Books to read on short vacation
May 1, 2018 11:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm going on a 5 day anniversary vacation with no kids! That means I can finally get some me-time for reading. Please recommend good books to read on a beach.

Most of my "reading" is done now on Audible, and mostly only self-help or non-fiction books. I'm craving a good novel or two (could also be a memoir), that goes well with vacation. So probably no war or depressing stories. Yes to thrillers, mystery, romance, regular drama. Hopefully something that will not take me long to get me hooked" (or else I fear I will end up looking at Twitter all day).

Readers of MeFi please help. (I'll be downloading on a Kindle if it matters.
posted by CrazyLemonade to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Annihilation really did the trick for me on a beach vacation! The other books in the trilogy are good too, but Annihilation also works well as a standalone.
posted by cakelite at 11:13 AM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Siracusa by Delia Ephron takes place on a vacation in Italy and is kind of a psychological thriller.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub is a novel about a vacation taken with friends and family--lots about intertwined relationships.
posted by bookmammal at 11:21 AM on May 1, 2018

Lexie Dunne's wry superhero series is fun and energetic (Superheroes Anonymous, Supervillains Anonymous, How to Save the World) -- popcorny plots and cozy (if weird) friendships.

John Scalzi's near-future crime thrillers Lock In and Head On are also pretty pacy (I just finished reading the latter in fact).
posted by inconstant at 11:57 AM on May 1, 2018

I have Laura Lipman’s Sunburn on my list. Here she is talking on NYT Book Review.
posted by loveandhappiness at 12:05 PM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

WELCOME TO TEMPTATION, FAKING IT, and AGNES AND THE HITMAN, all by Jennifer Crusie. Fun romance, great characters, lots of laughs.
posted by mareliz at 12:26 PM on May 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Seconding Laura Lippman and Jennifer Crusie. Have you read any of Liane Moriarty's books? Big Little Lies is the one everyone's heard of, but my favorites are The Last Anniversary and Three Wishes. Also Joshilyn Jackson - Between, Georgia is a good one of hers. Sourdough by Robin Sloan would be a good beach read.
posted by Kriesa at 12:39 PM on May 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. Very suspenseful. I couldn’t put it down!
posted by twin_A at 12:44 PM on May 1, 2018

Here are a few that if I could read for the first time again I would take on a vacation.

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon by Sheila Weller (this is non fiction but very entertaining)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
The forgetting time by Sharon Guskin
The Good House by Ann Leary
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
posted by MrsMGH at 12:51 PM on May 1, 2018

Was going to suggest Big Little Lies, which I inhaled on a beach trip last year.

A few others I've enjoyed recently for beachy reading:

- Need to Know by Karen Cleveland (CIA analyst discovers her husband is a deep-undercover Russian spy a la The Americans)
- Dare Me by Megan Abbot (noir-ish novel about cheerleaders in a suburban midwest town - pretty dark but very readable - reminded me of Laura Lippman)
- Pretty much any of Elin Hildebrand's books about Nantucket. I especially enjoyed The Identicals, but they're all basically the same. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- I just finished reading We Were the Lucky Ones about how an entire family of Polish Jews survived the Holocaust (a fictionalized account of what happened to the author's own family). I expected it to be depressing, but it was instead incredibly gripping and ultimately very affirming (they all survive after all! not a spoiler) and full of people being unbelievably resourceful.
- Dietland by Sarai Walker is a really fun chick lit/caper/mystery that entertained me a lot on a vacation last year. It's also about to premier as a TV show, so you could get ahead of the game.
- Oh that reminds me of Sweetbitter, which is also about to be a TV show, and which is a really fun, juicy read.
- If you're looking for something a bit more ... literary, I have thoroughly enjoyed both of Sloan Crossley's books of autobiographical essays. The first is I was Told There Would Be Cake.
posted by lunasol at 12:56 PM on May 1, 2018

The Bourbon Kings series.. smutty, light, but reasonably decent.
posted by Ftsqg at 1:32 PM on May 1, 2018

My most recent "beach read" type books that I've enjoyed:

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter (mystery/drama with some comedic elements). Two intertwined narratives, one past and one present; in 1962 a beautiful starlet with a mysterious illness is brought to a pensione on a remote island in Italy; in present day Hollywood, a famous producer and his development assistant are visited by the owner of the pensione, trying to find out what happened to the actress. I'm currently reading this and it's a real page turner!
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (comedy with some dramatic elements). I absolutely loved this--it's funny and touching. Eleanor Oliphant is a very prickly and socially awkward woman who lives a lonely, sheltered, structured life. Her life changes completely when she has a chance encounter with a work colleague and an elderly man in distress.
The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne (romance). Two work colleagues who hate each other are competing for the same promotion but find out they are actually attracted to each other.
The Humans, by Matt Haig (fantasy/comedy). An alien comes to earth on a mission to save his people, and ends up having to impersonate a math professor and infiltrate his family. This was a funny, thought-provoking comedy that was actually quite touching.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:08 PM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I thought Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry was very, very good.
posted by chavenet at 2:22 PM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, these are some great suggestions. SO MANY THANKS to everyone. I'll probably only be able to read one or two this week but I'll definetly put a bunch of these on my to-read-later list.

Was going to suggest Big Little Lies, which I inhaled on a beach trip last year.
I did this too last time I had a no-kids vacation, haha.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:24 PM on May 1, 2018

I want to second Dietland and also add Crazy Rich Asians. I read both of them on a short solo trip for a wedding and they were perfect reads for that situation.
posted by SeedStitch at 6:48 AM on May 2, 2018

I was relaxing on a beach recently and I gotta say that listening to an audiobook on a beach is total bliss. (since you say you use audible I figure this isn't too off-topic) I played the book off of my phone and just put in one earbud so I could still hear the waves. Since you don't have to stare at the book you can look at the sky and the water, not having to hold up a book your hands a free and you can let your body totally relax, or play with the sand. I didn't think that there could be anything more pleasant than reading at a beach but there you go, listening on a beach is even better.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:33 PM on May 2, 2018

Surely Death in Venice by Thomas Mann is the ultimate beach read? Inevitably the words will evoke memories of the Visconti movie - with all those gorgeous scenes shot on the Venice Lido -not to mention the luscious Mahler score..
posted by ncouchman at 2:48 PM on May 16, 2018

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