For better or worse, the beach book is the Rodney Dangerfield of publishing. It gets no respect.
But Patrik Henry Bass says that, despite their bad rap, we shouldn’t be ashamed of diving into and savoring the fluffiest of literary concoctions. The senior editor for Essence magazine, and a lover of a wide variety of genres, Patrik says there are loads of delicious beach books hitting shelves right now – and that we don’t necessarily have to respect them to enjoy them.
Patrik's top five picks for the season (as well as two bonus suggesions) are after the jump.
TELL-ALL by Chuck Palahniuk: An homage to old Hollywood from the writer of "Fight Club" and "Choke."
MY WIFE’S AFFAIR by Nancy Woodruff: A gripping ode to theater and the love it can command—and crush. Former actress turned restless suburban New Jersey mom-of-three Georgie and her journalist husband, Peter, transplant to London for Peter's new job. There, Georgie finds her way back to the theater and lands a role in a small one-woman production of Shakespeare's Woman, playing famous 18th-century British stage actress Dora Jordan. It's a part that consumes Georgie from the start, notes Peter, who achingly chronicles his wife's affair with her part and, eventually, with playwright Piers.
RED HOOK ROAD by Ayelet Waldman: The setting: an idyllic town in Maine. The scene: a local wedding. The tragedy: The bride and groom are killed as they drive from the church to the reception. What happens to the families left behind, then, is the stuff of Waldman's moving novel.
THE COOKBOOK COLLECTOR by Allegra Goodman: Fans of Goodman's lovely, nuanced novels have a treat in store with this tale of two sisters, one the CEO of a much-hyped data storage start-up, the other a grad-school dropout working in an antiquarian bookstore.
ONE FLIGHT UP by Susan Fales-Hill: 21st century Edith Wharton-esque novel about four multi-racial friends navigating Upper East Side Manhattan life.
BONUS—Cool 19th Century Classics to Be Seen With on the Beach or Poolside: