Vacation Reading Essentials: Books to Pack In Your Beach Tote

Jul 10th, 2013 | By | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Summer Reading for Seniors

The weather’s heating up, and it’s vacation season. Suddenly you have a summer reading list that rivals the syllabus of an Iowa Writer’s Workshop. First off, ladies, you’re not in Iowa. You’re sitting poolside in Miami or lounging along the shore in Nantucket. Second, there is a rule for packing books in your beach tote. Summertime reads should be as light and airy as the trade winds and as frothy as the piña colada you’re sipping. From a classic American love story to a riotous Florida caper, here are five essential vacation reads for 2013.

“The Great Gatsby” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

“The Great Gatsby” engulfs readers with “Fitzgerald’s description of the summer heat and Gatsby’s famous parties,” describes the Language Matters blog by the community. And Baz Luhrmann’s glamorous film adaption of “The Great Gatsby” brought the timeless piece of literature to the big screen and dazzled audiences. The slim, 180-page classic novel has been on the New York Times paperback best seller list since the film arrived in theaters in May. You may vaguely remember Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and Daisy Buchanan from having read the book in high school. Now those wild jazz parties and flapper fashions are even more exciting. If you’re vacationing in the Hamptons, you might even run across someone throwing his own version of a West Egg soiree.

“Swamplandia” (Karen Russell)

Karen Russel’s first novel, “Swamplandia!,” arrived on the scene in 2011. “Swamplandia!” made such an impression in the literary landscape, Russel was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Set on Ten Thousand Islands, which is off the Florida mainland, the novel revolves around an eccentric family of alligator wrestlers. To oversimplify and say this book is a magic realist, coming-of-age story doesn’t do it justice. If you want to sample Karen Russell’s rich and idiosyncratic voice before delving into her novel, try the recently released collection of short stories: “Vampires in the Lemon Grove.”

“Inferno” (Dan Brown)

Ah, yes. Do you remember when “The Da Vinci Code” came out and everyone had a copy? What a conversation starter. It’s fun to imagine how many people met their future spouses over cocktails and Dan Brown conspiracy theories. Expect more of the same this summer. “Inferno” follows everyone’s favorite symbologist, Robert Langdon, on a quest through Europe’s most dazzling cities. As he struggles to untangle the riddles of classic art, poetry and futuristic science, he also battles a cunning nemesis.

“The Collected Plays of Tennessee Williams”

From “A Streetcar Named Desire” to “Suddenly Last Summer,” the plays of Tennessee Williams are sultry and morally sticky. Adding to the hothouse ambiance is the fact that many of his best plays take place in exotic locations. Honestly, does anything scream summer reading more than “Night of the Iguana?” Depending on how long you like to bask in the sun, many of his plays can be read in one or two sittings. Even if you get a cloudy day at the beach, this master playwright’s work will make you sweat.

“Bad Monkey” (Carl Hiaasen)

Sex, drugs, corrupt Miami real estate developers, eco-terrorists, a frozen human arm and a Bahamian voodoo witch— it’s just another day in Carl Hiaasen county. The one-time Miami newspaperman has made a career writing about Florida capers and “Bad Monkey” is his latest piece. Filled with manic episodes and outrageous characters spewing satiric dialogue, Hiaasen’s novel is crisp, smart and spill-your-margarita funny, which is everything a vacation read should be.

Austin Harris: Austin holds a master’s degree in poetry and lives in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

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