What I read on the beach

Books I read on the beach.

My beach chair has a pocket on the back with a zipper. That’s where I keep sunscreen and books. I selected two books by Shirley Jackson and my goal was to get through them while I sat on the beach.

I adore reading on the beach.

“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” is one of my favorite books. I’m thinking of assigning it to Book Club when it’s my turn — if book club survives. The last book club turned into a disaster more on track with “The Real Housewives” than a social evening to discuss literature. A spat broke out between two ladies. One woman went way over the top — and the other countered by sending a certified letter telling her she was out of the group.

Since then, two months of book clubs have been cancelled. In August only one person RSVP’d. September’s book club is off because the woman hosting said she needs a break. After that last episode, we all need a break!

Back to the beach. I LOVED reading both Shirley Jackson books. She is such an excellent writer. “Come Along with Me” is the beginning of a novel she never finished due to her death.

In 1968, Jackson’s husband released a posthumous volume of her work, Come Along with Me, containing her unfinished last novel, as well as 14 previously uncollected short stories (among them “Louisa, Please Come Home”) and three lectures she gave at colleges or writers’ conferences in her last years.


Although I’ve hauled “Come Along with Me” from Washington to California to Arizona, I’ve never read it. It was the perfect beach book. I read one short story or a lecture each day at the beach and finished it the day before we left. Her unfinished novel “Come Along with Me” was a joy with a very quirky character who was clairvoyant and communicated with the dead.

At the beach house I had a Liane Moriarity book I was reading but didn’t finish. “Nine Perfect Strangers” may remain strangers to me.

The contrast between Shirley Jackson and authors today was stark. I felt almost smug reading such a talented writer and forgoing my usual beach romances. I have five more Jackson novels yet to read. I can’t wait!

What type of books do you like to read on vacation?

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Have you read Shirley Jackson’s stories or books besides “The Lottery?”

21 thoughts on “What I read on the beach

  1. I don’t have a go to genre for vacations, just whatever is next on my shelf usually. I’ve become more accepting of simply taking my tablet to read from my list of library books. It’s often easier, although I do like the feel of real books more!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation
    I have given up on book clubs for similar reasons to why yours imploded.

    Right now I am reading The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. I also enjoyed her other two. They are light but engaging. Perfect for the beach, patio or bed before falling asleep.

  3. I read a few book by Lucy Foley this summer, and a little Nora Ephron, Anna Quindlen, but I also returned to the Elements of Style for support on my editing. I tend to like light reading during the summer. I read the lottery years and years ago and was profoundly disturbed by the tale! Great post, hugs, C

    • I like Anna Quindlen and love Elements of Style. My favorite journalism prof. required it. The Lottery was required at some point in my school years. “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” isn’t as disturbing — or is it? I marveled at her set up stories and characters. Jackson is the Twilight Zone of authors in her day. You might enjoy “Come Along With Me” for her three lectures about writing.

  4. I don’t read anything in particular on vacation, as I am typically too busy doing things. When we camp, I try to catch up on my magazines and read a bit of whatever books are in progress (seems I always have 6 or 7 going!). I have not read Shirley Jackson, but I started a “classics” reading track, so maybe I’ll check one out when I finish Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

      • They’re pretty intense. I usually choose intense romance novels that usually involve the characters having some sort of trauma that made them a certain way. I also read mystery books. I’m currently reading “the eleventh hour” and “a murder in Paris”. I’m actually reading 10 books at the same time, 3 of which are self help books. The rest are novels or novellas.

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