Log Out

WV Book Team: Beach reads take you away

By By Elizabeth Fraser, Susan Maguire and Dana Smook
WV Book Team

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The sun on your face, the cool breeze blowing off the waves — there is a multitude of excellent reasons to take a relaxing beach vacation. We think the best reason is that long, lazy days in the sun means you have more time to read.

That’s why “beach reads” are so popular this time of year.

But what, exactly, is a beach read?

A beach read is a page-turner. It speeds up your heart rate with action and suspense, or it tears your heart out with gut-wrenching emotion.

It has you laughing and sighing and cheering and just generally getting sucked into a good story.

It’s also a little fluffier than what you might normally read — you are on vacation, after all.

The best thing about a beach read is that you can enjoy one anywhere, even if you’re not on the beach.

Want to get that beach read feel right here at home? Check some of these out:

n Elin Hilderbrand is the queen of the beach read. She has written more than a dozen novels, all set on Nantucket, which is portrayed so vividly you feel like you’re there.

Her newest, “The Matchmaker,” features Dabney Beech, who has an uncanny ability to tell when a couple is right for each other. That’s why she gets into so much trouble when her high school sweetheart, Clendenin Hughes (great name!), returns to the island after more than 40 years away.

She’s also not sure about her daughter’s fiancé. It’s a comedy of manners that still has a solid, relatable emotional core.

n If you want more beach reads set on the beach, you can’t go wrong with Nancy Thayer (“Nantucket Sisters”) or Dorothea Benton Frank (“The Hurricane Sisters,” set in South Carolina’s Lowcountry).

n If your tastes run more to the landlocked, try “How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky,” by Lydia Netzer. At the Toledo Institute of Astronomy, George Dermont is looking for scientific proof of a gateway to God, while Irene Sparks, a brilliant mathematician, is working on a superconductor being built beneath the city.

Never have two people been so different and yet so right for each other. Little do they know that their mothers engineered their romantic fate before they were born.

Great characters are propelled along a very strange plot, but you’ll get sucked along with the current too.

Maybe you want to be transported even farther away. How about across the pond? In Lauren Willig’s “That Summer,” Julia Conley inherits a distant relative’s estate in Cornwall. There she discovers a painting of a young couple from the 1830s, and secrets from the past come pouring out. It’s an engrossing combination of mystery, family drama (across two centuries!) and unexpected romantic pairings.

n Romance not a great escape for you? How about … murder? A teenager witnesses a murder in Michael Koryta’s “Those Who Wish Me Dead.” But he can’t go to the cops — since the cops were the murderers. He goes into witness protection at an outdoor survival camp for troubled teens. He’s in the middle of nowhere, totally off the grid — he’s safe, right? If he were, this wouldn’t be worth reading. Fans of fast-paced, dark suspense will want to check out Michael Koryta.

n Part “Law & Order,” part “CSI,” part James Bond, once you start reading “I Am Pilgrim,” by Terry Hayes, you’ll never be able to put it down.

An unidentifiable woman is found murdered in New York. The lead detective calls in his old friend, retired forensics expert Pilgrim, to trace the untraceable killer. Pilgrim follows the trail through Europe and the Middle East, and learns that more may be at stake than one victim.

A quick-witted loner of a hero, this book will appeal to folks who like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books or Robin Cook’s medical thrillers.

n Sometimes you need a beach read that you can put down (maybe more of a puddle read?). Try short stories! If you like thrillers, you must check out “Faceoff,” edited by David Baldacci.

This isn’t your usual anthology — today’s top thriller writers have their main characters team up to solve a crime. That means Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch is working with Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie, Lucas Davenport works with Lincoln Rhyme, and Jack Reacher actually works with a partner, Nick Heller. Eleven stories in all — bet you can’t read only one!

Short stories are great to dip into during the summer and short stories about rogues are even better. Fans of “Game of Thrones” even get a Thrones short story from George R.R. Martin in this collection. Other authors include Neil Gaiman, Joe Abercrombie and more.

n Readers will be gripped by “The Fever,” a new novel by Megan Abbott. Three best friends are the first to get sick from an unexplained illness that spreads through the girls of a quiet, tight-knit town and threatens to rip it apart.

n Can a son sort the truth from the lies? “The Farm,” by Tom Rob Smith, asks Daniel to do that when his father says his mother has been committed and his mother says his father is lying. Another Scandinavian thriller for fans of “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Whether you’re at the beach or just have your feet in a kiddie pool, we hope your summer reading takes you away to your happy place. But, please, don’t get sand in the library books!

Reader question

Thank you to Lee Hayes for submitting the first question to the WV Book Team.

Q: What is the name of the book about Zeb Kettum, who was a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp? He was about 9 years old.

A: It was a tough question that almost stumped us, but at Kanawha County Public Library, we go the extra mile to help our patrons every day. A simple Google search does not always provide the right answer, and sometimes, as in this case, the information can’t be found.

A quick Internet search yielded no results to the question. After careful research in a variety of resources and documents, which included several different spellings of the author’s name, the answer was finally found — “Love in the Holocaust,” by Zev Kedem.

Kedem also consulted on and appeared in Steven Spielberg’s film “Schindler’s List” (which you can check out from the KCPL audiovisual department). KCPL does not have a copy of Kedem’s book, but we have more than 1,200 books, films and other resources about the Holocaust.

Requests to have a book added to the KCPL collection can be made by submitting a request form that can be found in the “About Us/Library Policies” section ( of our website(

We will also be hosting presentations and author events during this year’s Holocaust Education Week, Oct. 18–26. Keep checking our online calendar at for more information about these and other upcoming classes and events.

Keep those questions coming. We love doing research and helping people in our community find the information they need.

For more information on these books or others, contact the main branch of the Kanawha County Public Library at 304-343-4646 or visit

More News