Are you ready for that summer beach vacation? I’m sure you already have your swimsuit, sunscreen, beach towel, and sunglasses packed but don’t forget to fill those sunny hours with some amazing books to pass the time.
This list is comprised of only books that have been banned. Beyond that they are on this list based on the role they can play in your summer and the space they take up in your beach bag. You will also find a healthy mix of novels that are classic, YA (Young Adult), and some that have been turned into movies.
I promise you that all are enjoyable.
You’ll not find any 400 page novels here. If that’s what you’re looking for go and check out ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany,’ ‘Pillars of the Earth,’ or the Harry Potter series. All of which are amazing reads and banned books as well. For this book and beach enthusiast they are a little too heavy, weight wise, to be laying on the sand with.
Also you won’t find any books on this list that will have you bawling your eyes out for hours. Sure their might be some sad moments (good books should take over your emotions) but if you’re looking for puffy eyes and a reason to use tissues, please go pick up one of Jodi Picoult’s novels. My favorites are ‘Nineteen Minutes,’ ‘The Pact,’ and ‘House Rules.’
If you are looking for an array of books for your summer that will keep you entertained, engaged, and excited then look through this count down of novels for your beach reading pleasure. Feel free to suggest some more in the comments below – I’m always looking for reading suggestions!
#10: The Kite Runner
Most recently I saw Khaled Hosseini’s novel, ‘The Kite Runner,’ on an AP Human Geography reading list which made me smile.
This novel is the story of two friends whose lives separate due to time and distance but whose stories find a way back together. Readers follow a boy from Afghanistan, to Pakistan, and then to California while learning about the consequences and results of actions and how life sometimes does come around full circle.
This novel is amazing and beautiful. Everyone should read it to be reminded or shown that books, emotions, and feelings really do bridge cultures.
#9: The Catcher in the Rye
Classic. Must read.
Since I have to write more (I can’t have less than 140 characters) let me remind you that J.D. Salinger’s novel is one of the most classic “coming of age” novels taught from American Literature and that the Modern Library named it one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century..
Holden Caulfield is a poster child for teen angst, rebellion, and for showing and/or reminder readers of the hardship of figuring out life within your teenage years.
Let’s be honest, you probably haven’t read this novel since high school (and if you didn’t read it in school then shame on you and your educators).
Go remind yourself that amazing literature takes you on a journey and by the end of the novel feel smarter for reading something of substance. This book should be a must-have in every readers library so you shouldn’t have to ask far to borrow a copy.
#8: The Hunger Games (series)
I don’t know if it’s possible to not know of this book series if you’re online reading this article right now. Suzanne Collins novels were published just a few years ago and the first movie already graced screens around the world with an all star cast. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all anxiously waiting to see how Hollywood displays the next two books.
So . . . if you never read The Hunger Games series it is definitely worth your time and if you read them when they first were published then it’s about time for a re-read. Middle and high school students are finding them on their summer reading lists so if you have children can just “borrow” theirs.
#7: The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls’ book is another that made it onto the most banned and/or challenged books list for 2012 at #9.
This novel is a little more serious than some of the others on this beach read list but Walls’ lighthearted humor and child like optimism on her real life struggles makes this novel even more enjoyable and deserving of your time this summer.
Take a look here to read my full article on The Glass Castle – but trust me, you won’t regret picking this book up for pool side lounging material.
It’s Judy Blume (so you know it’s well written), it deals with sex (so you know it’ll be entertaining), and it was #7 on the most banned and/or challenged books of the decade from 1990-1999 (so you have to wonder what is in its pages that others don’t want you reading) – do you need to know anything else??
Really though, ‘Forever’ is a 1975 novel that takes you through some of the questions around teenage sexuality. Mainly around relationships and all of those feelings and emotions that are bundled up in the notion and act of sex as a teen.
Take this book to the beach, enjoy falling into Blume’s story, and then ponder – is anything that we thought would be ‘forever’ at 17, really forever?
#5: Looking for Alaska
John Green. (drops mic).
The “drops mic” is important to the above statement. In case you don’t know (gasp!), it’s like me saying “enough said” and you are suppose to immediately understand the importance of the previously mentioned name or statement. In this circumstance John Green’s name can stand alone for credibility on a book being deserving of your time.
John Green is amazing – if you haven’t read anything of his I implore you to run to your library and pick up any and everything you can. Some of his stuff is hard to read (emotionally) like ‘The Fault in our Stars’ but you won’t regret a single minute you spent on learning the story.
Looking for Alaska is a teenage story about life, fun, love, regret, and living to the fullest. John Green found himself at #7 on the most challenged/banned books of 2012 for this book which to me says he was doing something right and for you it means that you’ll have an entertaining summer read if nothing else.
#4: The Great Gatsby
You just went and watched the movie because everyone told you to, right? Maybe you loved it, maybe you didn’t. But before you judge the story line too much go pick up F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story and you’ll see why it’s considered one of the great American novels.
At right around 200 pages it’s a quick read that has a ton of layers depending on how deep you want to read in to the story line and imagery Fitzgerald created. Plus as an added bonus, it’s one of those books that the Litearti (Intellectuals or those who read and comment on literature) reference from time to time so now you can jump into the conversation and shock the spectacles off their noses.
#3: Perks of Being a Wallflower
It’s great, it’s easy, it’s moving, and it’s relate-able. In some way everyone’s felt like a wallflower at some point in their life. Typically that point in life was within a time where we didn’t feel like there was a single perk to the role whatsoever.
I’ve met some who feel like this book defines their high school experience. Take a glimpse into Chbosky’s world and you won’t regret this choice this summer.
#2: Fifty Shades of Grey (series)
Consider this series your ‘summer fling.’ Pick them up, don’t care who sees you reading them, and then think back fondly over the summer you got lost in the world of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.
We all deserve our guilty pleasures, and on the beach, worlds away (or just down the block) from your reality, is exactly where you can indulge in these books of E.L. James that every one is talking about.
Yes there is sex, and S&M sex at that, but this isn’t the first novel of it’s kind and it won’t be the last. Anne Rice has a retelling of Sleeping Beauty which is wilder than this series (I’m not talking about the original childhood story, if you’re interested, you can read up on Rice’s series here.)
I’ve known 18 year olds to over 60 year olds who enjoy 50 Shades so don’t be bashful or ashamed – read!
Oh, and don’t forget they are making this book into a movie *wink!
#1: The Outsiders
The Outsiders found it’s way to #1 on this list and is a must read for any age from 12 through 100. At right around 200 pages it’s an easy poolside or ocean read that has a movie by the same name you can watch as well.
Open up the world that S.E. Hinton first created when she was 15 and had published at age 18 and fall in love with a group of guys who survive by creating their own family. They are misfits that bond together to get through their very hard lives.
You’ll be engaged and moved by the story, yet not be stuck in Hinton’s world for days, making it a perfect beach read.
Better yet – if you like the book you can then go watch the movie version and fawn over Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Emelio Estevez, and Tom Cruise in all of their early 80’s glory.