It’s beach book season again, and, as usual, publishers have released a bumper crop of tempting reads. But which to choose? Luckily, I’ve culled my favorites, all guaranteed to be good company no matter where you go this summer. My first three picks for best beach books take their inspiration from the Hallmark Channel.
Emily Henry’s “Book Lovers” borrows the tropes of Hallmark movies and gives them a fun twist. The book is about a small-town romance, but the main character isn’t the usual plucky, cookie-baking ingenue. Instead, it’s Nora Stephens, a tough literary agent who continually butts heads with a difficult editor, named Charlie. When Nora travels to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, for rest and relaxation, instead of hooking up with a fresh-faced farmer or a well-built vet, she keeps running into pasty-faced Charlie.
Throughout the novel, Henry winks at the so-called transformational powers of small-town living and provides continual witty repartee between two citified characters who prefer the honks of taxis over a babbling brook. Kudos to Henry who delivers one of the best novels of the summer.
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I’ve always been a fool for a Hollywood novel, and one of the best I’ve read lately is “Nora Goes Off Script” by Annabel Monaghan.
Nora is a screenwriter who writes movies for a fictional, Hallmark-like channel but her own happily-ever-after is shattered when her husband leaves her and her two children. Her life of her looks bleak until the “Sexiest Man Alive” Leo Vance becomes her tenant of her for a week. Turns out seven days is plenty of time to fall in love with the Hollywood bad boy. But since Leo has a spotty record with relationships, Nora is leary of risking her heart once again. Likable characters, smart humor and a didn’t-see-it-coming ending makes this novel a must-read for summer.
The last novel (but not the least) that pokes good-natured fun at Hallmark movie plotlines is Meredith Schorr’s “As Seen on TV.” It’s about Adina Gellar, a journalist from New York City, who travels to the small town of Pleasant Hollow looking for a story and possibly love. Too bad Pleasant Hollow doesn’t live up to its name. There’s no charming bakery, no quaint seasonal festivals and no quirky yet welcoming townsfolk. The sole bright spot is a cute guy named Finn who might just change Adina’s mind about the town’s charms. Schorr’s novel is a true delight and a must-read for lovers of the “Gilmore Girls.”
My last beach read pick pays homage to one of my favorite movies, the “Parent Trap,” and author Ali Brady (a pen name for authors Alison Hammer and Bradleigh Godfrey) gives that plot a coastal flavor in “The Beach Trap.” Pre-teens Kat and Blake bond at camp but their friendship falls apart when they discover they are half-sisters. Fifteen years later, their father dies leaving them a dilapidated beach house in Destin, Florida. The siblings reunite to renovate the home and find themselves constantly clashing. What will it take for the sisters to reestablish their relationship? If you’re a fool for HGTV and sibling rivalry novels, toss “The Beach Trap” into your bag.
One of Augusta’s own, Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD of AU/UGA Medical Partnership, is featured in “Lessons Learned: Stories From Women Physician Leaders” by Deborah M. Shlian. The book shares the career paths of 33 women physician leaders and intends to increase awareness about pay inequities among women doctors, particularly those of color.
Paladin by Charles Bowen is a World War II novel that weaves the complexities of Southern society in Augusta, Georgia, with that of Suffolk, England. It traces a romance between an American fighter pilot and an English woman.
Judy Helmey, a regular contributor to The Augusta Chronicle’s Friday fishing report, has written an illustrated book called “My Father, the Sea and Me,” which is about how she learned the family’s fishing boat charter business. To get a copy, email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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