Treasures on the Shelves — Beach reads have grown in popularity

Published 10:26 am Saturday, July 9, 2022

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Now that the Fourth of July has been celebrated, many Americans will begin vacation travel to the beach and what’s better than the beach? Why, a beach read of course.

“Beach read” originally was intended as a marketing slogan for publishers to advertise books during the summer months, which was typically a slow sales period. The industry began promoting certain titles as perfect companions for a vacation and it quickly became so popular it has now morphed into its own category. Books promoted as beach reads tend to be entertaining, with fast pacing and plots that don’t require too much thought.

Author Elin Hilderbrand has been called “the queen of the beach reads” and as a year-round resident of Nantucket Island, she knows first-hand about life on the shore. “The Hotel Nantucket” is her newest title and inspired by the real-life Nantucket Hotel and Resort, it offers all the classic beach read scenarios: romance, drama and a dash of mystery.

If you like your beach titles to have a little more suspense, then “The Island” by Adrian McKinty may be the perfect choice. This thriller about a family vacation that suddenly becomes deadly has a propulsive plot, with lots of action and drama with a well-plotted narrative.

If you prefer summer reading with a historical bent, then “Hotel Portofino’ by J.P. O’Connell offers plenty to enjoy. This book has already been adapted into a popular PBS show and its setting, the Italian Riviera of the 1920s, immediately conjures up beaches and cocktails within the backdrop of the Jazz Age. With a main character determined to create her own destiny by becoming an entrepreneur and hints of the fascism Italy would eventually fall under, this book is sure to please fans of that era.

Even though beach reads are usually assumed to be fiction, two recently published non-fiction titles offer plenty of escapist entertainment based on real-life events. “Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward and 1960s Los Angeles” by Mark Rozzo offers a sun-soaked narrative of the amazing cultural nexus of music, art and film that converged in the city mid-decade after the collapse of the old movie studio system and the creative innovations that filled the void.

If you enjoyed watching the recent celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, then “The Palace Papers” by Tina Brown is sure to entertain. Brown examines the women in the Royal Family in the nearly 25 years after Princess Diana’s death. Both gossipy and serious in tone, the book goes behind the scenes of Buckingham Palace and explores the ways the royal family has had to adjust to the changing times and the lasting impact, for good and bad, Diana had on the family.

So, whether you are traveling or staying at home, visit your library for the perfect relaxing read this summer.

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at