10 of the best classic beach reads

I was fascinated to hear the title of the last ABC First Tuesday of the month Book Club (hereinafter FTBC for convenience) for 2014, Ten Classic Beach Reads – what would be revealed?

For many months, fans of FTBC voted on the books, which should be included in this list. More fascinating still than the title, is the books which won a place on the list. Even Jennifer Byrne, regular panellists Marieke Hardy and Jason Steger, guests, author Graeme Simsion and comedian Kitty Flanagan, although they loved many of the books chosen, were surprised by some choices.

For me a good “beach read”, otherwise known as “a good little read for hols”, doesn’t challenge my resting brain, is full of nice people and is enjoyable to read. Murders may occur, but they are “cosy”, more description than gun shot, stabbed, poisoned are unnecessary. It helps idle time pass, but never intrudes and is very forgiving. For example when I fall asleep, it doesn’t require an elaborate apology for my rudeness; it doesn’t get precious, sending me back to the beginning of the chapter to start again. Within a few words, I remember what happened in for previous page and read on. It is not a bad book by any means, just a gentle enjoyable read.

With this explanation, you will understand why I feel ABC viewers are more erudite than this humble scribe. (Okay even I agree that is not too difficult.) So to the list, with some comments from me:

  1. The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCulloch
    Agree, read many years ago and it encouraged me to read more of her books.
  2. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
    Unread, this is a ‘no’ from me – too violent for my taste.
  3. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
    Unread; it’s on that other list – To Be Read.
  4. My Family & Other Animals – Gerald Durrell
    Agree, read as a teenager and loved it; recently re-read for library book club it still held appeal.
  5. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
    No from me, I read about a quarter of this book when it was released and didn’t care about one single character, so let it rest.
  6. The World According to Garp – John Irving
    Unread, but not in a hurry to read it.
  7. The Shipping News – Annie Proulx
    Love this book but don’t agree it is a “beach” read; the prose is amazing, the story complicated, worth reading but not with holiday brain.
  8. The Beach – Alex Garland
    This is a ‘no’; it doesn’t appeal to me.
  9. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
    This book and A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author are truly beautiful, wonderful reads which I would recommend to anyone, but like The Shipping News, I wouldn’t include them as a beach read.
  10. The Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie
    Agree or any other Agatha Christie novel.
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The discussion in the special one hour version of FTBC was very entertaining as usual and you might enjoy seeing the whole programme at this link. I find it interesting how the experts have such differing views on books; proving yet again that my good book may be your bad book and vice versa.

Other books, which did not make the top ten, starting with three books in equal eleventh place, are:

  1. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
  2. Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling
  3. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  4. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
  5. Cross Stitch – Diana Gabaldon
  6. Life Of Pi – Yann Martel
  7. Kane & Abel – Jeffrey Archer
  8. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
  9. We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  10. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  11. The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
  12. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
  13. Jaws – Peter Benchley
  14. Shogun – James Clavell
  15. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  16. Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
  17. Flowers in the Attic – V.C. Andrews
  18. Regency Buck – Georgette Heyer
  19. Breath – Tim Winton
  20. Dune – Frank Herbert
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I would put some of these “also rans” into the top 10; books such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The Harry Potter Books, The Rosie Project, Kane and Abel and Regency Buck.

How about you, which books would you add to this list? Do you agree with the top ten? Please share your views!