I am a reader. I will read anywhere. In a car, in a bar, on a boat in a moat. I’ll read on a plane, or a train, at the airport, or bowling lane. There are not many places my books won’t reach. And my favorite place to read is the beach.
When I plan a trip the beach I joyfully visit the bookstore to purchase my stash of “beach reads.” Technically, a beach read can be anything, but most people associate it with a quick-paced paperback like a good thriller or chick lit. My beach reads this year are Minding Frankie (by Maeve Binchy) and How to Be an American Housewife (by Margaret Dilloway).
I’ve witnessed a hard core beach reader lug a 4-inch-thick hardcopy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) to the beach. This, of course, was pre e-readers. I had to admire his grit–a book with that kind of heft takes up premium space and weight in a beach bag.
Reading on the beach is double therapy: book therapy and beach therapy. It’s hard not to feel all Zen-like when reading a great book while soaking up the sun, listening to the rolling surf, and smelling saltwater-tinged breezes. Throw in a few rum runners and it’s heaven on earth.
My kids think I’m supremely boring because I don’t boogie board with them or let myself be buried alive in their diligently excavated sandy graves. They will occasionally emerge from the surf to excitedly show me a hermit crab or sand dollar, and I’ll gingerly protect my book from their dripping treasures. I don’t mind if they think I’m boring. I do my duty as the sunscreen applier, picnic packer, and towel bearer. And when my girls are through being mermaids, we will stroll hand-in-hand along the shore and collect sea shells.
Yesterday on vacation my kids wanted to buy books. My younger daughter got Fairy School Dropout (Meredith Badger) and my older girl picked condensed, juvenile versions of Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) and Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens). I seriously doubt these will make it to the beach, but the fact that they even desired books on a summer beach vacation shows a lot of promise. Maybe I’m rubbing off on them after all.
But for now they are content with building sand castles and jumping waves. And I’m perfectly happy lounging under the umbrella with my slightly damp, dog-eared novels for company. And when I unpack my books after I get home from vacation, I’ll expect grains of sand to fall from their pages, reminding me of my idle days on the beach, reading.