Since our theme for June here at the Green Phone Booth is summer reading, I've been reminiscing about the days when I could pick up a book, head to the beach or pool and lie in the sun reading all day. I used to keep a beach chair in the car in case I decided on a whim to head there. Oh, how life has changed! Now I'm way to engrossed in digging holes, building castles, jumping over waves or skipping rocks to even think about sitting down with a book.
While actually playing at the beach is fun, I miss those days of sitting and reading. I took a walk down memory lane via my bookshelf and found my favorite books from summers past. Here they are, in chronological order of when I read them, with little blurbs about why I loved them so much. Each of these books is a page-turner, and each of them have kept me up into the wee hours in the morning instead of allowing me to put them down and go to sleep.
I discovered the Earth's Children Series by Jean M. Auel when I was a sophomore in college, after reading The Mammoth Hunters for an anthropology course, and I enjoyed the book so much that I decided to read the whole series. While I have loved following main character Ayla's adventured through prehistoric ice-age Europe, my favorite book from the whole series is The Valley of Horses. The combination of a young woman learning skills for self-sufficiency and surviving on her own, befriending animals, and eventually falling in love make it a real winner for me. I continue to re-read it every so often because I'm such a big fan. (Though I have to say, honestly, that I so anticipated the release of the final book of the series The Land of Painted Caves last summer and was disappointed with it. It wasn't the ending that I had imagined when I started reading the series so many years ago.)
This is another book that I discovered in college, back when I was a biology major and fascinated by emerging infectious diseases. This non-fiction book documents over 20 years of the husband and wife team's work for the Centers for Disease Control, studying, tracking, identifying and working to protect people from such deadly viruses as Ebola, Lassa fever and HIV/AIDS. I was so amazed to read about doctors putting themselves at risk in dangerous situations and without the availability of standardized universal precautions to protect themselves against the diseases they sought to contain.
I discovered this book in a gift shop after arriving by ferry to Block Island, RI, on a short weekend trip with my mom. I've always been intrigued by sharks, and it just felt so appropriate to read this one on the beach! Journalist Susan Casey documents her visit to biologists at the shark research station of the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. This is the home of some of the world's largest Great White Sharks and I found myself totally enthralled with her tales of hopping in a Zodiac and chasing down a shark after each seal attack. If Jaws is the book that demonized Great White Sharks, this is the book that redefines them as both terrifying and awe-inspiring.
I fell in love with the Sookie Stackhouse character on the HBO series "True Blood" when I was at home on a maternity leave two years ago. After learning that the show was based on a series of books, I knew I had to check them out. I found the Sookie Stackhouse Series to be such a fun, quick read that I tore through all of them in a few months and find myself waiting for the release of each new one! I find myself able to relate to Sookie, even though I've never met a vampire or werewolf, and I actually like both the books and the show. The "True Blood" show is different enough from the books that it's not predictable, but it remains true to some of the underlying qualities of the characters from the books.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mermaid. It had a lot to do with "Splash," Disney's "The Little Mermaid" and my short venture into synchronized swimming. (Is anybody else singing "Under the Sea!" in their head right now?) I never lost my love for mermaids and I still collect figurines and ornaments, and I've read a few books that are collections of stories about mermaids from different cultures around the world. However, in Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale, I found that I loved the way Hans Christian Andersen's original story was changed to make me care about all of the characters, including the woman who serves as the mermaid's competition for the prince's love. The ending was a total surprise and was just about as happy an ending as I could have hoped for. Though I didn't actually read this book on the beach (I read it this past winter), I think it would be a perfect beach read. I still wish I could be a mermaid sometimes...
What five books would you choose as your favorite beach reads?