Each August I go on a vacation with friends where the most taxing decisions involve choosing if we want to go to the beach or lounge around the pool and whether we want ice cream or watermelon for our dessert.
Half the fun of the vacation is anticipating and planning for it, including deciding what books will be making the trip with me. In general, I'll read pretty much anything, but on vacation I am a bit more discriminating. My definition of an ideal beach read is one where I will be completely absorbed in its world and characters, but doesn't require an overexertion of my brain cells.
Here are a few of the titles vying for a spot in my suitcase this year:
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP
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Imagine if each morning when you woke up, your memory had been erased. This is the intriguing premise of "Before I Go To Sleep" by SJ Watson. Due to an accident that has left her an amnesiac, every night when she goes to sleep, Christine's memories disappear. With her husband, Ben, to help fill in the missing pieces of her past, and encouragement from her doctor to start a daily journal to restore her memories, Christine attempts to put her life back together. That is, until the morning she sees that she has written "Don't trust Ben" in the journal. Suddenly, she is questioning everything she's been told, including whether Ben is even her husband. This sounds like a gripping, suspenseful page-turner.
One glance at the photo of two sets of legs dangling from a dock over blue water on the cover of "Heat Wave" by Nancy Thayer and you know that this will be a quintessential beach read. When her husband unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, Carley Winsted devises a plan to keep the family financially afloat by turning their historic home on the island of Nantucket into a bed and breakfast. This promises to be an engaging and enjoyable summer read.
MY YEAR WITH ELEANOR
Recently unemployed and feeling a bit lost, 29-year-old Noelle Hancock reads Eleanor Roosevelt's famous quote, "Do one thing every day that scares you" and decides to spend a year doing exactly that. Noelle's memoir, "My Year With Eleanor," chronicles her adventures as she attempts to face a new fear every day, from diving with sharks to stand-up comedy. In addition to providing an entertaining look at her escapades, I'm predicting I will be inspired to face a few of my fears after reading this one.
In addition to the hottest new releases, I always use part of my vacation to catch up on a book I have wanted to pick up, but have never gotten around to reading. This year, that book will be "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman. Described as a Harry Potter novel for adults, Grossman has created a dark fantasy where the protagonist, Quentin Coldwater, discovers that the magical world of his favorite childhood books exists, but is not the perfect utopia he imagined. With the sequel, "The Magician King," set to be published Aug. 9, it is the perfect time to finally read this book.
Find these and other great beach reads at your local library branch and don't forget to check out our new hours by visiting our website and Virtual Branch Library at www.beaufortcountylibrary.org. From there you can search the catalog, put materials on hold and access our many databases. With your laptop, smartphone or iPad, you can take the library anywhere you go -- even to the beach.
Halle Eisenman is the reference manager at the Hilton Head Branch of the Beaufort County Public Library, at 11 Beach City Road.