Every winter I dive deep into classic literature. Something about the clouds and the snow make me want to curl up with a dusty covered classic that leaves me having to look up words no one uses anymore. I crave Austen and seek out nonfiction left and right to enjoy while wrapped in big sweaters and drinking peppermint hot chocolate. But in the summer, all bets are off. In the summer, I want books as light and airy as the linen dresses we wear on the way to the beach.
The only downside to this light literature, however, is the over dramatization of some of these stories. In an effort to make stories seem meatier, perhaps, authors tend to add sinister elements that are just so off the wall. They leave me asking my husband questions like “are you sure you don’t have a secret sister in Milwaukee that your dad never knew he fathered that is going to steal our future child?” It is for this reason that James now refers to these as my “pool trash.” Trashy stories I read while at the pool, devour in a day, and take a week to get over.
But, thanks be to the following authors, there is such thing as an enjoyable beach read. Husband approved and all!
1.The Island House, by Nancy Thayer
For some reason I am a sucker for a large family and a beach house. Something about it just screams All-American happiness. This story centers around a young woman, Jenny, who has spent every summer since college with her best friend’s family on the island of Nantucket. Since that very first summer she has been harboring a love for her best friend’s brother, and she comes to the island this summer ready to finally make some decisions. It is a book filled with obvious foreshadowing, but a family that you root for so profoundly that you find yourself devouring it like water on a hot summer’s day.
2. The Last Letter From Your Lover, by JoJo Moyes
Jojo is famous for Me Before You, but if you want something that is just as beautifully written without the deep ethical questions, The Last Letter From Your Lover is for you. It’s 1960, and Jennifer has just woken up in the hospital from a terrible accident. She does not remember anything about who she is, or the man that she is married to, but she can tell something is off. Everyone keeps telling her how terribly lucky she is to have such a loving husband, tasteful home, and beautiful face. And yet, she can tell that she wasn’t happy – far from it. Desperate to find any clue to jog her memory, she goes digging through her home and finds a love letter signed without a name, just the initial “B.” Not knowing who he was, if he still loves her, or if her one chance of true happiness actually got away from her, she knows simply one thing: if someone loved her as much as he proclaimed to, she must find him.
3. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
Diane Chamberlain is a masterful secret keeper. So often when authors try to weave a deep secret from the past into the plot you find yourself rushing through, not enjoying the book because you seek just the answer and never invest in the characters. With The Secret Sister, however, you enjoy piecing together the past so much that you don’t mind at all that Chamberlain keeps the secrets to herself until the last possible second. All Riley knows about her perfect big sister, Lisa, is that she committed suicide as a teenager and her family never really recovered. Now a grown woman, Riley returns home to clean out her father’s house after his death and finds a clue that tells her what happened to Lisa may not be as cut and dry as she thought. In fact, almost everything she thought she knew might actually be a lie.
4. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
Quite possibly the greatest love story I have ever read, The Bungalow tells the story of a young woman unafraid to take some enormous risks, even in a quiet way, to build the life she wants. Anne is young, engaged to be wed, and living a peaceful, albeit, sheltered, life when World War II breaks out. Seeking to feel something, anything, she enlists as a nurse and is sent to the South Pacific. While there, she meets a magnetic soldier named Westry. That she falls for him is predictable, but the way in which their relationship, and the relationship she has with her fellow nurses help her learn and grow as an adult woman is what makes this story so exceptional. Love, commitment, familial expectations, feminism, the status quo, and the necessity of friends you can trust are all explored with sensitivity and true sincerity. Beautifully, Jio leaves questions unanswered until the very end, when she jumps forward 70 years to give the reader peace and closure.
5. Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green
Jane Green is always smart and her books are always well woven into true stories, not just books. In Sunshine Sisters, however, she masterfully shows how well she understands the inner workings of human hearts, and the motivations behind our actions. Sunshine Sisters follows three very different sisters as they find out that their mother will soon die of a terminal illness. The sisters are absolute foils of one another, for better or worse, and are themselves all but estranged. It is a fascinating tale of discovering what you have to contribute to your family, where your own weaknesses lie, and whether or not you can forgive yourself for your past mistakes. Readers that have siblings will thoroughly enjoy reading the interactions between the sisters, as it is impossible to do so without trying to place yourself within the very strong personalities.