Full disclosure: I admit to the guilty literary pleasure of the beach read. I’ve positioned my beach umbrella over many a trashy tome. But as I get older I find prefer my escapism laced with a wee bit of reality. So with that in mind, here are four reads that manage to entertain without sacrificing that bracing rush that comes when a skilled writer tells it like it is. Now you just have to figure out how to make the time to read the book on the beach with the kids ….
Leah Stewart’s Husband and Wife tells a distressingly familiar tale – the self-absorbed, unfaithful, soon-to-be-middle-aged, male author – but puts a charmingly wicked spin on it by telling it from his betrayed wife’s POV. Her husband’s infidelity forces Sarah Price to confront her past and dreams, and she does so with a combination of humor and emotional honesty that makes you feel like you’re nursing your best friend at college through a freshman year break-up.
Toronto Globe and Mail reporter and columnist Michah Toub weighs in with a truly original and often hysterical memoir about being raised by two Jungian therapists in Growing up Jung. This may be the only coming-of-age tale you ever read that deals with the anima, the Oedipus complex and the notion of transference while posing the question: is it possible for the spawn of two shrinks to reach adulthood mentally unscathed?
Of course, no 2010 beach read list would be complete without One Day, British author David Nicholls’ mass market sensation – soon to be a major motion picture starring Anne Hathaway. The novel, told with bittersweet humor and insight in the best Nick Hornby tradition, follows a star-crossed couple as they attempt to connect once a year on July 15th for twenty years. Sounds more ambitious than some forty-something marriages I know.
And finally, a sentiment we can all relate to in Meghan Daum’s slightly unhinged but couldn’t be more zeitgeisty memoir, Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in That House. Having battled compulsive moving disorder myself, I can totally relate to Daum’s quixotic quest through the MLS in search of that perfect abode.