By Allison Fiscus, Adult Services COORDINATOR
In Library land, we like to joke about what type of reader we are. You’ve got the gothic fiend who won’t read books that don’t take place on a dreary moor and the everyday scholars always consuming the latest nonfiction and telling you all about it. There are the amateur sleuths with their mysteries and true crime and the romance darlings who just love love. But you know what kind of reader combines all of these? The Beach Reader.
We are the readers that will read anything, anywhere. There is only one requirement to make it onto our To Be Read (TBR) list—it’s gotta hook you from the start. So, from one beach reader to another, here are some of my all-time favorite tales to kick off your summer from the very first line.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
The generational story of the Waverleys is inextricably tied to an apple tree and the magical fruit and flowers it produces.
First line: “Every smiley moon, Claire dreamed of her childhood.”
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
A woman finds herself in a relationship with the singer of the boy band that her daughter adores. At once a singular story of modern-day motherhood and womanhood and a gripping tale that will have you rethinking all you hold as true about what love should be.
First line: “I suppose I could blame it all on Daniel.”
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
In this tour of presidential assassinations, Sarah Vowell makes history fun and ridiculous and does so with a wit that manages to inform as much as it makes you think.
First line: “One night last summer, all the killers in my head assembled on a stage in Massachusetts to sing show tunes.”
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Crimson Peak + Jane Eyre + Mayan mythology + really cool outfits. That’s it. That’s the rec.
First line: “The parties at the Tunons’ house always ended unquestionably late…”
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Madeline Miller does us all a favor and writes The Illiad as it was intended—with Achilles and Patroclus in love. If you’re not a fan of Greek mythology before you read this, you will be after.
First line: “My father was a king and the son of kings.”
As a storyteller, one of Noah’s best assets is his ability to use humor to highlight humanity, but also the inhumanity many face by nature of where they are born and who they are.
First line: “The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other.”
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
A Texas Ranger finds himself in the middle of a life-altering divide that puts his job and roots at odds. This melds classic noir, western, and thriller in a way that proves Locke’s masterful abilities as an author beyond any doubt. This will be the best mystery you read this summer.
First line: “Geneva Sweet ran an orange extension cord past Mayva Greenwood, Beloved Wife and Mother, May She Rest with Her Heavenly Father.”
I mean, I HAD to. Not only is it titled perfectly, but it is written by a born and bred Ohioan, it’s chock-full of midwest culture, and it’s easily one of the most loveable love stories around.
First line: “I have a fatal flaw.”
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
In this book, MG once again takes us past the realm of what we think we know and reveals an entirely new level of misunderstanding and miscommunication.
First line: “In July 2015, a young African American woman named Sandra Bland drove from her hometown of Chicago to a little town an hour west of Houston, Texas.”
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
April May finds a giant sculpture of a man-like thing on NYC streets. She names it Carl, films a video of it, uploads it to the internet, and goes viral—her life will never be the same.
First line: “Look, I’m aware that you are here for an epic tale of intrigue and mystery and adventure and near death and actual death…”
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This is your summer break between sophomore and junior year of high school encapsulated—the heady place of learning who you might be and what that means for your place in the world.
First line: “One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.”
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Overcoming your past never looked so good….or so spicy. Love a hot chef.
First line: “Milan was the first person Feyi had slept with since the accident.”
All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer
The most subtle of spy thrillers. You don’t even know you’re in the thick of it until you’re there. Truly a masterclass of the genre.
First line: “There’s a delay taking off from San Francisco…”
A mom grapples with how to explain the world to her son when it seems like everything is against him. A gut punch of a graphic memoir that you won’t be able to put down.
First line: “The trouble began when my 6 y.o. son, Z, became obsessed with Michael Jackson.”
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi
American author, Preston, rents a home in Italy only to discover it’s the site of double homicide that is part of a longstanding serial killer mystery.
First line: “The morning of June 7, 1981, dawned brilliantly clear over Florence, Italy.”