Sand Spell

The Sand Witch embraces all genres.
The Sand Witch embraces all genres.

The restful murmur of waves muted by gentle breezes, the occasional squawk of seagulls in the distance, the whisper of pages turning – it’s summertime and the reading is sandy.

Something there is about the beach that encourages even those who rarely lose themselves in a good book to give it a try. Sometimes the pulse of the reading nation seems to throb in synch with the dictates of whatever’s hot and fresh off the New York Times bestseller list, or Oprah’s even hotter book club.

A few years ago during our annual family beach gathering it seemed that everyone but me was reading “The Da Vinci Code.” I held out against them, firm in my disdain for conspiracy theories.

But this summer, I’m happy to report, the beach reading survey reveals a wonderfully diverse assortment of interests. I came away from the vacation not only slightly sunburned and exhausted, but inspired and renewed by the evidence of intellectual rigor in our culture. It gives me hope that books with actual paper pages will outlast the storm of technological doodads that seem determined to drive printed books into extinction.

Of course, at the beach, the flaws of systems which rely on delicate screens and keypads become all too clear. One false move and the combination of sand, saltwater and sunscreen can make short work of modern technology. At the beach, paperback books – lightweight, cheap, impervious to Coppertone or being buried in the sand – rule.

Here’s what our little band of sandy scholars was reading this summer:

Adele: “Irish Dreams” and “Sullivan’s Bond” by Nora Roberts
Michele: “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens
Rick: “White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga and “West With The Night” by Beryl Markham
Lorrie: “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer
Nick: “The Soloist” by Steve Lopez and “Ender’s Shadow” by Orson Scott Card
Brad: “Windmills of the Gods” by Sidney Sheldon and “4th of July” by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Fred: “The Active Side of Infinity” by Carlos Castaneda
Mike: “Potluck” by yours truly and “Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption” by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton and Erin Torneo
Nikki: “Going Postal” by Terry Pratchett
Jay: “Netherland” by Joseph O’Neill
Shannon: “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Keith: “The Majors: In Pursuit of Golf’s Holy Grail” by John Feinstein
Marcus: “Ranger’s Apprentice Book II: The Burning Bridge” by John Flanagan
Pearl: “New Moon” by Stephenie Meyer
Dave: “Roma” by Steven Saylor
Kathryn: “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Stout

And me? Well, I must confess, that although I did bring two books to the beach (“Nothing But Blue Skies” by Tom Holt, and “Breaking Dawn” by Stephenie Meyer) I couldn’t get myself to look at them while I was actually on the sand. Maybe if I lived closer to the beach, maybe if I were younger and more easily able to take it for granted. But for me, each summer seems to go by faster. A week at the beach disappears like a sigh in the wind.

I spent my vacation watching the waves sparkling under the hot sun. I read my books on the plane going home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.