Beach Read Suggestions – Part 1

Summer is a traditional time for reading.  Vacations, beach, pool all give us time to relax, unwind and read.

I have three posts of books so far (Fiction Part 1, Fiction Part 2 and Non-fiction).

Below I have listed books that I have read, a short description, a link to my review and an Amazon link.

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline – Review

384 pages, 1603 of 1830 reviews are 4 or 5-star

Ready Player One is a great science fiction book for people that do not normally like science fiction.  It is set in 2044 when the whole world spends most of their lives in an immersive internet, the Oasis.  The real world is falling apart, but what everyone is interested in is the finding the puzzle in the Oasis, while will give the winner ownership of the Oasis.

Wade (online name Percival) is 18, an orphan and in poverty.  The race to win the Oasis is his only chance to make something of himself.  This was recommended to me first by my sister in law (not a science fiction fan) and later my wife really enjoyed it (also not a science fiction fan).  I have read both on kindle and listened on audiobook.  I recommend both.

Bel Canto by Ann PatchettBel Canto by Ann Patchett – Review

352 pages, 544 of 826 reviews are 4 or 5-star

I love beautiful lyrical writing.  Patchett knows how to do that.  This is a story that from the beginning you know is going to end badly.  A number of dignitaries are taken hostage by revolutionaries in a fictional South American country.  The story progresses as one woman and 57 men are held for a long time.  People on both sides begin to see one another as human.  But they are stuck in a situation where there is no good way out.  It is a tradegy (and reading by the beach can help offset the sadness).  But there is also several love stories and wonderful insights into the human condition.  (I originally listened to this on audiobook and the narration is excellent.)

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Review

337 pages, 3114 of 3319 reviews are 4 or 5-star

This book was on a number best books of 2012 lists.  It is a young adult novel.  It is about two teens with cancer that fall in love.  I have finished almost 90 books so far this year and it is the best fiction book I have read this year.  I am planning on re-reading it this summer. (I originally listened to this on audiobook and the narration is excellent.)

John Green’s other book – An Abundance of Katherines would also make a great beach read (and it funnier)

Agent to the Stars by John ScalziAgent to the Stars by John Scalzi – Review

366 pages, 109 of 114 reviews are 4 or 5-star

Sometimes the best books for the beach are those that are a little bit ridiculous.  Agent to the Stars is about a Hollywood agent who is approached by very ugly aliens.  The aliens want to officially build a relationship with earth but know that they need just the right introduction.  So they come to Thomas Stein, the hotest of hot young agents to work out the best way for horribly ugly aliens to be welcomed.  If you are a science fiction fan, Scalzi has a number of books that would make good beach reads.  The Android’s Dream, Fuzzy Nation, Redshirts, Old Man’s War and more.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver – Book Review

610 pages, 781 of 1027 reviews are 4 or 5-star

Barbara Kingsolver does not take on small themes.  Flight Behavior is about a rural family who has millions of Monarch butterflies descend on their farm.  Instead of the normal Mexican wintering spot, the Monarchs have come to Appalachia.

This is a book about global warming.  But I would suggest that you don’t skip it just because you do not want to read a book on global warming.  It is first of all a very good book.  And Kingsolver never goes for the easy answers.  I also suggest Kingsolver’s other books.  I have reviewed Prodigal Summer and The Poisonwood Bible.

Divergent by Veronica RothDivergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth – Review of Divergent and Insurgent

The first two book in the trilogy are out.  The third, Allegiant, is coming out in October.

This is a dystopian young adult (older teen at least) book.  Society has devolved into five groups that live in the remains of Chicago.  Each groups lives according to their particular values in an uneasy truce.  If you loved Hunger Games, you will probably like this different take on dystopian fiction.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkeJonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – no review

866 pages, 678 of 1004 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled 

Some people really like long books to read over the summer.  This fits that bill.  This is an alternate reality book.  It is set in early historical 19th Century England, but magic is real.  In the early industrial period there is a movement to regain the use of magic.  This is a wide ranging book.  War, the ‘science of magic’, relationship with aristocracy.  The historical detail mixed with the fantasy is the best part of the book.

Enchantment by Orson Scott CardEnchantment by Orson Scott Card – no Review

433 pages, 177 of 222 reviews are 4 or 5-star

Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors, but he is very inconsistent.  Enchantment is one of the better, but lesser known books.  Enchantment is a retelling of the sleeping beauty fable, but it actually happened in Russia.  A modern man is swept back in time because he broke sleeping beauty’s spell.

The other novel of Orson Scott Card’s that you should read is Ender’s Game.  This is one of the best young adult science fiction novels ever.  It is finally being made into a movie (IMDB and trailer)

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