If you’re around my age you remember those “Calgon, take me away!” TV ads. Yes, that is a live link. But how often have I wished something could transport me away from the horrors of the world today? You, too, probably. So here’s a beach reading list full of excellent distractions to take you away from the it all. At least for a little while.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (who wrote The Paris Wife) is historical fiction about the life of aviator Beryl Markham. Set in Kenya, the book is captivating in not only its setting, but the way McLain portrays her protagonist’s personal life. Markham’s parents pretty much abandoned her, she had some disastrous marriages and yet, she achieved status that women in her era simply didn’t get on their own. It’s a book I couldn’t put down.
There Was a Fire Here by Risa Nye, a friend of mine, is all about a family’s life after they lost everything in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. She’s a really good writer and I felt like I was part of her family as they picked up the pieces of their world. Here’s a video trailer for the book.
Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard is another one of her transporting and personal novels. I love her writing. The book is about the cost of addiction, the aftermath of recovery and life. I won’t say more. Read it!
Cruel Beautiful World by Carolyn Leavitt is a family drama about sisterhood, family and the nature of love. It’s not your run-of-the-mill plot, either. Her characterization is so good I felt like I knew everyone, myself. The reader is pulled in immediately and carried along by suspense.
Catch a Wave: the Rise, Fall & Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson by Peter Ames Carlin. I loved this psychosocial treatment of the entire Brian Wilson story, in details. Loved it. I came away with a deeper understanding of this deeply tormented talent–and just how deeply talented he is. Be prepared–it’s a deep dive, not a frothy confection.
A few of my writer friends have hilarious and enjoyable books just perfect for the beach this summer, and for transporting you out of the real world. Here’s what I recommend:
Diane Tolley’s novel, Daughter of Ishmael, is being lauded all over the place. It’s a scriptural novel that begins in 600 BC, a story about family, betrayal, relationships, faith–it’s about life. I wrote about it when it came out– I loved it! And yes, it has a bit to do with the Book of Mormon. Give it a read.
Humorist Elaine Ambrose edited Feisty After 45, a fun concoction of the best blogs of midlife women. I have a piece in there, so full disclosure, but I love them all. Many are by bloggers I know and enjoy. Her latest, Midlife Happy Hour, is full of amusing anecdotes about surviving careers, kids and chaos
Lee Gaitan’s My Pineapples Went to Houston is a diverting romp through her life. The subhead says it all: Finding the Humor in My Dashed Hopes, Broken Dreams and Plans Gone Outrageously Awry. It’s hilarious, but also inspiring.
So there you have it. My list of distracting reading for our current age of horrors. Go forth and enjoy! Oh yes, full disclosure: Amazon affiliate links above.