Books for your beach bag

    Headed to the beach for the Fourth of July week or weekend? You’ll want to put a good book in your beach bag, or on your ereader.

    Here are a few new titles with local ties that might fit the bill.

    The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch

    Nell Slattery doesn’t know who she is. After a plane crash where she is one of two survivors, her brain not only blocks out what actually happened on that horrible day but years of memories before it.

    In losing her memory, Nell is given the gift of looking at her life from an observer’s point of view. Her marriage, her relationships, her absent father — song by memory-jarring song, she unlocks the mystery of why she seemed so unhappy before her accident.

    The Song Remains the Same by Penn grad and New York Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch could be a sad story. Instead, it’s a powerful one about the value of memory, of self reliance, and of starting new beginnings.


    Kings of Midnight by Wallace Stroby

    Crissa Stone is a thief with a heart of gold. She steals so she has enough cash to get her lover out of jail, but in trying to turn dirty money into clean, she gets herself twisted in not one but two different schemes. And they’re schemes where the players don’t necessarily want her alive on the other end of the deals.

    Kings of Midnight is Wallace Stroby’s second Crissa Stone story. The first is Cold Shot to the Heart, but you don’t need to read that book to follow Kings of Midnight. Stroby, who writes from Ocean Grove and includes Jersey Shore spots in his books, didn’t mean for it to become a series. But I’m glad it happened. Even though she’s a criminal, it’s hard to root against Crissa Stone.

    Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

    Elin Hilderbrand is a New York Times best selling author who writes about Nantucket, but that doesn’t mean her books aren’t good beach reads (and there is a mention of Avalon here — she’s from Collegeville, Pa.) 

    Summerland focuses on the year round residents on the island of Nantucket, and what happens to the lives of those people when Penny, a high school junior, crashes her boyfriend’s Jeep, killing herself and putting her brother into a coma. 

    The story of that summer is told through a rotating point of view: Penny’s boyfriend, her mother, another friend in the car, the boyfriend’s mother and father, and so on. In doing so, Hilderbrand tells the whole story of their complex and interlocking lives — all before the summer ends. She even uses a Greek chorus — simply called  “Nantucket,” to fill in the narrative gaps. It might sound strange, but it works beautifully. 

    If you’d like your Hilderbrand with a slice of the Jersey Shore, check out 2008’s A Summer Affair, which features Wildwood and a very Bruce Springsteen-like character.


    Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo

    Penn grad Aaron Karo has already made a name for himself in comedy with a Comedy Central special, three humor books and three comedy albums to his name. For his first novel, he turned to the Young Adult genre. The result is Lexapros and Cons, the story of Chuck Taylor (yes really) as he tries to get his OCD under control.

    It’s a refreshingly frank book where Karo acknowledges that, yes, teenagers think about sex and their concerns go further than a prom date or making the football team. The very first sentence of Lexapros and Cons is “In the past year, I masturbated exactly 468 times.”

    But don’t be scared off by the subject matter. The brilliance of the book is in its honesty. It’s about how teenage boys think, not how adults hope they think. 


    Paris in Love by Eloisa James

    If you know Eloisa James, it’s probably for her fiction. She’s a New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen romance novels. If you’re a Shakespeare scholar, you know her as Mary Bly — she’s a professor at Fordham there.

    After being treated for breast cancer, James and her husband sell their suburban New Jersey home and move their family of four to Paris for a year. James didn’t think this would become a book, but the response to her Facebook updates during that year was so great that she decided to expand them into this memoir.

    The result is a memoir told in chunks, not chapters. This isn’t a bad thing — it gives her story a light, breezy feel, whether she’s writing about shopping for French lingerie, a friend’s death, or how they managed to buy a New York City apartment while living a continent away.

    What books would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments below.

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