thomas Hardy. (Yay college!)

    The summer list usually begins with 'The Devil Wears Prada', 'The Nanny Diaries', and similar fluffy and unchallenging books. I'll also throw in the occasional fashion magazine for research purposes. (The things we can call research when writing a novel!) :)

    Right now? Well, "research" and Curtis Sittenfeld's 'Prep'.

    Have a great week! :)

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  15. I live only about 4 hours from the beach, so we've made frequent trips to the gulf, and I am always armed with plenty of reading material. I've made enough mistakes in choice of beach reading to know how to select properly nowadays. For instance, just because it has the word "beach" in the title, does not necessarily make it a good ~beach read~. I once learned that the hard way when I chose to take ON THE BEACH along for a trip to Destin. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, but had to rush to the resort gift shop for a horror novel to wash the heavy cloud of depression from my brain. Also, a good beach read should be ~light~ reading in the literal sense of the word, so as not to give you a terrible case of book-hand-cramp while trying to read in various positions on a lounge chair, beach chair, or beach towel. As in, paperbacks, _not_ hard backs. I discovered this while trying to maneuver around my chair with a marguerita and a hardback copy of Frank Peretti's MONSTER. So, paperback definitely! Preferably upbeat, or at least with a happy ending...it ~is~ a vacation, after all. I'm looking over at my bookshelf & a couple of books I spot that once accompanied me as beach reads: WHITE OLEANDER by Janet Fitch (much better than the movie), and A MOST COMMON DEGREE OF POPULARITY by Kathleen Gilles Siedel. Of course, I've been known to take along weird things on occasion. I read MADAME BOVARY at the beach. (Well it ~was~ paperback.) And the odd Dean Koontz here or there.

    Tess

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  16. Oops. The title by Seidel is A MOST UNCOMMON DEGREE OF POPULARITY. Geez, and I thought I proof-read it well enough.

    Tess

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  17. I just picked up Outlander again. It sits (along with the rest on the series) on my night stand waiting to be picked up when I have nothing else to read. It is like your best friend, always there when you need it! When I finish a book and can't get to the book store, I just move through the series. Hard to believe it has been 15 years since I first picked it up. Don't even know how many times I have re-read them. Anyway, my most recent summer reads are Ariana Franklin's The Serpant's Tale (great characters, interesting bits of history and a mystery to solve) and Kelley Armstrong's Personal Demon (fun, fantasy/mystery/romance with a good sense of humor). Give them a try!

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  18. My Beach Read list this year includes Blind Fall by Christopher Rice, Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, The Appeal by John Grisham , and Voyager in audiobook format. I'm currently listening to/reading Dragonfly in Amber. I first read this one on my 25th anniversary trip to Negril, Jamaica. I made DH stop on the way to the airport to get it because I'd finished Outlander on the way!

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  19. I agree about reading *on* the beach - impossible cos it's too hot, you can't lie on your back and read cos the sun gets in your eyes, and if you lie on your stomach the whole time you either fall asleep and wreck your tan, or both :-)
    I rarely, if ever, take a new book on vacation. How could I risk being disappointed and having nothing to read? I usually lug a few books, so that I have something to meet whatever mood I'm in. And since I'm currently on vacation :-), let's see... I've got:
    Fiery Cross and ABOSAA (since we drove through North Carolina and I needed guide books. Would you believe that *every word* out of the tour guide's mouth at Alamance was something I already knew, and had seen through Roger's/Jamie's/Claire's eyes...)
    What's Wrong With the World by GK Chesterton
    Stories by John Buchan
    The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
    Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence (young adult book)

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  20. I think of -beach reads- as kind of like the books I would read in college when I was really tired of reading only homework that I was assigned to read, and my brain needed a break. Back then, I loved Anne McCaffrey's books, both her Pern series and others. Recently, I've liked Abe's "The Dream Thief" and Brae's "A great and terrible beauty". Teen fantasies and trashy romances tend to be my "take a break" books.

    -Kathy

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  21. You know, another really fun series is Alexis Morgan's Paladins...yummy men...though Moning's Highlanders are drool-worthy and when you're on the beach, isn't that the kind of man you want to see? ;-)

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  22. I also love the Nora Roberts romances. I also really enjoy Julia Quinn. Her Bridgerton books are both smart and funny. They are about the Bridgerton family, eight books in all. The first in the series is "The Duke and I" the second, and my favorite, is "The Viscount Who Loved Me". This summer I'll be doing a re-read/re-listen of the "Outlander" books. I also plan to read some Anthony Hillerman mysteries. I've only recently started reading his books on a friend's recommendation. So far, I'm really enjoying them.

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  23. My "summer reads" this year I'm not sure will fit the criteria. I've been swallowed by Patrick O'Brian this year, and am eagerly awaitng the 4th Aubry/Maturin (which I hope is the Mauritius Command) from the library. And I just discovered that there is a lexicon! I'm hoping that will help me keep all the nautical stuff straight between reads. I did just start BEACH MUSIC by Pat Conroy in the interim, which does have beach in the title, but seems anything but light- in typical Conroy fashion. My cousin gave me A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR several years ago, telling me it was THE beach read in the Hamptons that summer, but I havn't gotten to it yet- but it's at the top of the TBR pile. A few Rankin Rebus books will actually come to Cape Cod with me- along with a zillion kid books to make the drive do-able. Other than those, I'm open to suggestion and taking notes!
    As usual, I'm all over the place. These will probably only get me to my birthday in July- depending on how many Rankin and O'Brian I actually bring home. And I do love Irving....

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  24. I spent some time at the beach today reading "Simpsonology" - it's a wonderful book about The Simpsons and sociology. Interesting and laugh-out-loud funny at parts, but with some actual sociological research thrown in.

    In past summers, I've reads parts of all of the Outlander books at the beach. (But I'm always *extremely* careful to keep them dry and sand-free!)

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  25. I just discovered Sharon Shinn's Archangel series and would include that in the list; Archangel, Jovah's Angel, and The Alleluia Files.

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  26. zuzu-you must be a court reporter (the convention in Anaheim?) Me too!

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  27. Dear Amy--

    Oh, does Ariana Franklin have a new one? I _loved_ MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH, and her CITY OF SHADOWS was good, too, though completely different in atmosphere. I'll go right now and look for THE SERPANT'S (is that the correct spelling?) TALE.

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  28. I just got myself safely off my recent Jane Austen jag when I very sadly fell into a PG Wodehouse fixation. The curse of the constant reader -- I fall for a writer I like, and they are inevitably prolific in their talents, so it takes some time to get through the entire oevre...

    I need to hie myself into the twenty-first century soon.

    ~kc

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  29. My summer reading thus far consists of re-reading Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series, in preparation for her newest, which came out a few days ago. I'd never take a hardcover to the beach, though - too heavy, and I'd manage to coat it with sunscreen and sand. ;)

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  30. My Kindle has changed my poolside reading [I'm not a fan of beaches, too much sun, sand and salt] dramatically. Now I CAN shlep the giant historical tome without a problem [although some of my favorite writers, such as Dorothy Dunnett, haven't been Kindle-ized yet]. I tend to read non-fiction, and listen to "light" [are Edward Rutherfurd's Irish saga and Bryce Courtenay's "Power of One" "light reading"?] fiction. In recent years, have found myself listening to well-read audiobooks more and more, simply because I can crochet or embroider at the same time. Living as I do in Israel, ordering books is expensive and takes time and fights with the local postal authorities who often want me to pay both VAT and Customs. And my handbag already weighs a ton and I'm not keen on another cortisone injection in my poor shoulder that bears the handbag weight!

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  31. And, oh yeah, one of Kindle's advantages is that you carry a whole library with you--so I can have the entire OUTLANDER series, and jump back and forth as the fancy strikes me. Want something frivolous? Got it! Want something with "meat"? Got that too....

    [BTW, Diana, you know me as Metpatpetet on Compuserve]

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  32. [kc] I need to hie myself into the twenty-first century soon.

    ~~~WHY, for heaven's sake? I find it bad enough to be living in it :-) !

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  33. Dear kc--

    Oh, what a treat! PG Wodehouse is one of my "role models," as well as one of my favorite reads. He had something like 90-100 books, I think--though some of them are both out of print and difficult to find. I'm pretty sure you can get hold of virtually all the Bertie and Jeeves stories, though. (Must dig mine out for a reread!)

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  34. Diana I agree completely with what you said about "The Host". Even though I didnt start out with high expectations, I forced myself to turn every page through to the very end. (which means Im not lovin it) Anyways, the Outlander series is not a beach read at all... but an EVERYDAY read! Seriously if Im bored I pull out one of your writings and get a Jamie fix.

    My summer read so far has been the Mark of The Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers. Great books with great characters.

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  35. I cannot say that I have special beach books. I can read anything anywhere. If I want to I can dive into the book and ignore my surroundings. And although I’d rather have some shade (because full sun on white pages is rather blinding) I don’t pick books that are an especially light read (only maybe concerning the actual kilogram-weight, but even then, if a book is good I do not mind to carry it).
    And I’m one of the lucky people who always know what they have read/happened in a book before, no matter where or how long I stopped.
    But I have to admit that a “light” read in combination with sun and fun is a tremendous mood-lifter. :)

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  36. Nightmusic I totally agree with. Moning's Highlander series is great.
    I read all the time so I have no real beach read. At the moment I'm in the world of the Spiderwicks. Dunno if anyone of you reads that kind of books but I think I'm much younger than most people here.

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  37. Well, this has nothing to do with anything, but rutabagas can actually be pretty good. :D My suspicious American husband was terrified when I announced that a rutabaga casserole is an indispensable part of my Christmas menu, but he now freely admits to liking it. So maybe you should give the poor vegetable a chance, eh? ;)

    As for summer reads, I just finished The Historian, which was a pretty frustrating read, and I plan to give Kate Mosse's Labyrinth another chance sometime soon. (I started it on a plane once, but never got beyond page 30.)

    I just stumbled on this blog the other day, while looking for an update on An Echo in the Bone. Not until next year, you say? *sigh*

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  38. Oh, Julia, thank you!! I was looking at all the titles people were posting and thought...gee, all these literary stories and I love the 'fluff' which, if you read Moning, isn't entirely fluff, that's not what I mean but...her books aren't War and Peace (and that's not why I read them ;) ) In fact, I almost have them all memorized, but read them in order.

    As for Rutabagas, my father's mother made the meanest pasty around and they had rutabagas in them and they were heaven...though admittedly, I've not had them any other way. Aside from fish heads and bugs though, I'm always pretty much willing to try a new food. :)

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  39. Dear Diana,

    Austria doesn't even have a sea [g] but when I was at the beach, I read books from Nora Roberts (like the Key-trilogy) and from Karen Marie Moning KISS OF THE HIGHLANDER and the other books from her Highlander-serie. I also read BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE [g] around Christmas when we were in Albania on the beach.

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  40. Assuming my order comes in time (and that I don't devour it on the way to the beach), I'll be reading Rob's first book. I read Eyes of the World and loved it. I'm also eyeing Harlan Coben's Just One Look and Promise Me because I really enjoy the Simon Bolitar series.

    As much as I might not enjoy a particular novel, though, simply trashing it or allowing it to be soaked with sunscreen positively gives me the heebie jeebies!

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  41. I live 30 minutes from the beach..... never go because I have the perfect skin for cancer. IMO, The DaVinci Code was the quintessential beach read -- fun, a page-turner, and everybody read it that summer. Personally, I'd take Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell,
    or Jasper Fforde. Oh, and definitely my iPod.

    Midge

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  42. I like the True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. its a childrens book. but you can hear the waves and feel the sea while sitting at the beach reading.
    this was when I was younger and the beach meant vacation. three small kids...no vacation for mom, ever. so.. I think I would love to re-read Voyager since a lot of it is on the sea. smell the air and really appreciate the descriptions. During my second read of Outlander this past winter, I made Cockaleekie soup over and over so that I had a smell to remember when I read they were eating it. It is a wonderfully comforting smell.

    to me.. a good beach read is not one you can just put down. Its a book that carries you away and a book that you are emotionally involved in.

    Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh is a phenomenal beach read and helps to re-center me.

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  43. I'm currently reading the first Lord John book and find it really entertaining (I do love this character and since I've read all six Outlander books it's the next logical step) . Though I agree with you on the dizziness in the direct sun thing. Shade is my friend. Air conditioners are heaven sent. Maybe I'll start over with the Outlander series this summer since your books are definitely not "toilet paper books". I have a book on my shelf called "Kristin Lavransdatter" that I could tackle too if I don't mind a deep depression.

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  44. While I rarely read on the beach; I do read often for fun. I'm on my umteenth turn of the Outlander Series, and cannot locate DRUMS which infuriates me; I'll need to get a new one. I usually re-read Sara Donati's Wilderness series at least once a year. Summer reading for me is light, fun, and entertaining. I do occasionally throw in a biography (my most recent was Jane Boylen's, my favorite, though, is Athenais). I am currently working through one of Dianna's recommendeds, I think it's Jack Whyte and his Arthurian series. The library has them only in bits though. - Have a lovely summer!

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  45. I am an avid reader but, with two young kids, seldom have time to get thoroughly engrossed before someone yells from the opposite side of the house, "Mommmmmmy, he hit me." So I look forward to a week at the beach to tune everyone else out and dive into a good book, or three or four. I'm all caught up with all my favorites (Diana, of course, plus Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, Robert Ludlum, Brad Thor, some James Patterson). This summer I'm going to try getting through the Kathy Reichs "Temperance Brennan" series. I'm always looking for authors who are similar to my favorites and found a website that helps.

    http://www.literature-map.com/

    You can type in the name of your favorite author(s) and it will send back a mapping of other authors who are considered similar.

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  46. I don't usually post but I wanted to leave my two cents. :)
    Right now, I am re-reading a series by Mercedes Lackey called The Five Hundred Kingdoms-the first book is The Fairy Godmother. If you like fairy tales and fantasy, they are good. I also like Jodi Picoult's books for the most part (have only read a few but I pick one up when I can). My favorite book of hers is My Sister's Keeper. Also, Nineteen Minutes and The Pact. I don't usually like "law" books but hers are different. I will also be reading another Diana L. Paxson book this summer in the Avalon series (fantasy).

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  47. Not sure if you came by my post on your blog regarding my summer reading experience (with Outlander) while on the beach in Croatia... well, I tend to become completely absorbed with my reading material. Since I often spend a good 4 hours/day for 15 days on the beach, I don't bother bringing more than 1 book with me. I'm a fast reader. So, I usually visit the local high school's supply store and pick up every english book the kids will be reading (Author's tend to include for example, D.H. Lawrence, G. Eliot, T.Hardy, J. Swift, Butler, J. Austen...). Their novels become my, quite, intense "beach reads". Nice to hear from you again Diana!

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  48. Hello Diana,

    Vacation reading for me is definately not at the beach. As someone who loves to go to faraway and exotic places I spend plenty of time in airports and on planes. I also carry 2-4 paperbacks with me depending how long the trip. Usually, there will be several mysteries or spy thrillers, a historical novel and possibly a biography or history book concerning the place I am traveling to. One quirk I have is that i always take a Bernard Cornwell book on my travels, usually a Richard Sharpe novel but sometimes a book from one of his other series. Last year when I went to Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia I had Dragonfly in Amber with me. When I was in New Zealand a few years ago I bought most of the Outlander after I finished the first book. Favorite authors I like to take besides Cornwell or you include: Ken Follett, James Lee Burke, Robert B. Parker and C.S. Forrester's Hornblower stories. I also like to take books that are set in part or in total in the places I am visiting. I remember taking Memoirs of a Geisha when I visited Japan and Graham Green's Ugly American when I was in Vietnam.

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  49. Dear Madeleine--

    I'm delighted that you liked Rob's book so much!

    As for Harlen Coben, his books are excellent--but his one-off thrillers are quite different from his Myron Bolitar series (I really liked those, too, but I suppose they must not have sold as well as the stand-alones do). Still, I think you'll enjoy them.

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  50. Dear Scott--

    Oh, if you like Hornblower, you really must try Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books! Same territory--Napoleonic War British navy, rise of a young officer's career--but much different (better, I think) in characterization, dialogue and atmosphere. Really wonderful stuff.

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  51. On my last trip to the beach I read The Virgin's Lover by Phillipa Gregory. But I don't read out on the beach - I save it to read before bed (not sure if I could sleep otherwise!). I have actually read Outlander at the beach, too. I think, at this point, I have probably read a book from that series in nearly every place I've been in the last 5 years. I have read it on a plane, I have read it in the rain. I've read it at my in-laws' house, I've listened while I cleaned the house. I've loaned it to all my friends, and this is where my comment ends. ;) (sorry, don't know what brought that on!)

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  52. My summer reading isn't for pleasure, unfortunately, as it's for my American Women Writers course. I recently read Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and yesterday finished Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. After those books, I certainly need a good beach read to balance the melancholy! I'm thinking Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton sounds like a good place to start. :)

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  53. I have just started re-reading the Myron Bolitar series. I couldn't bring myself to read Harlan Coben's latest - the subject matter was too depressing - must have been the mood I was in at the time. I am a book junkie. I have a little notebook in which I write the titles of all the upcoming books I want to read, their publication dates, and ISBN numbers; then I put them on the reserve list at the library. The librarians think I am quite amusing! I just finished Elizabeth George's "Careless in Red" (terrific) and am waiting for "I Shall Not Want" by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Anything by Daniel Silva or Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody, Egyptologist)is greatly anticipated, also. Of course, I buy the books I know I'll read again and again ... and naturally have a full set of the "Outlander" series. Which I have only been through twice, since I am a late bloomer!

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  54. Dear Diana,
    The correct title for the newest release from Ariana Franklin is in fact The Serpent's Tale. Sorry, not the best at spelling! I haven't read the City of Shadows. It must not be a part of the series she started with Mistress of the Art of Death, then? I'll have to look for it.
    Amy

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  55. Well, I don't really have a set list except for what I'm reading for my book club. This month's selection is called "The Omnivore's Dilemma." I gave it forty pages and turned it back in. Not exactly a page-turner... Next month I'm hosting and the book I selected is "Driving Over Lemons" by Chris Stewart. You could call it a "beach read" I guess. I enjoyed it. :) The next book on my own list is "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky. My dear husband actually gave it to me for my birthday. :)

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  56. Once upon a time, the chance to sit on a beach soaking up sun, serenaded by rhythmic susurrus of the waves lapping the sand and the high, thin cry of the gulls, all the while being blissfully absorbed in a good book was my idea of nirvana.

    I rather avoid long periods in the sun now, but still, the habit persists in always taking Really Good Books (or at least, books I hope will be Really Good) on vacation to be read in the car, on the plane, or wherever I happen to find time and solitude.

    So to me, a good beach read is a book I want to get lost in, and I would never treat it as a throwaway. All of your books fall into the category of good beach reads (though not in hardcover, due to the sheer size {g}). Which is, from my perspective, a high compliment and nothing left-handed about it.

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  57. usually the beaches we go to here in norcal are to windy to sit and read at, my beach bag is really my lunch bag as i read during my break every day :) i just finished 'no time to hide' by your brother in law, i liked it very much. and now i am going to reread the harry potter books, and once i finish that i must tackle my tbr pile next to my bed!

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  58. Marion Zimmer Bradleys Avalon books are great.I think the series has nine books.
    I like so many authors like Philip Pullman, James Patterson, Kinley MacGregor,Valerie Lord, Julianne Lee, Douglas Adams, Patricia Cornwell, Elizabeth George and Wolfgang Hohlbein (is he known outside of Germany).

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  59. My first summer beach read at a mere 15 years old was The Stand by Stephen King. It took me the whole summer to finally finish it, while looking after two monsters...um children at the beach. It was good enough to keep me reading day after day, but it was ok if I missed a day or two here or there. And, it did end up with lots of sand in the middle, only to be packed away under my bed for years. The Outlander series is one of my closest friends. I can pick up any one of them and open it and just start reading. My husband gets that "OH NO!" look on his face when he sees one in my hand. Then I get the question of how many times I have read and re-read them, and I tell him he should read them, because he just doesn't understand! They bring me joy and happiness, tears and sadness. They are truly a saga for all seasons! Thanks Diana!

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  60. I realize this must happen to you relatively often, but I'm completely fan-girling on your blog. I've read all of your Outlander Series (thus far) and I'm currently reading Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and I almost love John more than I love Jamie, if one can feel a tight emotional bond to a fictional character.

    As for vacation reading, I usually go for the cotton candy reading - Silhouette romance novels you can eat up in a couple hours, that kind of thing. That said, I usually pack my vacations with activity, so the only real reading I do is in bed before I go to sleep, and I like something fluffy with no real nutritive value. I love a mystery romance, (think Elizabeth Lowell or the better Nora Roberts novels (more mystery, less shagging), or even Jude Deveraux, if I want it completely over-the-top 80s style). I also love craft lit, and I'm really enjoying some of Knit Lit that's so popular of late - Kate Jacobs's Friday Night Knitting Club while semi-predictable, is still relatable in its way, and Knitting Under the Influence was a hoot.

    Anyway, when it's vacation, cotton candy gets my vote.

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  61. Well, since I also don't have a beach bag, and since here where I live it is still trying to be winter (ack!) the most I can say is what am I reading now...I like a good book, sometimes with deep meaning, even for airplane rides.

    Currently, I'm reading The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay and will be reading Leif Enger's new book next.

    I'm reading My Sister's Keeper to my 12 yr old, and we're both enjoying it. Anything by Jodi Piccoult!

    Also, for a clever read, Time Traveler's Wife.

    But probably for easy meaningless reads, my favourite author is Maeve Binchy.

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  62. During the summer of 2001 we were going to the beach, and, since I had read The Fiery Cross by some author or other, I picked up this first book by her also. After all, it was shorter; so easier to carry. So I really did read Outlander at the beach. The first time.

    Good beach read authors: Jennifer Cruisie (modern romance), Lois McMaster Bujold (science fiction, fantasy), Laura Kinsale (historical romance), Ellis Peters (historical whodunits).

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  63. I'm on a vampire/paranormal romance kick right now, and I discovered the genre while picking books for a beach trip last November. I had no idea romances were divided into so many categories, having not ventured down those aisle very often since my teen years.

    I love J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series - I refer to them as book crack - and have in my TBR pile by the bed her Lover Enshrined, as well as Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, some she-werewolf romance that was terrible (wish I wouldn't have spent money on that one - they never got to the romance part - she just had met the object of her affection at the END of the book), and a non-vampire book - Camp Camp, a reminisce about sleep-away camps in the eighties.

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  64. 2 summers ago I read the Mayfair witch series by Anne Rice and got sucked right in. Never found another series I got so involved in until I discovered Outlander.

    I also love the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton..figures since I do love those vampires.

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  65. My taste for beach reading might be a bit idiosyncratic but anyway:
    When I was preparing my first essay at university I read scientific articles on "Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" while sitting on the beach watching the kids. Another summer I re-read all of P Cornwalls Scarpetta thrillers in chronological order. Reason for this was that I earlier had read them in totally wrong order. And it is a it confusing when characters are young children or - worst - dead in one book and than grown upp or alive in the next one you read! But if nothing else is at hand I grab a battered old copy of a Barbara Cartland romance. No worry about coffee och sunoil stain then! Also perfect for bubble-bath-reading!

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  66. Great Question! I have been wondering what your all time favorite books are. As in: "If you were stranded on a beach and could only have 10 books from now until forever, what would they be?" That would be quite literally a "Beach Read."

    I don't mean to sound predictable here, but my favorite (and also ONLY) beach read is THE BEACH by Alex Garland. If you haven't read it, I think you should. He is one of my absolute favorite authors even though the lazy bum has only written 2 books that I can find. Rumor has it that he spends all his time playing video games and inhaling...organic substances. I wish he'd get off his tush and find some inspiration for another work. I am not patient. . .

    Obviously, I read it because to me, a beach read has to fit the surroundings. There's no way I could read about snow storms or careers when I'm lounging. It is also physically appealing to me because there are always little grains of sand in between the pages from years past. Sort of nostalgic I guess. Anyway, that's my book.

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  67. I highly recommend the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray -- an unusual mix of adventure and history infused with magic. A great way to pass the time on a plane or a beach! Another page turner where the ending was hard to predict: The Thirteenth Tale. I'm reading The Historian now, and while it's a little heavier (literally and figuratively), it's thoroughly engaging.

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  68. I'm studying to be a school librarian so my beach reads this summer are all young adult novels. There are some really great ones out there--The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (who I find absolutely brilliant and one of the few translated books that doesn't read like a translation)and the completely mesmerizing (and I'm still not quite sure why) Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer.

    So on my list this summer are Uglies, Pretties and Specials by Scott Westerfeld. Kids seem to be crazy about them. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and then I will try to get in some good adult novels, which at the moment I feel kind of out of the loop as to what to read!

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  69. Thanks to all - I've got some great suggestions here. Strangely enough, I got my first beach bag read from my 14 year old son - The Book of Lost Things. Pretty dark stuff, but I couldn't put it down. If I didn't have 2 other younger kids, I could probably have read it in one day - and I probably would be at the beach, too!

    Bedelia

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  70. Diana - this is obviously not the right place to leave this comment but I haven't found a place for this per se.

    I was noticing while reading the version of Lord John and the Hellfire Club (which was appended at the end of the s/c edition of LJ and the Private Matter) that that version (in the LJ and the Private Matter) had quite a bit more detail in areas than the version in the h/c LJ anthology.

    Also the s/c version was more revealing in the conversation John has at the end that Harry overhears (in which the conversation is clearer that John may also be gay) and the s/c version had more detail re John being overcome by the drugs - and more detail describing the ceremony.

    I actually prefer the version in the s/c with LJ and the Private Matter (and I've likely sent people out frantically to compare and contrast the versions)

    (Yes I am complusive - and as an interesting aside - Henry James did this as well ie re-edit his works)

    Also in the LJ and the Succubus - there is a line in the original version published in the sci-fi anthology about soldiers dreams being important and in the LJ anthology in that paragragh it states "soldier's dreams about Jamie Fraser" which makes no sense - and I think those words should follow "dreams" in that paragraph where it refers to John's dreams "about Jamie Fraser" - I would assume)

    Andrea

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  71. I just read 'Touchstone' by Laurie R King, which was really good.

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  72. Since he has been in the news lately as the writer picked by Ian Fleming's family to pen the next James Bond book (Devil May Care), I am reminded that Sebastian Faulks' book "Birdsong" is one of my favorites. It is historical (set in WWI), has great passion between well-developed characters, and stays with you long after you finish it. It is one of the few books other than Diana's that I have read multiple times. I have read one other of his works, The Girl at the Lion d'Or, but it didn't capture me the way Birdsong did.

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  73. Ah, summer reads *sigh* It's winter here in Oz but that doesn't stop me reading!

    Agree with nightmusic's suggestion of Moning's Highlander series - they are especially the types you want to see on the beach ;) Time Traveller's Wife is one of my alltime favs - it was our first book club book and one for discussing from so many angles.

    I've tried Donati's Wilderness series, as BIG books so you don't have to lugg too many beachside, but they are too easy to put down, then forget to pick up again.

    But Outlander and Voyager are always on my nightstand for picking up at any time and starting from a random page and be lost in the story before you know it!

    But now I have lots of suggestions to get me through winter!

    And excuse my Aussie-ness, but what's rutabagas?

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  74. jenq...

    Yeah, wouldn't you just die if you saw one of those Highlanders walking down the...oh, wait! You asked a question and darn, I got sidetracked...

    A rutabaga is also called a Swedish Turnip and it's a tuber in that family. And there are very few ways to cook them that taste good but, if you were lost in the wilderness and only had those to live on, you could for a long time. Very nutritious but then again, things that are...taste awful...much of the time. :)

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  75. I don't consider your books beach reads at all, but then again I feel the same way about sitting on a beach as you do, and usually I'm eating Cheetos or some other salty snack laced with sand.

    Now, I do bring your books (paperbacks only)on the plane for many reasons...

    I hate flying, and there is something about a red headed Scotsman that makes me forget I'm going to plunge into the earth and an alarmingly high speed.

    Time goes by so fast when ever I'm reading a Gabaldon book, and that's a very good thing on a plane.

    If the person beside me is a reader, I would say 75% of them have read your book, and if not, I have them buying it verra soon!

    M&M
    I thought I was the only one that read both Scruples and Princess Daisy. *g*

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  76. Is anyone here familiar with GA Henty and his Bonnie Prince Charlie and Culloden? Is it a good read? Is it beach worthy?

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  78. TRIANGLE by Katharine Weber. A beautifully-crafted novel that has to do with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York. You really need to read it twice.

    Sue

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  79. Hey Romi, Julia/Julie is a friend of mine. I'll delicately pass along your comment.

    Diana, I am making the assumption that you personally would not be offended by my recommendation here, although the publishing companies might be. . . If you have a problem, please let me know and I'll happily delete.

    All others, since we are all readers and this is a reading thread, a great place to swap your "toilet paper" books is paperback swap. You'll notice Diana's books are ALWAYS in demand there, in other words, people who own Diana's books tend not to give them up. Anyway this is a great resource for those of us who usually spend tons on books and then don't know what to do with them. I'm an addict for this great resource.

    Disclaimer: I get swap credits if you decide you like to swap too. Swap Your Books Here

    I'm about to go on a long overdue vacation/second honeymoon and will be taking about four swapped TP books with me.

    Thanks for the recommendations. I'll be adding some to my list!

    -Candy

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  80. I agree that my beach reading is usually lighter than my "winter reading", but it still needs to tell a fine story. Maeve Binchy's books are a fine example of this.

    On the other hand, you can never go wrong with re-reading a well cherished novel, no tmatter how serious it may be. Like a previous commenter,I think "Madame Bovary" is great for camping trips. And "The Grapes of Wrath" is perfect for ANY situation. (So says the lady who has read it twenty times in as many years!)

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  81. Hi Megan,

    I'm also taking an adolescent literature course this summer. Books on my reading list include Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Holes, Speak, Bronx Masquerade, Whale Talk, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Crossing the Wire and Catcher in the Rye.

    I'm a middle school librarian and the kiddos (and me too!) absolutely love the Uglies/Pretties series and of course the Twilight series. I recently got one of the 8th grade language arts teachers hooked on all things Bella and Edward.

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  82. I get goosebumps whenever I find a group discussing their favorite reads. I can't stay out of the water -- literally, so beach reads never work for me. Give me a screened in porch with comfy oversized wicker furniture and I'm there with an armload of books. :)

    I saw that nightmusic mentioned Moning -- oh yeah. An someone else mentioned reading Laurie King's Touchstone. I thoroughly enjoy her stand alones, particularly Folly.

    Over the years I have enjoyed a summer vacation spent reading Leon Uris -- especially Exodus and Armageddon. Also Herman Wouk's Winds of War. And of course Patricia Cornwell's early novels, and Kathy Reich.

    The Thornbirds -- the year that Richard Chamberlain starred in the TV series -- oh my. That was a 'hot' summer. And Sho-Gun.

    And there have been some cool nonfiction. I adore the title (and the book)"The Island of Lost Maps" -- I think it is by Miles Harvey. And Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried." And the Orchid one. Not Orchid Thief, but the nonfiction one.
    "Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy" by Eric Hansen. Any book that starts with a rumination about the sound of a body dropping from a tree, has my attention. :)

    DG

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  84. My 'summer reads' is where I try out new authors and if I like their books, they get added to my 'must haves'. If not, they get lost in my trunk waiting for the next Goodwill dropoff. I have found many, many authors during my 'summer reads' and the best one was of course yours with Outlander years ago. Kathleen

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  85. This blog is like having my own personal library. I have so many slips of papers with author's names that I will have to organize just to see what I have.

    I am not a beach or poolside reader. I am to much of a people watcher. I have to confess that I do use a book to disguise my gawking. I don't want to get whopped oover the head if someome caught me staring, so the bigger the book the better.

    It's according how long a flight is if I read a book on a plane. Sometimes magazines are all that is needed. I'm usally doing the old head bob before we get off the ground anyway.

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  86. Every book I read could be called a Beach Read since I live two blocks from the ocean and can see it from my front yard. I don't do much reading on the beach, though, since I'm very fair-skinned and have to be careful about skin cancer. Plus I much prefer a comfortable chair in an air conditioned room with plenty of cold iced tea at hand for reading. I am currently enthralled by S.M. Stirling's Emberverse series: Dies the Fire, The Protector's War and A Meeting at Corvalis. I read all three of those in much the same way I read Outlander through A Breath of Snow and Ashes - straight through hardly pausing to come up for air.
    I also love Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series and Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series. And when I need a break from Post Apocalyptic America, witches and wizards, I head for Spain and Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series (or his Saxon series or his King Arthur series). Any of those authors can keep me entertained for hours and hours, though I sometimes feel like I have a case of literary whiplash going from one to the other of them!

    I've just finished listening to the entire Outlander series on audio books for the second time, and I've read the book editions three times. I'm trying to gauge exactly when to start reading Outlander again so that when I finish the last page of ABOSAA I can immediately pick up Echo and continue without interruption. Tricky, that...

    I can see that I'm going to have to get a Kindle before Echo is released - I'll never be able to carry the whole series around with me in case I need to check something in the earlier books!

    Sylvia

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  87. I got so excited about hearing everyone's book suggestions and of offering my own that I created an account just for that purpose!
    For me, any book can be a beach read; if it gets too intense, I just put it down for a bit and take a walk down the beach!
    Let's see... books I've read/want to read this summer:
    I've just delved into the LJ series, so I have yet to read LJ AND THE HELLFIRE CLUB, so it is certainly high on my list. I've also been reading a lot of Tracy Chevalier, so next up is THE VIRGIN BLUE.
    I very highly recommend THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger, JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL and LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU by Susanna Clarke, and Sarah Dunant's books also make great beach reads.
    I was thinking about getting Stephanie Meyer's THE HOST, but thanks to all of your input I'll probably wait for paperback or the library.
    Reading all of these suggestions makes me want to run off to the bookstore right away!

    -Emily

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  88. Having just got back from Barbados, I packed eight books and ended up reading Tatiana and Alexander (The sequel to The Bronze Horseman-- which I loved)by Paullina Simons. Definitely a page turner which qualifies as a beach read but I must admit the juxtaposition of turquoise water full of happy people in dreadlocks and the hero stuck in a soviet work camp almost being beaten to death was sometimes a bit much. But like a previous poster said, you can always take a break and go for a walk. There are hundreds of comments about these books in the writer's forum and I see why! My other selections included Swann's Way by Marcel Proust and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman because my dear friend said quite seriously that she can't be friends with anyone who hasn't read at least one of his books. We spent a week on the beach (under umbrella's) and I think I could have spent an eternity reading every book I brought. Bliss!

    Oh... and I did read Drums of Autumn while sitting on a beach in St. Augustine, Florida. It was windy and late and just my friend and I were alone as the sun was setting and I couldn't put it down. I'm surprised the spine is still intact, all the pages are curved from the dried saltwater. So thanks for that one!

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  89. Well, I have two teenage daughters who loved the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. There are three in the series as of now, but by August there will be another, then in December a movie. So, to have a fun connection with my girls, I read the books this past month and have to say they are quite charming. I enjoyed the story and was excited to share this with my girls. I started my fixation of Outlander as a beach read a few summers back and it will always be my first love...

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  90. Have to say there are no 'beach read' books that spring to mind but I do have a 'life saver' book.
    When I was travelling from London to Edinburgh after a wedding reception I found myself in the midst of the Glasgow airport attack last year, so was stuck for four hours awaiting my flight.
    Fortunately my dear friend had had the forsight to give me a book to take. Not a 'light read' and boy was I glad of it, it was 'The Fiery Cross.' lol

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  91. Diana:

    Since we're discussing books, I had started and stopped MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH a couple times before I could really hunker down and give it a go..... I was initially put off by Franklin's style of writing -- until I got into the story; so glad I did. It was much different than I thought and there was a certain something about the female lead that reminded me very much of one Claire Fraser.

    Regards,

    Midge

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  92. Hi Gail,

    I loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian! It was heartbreaking and yet funny at the same time. Sherman Alexie writes with such an honest voice, I found the book refreshing.

    I just finished Uglies, Pretties, Specials and I must say they were really good. I'm not much of a sci/fi person, but these were highly addicting. The next on my list is The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I've heard a lot of good things about the series.

    Megan.

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  93. I'm re-reading Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series this summer and waiting anxiously for the newest Janet Evanovich, Fearless Fourteen. I enjoy writers who can mix humor with some substance (OK, Janet Evanovich has more humor than substance but she's just so much fun!)

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  94. I recently finished reading The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova, which was an interesting read if you're into historical legends and vampire creation theories. It's a bit much for a "beach read" and when on vacation or something, generally I'll take a few Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts books along to change up the mood, depending on what I feel like reading. A friend has also recently gotten me to read the Katie McAlister books and they're fun reads as well. For a beach read, I generally look for something fun and not so "in-depth"..I have enough of that in real life so light-hearted reading is a great escape.
    Now, if I could just plan a "real" escape or a trip to the beach.

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  95. My beach read is Castaway by Lucy Irvine which no matter how many times I read it I thoroughly enjoy it..and yes I know its her tue story but it is still fab. I also tend to take with me (I read far too quickly) The Vampire Lestat - Anne Rice and this time I took The Time Travellers Wife...the author I can't remember off the top of my head. For travelling I take any laurell k Hamilton books as they don't require too much concentration and are just good fun.My husband always says why don't i just take a suitcase with books in!!! i like to read- can't help it!

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  96. Read all the comments and now I think my brain is in overload. There simply isn't enough time in the day... *sigh* I'm definitely bookmarking it this page. :)

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  97. A great summertime read is British author Winston Graham's series called "Poldark." There must be 15 novels in this family saga set in 19th century Cornwall.
    I recently finished Maeve Binchy's "Whitethorn Woods," set mostly in a small Irish town. She is adept at twining characters around each other.
    At the moment, I am reading Amy Tan's novel,"The Bonesetter's Daughter." She is a marvellous storyteller.
    Next summer, I hope to read "An Echo in the Bone"...

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  98. Almost forgot to add that Laurie R. King is a fabulous writer and her series based on Sherlock Holmes' wife, Mary. Set in the early 20th century in England, husband and wife work together to solve mysteries. The books have intrigue, romance, history, etc. One of my favourites.

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  99. "Poldark" was one of my most favorite Masterpiece Theater series (it is probably available on DVD).

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  100. Hi, Diana. I'm an italian reader (sorry for my bad English)and I love your books. I think that "Outlander" is a good choice if you need a story you would never finish reading. I red it in a few days (and it is not a short book). Another ideal beach-book is "The bronze horseman" written by Paullina Simons and also its sequel "Tatiana and Alexander". I think they are wonderful

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  101. For me, it's always a mystery. Preferably by an English writer. I love Minette Walters and Stephen Booth. Ruth Rendell has been a favorite for a long time. Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter series are classics. Michael Conelly is my favorite American mystery writer at the moment. I just can't get enough Harry Bosch! Start with Black Echo and you'll begin the Harry Bosch series. Pick up the others along the way, they're all thrilling reads.

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  102. I would re-read the "Outlander" series, usually, but as I just finished re-reading them, I will be onto something else! I love Steve Berry, probably more than Dan Brown (they write somewhat similar, but Berry is much better), and the Harry Potter books are always good to read. Also, Jude Devereaux is great. I also like really thick books. It takes me longer to read them and there is usually more detail so I can get more involved with the characters.

    As an aside, thank you for writing the Outlander books, and for continuing to write them. I am not ready to give up Jamie and Claire yet and CANNOT wait to find out what happens in the next book! I also recommend them to anybody I can.

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  103. A number of years back, when my children were smaller and we used to take summer vacation at a three week stretch camping, I used to take some "beach read" books with me. Normally when I read, I generally read Science Fiction, but those easy going, hot sunny days made me tend towards romance (or maybe it is just something with hot, steamy sex - the hotter the better). I read some authors such as Harold Robbins and Daniel Steele, or whatever romance was passed on to me in my most recent bag of pass around books from a friend or the latest garage sale find.

    Now, as far as the content suiting the "beach read" category, I agree with a previous poster that Outlander and Voyager fit that description,- mainly because of the hot steamy sex. (I find that the other books in the series have a good dose of sex as well, however, it is more mellow, like a good marriage.) Of course I treasure my Outlander series of books so much that I don't think I would take them to the beach, and I am torn between wanting to share them with everyone, but only relinquishing them to my most trusted friends on condition that they be returned (and in good condition).

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  104. I always regress to my childhood books in the summer - makes it even easier to escape the stresses of audulthood. :) Harry Potter, the Enchanted Forest series by Patricia C. Wrede, Enid Blyton's boarding school stories, as well as the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, the Chronicles of Narnia, and anything by Tamora Pierce. I'm also a pretty big Star Wars geek, and I love the original books by Timothy Zhan, and the Rogue Squadron series as well.
    I'm leaving tomorrow for 2 and a half weeks on an archeaological dig in Israel, and I'm taking the Outlander books that I have in paperback - I read through books pretty quickly, but hopefully the sheer mass of them will slow me down a bit so I won't have to pack as many books. :)

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  105. "The Eight" by Katherine Neville,
    "World Without End" by Ken Follett and the latest by James Collins "The Last Oracle". They are already packed and ready for the cottage.

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  106. After reading some of the comments here I recently checked out Ariana Franklin's 'Mistress of the Art of Death' from the library. It was a very good read. Having finished it in a couple of days is always a good indicator. I am now on the look out for 'The Serpent's Tale.' Have read that there will be a third book with Adelia -- authenticating discovered bones that may or may not be that of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. http://www.arianafranklin.com/franklin-qa.htm

    Thanks for the recommendations!

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  107. OK, so it's not summer here in Oz, but I did have surgery recently and had to take a couple of weeks off work, and therefore got in a lot of extra reading.
    I picked up Julianne Lee's 3 part series (I believe there's more to come?) starting with Knight Tenebrae, mainly because according to the cover blurb, they involve time travel and Scottish history.
    Nothing at all like our beloved Outlander series (shorter for one thing!) and set in the 1300s, but an easy "disposable" read, I suppose.
    Jen in Oz

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  108. My parents always served mashed rutabega with Thanksgiving dinner. One year, my mother-in-law served it when we spent the holidays with her. She knew my family always served it, but she didn't know that I NEVER ate it. Ick. Nice of her, though.
    I agree about Kristen Lavransdatter. I recently read it again after waiting 27 years. I was so weepy after the first time I read it that my husband asked me never to read it again!!

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  109. Ah, late to the party, as usual, but I had to say...I feel the same way about the beach. I am fair-skinned and mostly Irish, therefore I go from zero to crispy in about fifteen minutes, sunscreen be damned.
    Regardless of my feelings about the beach, this is a concept I can grasp. I prefer to call these books "junk food". Sometimes I read something with way to much DEEP MEANING (as your husband put it)...and then I just want to read something light. A snack between meals, if you will. To me, these are normally the oversize paperbacks of Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, etc. Chick-lit, I believe they call it now. Also, the Stephanie Plum novels of Janet Evanovich, which I enjoy, read in a day and then really never read again.

    I wouldn't put Outlander in there with the ever-afters, it's in the infinitely re-readable category of "comfort food" for me, with my The Mirror of Her Dreams and Corelli's Mandolin.

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  110. I can't believe I came across this, because Outlander was what was in my beach bag, while at the beach in Port Dover, Ontario. Now your novels are in my purse, diaper bag, gym bag...everywhere I am.

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  111. I agree with Outlander being infinitely re-readable! I think I re-read that one in particular because that's where the love story starts. And I save the very best books for the beach-- if anything's being read while I'm there it's got to be as great as my surroundings! btw I loved your latest book excerpt Diana!

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  112. I am reading The Time Traveler's Wife and it's pretty good so far.

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  113. Humm...I'm always late to comment but -oh well-

    I read anything I want, pretty much wherever I want but it's true that, if I begin reading something I'm really into, I get rather pissed if interrupted; adding to that the fact that I'm a bit of a "maniac" with the condition of my books, so if by great misfortune someone playfully dirty or damage a book I really enjoy (^_^), I can't guarantee my reaction. So indeed, if I must go to the beach with a group of friends, it might be wiser for me that I bring along some chick-litt than a "Lord John"...

    Speaking about chick-litt, I recently read my first of the genre (I think) : the famous Kinsella's first "Shopaholic" book...which I found funny the 1st quarter, and unexpectedly stressing after :/

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