2011’s Essential Beach Reads Review
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Now that the kids are out of school and the temperatures are rising, it’s time to hit the beach—or head to the pool—for some summer R&R&R: rest, relaxation, and reading!

Before you collapse into your lounge chair for an afternoon in the sun, though, you’ll want to pack your beach bag with all of the essentials: snacks, water, sunscreen, and, of course, a good book or two. So race on out to your favorite bookstore and pick up a bag full of these winning beach reads.

First, let’s start out with some lighter fare—like Janice Hamrick’s Death on Tour, a cozy mystery that follows a high school teacher on deadly tour of Egypt. With its intriguing settings, eccentric characters, and even a hint of romance, it’s a lovable globe-trotting adventure.


Or, for something a bit wackier, try Tim Dorsey’s Electric Barracuda, a wild and crazy caper that joins life-long fugitive (and strangely lovable serial killer) Serge A. Storms on a rollicking road trip across Florida. If you want truly eccentric characters—and laugh-out-loud adventures—this is the perfect pick for you.

If your summer vacations don’t allow for a lot of long, extended periods of reading, though, you might want to consider Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Braillier. This quirky choose-your-own-adventure-style novel is a good book for readers on the run. You can pick it up, try your hand at surviving, die a horrible death, and set it down for a while. Then, when you have a few more minutes to spare, you can pick it up and try again. With its silly storylines and its clever references to all kinds of zombie favorites, it’s a fun read for fans of the undead.

Or, for an entirely unique take on the zombie story, try Scott Kenemore’s Zombie, Ohio, a clever zombie adventure told through the eyes of the newly-undead. Though it’s not without its share of gore, this indie also has heart—and, of course, brains.

For a lightning-fast read that will keep you perched on the edge of your beach chair, go with Now You See Her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. The dynamic duo has crafted a dynamic crime thriller about a New York attorney whose secret past comes back to haunt her.

For supernatural thrills that are guaranteed to send chills down your spine, try Michael Koryta’s The Ridge, a hauntingly suspenseful story about a small Kentucky town’s dark, deadly secret. It isn’t the kind of light, fluffy read that many beach bums prefer—but if you’re in the mood for something a little more horrifying, this is the perfect pick. Just be sure to get someone to remind you to flip over in your chair; otherwise, you’ll be so engrossed in the story that you’ll end up with a nasty burn.

Once you finish reading The Ridge, I have a feeling that you’ll be ready to read more of Koryta’s thrillers—so pick up The Cypress House next. It may take place in Florida, but it’s not just another laid-back, beachy story. It’s another haunting supernatural mystery with an old-school noir twist.

Speaking of old-school, for a time-travel adventure that you can share with your favorite teen, pick up a copy of Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red. This German thriller about a normal British teen who discovers that she’s inherited her family’s time-travel gene is nothing short of addictive. Just be warned that it’s the first book in a trilogy—and the abrupt ending may leave you wishing that you could travel ahead in time to pick up the follow-up.

And, finally, for younger readers (and their nerdy parents), there’s Elissa Brent Weissman’s Nerd Camp—a summer camp story about a brainy 10-year-old who spends his summer learning that it’s actually pretty cool to be a nerd. It may be a book for kids, but the characters are so much fun that you and your favorite young smarty-pants can enjoy reading this quirky summer adventure together.

Now that you’ve got the inside scoop on the year’s hottest summer reads, what are you waiting for? Load up your beach bag—or your favorite e-reader (just be sure to bring a good cover, to keep out the sand and surf!)—and get yourself outside! Enjoy some summer fun—and be sure to keep checking back for more of the year’s best books.

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