Knicked from the fabulous Boston Bibliophile is the NPR "100 Best Beach Books Ever."
In bold are the ones I have read.
*Starred* = Want to read, planning to read, etc.
Underlined = What the hell? Picks that are confounding either because they don't make sense as a beach read or because I simply don't think they deserve a spot on the list.
NPR's 100 Best Beach Books Ever
1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling - All except the last book (which I'm going to start, promise, any day now).
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini*
4. Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells - Weird, right? Cause my tastes really don't run to the chick lit at all, and this one is pure chick lit. It has "sisterhood" in the title, for God's sake... But I read it on a car trip with my mom back when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. We didn't have the audio book, so I just read it aloud to her.
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald - This is my kind of beach book.
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams - Correction, this is my kind of beach book. Actually, I'd probably just listen to the fantastic BBC Radio series instead.
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg - I went through a serious Fannie Flagg stage when I was thirteen or fourteen. Can't say why. Just loved it, though.
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
11. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
12. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel - Can't see this one as a beach book, other than it being a bestseller.
13. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
14. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
16. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
17. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
18. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
19. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides* - This is perpetually on my reading list, but I'm not sure it qualifies as a beach book.
20. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen - Don't know about for the beach (probably a good fit) but it was perfect reading for the 24-hour read-a-thon last Fall.
21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain*
22. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver - Beach-goers really love the Kingsolver, don't they? Wonder why Prodigal Summer isn't on the list.
23. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith - Little interest in actually reading the books, but I have to admit, hearing the little bit from the audio books my mother plays in her car, the audio version is pretty charming.
24. The World According to Garp, by John Irving*
25. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller*
26. The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy
27. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
28. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
29. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler
30. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
31. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole*** - I'm working on a reading project for the Fall, loosely entitled "Back to Basics" where I'm going to try and read a bunch of classics and contemporary, modern favorites that I haven't yet gotten time for. This one is at the top of my list.
32. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
33. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
34. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy
35. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez* - Is there a confusion between what is "beach" reading and what is required high school "summer" reading?
36. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
37. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card*
38. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
39. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
40. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon - I bought my copy of this book in a beach town independent bookstore.
41. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
42. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
43. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
44. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
45. Empire Falls, by Richard Russo
46. Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
47. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
48. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins
49. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb
50. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie* - The only AC I've read is Ten Little Indians [or, in PC times, And Then There Were None]. Agatha Christie would have scarcely been a blip if it were not for vacationing mystery enthusiasts and shore-side bookstalls that are always readily stocked with her paperback titles.
51. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott - Obsessed with this book as a kid. Read it everywhere, beach included. If I ever find the green hardbacked version that I always borrowed from the library, I will die of happiness.
52. The Stand, by Stephen King* - Probably a "B2B" title.
53. She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
54. Dune, by Frank Herbert
55. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows* - Almost read this on my last vacation. The person I was traveling with bought this book the second or third day in.
56. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez*
57. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
58. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
59. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
60. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
61. Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver - Seriously, but no Prodigal Summer?
62. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
63. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner
64. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
65. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson - In this version of "beach reads," anything that maintained a spot on the bestsellers lists for a long time counts. I don't think this book qualifies as a beach read, but then again, neither do half of these titles by my definition.
66. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
67. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
68. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
69. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
70. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler*
71. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
72. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
73. Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns
74. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
74. Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe [tie]
76. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
77. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
78. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
79. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver - Woo hoo! One of two Kingsolver books I've read. This one is similar to her others, I believe. The only real difference is that I had to read this one for my "Eco-Feminist Literature" class.
80. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
81. Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck*
81. The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve [tie]
83. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
84. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson* - Never finished. Heard that it picks up after a slow beginning. Will try it again soon.
85. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery - Who reads this on the beach?
86. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
87. One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich
88. Shogun, by James Clavell
89. Dracula, by Bram Stoker*
90. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera*
91. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
92. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
93. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
94. Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris
95. Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume - Back during those years where I could stand Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood... Still, Blume is a genius at crafting feminine relationships. There is stuff in Summer Sisters that echoes even my present-day female friendships.
96. The Shining, by Stephen King
97. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan
98. Lamb, by Christopher Moore*
99. Sick Puppy, by Carl Hiaasen - Wondered when Carl Hiaasen would make an appearance on this list.
100. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson - Because it has island in the title?