What does “beach read” mean to you? The term conjures light women’s fiction whose cover sports the back of a white Adirondack chair, possibly with a towel draped over it, facing the ocean and a gorgeous sunset in shades of blue and orange. Your library has plenty of those if that’s your thing.
Really, though, a beach read is anything you want it to be. Something that takes you out of your present and transports you to another place, time or setting. You don’t even have to be at the beach (and that’s a good thing right now). I like my beach reads to have an unusual premise, be set in places that are anywhere but here, and are fast-paced. Here are some books that fit the bill:
“The Last Train to Key West” by Chanel Cleeton. Three women from different circumstances unexpectedly cross paths during one fateful weekend in 1935 in the Florida Keys. While Helen Berner’s husband operates a successful travel business, Helen herself longs to escape her native Key West. Mirta Perez accepts an arranged marriage to a notorious American after the Cuban Revolution leaves her family in a tenuous state, but her husband’s illicit business interests threaten their marriage. Elizabeth Preston is on a mission to relieve her once-wealthy family’s troubles after the Wall Street crash, and meets a veteran on his own treacherous quest. Compounding the women’s precarious situations is a powerful hurricane barreling its way toward the Keys. After this weekend, their lives will never be the same.
“The Blaze” by Chad Dundas. Army veteran Matthew Rose, who lost most of his memory following a traumatic brain injury sustained in Iraq, is called home to Missoula, Mont., to settle the affairs of his estranged father, who recently committed suicide. Matthew has forgotten much of his childhood, including the falling out with his father and his breakup with his childhood sweetheart, Georgie Porter. Matthew learns he had once excelled in academics and sports but then became a sullen, risk-taking teenager. Then Matthew witnesses a house fire that kills a college student and it triggers a memory of a fire from 15 years earlier. He and Georgie start investigating the fire, and suddenly they are in danger as more murders and fires occur, possibly linked to the older fire that leads to unsolved crimes connected somehow to Matthew’s father.
“Beach Read” by Emily Henry. January Andrews writes bestselling romance novels with happy endings, and literary fiction author Augustus Everett tends to kill off his characters. The only thing they have in common is living in neighboring beach houses, trying to overcome writers’ block. Then one evening, they make a deal: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy and January will write the next Great American Novel, taking each other on creative trips to show off each other’s passions and get out of their writing ruts. They both will finish a novel, and the summer will be a success. Or will it?
“It’s Not All Downhill from Here” by Terry McMillan. The bestselling author of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “Waiting to Exhale” is back with another perceptive tale of life, loss and resilience. On her 68th birthday, Loretha Curry reflects on her full life, replete with a successful beauty supply empire, a group of lifelong friends and an amazing husband. Her best days are not behind her, and she’s ready to prove that to her mother, twin sister and anyone else who disagrees. But then, an unexpected loss turns her life upside down, and Loretha must summon all of her strength and determination to keep thriving and continue to pursue a joy-filled life.
“The Only Good Indians” by Stephen Graham Jones. Ten years ago, four young Blackfeet Nation men went hunting on tribal lands reserved only for their elders, killing a female elk, which was oddly pregnant at the wrong time of year. Now, as adults, the four men still carry the guilt of what they did, and the spirit of the elk has been waiting to make each one pay in this terrifying tale of revenge horror. Creepy moments, heightened suspense and violent action contribute to an overarching sense of something terrible and inevitable about to happen.
“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno–Garcia. When Mexico City socialite Noemí Taboada receives a pleading letter from her newlywed cousin Catalina, she immediately heads to High Place manor in the Mexican countryside to investigate. Privileged Noemí, accustomed to the best of what 1950s life offers, is dismayed to see the state of the isolated property and the declining health of her cousin. As she digs further, Catalina’s husband Virgil and the family doctor are evasive, so Noemí befriends Francis, the outcast youngest son who is eager to escape. As Noemí uncovers clues about the manor’s cursed, violent history and patriarchal power, her chances of escaping with her cousin fade. Cryptic dreams, pulsing walls and tangled flora cause reality to slip, and hope of rescue fades. Desperate, Noemí must confront her family’s secrets to stop the corruption.
You still have time to sign up for Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Summer Reading for adults to enter drawings for weekly and grand prizes! Visit librarypoint.org/summer.
Tracy McPeck is Adult Services coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library.