I, as well as pretty much everyone, am sick of the “beach read” being classified as women’s fiction with predictable plots (no dirt to women’s fiction, it’s a huge genre and those authors know what they’re doing). A beach read is just a book that hooks you and carries you through at a very fast pace, and that all depends on your preferences, the actual writing, and whether or not you have hours to spend reading at a time.
I’m looking to “genre” books at this point in the summer, because they tend to have quick pacing, dialogue, and accessible writing that I can whiz through while sitting in an Adirondack chair. In the publishing world, genre usually refers to sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and romance, but I’ve included a few more that don’t fall under the general fiction umbrella. I want to cram as many books in while I’m trying to avoid thinking about fire season, the flooding happening through the world, and the impending doom of climate change :D.
I’ve provided a little collection of books in genres for you to dip your toes into, consider branching out from your usual space! Come on in, the water’s fine!
A cli-fi epic that spans generations and includes a character that is a rendition of the folkloric hero Johnny Appleseed, APPLESEED by Matt Bell is an ambitious novel that contains one of my favorite plots to read about these days: the ravaging of Earth from climate change. It feels masochistic to read about but I can’t get enough. The novel is not without hope, and it’s a great introduction into sci-fi since it leans more commercial than a lot of the genre.
Kim Stanley Robinson is a legendary sci-fi writer, and fans of the genre will likely have read his work. THE MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE is yet another cli-fi novel — I mean, what else is there to write about with climate change looming? It was also one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2020, so it’s got the Barry O stamp of approval.
Author’s note: this book was written by my boss! I don’t care, it’s a really great book, and a fun read for fans of rom-coms, family strife, lesbian weddings, WASP-y antics, and uncovering secrets from childhood friends. What else could you want!
Author’s note: this book was written by one of my creative writing professors from college. Sorry to throw all of these connections on you, but THE DUKE UNDONE is a super fun, well-written romp in Victorian England. If you liked Bridgerton, you’ll love it.
Grady Hendrix is the king of campy horror. He has many great horror novels, from HORRORSTOR (about an Ikea-like superstore) to THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES (a vampire walks into a southern book club…), but I think it’s great to start with MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM. For fans of STRANGER THINGS and FEAR STREET and 70’s slasher movies.
This book started out as a scary story passed along as a heap of pages, a shockingly scary story about a house that is…not right. Come for the scares that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
An MFA professor at a third-rate program steals the excellent plot idea from a deceased student, becomes famous and a best seller because of it, and suddenly begins receiving anonymous notes from someone declaring him a thief. We love a plagiarism back-from-the-dead thriller!
The South’s best getaway driver has been out of the game for years — he has a wife, and kids, and an auto shop that might not be doing so well, but is completely above board. When someone from his past comes to him with the job to end all jobs, he remembers the thrill of the game and puts everything on the line to get his family and business out of debt. A Southern noir thriller with the coolest main character I’ve read in a while, BLACKTOP WASTELAND is a pace-y, exciting ride.
Soon to be an Amazon series, the WHEEL OF TIME series has been compared to GAME OF THRONES and LORD OF THE RINGS, and I’d say it falls right in the middle — a huge fantasy epic with commercial appeal. Fans of both will love it.
A graphic memoir about the epidemic of loneliness in the United States, SEEK YOU is heartbreaking and emotional, and ultimately hopeful. Kristen Radkte’s spare and spacious drawings manage to elicit emotion even without the insightful text.
Grab a snack, unfold your Tommy Bahama beach chair, and dig in to one of these juicy books!