Discover more from Well Read with Anna Bonet
Four brilliant beach reads
However you define them
Someone once said to me that they associate a beach read with ‘forgettable books’. The kind of books you speed through, dizzy with the instant hit of fiction dopamine, but feeling nothing in its wake. You’re glad to have had the rush, but come a few weeks later, you don’t remember a single detail, sometimes forgetting the name of the book altogether.
Maybe that is why ‘beach read’ has a slightly tinged rep. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with means-to-an-end books, but to me a beach read is something entirely different altogether. It is actually the opposite.
I think a beach read is one of those novels where, however much time passes, you always remember the exact time and place you read it. You can recall the smells and the sounds of wherever you were, and the tiny details of what was going on in your life at the time.
That is the case for me with the following four novels. Wherever you read them, these books won’t be forgotten.
Four beach reads, to enjoy wherever you are
The New Girl by Harriet Walker
I actually did read this psychological thriller on a beach in Spain, and did so in one sitting. I remember finding it difficult to tear myself away from where I lay reading it, which is unusual for me because my beach days tend to involve a dip in the sea every five minutes.
The New Girl is about Margot, a fashion editor at a glossy women’s magazine who is pregnant with her first child, and Maggie, the freelance journalist who covers her maternity leave. Secrets, paranoia and plenty of rivalry ensue in this twisty, satisfying book.
The Vanishing Half By Brit Bennett
I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly that makes some books so transportive, but The Vanishing Half has whatever it is. I got utterly lost in this novel for days.
It is a multi-generational story about identity, race and family which spans over several decades. At the centre of it are estranged twins - Desiree, who still lives in the deep southern town where she and her sister grew up, and Stella, who deserts her family and lives a life passing as white. When their daughters cross paths, everything comes to a head in this gorgeously layered, engrossing read.
No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
When Cynthia is fourteen years old, she wakes up and heads downstairs only to find that her mother, father and brother are nowhere to be seen. There is no note and nor is she able to contact any of them. Her family has disappeared without a trace.
It is only 25 years later that mystery of what happened to them begins to unravel in this impossible-to-put-down thriller. No Time for Goodbye was published in 2007 but it is still one of the most gripping, suspenseful books I have ever read.
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
Cyprus, 1974. Defne is Turkish, Kostas is Greek, and while their two countries are fighting over the island, they are falling in love.
I savoured every minute of reading this book. The narrative unfurls over multiple timelines and perspectives – one even being the viewpoint of a fig tree – making it an unforgettably rich and beautifully-told novel. Elif Shafak is one of my favourite authors and this, I think, is her best yet.
I was very happy to read the news that books are still booming, with record-breaking sales in the first six months of 2022 - and that fiction is the biggest driver of that surge.
Also, before I go, a quick heads up that Well Read is going on a short summer break, before returning to business-as-usual in September.