It’s that beautiful time of year again. That time when you pack up your bags and get ready for that sweet, warm beach getaway. The essentials are there: suntan lotion, sarong, sunglasses, flip flops. What more could you need? Well, how about a riveting read to coax you into a sweet coma while you’re lounging by the poolside or at the beach?
Finding that perfect read as you sink low into the sand is essential. It has to have a plot that’s easy to dip in and out of for when you get easily distracted by hungry seagulls, midday siestas and boats on the horizon.
So what traits do you look for when finding that ultimate beach book? The key ingredients to a splendid holiday read would have to be:
A page turner.
Something that keeps you wanting to read and is hard to put down once it’s started. These often leave you thinking about the story long after it has ended, because they’re usually THAT good.
There’s nothing worse than getting all jazzed to read and the book you brought, while it may be fantastic, is just not the best book to be reading on the beach. I remember reading the Lizard Cage, by Karen Connelly. The book was poignant, beautifully written and extremely informative. However, reading about political prisoners in Burma was not exactly the happiest of reads while sinking into the sands of Sri Lanka’s beaches. There’s a time and place for everything, and while we should all be properly informed, maybe it’s best to leave the more disturbing novels at home.
A book that brings a smile to your face and heart.
On that same note, when we avoid those super heavy books we create more space for the books with happy endings. The kind of books that leave you with warm, fuzzy feelings and make you content with where you are.
An inspiring read.
A book that enlivens you and makes you want to do better is another great book to pack along. Those inspiring reads fire us up to do, and be, better in this world.
Granted no book will encompass all of these characteristics, but aiming for at least one is a surefire way to excite your literary tastes. Whether you love a good mystery or you prefer Sophie Kinsella, there’s something for everyone on this list. Read on to see if one of your favorites has made the top 10.
My Top Ten Books To Bring To The Beach
1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
For the reader who likes: mystery, stolen art, New York, lengthy books and Pulitzer winners.
This book was fantastic. I remember reading this book in Indonesia and not being able to put it down. It definitely had me hooked from start to finish. Even after the finale of this 900+ page book, I still yearned for more.
Set mostly in New York (but also with quick jaunts to Nevada and Holland) this book is about a boy’s obsession with the painting, the Goldfinch. The Goldfinch is indeed a painting and you can imagine the popularity it received after the debut of this novel. We follow this boy’s tale from when he was 8 years old all the way into his 20s. One could say this is a coming-of-age novel, but it’s so much more than that.
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene
For the reader who likes: to cry, romance, take chances, and fall in love.
Every time I think of this book my heart grows a little bit bigger and then I let out a long sigh. It’s hard to put this book into words (even though it’s composed entirely OF words) because it made me feel so many emotions. I fell in love with the characters, laughed when they laughed, cried when they cried, persevered when they persevered.
Even though it’s written for young adults, it is so much more than a “YA” novel. I think anyone of any age can take SOMETHING from this book. There are moments when it goes deep and moments that it barely scratches the surface. What I loved most about this book (aside from everything) was that it was a book for book lovers. One could say, a book within a book but a little bit more than that. It was a love for a certain novel that brought the two main characters closer and eventually to Amsterdam, where they “drank the stars” and fell even more madly in love. Ah, how I loved this book.
3. Autobiography of a Naked Yogi by Yogi Aaron
For the reader who likes: yoga, laughing, being naked, beaches, India, learning and growing
Before you read this, get naked. Seriously. Experiencing each individual granule of sand beneath your moist-from-heat skin will only heighten this reading ride. Told by the oh-so-wise Yogi Aaron, founder of Hot Nude Yoga and Blue Osa Retreat in Costa Rica, he shares his story with you. Beginning from the early years all the way to the present, this inspiring read will have you laughing out loud whilst allowing you to turn inward. If you’re experiencing a transition in your life or looking for some sort of inspiration, this book will give you the tools and encouragement that you need. In it he writes about his own personal experience with turning any situation into one that is constructive for you, positive or not. Not all experiences are created equal but we can use each experience to grow, learn and become better. Let Yogi Aaron strip you of all that’s holding you back and experience your true self-everyday, no matter where you are, with a smile and passion.
4.The Humans by Matt Haig
For the reader who likes: sci-fi, aliens, laughing, obvious and mundane things
This book was a hoot, packed with warmth and a happy ending. It’s a rather quick read but written in a way that’s witty, fun and will have you laughing throughout. I’m not a fan of sci-fi but like to dabble in and out of different genres, so this was a great surprise.
The premise is of an alien coming to earth disguised as a Mathematician with a mission. There are humans on the verge of discovering something (something big) and the leaders of this alien world want that discovery and, everyone linked to it, to be destroyed. So it’s the Mathematician’s duty to learn all he can about ‘the humans’ and stop this from happening. The alien learns a lot along the way, and the novel itself turns out to be an endearing look at people and the quirky things we do and feel that make us, well, human.
5. The Devil All the Time by Donald Pollock
For the reader who likes: Rob Zombie, great books, horror
OK, maybe the “for the reader who likes” has frightened you from even reading this far about the novel, but it is awesome. I don’t even like Rob Zombie, even though “House of 1000 Corpses” was pretty rad, but this book had me captivated from page 1. The gist of the novel is hard to summarize but it is filled with interesting characters, storylines that are interwoven together and satanic rituals. Top it off with a little gore and murder and you have the polar opposite of an amazing beach read, but I would be shocked if you didn’t love it.
6. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof
For the reader who likes: inspiring reads, optimism, empowering and supporting women.
It’s books like this one that inspire me on a whole nother’ level. Where I want to drop everything and fight for women’s rights and the education of women and children everywhere. These short stories are sadly tragic, but by the end, you see that these women turn their horrible situations into something beautiful, like a home for young girls escaping brothels in Cambodia, or a hospital that nurses FGM victims back to health in Ghana. These are the stories of strong, powerful women, who, in spite of everything, prevail and give strength, hope and inspiration to women and people everywhere. What a wonderful book, indeed.
7. Getting Stoned With Savages by Marteen J. Troost
For the reader who likes: to laugh, travel lit, drinking things that make you a little loopy, and islands
Having read this book years ago, it still sticks with me. I really like the way Troost writes as he’s pretty funny and writes in a simple, yet provocative way. It’s about Troost’s adventures island-hopping in the South Pacific. More travelogue and without any real premise, but all the same a pretty light read with moments of hilarity. This book WILL NOT change your life, but it will be a breezy read that’s perfect for when you’re kicking back and soaking in the rays.
8. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
For the reader who likes: mysteries, crime novels, family secrets, something naughty, thrillers
Gillian Flynn is best known for her novel “Gone Girl” which became an overnight sensation, turned cinematic splendor. However, I’m not putting that on the list. For me, “Gone Girl” was a bit predictable and, while delightfully morbid, a little TOO out there. Instead, “Sharp Objects” has earned a rightful place on this list. This book, while quite morbid as well, was definitely gripping. It’s super creepy and at times, it made me feel a little dirty for reading it but dirty in a good, but shouldn’t-feel-good way.
It’s about a troubled reporter with an, even more, troubling past. After being assigned to write about recent murders in her hometown, she revisits her home and quickly realizes why she left and slowly learns why she should never return. Yes, the character is a bit unrelatable and the plot line is twisted and creepy, but it definitely held my attention and there are some unpredictable twists that make the reader crave more.
9. Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
For the reader who likes: Native-American life, anthropology, changing and evolving, animals
This was the first book I read by Kingsolver. She is a fantastic writer, it’s as if you’re reading literary poetry. Her voice is real and her characters are even more real. The way she writes shows that she has a deeply profound appreciation for nature and learning about other cultures. This book deals with many different themes, some which include loss, grief, and opportunity.
The story is about two sisters; one returns home and the other leaves home seeking adventure. Along the way, we learn about deep love and see the narrative unfold. The story brings attention to environmental issues, political activism and in-depth reflections on our relationships with nature. It’s a beautiful read and one that will not disappoint.
10. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
For the reader who likes: short stories, great writing, interesting characters, Indian culture
Jhumpa Lahiri has such a gift for short-story writing. It’s hard not to fall in love and really know her characters. Every story is written so well, that you just want each story to be turned into a novel, stretching out the reading experience into something epic. This book gave me an appetite for Indian food and an appreciation for what we have here and now.
So there you have it. My top 10 picks to throw into your beach bag. Which of these have tickled your fancy and have inspired you to search for flights to your next beach holiday? Let us know!
Come to Blue Osa, and you’ll be spoiled for choice of perfect reading spots. Take a break from the sun in one of the huge hammocks by the beach, lay on one of the pool loungers, melt into the pavilion sofa or perch on one of the armchairs overlooking the ocean. The choice is yours!
About The Author
Tara DeAugustine is an elementary school teacher, presently taking a much-needed break from teaching, and in turn dabbling in and out of different job roles. Her travels have taken her all over the world, previously living in Thailand, Taiwan and Cambodia. Currently, she’s a volunteer writer and yoga instructor at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat & Spa in Costa Rica. When she’s not busy at work, you can find her doing what she loves, which is included but not limited to: lazing about in hammocks, eating salad, watching sunsets and reading.