Saturday, August 8, 2009

NPR's 100 Best Beach Books Ever

I stole this from Literary Feline's blog; it's a list of NPR's "100 Best Beach Books Ever." I'm going to bold the books I've read and star those I want to read.

I also think the idea of the beach book is a great topic for discussion- what do you consider a "beach book"? Something fluffy? Something off-the-beaten-path, or new, or popular?
How do you think NPR is defining it and do you agree or disagree?

NPR's 100 Best Beach Books Ever
1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
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
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg*
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
11. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
12. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
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
20. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen*
21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
22. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
23. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
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
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
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
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
51. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
52. The Stand, by Stephen King
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*
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
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
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
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*
85. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
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
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
100. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

It seems like a mix of popular fiction and classics- high school required reading combined with bestsellers and light popular fiction. So NPR thinks we use summer to catch up on what we missed in school and to stay current on the latest hardcovers. Does that sound right to you?

I don't change my reading much in the summer. I tried to set some older books aside for summer reading but got distracted by a number of new releases. I even tagged six or seven books as "summer reading" in my LibraryThing library, only to get through exactly one (and another that I decided not to finish) before deciding what I really want to read is that brand-spanking-new hardcover or review copy. So many books, so little time...


Blodeuedd said...

Dunno about those, I was thinking beach reads, and those should be easy and fun. No big classics on the beach. Those you can read at home.

In the end summer changes nothing for me

Anonymous said...

I'd love to stay on a beach long enough to read them all! Add The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson.

jlshall said...

I definitely want something light and not too serious when it comes to beach reads. With all that sun baking my brain, I don't need anything that requires a lot of thought. These are all great books, but I don't think very many of them would make it into my beach bag.

JoAnn said...

This looks like mostly literary fiction and more 'approachable' popular classics, and that is my kind of beach reading! I love lists...

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Not my idea of beach reads but it's not a bad list..LOL Thanks

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I can't see myself reading The Kite Runner on the beach or To Kill a Mockingbird. I attempted to read Pride & Prejudice on the beach as well, and that did not work either... I like fun, light reads to read on the beach..I can't focus on heady topics.

Marie said...

I always thought summer reading was fluffy stuff.
I have NEVER seen someone reading Tolstoy poolside!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I took this test but then I narrowed it again to the ones I could actually *remember* enough about to give a good summary, and the list got very, very small! That's a big reason why I started blogging - constructing and posting book reviews helps *me* remember!

Molly said...

I think I agree with most of the comments already listed: I always that a "beach" read was light-hearted and fluffy. Having said that, however, I love this list of 100 books and may use it as "100 books I'd like to read in my lifetime" Thanks for making me aware of the list.

Katie said...

This is an excellent list! I do think though that beach reads are supposed to be light and fluffy, something to laugh about but not to think too hard :)

Kitten said...

I'm going to steal this for my blog.

And I must agree with some other assessments that a "beach" read is something light and fluffy, something you don't have to think about too much as the sun beats down on you. There were some hefty choices on here that surprised me.

I also believe that a "beach" read should weigh less than five pounds. There's no reason to drag "War and Peace" in your tote along with your sunscreen. Too heavy!

Literary Feline said...

Thanks for the mention, Marie!

Like you, my reading does not change much over the course of the year. When I hear the term "beach read" I do tend to think of lighter reading fare, I admit. I do like the diversity on this list though.

Unknown said...

The beach vacation is always the time I cram in as many books as possible in one sitting. Sometimes there's lighter fare, but usually it's whatever I haven't finished on my nightstand yet.

Alexia561 said...

Sort of a strange list for beach reads. I always think of beach reads as something light, fun, and easy. Something that you can put down and pick back up whenever. It's a good list, just not for the beach...

Hazra said...

I agree with Blodeuedd, beach reads should be light and fun; small books that get over quickly. If I take a classic to the beach, I will most likely fall asleep in the midst of it!

Alayne said...

My idea of a "Beach Read" is more along the lines of Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Time Traveler's Wife, and nothing at all in the realm of Lolita.

I agree with your assessment completely, definitely high-school required reading meets the bestseller list. NPR seems a little conflicted... like they wanted to make a "Must Read" list and decided to slap "Beach" in the title. But I still got a few from it that I'm planning on adding to my own "Must Read" list. :)