Beach book suggestions please
June 11, 2011 6:52 PM   Subscribe

Beach book suggestions please: have recently finished the latest installment in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series which I found engrossing and entertaining without being too deep or involved. Would welcome suggestions in a similar vein for lying on a beach, reading on a plane.
posted by braemar to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried his Nursery Crimes series? A bit less, er, meta, but still entertaining!
posted by greatgefilte at 6:54 PM on June 11, 2011

Thanks very much, I have read the Nursery series and loved it just as much!
posted by braemar at 7:00 PM on June 11, 2011

. . . and his book Shades of Grey, whose sequel I have been awaiting anxiously.

Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog is cute and light and frothy in much the same way. This is the only one of her books which is cute and light. Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens is also similarly light and fun. I recently read Lois McMaster Bujord's Vorkosigan books while on vacation, and they were excellent for that.

Can you give a hint about genres? Do you only want funny books? The question is sort of hard to answer.
posted by jeather at 7:01 PM on June 11, 2011

Alright, my next suggestion: anything by Christopher Moore?
posted by greatgefilte at 7:01 PM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Can you give a hint about genres?

Not specific about genres but definitely something with humour and irreverence. I also simply adore Fforde's clever use of the English language. (I know that Terry Pratchett's name often comes up in the same breath as Fforde so other suggestions would be appreciated!)
posted by braemar at 7:08 PM on June 11, 2011

Seconding Christopher Moore. Also Bill Bryson if you don't mind nonfiction.
posted by entropyiswinning at 7:14 PM on June 11, 2011

I too loved Jasper Fforde - so creative!

Other authors you might enjoy-

Alexander McCall Smith - his No. 1 Ladies Detecitve Agency series is very entertaining as his is 44 Scotland St Series. I haven't read the other series but the man is uber prolific, so you don't have to wait too long.

Joan Hess - she has two series of mysteries - the Maggody set and the Claire Malloy. So fun.

I also recently read Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. It's been a long time since I read a book that was so entertaining.
posted by Leezie at 7:14 PM on June 11, 2011

Douglas Adams' Hitchhicker's Trilogy (which is actually five books).
posted by naturalog at 7:15 PM on June 11, 2011

Seconding Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams (try the Dirk Gently series which is a little more linear than the Hitchhiker series). Neil Gaiman can be like this - he wrote a book with Terry Pratchett called Good Omens which is very fun. Gaiman can also be dark, so it depends on your tolerance for that.

P. G. Wodehouse is another wonderfully fun English author with that kind of wordplay and his plots are feather-light, they're all about silly English aristocrats in the early 20th century. Try the Mulliner series or of course the Jeeves and Wooster series. Doesn't matter what order you read them in.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:31 PM on June 11, 2011

Was about about to recommend Pratchett, then I saw your update. Hurm.

Be careful with Christopher Moore: some of his stuff is great and some is amazingly mediocre. I recommend Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, A Dirty Job, and Fool (this one especially if you're looking for entertaining English geekery).

While not as wonderfully geeky as Fforde or Pratchett, Amistead Maupin's Tales of the City series is perfect beach reading. A bit fluffy, but engrossing, especially if you love San Francisco.
posted by smirkette at 7:35 PM on June 11, 2011

I'll recommend the novels by Tim Cockey featuring a Baltimore undertaker, Hitch Sewell. A bit lighter reading than some other books mentioned here, but a fun series, in my opinion.

The Hearse You Came in On
Hearse of a Different Color
The Hearse Case Scenario
Murder in the Hearse Degree
posted by calgirl at 8:01 PM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

And if you like British comedic novels of (aristocratic) manners in the Wodehouse vein, I suggest those by Nancy Mitford. Added bonus: her fiction is semi-autobiographical. Fun to try to figure out which storylines were based on which actual occurances. Her family was seriously odd.
posted by likeso at 2:14 AM on June 12, 2011

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I've got my hands on second hand copies of Christopher Moore's "Island of the Sequined Love Nun" as well as Christopher Brookmyre's "All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye" and "A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away". I think I'll start the first chapter of each and see how far I can get into them... Thanks again!
posted by braemar at 5:43 AM on June 12, 2011

Are you adverse to graphic novels? There's a lot of stuff I could recommend that might fit, but one of those is Concrete by Paul Chadwick. Sci Fi and magical realism elements that aren't exactly the focus of the story, a witty protagonist, serial in nature so you can read them in single sittings, beautiful art, well paced with great humor to them.
posted by codacorolla at 10:44 AM on June 12, 2011

I'm going with James Morrow's, Towing Jehovah. God dies and his mile long body lands in the Caribbean and has to be towed by an oil tanker to the arctic so it won't rot.

In a different vein, Monster Blood Tattoo. A trilogy that I think will boost the verbal SAT score of anyone who reads it. I don't usually look for great language, but this guy's got it. It's probably misfiled under YA but I've even seen it in the children's department.
posted by mearls at 2:12 PM on June 12, 2011

some others to check out, which have some overlap with your requirements:

Matt Ruff (Fool on the Hill is a novel about wild artsy characters in college with a supernatural twist; Sewer Gas and Electric is fun postmodern quasi detective story)

Kurt Vonnegut (you've probably read him and thus probably know if you like him; he's got a million books some funnier and some more serious)

Christopher Buckley (more biting; might be darker/more cynical than what you want)

I think the Island of the Sequined Love Nun is not Moore's best, so you might try to get hold of the more recent ones like Lamb etc mentioned above.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:40 PM on June 12, 2011

Another name comes up; I read his books ages ago so I can't say if they would appeal in the same way, but maybe worth a try:
Parke Godwin, specifically Waiting for the Galactic Bus and the Snake Oil Wars. (they're sort of satires about religion)
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:44 PM on June 12, 2011

Oh, and about Terry Pratchett:
The first novels in his Discworld series are, IMO, not that great. So if you've tried to pick them up and disliked them, don't be put off the rest of his stuff. Skip to the middle - try starting with Guards, Guards or Small Gods. His young adult books are also fun - the Tiffany Aching series (first book is Wee Free Men) is nice and has a similar "non-nonsense girls/women solving their own problems" theme to the Thursday Next series.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:51 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you read any Tom Holt? His stuff's got a good British sense of humour, and is slightly real world fantasy based stuff as well. Brookmyre is definitely worth a shot.
posted by MattWPBS at 3:32 PM on June 12, 2011

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