What's a true summer 'beach read'?

Three book covers in a combined image.
Kerri Miller recommends Zakiya Dalila Harris’ “The Other Black Girl,” Polly Samson’s “A Theater for Dreamers,” and Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta’s “The View Was Exhausting" for summer beach reading.
Images courtesy of publishers

Summer officially started last week, so Kerri Miller is asking:  What’s a true “beach read”?

I was perusing Amazon’s summer reading guide recently when I ran across a feature that asked the people who write them to define a true beach read.  

These are authors who embrace the idea of publishing novels that skim above the serious and the weighty, to deliver a refreshing, escapist, absorbing book that you can put down and pick up at your leisure.

Writer Alex Michaelides believes a great beach read is “something I can lose myself in, an addictive page turner; but rich and complex enough to occupy my mind in between readings.”

Sally Hepworth believes a beach read is, at its essence, a holiday for your mind.  

Dav Pilkey holds up the beach read as "reading what you love without judgment, from one’s self or from others.”  

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Mary Kay Andrews says give her a book with a "topical or tropical" theme “and it won’t matter whether my toes are planted in a sandy beach or just a backyard sandbox.”

So, no matter where your toes are planted this summer, I’ve got a trio of new beach reads to get you started.

Tuck a copy of “The View Was Exhausting” by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta into your beach bag. The novel takes the reader beyond the facade of a made-for-Hollywood romance and asks why aren’t these A-lister stars really together? It’s great, gossipy fun.

I’m creating a trip for adventurous readers about the myths and mysteries of Greece, so my reading list is full of fiction and non-fiction books about the place.

That’s why it was fun to discover Polly Samson’s “A Theater for Dreamers.”

Narrated by a young novelist, the story is set on the island of Hydra in the swinging ’60s, where singer songwriter Leonard Cohen has joined an eclectic group of artists for some sexy summer fun.

That would be enough for a great beach read, but this novel does more, exploring the moral codes and unfulfilled promise of era.  

And my last beach read is a novel in my library queue that everyone is talking about. It's Zakiya Dalila Harris’ “The Other Black Girl.” Nella Rogers is a young editorial assistant in New York’s publishing industry — which means she works long hours and makes no money — when the company finally hires the second Black employee. Nella assumes they’ll quickly find common cause in such a white-dominated business but things get creepy pretty quickly.

My three quintessential beach reads are: Zakiya Dalila Harris’ “The Other Black Girl,” Polly Samson’s “A Theater for Dreamers,” and Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta’s “The View Was Exhausting.”

Buy these books here.