Whatever beach you’re relaxing on this summer, toting a couple of books in your bag will help you while away the sunny days and unwind. There’s always room for those trashy pulp novels you don’t mind dropping in the pool, but if you’re in the market for something more literary and engaging, here’s our picks of the best beach reads to devour with your ice-cream.
Strangers I Know by Claudia Durastant
Italian writer Claudia Durastant’s autobiographical new work ‘Strangers I Know’ contains a number of stories and ideas divided into sections such as Travels, Family and Love. Durastant was born in Brooklyn but spent most of her youth in Italy, a creature of two worlds but an outsider in both. The ‘Strangers’ in the title are her parents, both deaf, and her relationship with them is explored as well as her own personal struggles.
Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy
Dervla Murphy was an Irish cyclist and travel writer who passed away in May 2022. Scribbling for over 50 years, Murphy’s most famous book, ‘Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle’ is about an overland cycling trip through Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. First published in 1965, Travelling light, with few clothes, no sleeping bag or blankets - but carrying a revolver (which at one point helps her fend off a pack of wolves) she heavily relies on the hospitality of strangers for food and a floor for the night. It’s a riveting tour through countries - such as Iran (which she refers to as ‘Persia’) few have the opportunity to visit and Murphy’s love of travelling is infectious.
A Waiter in Paris by Edward Chisholm
Inspired by George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, A Waiter in Paris is a “brilliant portrait of the underbelly of contemporary Paris through the eyes of a young waiter scraping out a living in the City of Light.” Chisholm’s memoir of his time as a Parisian waiter takes you below the surface of the french capital. He works long hours, rarely sleeps and spends his free time drinking in dive bars. Surviving on coffee, cigarettes and bread - his colleagues are an eclectic mix of criminals, drug dealers, illegal immigrants and former members of the foreign legion. A sometimes dark and often funny read, ‘A Waiter in Paris’is a must-read for any food fan or francophille - but don’t read just before you go to a restaurant or it might put your off your appetiser.
Fight Like Hell by Kim Kelly
Kim Kelly’s ‘Fight Like Hell’ explores the working-class heroes who propelled American labor’s push for fairness and equal protection under the law. Kelly explores the history of the labour movement history and demonstrates how the rights US workers have today, such as the forty-hour work week, health and saftey laws, standards, and protection against harassment and discrimination on the were earned with blood, sweat, and tears. Fight Like Hell comes at a time of “economic reckoning in America. From Amazon's warehouses to Starbucks cafes, Appalachian coal mines to the sex workers of Portland's Stripper Strike.” Fight Like Hell shows “what is possible when the working class demands the dignity it has always deserved.”
I Never Promised you Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg
Joanne Greenberg is an American author who published some of her work under the pen name of Hannah Green.Her best known novel, ‘I Never Promised You a Rose Garden’ was first published in 1984 and was subsequently adapted into a film and a play. Semi auto-biographical, this ground-breaking cult classic about a young woman's battle with schizophrenia is a moving and often horrific account of a struggle with mental illness and this reissue is a welcome reminder of its power.
The Adventures Of Herbie Cohen by Rich Cohen
Dubbed ‘The world’s greatest negotiator’, Herbie Cohen is the author of ‘You can Negotiate Anything’, the Number One New York Times which famously claimed to prove “money, justice, prestige, love—it’s all negotiable.” ‘The Adventures of Herbie Cohen’, written by his son, follows Herbie from his childhood in Brooklyn with his pals Sandy Koufax and Larry King to his days coaching basketball in the army in Europe; to his years freelance guru crossing the country to give lectures, settle disputes, and hone the art of success. Funny and insightful, Herbie’s pearls of wisdom are sometimes counterintuitive and many of the tales about him are tall, but he’s a fascinating character and his guiding principle “The secret of life is to care, but not that much”, is one we should all adhere to.