Looking for the Summer

The weather's making us fantasize
about vacations!
It’s that time of year again, when the Wenches who live “down under” are posting about their summer vacations, and those in the northern hemisphere are shivering by the fire, dreaming of warm destinations, and Looking for the Summer*. If you’re like us, you really look forward to taking a long break from your daily obligations once in a while. And no matter where you're headed, whether surfing or snow skiing, you hope it includes some quality reading time. To make a dent in your TBR pile, or try the latest best seller, or grab something impulsively at the airport bookstore.

Much advice has been dispensed about vacation reading, by those who take months to plan and those who simply pick up whatever is lying around where they end up. Since those of us up north wanted an excuse to think about sunshine and beaches, we started asking each other to recommend good vacation books, and then decided to take some notes. Click through to see what we came up with.

Source: millionsmillions.tumblr.com/

* Chris Rea, © 1998 Magnet Records Ltd.

To plan or not to plan...

I don't know about you, but I tend to plan ahead and save certain books for vacations. Years ago, I didn't think about books until I was walking out the door, but a couple of things caused me to change my strategy.

First, I ran across an interesting article (for which I can no longer remember the source) about the importance of selecting vacation reads that complement your planned locales and activities. The gist of it went something like this: If you’re traveling around the British Isles, visiting Stonehenge or the Tower of London, you might enjoy a book set in England, or historical fiction, or some British humor. You would not want to read something set in a culture or country that was radically different, such as Memoirs of a Geisha. Which was, unfortunately, the exact book I read on my first trip to England. So I understood the author’s point right away and wholeheartedly agreed. As much as I enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, it wasn’t the right choice for that long train ride through the pastoral British countryside to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Later I decided books could also be too relevant to a vacation. I found myself sitting in a small Crater Lake National Park campground reading Night of the Grizzlies, a fascinating account of the first fatal grizzly bear attacks in Glacier National Park. Which came highly recommended and I thought would be the perfect read for this trip. Until I realized it was 1:00 in the morning, and I had been completely oblivious, brightly lighted “bear bait” while I sat riveted to this book with everyone else in the dark campground sound asleep. So I was relieved when it was time to reach for my backup book. Oops, it was Mark of the Grizzly, another fascinating if perhaps ill-timed book about bear attacks. I will say that it greatly enhances the fear factor to read these books while tent camping near bears, but I don't necessarily recommend it.

Hmmm... what books to bring along?

So it might be beneficial to put a little thought into the books you pack for a trip. This might not be important if you plan to have an e-reader and a working wireless connection, but if you’re packing old-fashioned printed books in the current age of weighty baggage fees, it never hurts to think ahead about what you’ll be taking with you. So you can get those tough decisions out of the way about what to leave out of the suitcases, such as clothing, if you decide to tackle something heavy like A Song of Ice and Fire or Outlander. :-)

Wench recommendations

Amanda: I don't have a particular beach read. I have recommended the Highlander series by Karen Marie Moning though...the first and second books are light reading.

Engrossing thrillers.
Anne: My favorite beach reads (that are actually pool reads — since I burn easily, I don't hit the beach much) are anything by James Patterson, John Grisham, or David Baldacci. They are all quick reads and totally engrossing. They pull you right into the minds of the characters and make you desperate to solve the mystery or get to the end of the trial.

Barbara: For easy reading I love anything by Jane Heller. Funny mysteries, always entertaining. Cha Cha Cha can pack itself in my beach bag anytime.

J. Evanovich won't have you fumbling
to explain steamy covers.
Beta: I can't say that I have any special beach reads. If I'm already reading something I just take that with me, but if not, I take whatever strikes my fancy at the time, or the next book on my TBR list. I have to say that if I were going on a vacation now, being so wrapped up in the Outlander world, I would thank my lucky stars for my e-reader. Those books are huge!

Donna: You can't beat a Stephanie Plum mystery by Janet Evanovich, for sheer entertainment. There's lots of humor, mayhem, and hijinks from regulars Stephanie, Grandma Mazur, Joe, Ranger, and Lula and a host of zany bail jumpers. They always make me giggle (and there are no embarrassing uber-romantic covers for others to smirk at).

Katherine: Beach reads? Hmm. Lords of the Underworld would be good since they aren't too heavy. I've done the Dirty Girls Social Club, but I don't have a go-to author for beach reads. I just read whatever it is that I am interested at that time.

A little something to
calm the kids down too.
Kathi: My favorite author for beach trips is Carl Hiaasen. He writes "caper novels" set mostly in south Florida that feature uniquely eccentric and highly memorable characters, hare-brained shenanigans, and hilarious commentary. But his stories also reflect his concern with environmental issues caused by overdevelopment in southern Florida. His first book, Tourist Season, was a tongue-in-cheek (or was it?) attempt to discourage tourists from visiting south Florida by declaring an open season on shooting them. One of my favorite books was Basket Case, because I'm a music lover and it features a rock-and-roll murder case. He also writes children’s books (Flush, Chomp, and Hoot, which was made into a movie), in case you’re looking for something to keep the kids entertained while you read!

For years, my favorite vacation books were by Michael Crichton. I discovered him before his books turned into blockbuster movies, by picking up a paperback copy of Jurassic Park to read on my Christmas vacation. After that, I tried to read all his books, including medical thrillers he wrote using pseudonyms to pay his way through medical school. I would like to particularly point out an often-overlooked autobiographical gem called Travels, which my friend used to read to her kids when they were young (certain chapters, she wants to point out, about sharks and Mt. Kilamanjaro, not all of them). His later books are all fast-paced techno-thrillers that explore what happens when human weakness meets sophisticated new technology. By that point in his career, he was releasing a new book every other December, and I always looked forward to that as my Christmas vacation read.

Some of us aren't very picky on what we take with us.
Merit: I don't have a special beach read. I will read any kind of book I love by the beach, as long as I am in the shade!

Shau: I don't have favorite beach books. I just pick up something that interests me at that particular moment. Sometimes it's light and fluffy and sometimes it's serious and difficult. It varies with me.

Veronica: Caught Running by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux. Just a little angst, but not too much. The small town "nerd" and "jock" return to teach at their old high school, and of course fall madly in love with each other. It's a sweet story, and fun to read about the students from the teachers' perspectives.

Zee: Agree with Anne. And personally I love reading any mysteries. Classic ones are my faves. Agatha Christie is quick and completely engrossing. I also would add most trashy romances :D hehe... love those suckers. Is it weird that I would totally take ANY Neil Gaiman book of short stories to the beach or pretty much anywhere? Fun, spooky, intriguing, and they stay with you for a while. And each story is just short enough that you can take a break before moving on.

Fun books are a must on your vacation!

What do you like to read on vacation, Saucy Readers? Do you have a “go-to” author or genre? Do you plan ahead, or do you grab what catches your eye or suits your current mood? We hope you’ll share your vacation reading strategies with us below! And happy reading, wherever you might roam!!

** all gifs and pics from tumblr


  1. So many good ideas! Too bad my next vacation is a year from now!


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