It’s that time of year again when everyone from buzzfeed to the New York Times has a list of must-read Summer books, the infamous Beach Read (for all our days at the beach – if only I had so many!).


My husband and I found a tiny spot in Mexico a few years ago well off the beaten path. Just us, no internet, a few books, some groceries, and the turtles! While we usually are all GO when on vacation, this is our spot to relax and recharge. I usually bring at least 10 books…


As I get ready for this year’s trip, I have a few thoughts.

For each trip, there has been “The Book,” that one book that memorably is tied to the week. On our first visit, it was the Area X trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. I don’t think I could have ever gotten through all 3 if I wasn’t parked on a remote beach in Mexico, but thank god I was, because the experience was amazing! I see that book, think of it, and the memory is inextricable from the serenity of the beach.


On the last trip, “The Book” was Hillbilly Elegyby J.D. Vance. I read it in one afternoon and then made my husband (who emphatically hates reading) read it, too. It was all we talked about the rest of the week! That book was amazing… so compelling if you are from a small town like Vance.


So now the pressure is on. Does my reading list for next week contain the next “The Book?”

I realize my stack of “beach reads” (no Kindle, thank you very much) is not very beach-y. Yes, it includes Daniel Silva’s latest, The Other Woman, which I have been saving and will probably devour on the plane ride down. I’ve also got London Rulesby Mick Herron. I’ve read the opening chapter and I’m certain that if I’m in the mood for detective thriller, this will do the trick.But the majority of my list is a little more off-kilter. My reading list this year is a bit dark and heavy and reflects a subconscious (?) interest in big cultural books I feel like I missed.


Do I start with The Warmth of Other Suns or The Feminine Mystique? I’ve got some James Baldwin and Orwell’s 1984to round out the good times!I recently picked up The Train to Crystal City at the strangest little independent bookstore, Gazebo Books, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Right on the heels of a conversation with my husband about World War II internment camps (that’s what everyone talks about on vacation, right), there was this book! It might get bumped by Rachel Slade’s Into the Raging Sea, however, because I’m a sucker for disasters on mountains and at sea.


Rounding out the heavies, I’ve got The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet by David Mitchell and I’m sure I’ll bring something by Dan Simmons or Neal Stephenson, authors who need days to themselves to really enjoy the density of their prose.


Long story short, I feel like maybe I wouldn’t recommend my list to friends… but I hope that one of these (or something else I toss in the bag at the last minute) gets to be “The Book” this Summer.