It’s holiday season! Whether you’re jetting off abroad, travelling within your own home country, or literally having a ‘staycation’ in your back garden, it’s a great time for relaxing and reading. But beach reads don’t have to melt your mind. There are lots of ‘literary’ books with beach themes if you want to look serious in the sand.
1. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
A solitary teenager living with his father on an isolated Scottish coast acts out elaborate fantasy games, pseudo-religious rituals and cruel experiments on animals. It has been descrived as ‘ a bizarre, imaginative, disturbing, and darkly comic look into the mind of a child psychopath.’ Just the thing to swat away the wasps buzzing around your ice lolly.
2. Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
The protagonist Hope Clearwater clears her head and recalls her past – her broken marriage, experiences researching animal behaviour and involvement in a civil war – while looking at the waves.
3. The Beach by Alex Garland
In search of a remote a perfect beach, Richard goes to Thailand and meets a band of druggy backpackers. The beach looks like paradise – but things quickly turn hellish.
4. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
Edward and Florence’s honeymoon night has not been a success, to say the least. The beautiful Dorset beach is the ‘romantic’ setting for the dissection of their relationship.
5. Tender Is The Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald
The story of a brilliant psychiatrist named Dick Diver; the rich, beautiful, unstable mental patient, Nicole, who becomes his wife; and their life and crumbling marriage in the South of France after the First World War.
6. The Sea by John Banville
A retired art historian attempts to reconcile himself to the deaths of those whom he loved as a child and as an adult. The book is written as a journal, jumbling up childhood memories, the time leading up to the death of Anna, his wife, and the present day, staying in the rented holiday cottage they used to stay in during the summer.
7. The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch
Charles Arrowby, a self-important playwright and director, retreats from the world to live alone in a house by the sea. He meets his first love, Mary Hartley Fitch, having not seen her since their relationship ended years ago. Idealizing their previous love affair, he attempts to get her to elope with him.
8. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
A great writer suffering writer’s block visits Venice. He’s fascinated and uplifted by a beautiful youth – who he falls in love with from afar. His obsession with the boy increasingly consumes him, as Venice and the writer succumb to a cholera plague.
9. The Sea House by Esther Freud
Nearly half a century after the death of the architect Klaus Lehmann’s death in the village of Steerborough, a young woman, Lily, arrives to research his life and work. Reading his letters to his wife, Elsa, Lily pieces together the story of their lives. Alone in her rented cottage by the sea, she senses that there may be an absence in her own life.
Ok, so now we’re all thoroughly depressed, we forgot to put sunscreen on our toes, there’s sand in every orifice, and our Mr Whippy is melting all too rapidly. So we’ve added one extra as a summer treat.
10. Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
If you are in need of cheering up after all those intense books then this one was voted Women and Home Magazine’s ‘Best Feel-Good Read’. It’s a typical‘chick-lit’ book, focusing on Polly Waterford’s life running a bakery in a small seaside town, her friends and relationship issues. As sweet and sickly as an iced bun.