Summer Beach Reading

I’ve never fully understood the concept of “summer beach reading”. It’s something that I do if I’m sitting on the beach, but then again, I like to read and do, every day. But if reading isn’t something you dig on a regular basis, why drive to the shore and do it there? Never really made sense to me.

That said, since I do do (Beavis voice “Heh heh, he said…doodoo”) a lot of reading, here’s some lighter fare for your time in the sand this summer.

STRAIGHT MAN – Richard Russo
This book is always atop any must list with regard to reading, likely because it’s my favorite book. Given to me (or rather, forced on me) by my writing professor in college, I did what I always did when forced to read a book – ignored it. I found it about a year later when preparing to move to California (California – beach – see what I did there?), snagged it and tore through it upon arrival in San Francisco. It’s got everything. Laugh out loud moments that make you put the book down because you’re giggling so hard. Characters that jump right off the page. A story anyone can relate to – and in my nearly dozen times rereading since, I only identify with it more and more. And it’s incredibly deep. A story that will sneak up on you and stay there – if you let it.

A CLEAN KILL IN TOKYO – Barry Eisler
The first of the series of John Rain books (though not my favorite) by Eisler, a former operative with the CIA. Also about to be made into a television series starring Keanu Reeves. Rain is the natural causes assassin – someone who can make a kill without leaving a trace. Told in the first person, Rain’s stories are gripping and compelling, and Rain himself gets more complicated with each turn of the page.

THE HUNGER GAMES – Suzanne Collins
The movies just didn’t do these books justice. Jennifer Lawrence tried her best, but the dour mood and the focus on the external drama just wasn’t right, and as a result, the films were often lifeless and plain boring. Katniss of the books, however, is a real 16 year old girl. Plagued by demons, constantly insecure and borderline obsessive about her sister, Katniss reaches out and grabs you with her story right on the first page. If you’ve seen the movies, the story may be familiar, but ultimately a lot more satisfying.

LAMB: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO BIFF, CHRIST’S CHILDHOOD PAL – Christopher Moore
Ever wonder what Jesus did as a teenager? How he discovered sex? How he dealt with the crushing destiny thrust upon him at birth? Whether he liked bacon? Christopher Moore has, and it is hilarious as much as it rings true. Joshua (his greek name) and Biff travel the world, running afoul of demons, Roman sentries and inventing judo (jew-do).

A BACKPACK, A BEAR AND EIGHT CRATES OF VODKA: A MEMOIR – Lev Golinkin
The story of a Jewish refugee from two different perspectives: Nine year old Lev escaping persecution with his family, and adult Lev re-tracing his trek in an attempt to fully reconcile and understand what happened. More relevant today than ever with today’s refugee crisis, Lev delivers a unique insight into what it means to be a refugee, yet the story flows like a novel with plenty of warm and funny moments along the way.