I’m not exactly a beach bum. I am essentially a mouth-watering buffet to mosquitos, which is hardly surprising given that any appreciable time in the hot summer sun and I turn into a lobster. But despite these weather-related trials, I am a staunch supporter of the most summery of reading trends: the beach read. Well … sorta.
You see, I think I have a bit of a different idea of what it is that constitutes a beach read. I don’t think we should limit our understanding of the term to encompass only those brightly coloured romance novels or copies of women’s fiction with sandy beaches and water views on the covers. There can be a beach read for every taste, every time, and dare I say, every reader.
To me, a beach read can be any book that helps you escape. Perhaps you want to escape your current location and read book set in different locales. If you’re dreaming of beautiful sand and sun, like you might find on California’s beaches, you might pick up Margaret Gracie’s linked story collection, Plastic. There’s plenty of sun-dappled drama to sink your teeth into. Or if simply changing locations isn’t enough, maybe it’s time you need to escape. In that case, a historical novel makes a great beach read. Experience the darkness and the light of the seventeenth-century Italian piazza in Mark Frutkin’s The Artist and the Assassin. Enjoy the opulent splendour, then and dive into the grittiness of the underworld with murder, intrigue and exile—all from your spot in the sand.
To me, a beach read can be a book that helps you appreciate the beauty and bounty of nature. Avid fly fishers will appreciate Robert Reid and Wesley W. Bates’s essays and engravings in Casting into Mystery, on a beach or on a boat! It contains all manner of topics on the subject of this ancient outdoor pastime, and even includes a consideration of the various artistic appreciations of the sport, from literature to music. Of if you find yourself enjoying good hike or even an impromptu walk in the woods, you might find delight—and perhaps a little delightful creepiness—in Joe Rosenblatt’s poetry collection The Bird in the Stillness. The flora and fauna of the forest await … along with the Greenman, to keep you on your toes.
To me, a beach read can be enjoyed in one sitting, on a well-deserved vacation day. Perhaps it’s a short and amusing collection of texts and images, such as Jim Westergard’s See What I’m Saying?, which provides exquisitely—and hilariously—illustrated phrases from our ever-so-quirky English language. Another enjoyable one-sitting read might be a wordless novel, such as George A. Walker’s The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson—a book you can gobble up quickly or savour slowly depending on how much you want to flex your visual interpretation muscles. There you’ll find Walker’s unique interpretation of the unsolved death of one of Canada’s most famous painters. You might even form your own conclusions.
The point is, a beach read can be in any genre, on any topic, by any author, in any format. As long as you’d want to read it for leisure it counts. In essence, a beach read is a wish your mind makes—it’s whatever your brain tells you it wants to read to chill out and relax on a long summer night.
What’s happening this month…
Now that we have copies of Karl Jirgens’s stupendous collection The Razor’s Edge out in the world, next up on the docket we have Wesley W. Bates’s collection of texts and engravings Out of the Dark, as well as a debut collection of short stories by C. I. Matthews entitled Took You So Long, featuring stories of forceful emotion in the face of adversity. Watch this space to see when they roll off the press.
In the world.
Time to get out those fancy little cocktail umbrellas! July 10 is Piña Colada Day, but don’t celebrate with a nice cool beverage until after work, though.
July 13 is Embrace Your Geekness Day, but honestly, I feel like everyday is a day to embrace your geekness. Let your geek flag fly!
July 30 is Paperback Book Day. Now THAT is a holiday I can get behind. What’s that saying about portable magic? I definitely agree.
From the porcupette’s corner.
I’ve been neck deep in editing this past little while, polishing up an upcoming book that I find especially fascinating because it is set in Essex County—my stomping grounds. Those who live in cities that make popular book settings (New York, L.A., Toronto, Vancouver) might be inured to the feeling, but I still get that jolt of pleasure whenever I see a place I know or remember mentioned in a book.
Also on the to-do list is a bunch of administrative-type stuff. It’s not the most glamorous publishing job to work on grant applications and reports, but it does keep the lights on, so we do our best. Once those are off the table, we’re on to the biannual excitement of tipsheets for Spring 2023 titles. Never a dull moment!
Thanks for catching up on the latest and greatest news here at the Porcupine’s Quill. We hope you’ve found a few tempting reads to keep you entertained this summer—regardless of whether you prefer to do your reading on a beach or in air-conditioned comfort.