Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Books and Beaches... The Annual Summer Reading List

Books and Beaches
The Annual Summer Reading List

I’ve always admired women who carry clutch bags, those exquisite, tiny creations that fit  so neatly under the arm.  They look so professional, so put together, so … unfettered.  I once spied one of these lovely envelope bags in a shop.  It was gorgeous and my heart went out to it immediately.  Fortunately I was seized by a rare moment of wisdom and before I pulled out my dollars to purchase this treat, I decided to take the “essentials” out of the handbag I was carrying and attempt to fit them into this sleek new temptation.  Out came my wallet, my phone and my lipstick, followed by my knitting, several dog biscuits, a green fan, a writing journal, several pencils….  By the time I pulled out the ever present book, the saleslady had seized to smile politely and was laughing out loud.  

There is always a book in my bag, which is one of the reasons I love summer.  In summer it is much more sartorially acceptable to carry a huge handbag.  It can easily be a beach bag, after all.  I may be on my way to the beach. I may have just returned.  Who's to know?  My current handbag is green straw, with a curved wooden handle and it's delightfully capable of holding not just one, but several books.  It's also ready and waiting to accompany me to the beach should the rigors of city life become too taxing as they frequently do in the summertime.  Right? 

Happily, I can read just about anywhere.  The airport, the dentist, on line at the bank… the restaurant, the park, the hairdressers, you name it.  But is there anyplace more divinely suited for reading than the beach?  Perhaps it’s the soundtrack of waves and wind.  Perhaps it’s the soft warm sand beneath bare feet.  Whatever the reason, I would choose the beach above all other summer locales to read this list of books.  Warm beach, cool beach, cold beach.  Sandy shore, rocky shore.  Doesn’t matter.   As long as the ocean stretches out before you as far as the eye can see, as long as a fat, full moon paints its ribbon of light across the rolling darkness, as long as waves crash against the shoreline in constant, comforting music, it’s completely perfect.   

Here are a few of my suggestions for the perfect summer books, along with a few of my favourite beaches to read them.  Please do share some of the books you’re planning to read this summer, and where you’re planning to read them!
As usual, click on the book to see more.
And, enjoy! 

Tintagel, Cornwall
The Green Road
by Anne Enright

Reunion of Ghosts
by Judith Claire Mitchell

A Memory of Violets
by Hazel Gaynor

Portpatrick, Scotland
The Shepherd’s Life
by James Redbanks

Small Blessings
by Martha Woodroof

The Love Object
Selected Stories
by Edna O’Brien
Amelia Island, Florida
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You a Story
by Fredrik Backman

Man at the Helm
by Nina Stibbe

Elgol, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

Burning Down George Orwell’s House
by Andrew Ervin

Dancing at the Edge of the World
Thoughts on Words, Women, Places
by Ursula K. Le Guin

Hunting Island, South Carolina

Hold Still
by Sally Mann

The Music of the Swamp
by Lewis Nordan

by Edith Pearlman

Daytona Beach, Florida

Me… Jane
by Patrick McDonnell

Pride and Prejudice
A Baby-Lit Counting Primer

Swallows and Amazons
by Arthur Ransome

Happy Reading!
Happy Summer!


  1. You and those dogs just make me super happy !!!
    Beautiful, all 3 of you.
    And, I'll check some of the books out, I know each one is worthwhile if you recommend it.
    Now, about that clutch.....

  2. Thank you for this! What a great group of books - I can't wait to read them!

  3. Your list is just in time! I've only one book left on the library wait list, so this will add some new options. Of course, I didn't mention the wait stack in my BR, or the wait stack in the LR. I guess you get my drift. :-) I love beach reading. In my much younger days, while living in Florida, I used to spend the better part every summer Saturday and Sunday on the beach with book in hand. Dreadful on "waspy" skin, and if or when I'm around a beach now, it has to be in the off-season as I can't stand the summer heat. Again, great list. Now I'll review the list in greater detail and see which ones to add to my list.

  4. Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell is coming to PBS this Saturday the 13th, can read the book and DVR the show to watch at a later date.

  5. You are killing me with those photos! The magic of Tintagel (the first time I ever had clotted cream), and the heart-throb of Scotland...(sigh). I will have to spend just a little time indulging in self-pity before I become engrossed in one of your book choices- keep the book lists coming! So grateful you do them. Will definitely help with the Outlander withdrawal I'm currently experiencing! Blessings-

  6. What a list!!! Cant wait to start investigating some of these beauties. Lovely photos of you in Scotland. In October we're walking through the South Downs in the UK and next May...........Scotland!!! I'm hoping you'll share lots of your travels, especially accommodation, magical meals and stunning vistas.

  7. Thank you so much. I knew I could count on you to fill out my 'to do' list. I can't wait to get started.
    Rose in Ohio

  8. I got a couple ideas for books to read from your list; you always find a nice assortment of titles and authors. The photos of you and the sea and beaches and of course of your wonderful dog are delightful.

  9. Thank you for sharing your reading list - no beach close by but a lovely shady spot in the garden!

  10. For fun...."The President's Hat" and "The Red Notebook." Fun, light reading.....taking place in France.

  11. Dear Pamela I always love your summer book selections, thanks you!!
    I completely understand your plight of the beautiful little clutch bag!

    The Arts by Karena
    Jackson Pollock

  12. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is on our television screens at present - very eerie I find it.
    Thank you for the photograph of Portpatrick - that part of Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway) is much under rated - we love it up there and it is not too far for us to travel.

    What am I reading this Summer? I have only just returned from holiday and have not compiled a list - but on holiday I read 'Wonder' by R J Palacio. The last chapter reduced me to tears - it is such an uplifting book.

  13. Thanks for your suggestions Pamela …… it's always nice to hear what other people are reading. We are watching Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell at the moment on BBCTV and, probably because we missed the first episode, some of it is going over my head !!!!!! ….. but, it's really good and I love the way it's been filmed !! Look out for it. XXXX

  14. Only one I've heard about is the one by Sally Mann. I must have ADD because if I were at the beach, I wouldn't be able to get one page read without having to re-read it. I'd be too busy looking around. Tell me your favorite of the lot. I have read so many stinkers lately, I can't trust my own judgement (or the reviewers) anymore and it galls me to pay that much for the stinkers. I have decided that books are like perfume. Such individual things. Love the pics.

  15. Oh, oh, oh . . . where to start? So many tasty morsels to bite into. Thank you, once again, for this wonderful list and a bit of a chuckle for you just about described everything in my purse, which always holds a book. :)

  16. Summer, beach and books, that's a big big big temptation! Read the 100 years old man - very funny and very clever! So I've to put some of your books on my summer reading list. Beautiful pictures and fantastic dogs!!!
    All my best from Austria and happy days

  17. Wouldn't the duo feel right at home in Elgol ? PONs have the coats for it !

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  19. Sorry about the previous incomplete message.You mentioned wit earlier- I cut my teeth on Georgette Heyer. It was part of the development of my deep love for all things British as well as the development of the appreciation of wit. On a trip to England, I kept my roomies awake at night laughing as I read her book, Cotillion. I highly recommend it. I also just have to ask (although I'm certain that the answer is "yes")- are you familiar with the artwork of Sulamith Wulfing? You must be. A definite kindred spirit!

  20. I am looking forward to reading several of these. Thank you for the list.
    I feel sorry for Apple.

    1. Please don't! She's the happiest dog in the world. She just loathes the camera! xxx

  21. Love your book lists!
    I just finished "All the Light You Cannot See".

  22. I love your lists of books to read. Here is a threshold of possibility just waiting for me to cross, for I have not read any of these you have suggested.

    I took Wolf Hall with me to London earlier this month and fell in love with it. Good writing. Dry humor. I have been watching the PBS version and can hear Thomas Cromwell speak when I read it. While in Foyles, I bought Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett ( a much better selection of his books in the UK). And I picked up H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald in the London Review Bookshop. Suitcases, like handbags, should be large to accommodate the reading material.

  23. How fabulous, Pamela! First of all, I want to go to all of these locations. They all look enchanting. And so many good books, if only there were more hours in the day...
    xx Sunday

  24. I always look forward to your summer reading list, and this one doesn't disappoint. Thanks for reminding me to order A Shepherd's Life from my local bookstore. I have a similar character in my WIP. I adore your photos too. I've been to Tintagal, which inspired the Cornwall setting for said WIP. I've always wanted to see Skye.

  25. PS where is that wonderful window seat?

  26. Hooray, hooray! Thank you for the wonderful and much needed list! Stay cool...xo, N.

  27. For certain, I did not need more books to add to my summer list, but pleased I've seen yours. I'll have to add a few titles as well as a few beaches to my Where I Want to Go list. Enjoyed it.

  28. I have to say thanks for the heads up about "Small Blessings." I'm currently reading it and loving it. Felt a lot of kinship with the author, who, as it happens, grew up close to where I did. I tried several years ago to read "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," but could not get into it, despite being one who loves tales of the fae. Maybe because I couldn't sympathize or identify with any of the characters - for at least as far as I got. Have noted some of the others on your list as well. Have you read all of these yet? Any favorites? I recently read a couple of books set in Cornwall, just because I love the setting, though never have been. Unfortunately, they were more of the chick lit variety and forgettable. Speaking of Cornwall, are you watching Poldark? I can remember watching the first series! Finding this one enjoyable, too.


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