As the sun climbs, people are folding their linens into packing cubes and squaring a nice good beach read on top—something to sink into in the glare of the Caribbean sun, or squint at through oversized sunglasses. Get yer sizzling beach reads! yells the internet ( us included, needless to say our list is the best one ). Michelle Dean traces the term “ beach read ” to the summer of 1990; a patronizing but increasingly potent marketing tool that has influenced covers and publisher calendars to the point that we all take for granted the idea of the cheerful pastel cover and sense that we are all in some SPF-scented vacation book club. Above all, wrote Dean, “the essence of the beach read, most could agree, was more of a mood than anything else: attached to vacation, the book shouldn't have any really weighty themes or social significance. It should be enjoyable and easy, with brisk pace and simple diction.” Of course, Dean pointed out, people read whatever the hell they want on vacation (if you're my husband, every trip involves lugging along The Power Broker, never to finish), which means that around every crystalline pool, people are reclined in color-coordinated separates while reading all kinds of unhinged and explicit stuff. To that end, let me present to you the greatest moments of beach-read dissonance, or, books I recommend for your holiday that are lady on the streets, explicitly subversive freakshow between the sheets. Marian Engel, Bear Don't forget to re-apply sun lotion to your vulnerable human skin as you take in this story of a woman who falls in love with (and gets physical with) a bear. If people ask you what it's about, say “it's, uh, about the spirit of second-wave feminism.” Adriane Howell, Hydra It is certainly set on a beach! If anyone asks you about Adriane Howell's debut, you can tell them it's about a grieving antiquarian who is cast out of her auction house and takes up in a beachside cottage. What you're actually going to get with this one is some midnight […]
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