Tuesday, August 5, 2014

in defense of "beach reads"

I've had a couple of uncharacteristically lazy weekends in a row (which I think summer requires). Last Sunday that meant pajamas from sunrise to sunset and a paperback on my balcony for an engrossing five-or-so hours. I was hesitant to pick up The Vacationers because of all the "beach read" buzz it's amassed, and I'd just come off an unpleasant experience with the seemingly similar Nantucket Sisters (I received it free at a promotional event, but found it unbearably cliche and elementary and not worth the thriftiness). After laboring through Devil in the White City for six months and striking out with the Nantucket novel, I was craving a light but satisfying (slightly salacious?) read. Emma Straub's fictional tale of a family vacationing in Spain during a particularly tumultuous time was all of the above. Despite having an "easy" plot, it was well-written and dimensional with strong characters I wanted to know, and I finished it in three sittings (read more here). And now, propelled, I'm back on the bookworm bandwagon with gusto, a few pages deep into Crazy Rich Asians (which I can tell is going to be fun) and the Zelda Fitzgerald novel (I love the biographical concept) on deck. So. Moral of the story:  

Not all beach reads are bad (some are).
It's OK to like the light stuff. 
Sometimes it just takes a beach read to get your groove back.

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