Debunking the Mythical “Beach Read” | Discussion

Each year as the temperature outside rises and spring gradually gives way to summer, one question is inevitably asked of readers everywhere: “What are you going to read at beach?”

The “beach read” genre has exploded recently, becoming an increasingly popular way of categorizing books that are “quick,” “light” and “fluffy.” When I hear this label I immediately think of contemporary YA novels I’ve brought to the beach in the past: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, This Is What Happiness Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith, etc. These are the kinds of books that have apparently been deemed perfect for reading by the water; however, they are certainly not the only books I read while lounging in the sun.

I’d like challenge this stereotypical “beach read” genre because I think that “beach reads” are based on each individual’s reading tastes and preferences. 

For instance, I tend to read longer, more challenging books during the summer months compared to what I read when classes are in session. Free from the burden of course work and a busy schedule of extracurriculars, I can now dedicate time to the texts I’ve been meaning to read for months. This summer I’m tackling Tolstoy’s War and Peace, though I probably wouldn’t lug it to the beach with me because it is a TOME. Nevertheless, this trend in my summer reading means that I’m likely to choose something outside of the “beach read” stereotype to pack in my tote bag.

I also love to read science fiction novels at the beach. My go-to author for this is Michael Crichton because his books are fast-paced, incredibly suspenseful, and dangerously easy to get sucked into reading for hours on end. Last summer I brought his novel Sphere with me to read by the lake while I was camping and I devoured it in a matter of two days. There’s nothing quite like being completely immersed in a novel with your toes in the sand.

In actuality, I rarely read what are considered “beach reads” at the beach– so doesn’t this necessitate a new way of thinking about this genre? Personally, I feel like the genre as a whole doesn’t even really exist; rather, “beach reads” are simply whatever we each prefer to read while enjoying some time in the sun. 

How do you define a “beach read”? Do you like to read at the beach? What kinds of books do you usually bring with you? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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43 thoughts on “Debunking the Mythical “Beach Read” | Discussion

  1. I completely agree, what makes a “beach read” depends entirely on the person. My beach reads are usually these huge books I have no way of reading when I have university obligations, so I tend to bring these huge Fantasy books with me, so I can finally read them 😊 Actually, the stereotypical beach read (meaning light and fluffy) is something I would read during exams meaning NOT at the beach 😂

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    1. Exactly! I feel the same way. I brought War and Peace to the beach the other day haha 🙂 Summer is the perfect time to read all of those tomes that I have no time to read when classes are in session.

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  2. For me, a beach read is just that. A book that takes place by the sea! I just like to read something relaxing (not necessarily fluffy, some of those books can pack a real punch) and I find it so immersive when I’m sat by the sea and the author is describing the noise of the waves and the smell. x

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    1. Ooooh, I love your take on this!! It is lovely when a beach read is actually about the beach. Sarah Dessen is always great for this because so many of her books take place in beach towns. One of my personal favorites by Dessen is The Moon and More ❤

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  3. For me a “beach read” is any book that I read while at the beach. Choosing a beach read is like choosing any other read for me: it depends on what I feel like reading at the moment.

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  4. The term “beach read” has always been confusing to me because I see SO many different kinds of books lumped together with the term. I tend to think of fluffy light contemporary reads, but I’ve seen recommendation lists of so-called beach reads (from big websites like Buzzfeed or something) that list books like Gone Girl. It doesn’t seem like anyone really knows what the heck a beach read is supposed to be, haha. I suppose that it’s probably because of exactly what you said – everyone likes to read different things and so what one person might want to take with them to the beach, another person might not.

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    1. That’s so true!! The addition of Gone Girl always confused me, too… I tend to wonder if people who make those lists have actually read all of the books on them haha 🙂

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  5. You made an interesting point here, Holly! It’s true that we have the cliché, that beach reads automatically are associated to “fluffy” and “romance” and “cute contemporaries” overall, but really, it depends on everyone’s preferences. I am naturally a lover of contemporary so obviously my beach reads might end up being of that genre as well, but I don’t mind reading a fantasy either at the beach 🙂

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  6. I do tend to gravitate towards books set in the Summer during the Summer months. The same way I read a lot more fantasy in the winter months. I feel as though the weather helps set the scene for the book I am reading.

    As for beach reads… well I live in a coastal town and we have 14 beaches, so I read at the beach all year round. I love sitting on the beach on a clear and crisp winter day with a book, particularly one that fits the mood the weather is setting for me. But for a Summer Beach read I definitely gravitate more towards contemporary, romance or memoirs. Our Summer is December-February, so it’s usually an incredibly busy time being the end/start of the year and having the Holidays and lots of family time. So I prefer to have a book that is a little easier to put down than an action packed fantasy, simply because there is always a lot going on!

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    1. That definitely makes sense!! Also, it’s so cool that you live in a town with 14 beaches. The nearest beach to me is about an hour away, so a beach day is always a big production 🙂

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    1. I feel like sci-fi/fantasy is such a great genre to read at the beach because the action and suspense keeps you wanting to read more and more. Thank you!!

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  7. I really love this! I’ll be honest, but the idea of a typical “beach read” has almost made me feel pressured into reading a certain amount of books that fit that label in the summertime. Like, I feel like I missed out on summer reads if I don’t read x number of books that take place during the summer, which is just silly. Whatever I’m reading at the beach is now a “beach read,” and it shouldn’t matter if it takes place at the beach or is a sci-fi that takes place on another planet. 💁🏼

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    1. I completely agree!! I feel like suspenseful fantasy/sci-fi books are so great to take to the beach because they keep you wanting to read more and more. Bookish pressure definitely isn’t fun!

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  8. I don’t often go to the beach, but when I do get the chance, I just take whatever book I’m currently reading with m. I won’t choose another book to take just because it’s lighter in terms of genre, or easier to carry because it’s short. My most recent trips to the beach (I’m talking last summer!) I was taking things like Gone Girl and The Time Traveler’s Wife with me!

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    1. I feel the same way– usually my “beach read” is just whatever I happen to be reading at the time. Also, I really need to read The Time Traveler’s Wife!! I’ve heard so many fantastic things about it.

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  9. Ooh, this is a fascinating discussion, Holly! I don’t really go to the beach, because I currently live 2000 kilometres from the ocean, so we only go like once a year. I think when I’m in a ‘summery’ mood, I do like light and fast contemporary reads, but I think that those are always best when contrasted with deeper reads that encourage reflection as well. I think it’s a complicated issue, but I guess it’s nice to read a variety of books. It comes back to the whole ‘seasonal reading’ thing.

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  10. My definition of a “beach read” is any book I take with me to the beach. Yes, sometimes those are cute light fluffy books but sometimes they are epic dense fantasy adventure type tales. It all depends on my mood at that time.

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  11. Awesome post! I completely agree with you that it’s up to everyone’s preferences, and I prefer to read classics when I’m not busy with school work too. I don’t usually take them with me to the beach, tho haha Every summer I go camping with my family for a week, and I don’t like to bring series either, afraid I won’t have the next book with me 😛 So I actually tend to read YA contemporaries and standalones.

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  12. I read all kind of books on the beach, but if I had to pick one genre, it would probably be mystery/thriller. Reading it at the beach gives me a chance to get into it properly and normally they’re cheap paperbacks that I don’t mind getting sand in between the pages!

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    1. Definitely! I love reading Michael Crichton’s books on the beach because they’re suspenseful, fast-paced, and I can usually get cheap used copies at my local used bookstore.

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  13. I don’t think I have a particular book or genre that I’d define as a beach read. If I go to the beach I just bring with me whatever I’m reading at the moment or whatever I feel like reading, so that can be anything really. Interesting post!

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