There are many ways to enjoy a trip to the beach. The most thrilling The most exciting The most obvious of which is to give in to the consensus that it is perfectly fine to (1) be half-naked in broad daylight and (2) bathe communally in saltwater. Among other things, of course.
Barring that, there is always … there is always the comfort of a good book, read under the solitary shade, far from the madding crowd. In which case I recommend these lightweight tomes:
1. Kiss Kiss, Roald Dahl
In these stories, desires are thwarted, revenge is exacted, and the deceitful are punished severely. If you thoroughly delight in stories of epic failures, read this. My personal favourites are Parson’s Pleasure and Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat.
2. Shakespeare Wrote for Money, Nick Hornby
I almost decided to recommend How To Be Good, but this one is a slim volume of just 131 pages and can be wolfed down in an hour. A collection of Hornby’s essays in his column for the British magazine Believer, this book is another proof that it is impossible to read too much. As Hornby himself notes, “Once you pop, you cannot stop” “Reading begets reading.”
3. Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand
For those who are so inclined, I recommend this classic play involving this witty guy with a monstrous nose, a cute but dumb soldier, and a very beautiful girl. Unfortunately this was written in 1897.
4. Going Rouge–The Sarah Palin Rogue Colouring and Activity Book, Julie Sigwart and Michael Stinson
Thanks largely to Tina Fey, Sarah Palin is now a legend. This very same legend can now be handed down to kids as our legacy–in the form of this riot of a parody book, which claims to feature puzzles, word games, and mazes like, “Help Sarah find her way to the White House.”
This book is published right after Sarah Palin’s own memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life. Yep, Palin can write just fine. And she can see Russia from her house.
5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris
Sedaris’s essays often make me ask myself how he never runs out of bizarre experiences that he could so easily polish into endlessly funny anecdotes.
In this latest collection of his essays, he starts by recounting this story about a lozenge which fell from his mouth into the lap of his fellow passenger on a plane, and he ends by telling about how he quit smoking… in Tokyo, Japan.
There is however a mental note to be made if one is to ever bring a book to the beach: also bring a book cover. Speaking by experience, it is always a danger to read in public. People are bound to notice the title on the naked cover and one of them is bound to ask you a question about the book–or worse, offer his own unsolicited review. We do not want that to happen. Or do we?
*photo is from the acclaimed Julian Schnabel film “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” (Le scaphandre et le papillon)