Can you feel it? Spring allergies are practically a thing of the past and summer allergies are well on their way, school days are done and children are spending long evenings poolside, summer vacations are booked and seaside travel abounds. If you’re headed to the beach this season, why not let a few good books tag along?
Introducing our new series, Have Books, Will Travel, where we’ll give you suggestions about the best books to have by your side as you trot the globe. Let’s start seaside, shall we? It is summer, after all.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
After taking in awesome ocean views on the Myrtle Beach Skywheel, head down to the sands, pick your perfect spot and settle in with a beach read set in The Palmetto State.
Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton FrankLet’s be honest here, Lowcountry South Carolina provides an enchanting setting for any novel, but especially so in this alluring tale which carries readers through the evolution of two couples’ annual summer vacation. Old flames Adam Stanley and Eve Landers stumble upon each other by chance while on holiday with their respective spouses on the Isle of Palms. That folks, sets the stage for some good, old fashioned “Remember when?” drama. Things simmer down after said spouses overcome an initial wave of jealousy, and as both couples return year after year, they build a genuine friendship that withstands the tests of time.
The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe
In the introduction to Mary Alice Monroe’s nationally bestselling Lowcountry Summer series, three half-sisters spend an enlightening summer at their grandmother’s ancestral home on Sulliver’s Island. Their beloved “Mamaw” has extended the invitation to her “summer girls” as an effort to help them rekindle a closeness that has waned due to distance, both physical and emotional…but is the beckoning of the sea enough to help them heal? We’re betting it is, what with all that sea air flying around and Mamaw’s inevitable ancestral home-cooked breakfasts. Hot buttered biscuits bring families together. That’s just a fact.
The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson
Rumor has it, there are those among us who are really into lobsters. If you happen to be in that number, this is the book for you, my lobster-loving friend. Trevor Corson, former commercial fisherman turned author of a wide variety of subjects, paints quite the portrait of an island lobstering community and an eccentric crew of marine biologists determined to save the population of lobsters before it’s too late. You’ll most likely learn a little more than you wanted to know about lobster life (Corson spares no expense going into detail about how the magic happens under the sea), but it’s definitely worth the read if the Discovery Channel is on your Favorites list and you’re looking to think twice about ordering your next lobster roll.
Beach Lane by Melissa de la Cruz
What do you get when you mix larger-than-small-town-life dreams, ghosting boyfriends and a displaced socialite with the crisp, summer breeze of the Hamptons? A darn good beach read, that’s what. Mara, Eliza and Jacqui have all been hired as summer au pairs for a ridiculously wealthy family in Long Island. Just when they think they’ve hit the babysitting jackpot (you know, due to watching children laze about the beach all day in one of the most extravagant cities on the coast), all of the trappings of young adulthood ensue. Have the Twizzlers on hand for this one, you’re going to want a snack while you watch the trio navigate the treacherous waters of wild children, unrequited love and frenemies.
Clearwater Beach, Florida
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
When on vacation, you can never go wrong with a classic and Hemingway’s final major work of fiction certainly fits the bill. We meet seasoned fisherman, Santiago, in the middle of an unsuccessful streak. 84 days without a catch, to be exact. Determined to reclaim his victorious status, Santiago takes to the Gulf Stream in hopes of bringing home the big one. He meets his match when an enormous marlin takes the bait, but it resists capture with such vigor that Santiago is forced into a 48-hour struggle followed by a seemingly endless shark attack brought on by the marlin’s blood. A fitting analogy for those who may find themselves on the tougher side of a circumstance, The Old Man and the Sea is a great read if you’re taking time off to reflect and you’re in need of a reminder that all is not lost after all.
The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel
A young woman seeks solace in the aftermath of a tragedy that has affected multiple generations of her Colombian family. Feeling responsible for her part in a crime that leads to her brother’s suicide, Reina Castillo leaves Miami and takes up residence in the Florida Keys, where she is befriended by Nesto, a Cuban counterpart who carries his fair share of familial demons as well. As they try to overcome the torrential grief and regret of their past, the two turn to the sea as a source of faith and restoration. While not the most joyous of beach reads, Engel’s prose is well worth its weight in wads of tissue. It draws a painstakingly beautiful connection between the ebb and flow of the ocean and the manner in which we are tossed and tumbled through some of life’s most complex tragedies, and yet we still manage to come out smooth.
Log From the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck
For the marine life aficionados among you, we recommend what has been highly regarded as one of Steinbeck’s most important works of nonfiction. Log From the Sea of Cortez recounts the author’s time spent scouring various spots along the Gulf of California with his friend, and pioneering marine biologist, Ed Ricketts. The two used the specimen-collecting expedition as a sabbatical of sorts, given John’s desire to escape the escalating criticism of The Grapes of Wrath and Ed’s desire to flee from the woes of courting another man’s wife. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Anywho, whether you’re into Hansen Sea-Cows or you simply enjoy poring over historic travel journal entries, it’s a nonfiction must if you’re headed west for the summer.
Good Vibrations: My Life As A Beach Boy by Mike Love
I mean, come on. How could you head to the Cali coast and not incorporate a bit of the classic surfer culture that catapulted one of the most popular American bands of all time? As lead singer and lyricist for The Beach Boys during their entire fifty-year career, Mike Love has a whole slew of scandalous stories to keep you occupied as you sip a crisp piña colada by the sea. Get the stories behind the lyrics of some of the band’s most beloved melodies and lean in for the dramatic details that come with being in the music business with family members. The band was made up of two brothers, their two cousins and a friend…there’s always that friend.
There you have it! That should be more than enough to log a healthy dose of reading hours this summer. Are you heading to the coast this season? Let us know which books you’ll be taking along…and stay tuned as we release more of our must-reads for your favorite travel destinations. Who knows where we’ll end up next!