Beach Reads

While away the warm summer days with action, romance, or dreamy what-ifs. 

No Sunscreen for the Dead

by Tim Dorsey (William Morrow, $26.99)

This humorous romp is filled with violence, the literary equivalent of Quentin Tarantino and Mel Brooks collaborating on a movie. Serge Storms and his sidekick Coleman are self-appointed vigilantes who punish ne’er-do-wells however they see fit. While this brawling, boozing, womanizing pair will never be confused with superheroes, they enact a brand of street justice that readers will find satisfying. When they retire to one of the large gated communities on Florida’s “Retirement Coast,” they discover countless seniors have been swindled out of their life savings, so the dangerous duo sets out on one more mission. 

Congratulations, Who Are You Again? 

by Harrison Scott Key (Harper Perennial, $15.99)

Harrison Scott Key’s irreverent wit is apparent from his opening words, where he lampoons Cinderella for singing her dreams to birds, “revealing the first important thing you need to know about dreamers, which is, most of them need psychiatric evaluation.” Key’s memoir comes on the heels of having achieved his dream, that of writing a bestselling book and gaining minor celebrity status. His debut book, The World’s Largest Man, about growing up in Mississippi with a “larger-than-life father,” became a success and won the Thurber Prize for American Humor. As he now details in his second memoir, the airing of closeted skeletons also made him unwelcome at family gatherings. This is a fabulously funny—and, at times, achingly sad—look at what it’s like for a writer to achieve his dreams.

Dr. Strange Beard

by Penny Reid (EverAfter Romance, $16.99)

Roscoe is one of those one-in-a-billion people who can remember every moment of every day of his life. His gift of memory is a minor annoyance to family members and friends, who can never get one over on him, but otherwise he views it as just another trait, like height or hair color. But then Simone, the girl who broke his heart as a teenager, comes back into his life and he relives over and over, in vivid detail, the day she dumped him. He avoids her as a defense mechanism, so as to not create any new, painful memories. But there’s one problem: She is now an undercover FBI agent whose job it is to get close to Roscoe in order to nab his criminal father. Dr. Strange Beard is a fun and fast-paced game of romantic cat and mouse with criminal activity lurking on the periphery. 

These Flecks of Color: New & Selected Poems 

by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda (San Francisco Bay Press, $14.99)

In this stunning collection, former Virginia Poet Laureate (2006-2008) Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda presents past work as well as new poems. She plucks moments from everyday images and wraps them in silk verse. She strikes to the heart with descriptive poems of Virginia’s nature (“The eagles soar, their cries / vanishing as secrets / in my cupped palms”) and the magic of quotidian moments (“Always, my luck has startled me. / This morning, for examples, the cat, / sensing sadness, jumps into my lap / and kneads his paws so I will / praise him”). It’s a revelatory read—a chance, for a while, to view the world through the eyes of a master poet at the height of her craft.

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea

by Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press, $17)

Sarah Pinsker’s amazing, fabulistic tales take the reader to a world slightly askew from our own, where common folk and everyday life are married with impossible occurrences or near-future adaptations. Each character greets change as if nothing about the strange happening taking over their life is strange whatsoever. In one story, a young farmer loses his arm in a combine, only to have it replaced by a robot arm that has a mind of its own. In another story, the wife of an old man dies, so he builds an animatronic version of her to cook and clean. The stories in Pinsker’s strange and wonderful world have great heart and yearning that will leave you looking at your own world and asking, “What if?”

The Immortalists

by Chloe Benjamin (Putnam, $26)

Chloe Benjamin presents a thought-provoking tale of four siblings in 1969 who pool their allowances to pay a psychic to tell their fortunes. What the soothsayer tells them is the exact day that each of them will die. The saga unfolds through the years, told alternately from each sibling’s point of view, the prophecies never far from their thoughts and informing decisions in their adult lives, especially as the predictions begin to come true. This modern-day fable pits the power of knowledge against the comfort of ignorance. 


This article originally appeared in our WaterLife 2019 issue.

June 11, 2022

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July 9, 2022

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August 13, 2022

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