Books for the Beach — Any Suggestions?

I'll be out of the office, out of state, and off the grid for the next six weeks (paternity leave + holidays + vacation in TX, PA, and Hawai'i). I haven't had six solid weeks to myself in...well...ummmm...since 1998. Whatever should I read?

My daughter and I are biting off a few pages of Smart Mobs each night. I've dusted off a book by Thomas Jefferson. I've got back issues of MSDN magazine, and I plan to buy a book called Cultivating Communities of Practice that a friend recommended. But this probably won't last me a week on the beach, much less six.

What books do you recommend?
I like idea books. No self-help guides, please. Fiction is okay.

Comments (41)

  1. Steve says:

    I brought American Psycho with me to Belize. Although you get some wierd stares, it’s an interesting book.

  2. Mike Dunn says:

    "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking is one that you can read and absorb in paragraph-sized bites.

  3. Greg Wishart says:

    The 9/11 Commission Report

  4. Nitron says:

    Where @ in TX and PA? It’s kinda’ freaky that I live in TX (DFW) and am also going to PA (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) for the holidays.

  5. J.R. says:

    Since you have a big chunk of time, you might want to try a big, heavy book. I suggest "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond, or "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstader.

  6. I’ll be in the DFW area and out near Abilene for a week and then fly to Wilkes-Barre Scranton for the second. Really freaky.

    Considering that I’ll be in oil country one week and coal country the next, "The Prize" would be a great read. Unfortunately, I’ve already read it.

    Thanks for the grrreat suggestions. Keep em coming!

  7. Wayne Citrin says:

    I was never able to finish any Joseph Conrad before taking it to the beach. Some people may think I’m crazy, but I think "Lord Jim," "Almayer’s Folly," or "An Outcast of the Islands" are great beach reading.

    If you haven’t read any of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels, they’re great beach reading. Read them in order, of course.

    Daniel Pinkwater’s "5 Novels."

    If you want a big, heavy book, the best book I’ve read in the last 5 years is Robert Caro’s "The Power Broker," although a 1100+ page biography of Robert Moses may not be for everybody. If you do tackle it, though, it’s well worth your time.

  8. I’ll throw in a bit of cyberpunk since you want some idea & fiction books:
    <br>&lt;i&gt;Cryptonomicron&lt;/i&gt; by Neal Stephenson (rollicking adventure packed with clever flights of fancy and speculation).
    <br>&lt;i&gt;The Diamond Age: A Young Ladies Illustrated Primer&lt;/i&gt; also by Stephenson (thriller you can share with your daughter! 😉
    <br>Since life is less without philosophy, but a little abtruse with it, try &lt;i&gt;The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition&lt;/i&gt; by Lewis Carrol, edited by Martin Gardner.
    <br>Finally, I heartily second the Hawkings and Hofstader suggestions.

  9. a says:



  10. Rob Caron says:

    This comes out at the end of the month:

    A Salty Piece of Land

    Jimmy Buffett

  11. John St. Clair says:

    I’d second Diamond’s GGS, but on second reading, it leaves a funny taste in the mouth 🙂

    For big-idea-non-stop-page-turners, I’d say Bill Bryson’s Short History of Nearly Everything.

  12. Martin says:

    The Stand (Un-abridged version) by Stephen King ought to fill the whole six weeks.

  13. For fiction I’d recommend:

    Any of the

    Sue Grafton series (murder mysteries)

    A is for Arson – etc.

    Stephanie Plum series

    ("One for the Money", "Two for the Dough", etc. – very funny)

    Skinny Dip – very funny stuff – sort of a murder mystery but very entertaining.

    Good To Great – kind of dry, and he’s arrogant at the beginning but it’s good.

  14. Chris says:

    If you haven’t read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson yet, you should! Cryptonomicon is also good, but a later work and much longer.

  15. dh says:

    Kepler’s Witch : An Astronomer’s Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother

    This is a recent (2004) biography of an underrated man whose accomplishments were profoundly important in raising mankind out of the darkness and into the light of understanding of our world. In the days when Astrology was on par with science, he revealed much to us that we should all be grateful for. And he did it all amidst personal grief and under deplorable religious conditions.

    If you are interested in science at all, this is a good read. I was inspired to get this book from the library after watching Episode 3 (Harmony of the Worlds) of the classic Carl Sagan Cosmos series in which he discusses Kepler (and Brahe).

    These men of science whose work will never be forgotten are fascinating to me. Perhaps you would enjoy it too.

    "Politics is for the moment, an equation is for eternity." -Einstein

  16. Hank Fay says:

    Bangkok8 by Jeremy Burdett; best novel I’ve read since (If you haven’t already read it): Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

  17. JM Balaya says:

    The Fat Fallacy – Will Clower Ph.D. not quite self-help but an interesting book on nutrition written by a smart guy not trying to sell stuff (apart from the book that is). Quick read.

    Positive Discipline – Jane Nelson "encourage, don’t praise."

  18. I’d recommend:-

    Down Under, Bill Bryson – This book is so funny I farted. Wouldn’t have been too bad but I was on honeymoon…


    Frozen Water Trade – interesting history of the trade in ice. If it wasn’t for this book an obscure part in the history of America might be forgotton.

  19. Brett Keown says:

    Someone already gave you the first one I’d recommend… "Cryptonomicon". Another great read is "Secrets & Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World."

    Enjoy your vaction Korby!

  20. A Week at the Beach: 100 Life-Changing Things You Can Do by the Seashore. We wrote it just for the beachgoer who wants to get the most out of those precious ocean minutes. Enjoy!

  21. Michael says:

    I’d recommend Dune…

    No better beach book when you’re in the sun and on the hot sands…

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