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Top 8 Smart Beach Reads

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Beach reading, by definition, is not very heavy. It is difficult to contemplate weighty content with sand between your toes and a frisbee flying over your head. But just because you need a fun book for the beach, doesn't mean you have to read something completely fluffy. These five books were some of the best from the past few year, but they are also light enough to throw in your beach bag.

*Looking for more beach reading recommendations? Check out this list of beach reads for all types of people.

1. 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society'

'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Dell
Every once in a while I come across a book that I love, a book that I could read again and again, a book that I want everyone I know to read. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is one of those books. By far the best book I read in 2008, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a delightful piece of historical fiction that will make you laugh, cry and remember the transformational power of literature.

2. 'Beginner's Greek' by James Collins

'Beginner's Greek' by James Collins
Little, Brown
Beginner’s Greek is the debut novel from James Collins, and it’s a shame he’s waited this long to begin. The story of Holly and Peter is a simple, old-fashioned story that’s sweet but not treacly; beautifully-written but not precious. Beginner’s Greek is utterly delightful.

3. 'The Senator's Wife' by Sue Miller

'The Senator's Wife' by Sue Miller
Knopf
The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller is the story of two women -- one at the beginning of her marriage, one in her later years -- who live next door to each other. The Senator's Wife is a relatively simple story, but a compelling one nonetheless. Miller proves herself an excellent writer. The Senator's Wife is not groundbreaking, but it is a page turner that is light enough for the beach bag but thought provoking enough for book club.

4. 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' by Bill Bryson

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
The focus of Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is his childhood in Des Moines, Iowa. Department stores and movie theaters are just two things that Bryson argues were different and better in the 1950s, parts of a life that he observes doesn’t exist anymore. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is funny and well written, the perfect nostalgic addition to your trip to the beach.

5. 'Body Surfing' by Anita Shreve

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve
Body Surfing spans three summers in the life of a woman named Sydney. The beach house in this story functions as a character itself, playing a large role in the story and providing the novel with an intoxicating air of summer vacations and sandy feet. Body Surfing would make a great beach book, but it’s also emotionally satisfying enough to stand up to anytime of year.

6. 'Water for Elephants' by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The pages of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen turn themselves with their rich descriptions and action. You will be drawn into the world of ringmasters, elephants and sideshows during the Great Depression. You will not want to put Water for Elephants down, and when it is over, you will want more.

7. 'Heat' by Bill Buford

Heat by Bill Buford
Heat is a fascinating and surprising story of one man’s journey from journalist to kitchen slave to culinary apprentice. Bill Buford’s memoir covers his time working in a first-class New York restaurant and repeated journeys to Italy to apprentice with the country’s best chefs. The narrative is complemented by research into culinary history back to ancient times. Heat is a page-turner you can take to the beach, but also interesting enough for readers with an appetite for a meatier experience.

8. 'Digging to America' by Anne Tyler

Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Digging to America by Anne Tyler tells the story of two families who meet at the airport when they are adopting Korean infants. The Donaldson family is as all-American as they come. The Yazdans are Iranian immigrants. Digging to America uses the story of the families' growing friendship to explore what it means to be American.
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