TTT: Books You Might Not Want to Take to the Beach…

…but might want to check out in the Fall?

Personally I like heavier and darker books, so when I was trying to go through the books I’ve read, I realized I have a mere handful of ‘beach reads’, and I would only recommend a couple .

I decided to take this Top Ten a different direction and warn you about some books you should read, maybe just not at the beach.

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1 American War – Omar El Akkad

Not only is this book about war and how it destroys individuals and societies, but there’s some awful descriptions about torture. A great read, but probably not one for the beach. One that might keep you away from the water.

2 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

To me this was an emotionally intense read, one that gave me much needed insight on my feelings after college. More suited for the book nook, not the seaside.

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3 The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo

I don’t usually cry when I’m reading a sad book. I might shed a few tears, but usually my feelings stay within. There are a handful of books that have brought me to deep sobbing, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame is definitely one.

I was so deeply moved by the story that I became obsessed with Notre Dame de Paris and visited it on my honeymoon (soooo romantic). Hugo usually gets praise for Les Miserables, but The Hunchback broke my heart.

Please, don’t read this one at the beach! You’ll have to go hang out in the ocean to disguise your sobbing.

“I swear, it’s the salt water!”

4 In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

A true crime classic, Capote’s In Cold Blood is amazing, but is centered around the brutal deaths of a Mid-West family. Maybe not the darkest book on this list, but definitely a downer.

Also it might make you weary of all the strangers around you…

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5 Missoula – Jon Krakauer

I think the subject matter is a good indicator on why this wouldn’t make a good beach read. Also if you have the same reaction I did you’ll be cursing and punching the sand while ugly crying.

This book is best read alone, so you can express feelings the way you want, away from judgmental eyes. Probably not good to kick some kid’s sand castle.

6 S. – J.J. Abrams

This book didn’t make it on the list due to dark content, but for practical reasons. Do you see how many pieces are a part of this book-within-a-book:


You don’t want to keep track of all that on the beach. The sand would probably take half of it.

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7 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – Caitlin Doughty

I picked this one because even though it’s a solid memoir, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is about Doughty’s experiences working at a funeral home and being in charge of cremations. She also talks a lot about burial traditions.

I don’t think anyone wants to have an existential crisis at the beach.

8 Things We Lost in the Fire – Mariana Enriquez

I think out of all of the books on this list, this is the top one that I would advise not taking to the beach. This book f@$ked me up. Ever major trigger warning is in this short story collection. I felt really unsettled, if not downright creeped out for most of the novel.

Also there’s a story that will make you side eye the ocean.

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9 Unwind – Neal Shusterman

This Dystopian YA novel centers around a future where parents (or guardians) have the right to ‘unwind’ their children when they are between the ages of 13-18.

Unwind = killing their kids and harvesting all their body parts.

It’s not the breezy sea air that’s putting a chill down your back.

10 The Vegetarian – Han Kang

Another extremely unsettling book, where a woman’s choice to abstain from meat is not met kindly by her family. I think the scene where the family first confronts the protagonist is one I won’t easily forget.

The Vegetarian might put you off of food (especially meat), and part of the beach experience is chowing down on yummy food. Just don’t mess with that.


22 thoughts on “TTT: Books You Might Not Want to Take to the Beach…

  1. I love your take on this, and your taste definitely seems to run to the dark and bitter. Unwind is one of my favorite series, but I’m not sure if I could read most of these books on OR off the beach!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard really good things about The Vegetarian lately, I need to pick it up. I never finished the Unwind Series, though at one point I thought Shusterman would NEVER write a sequel!! It’s a shame about the cultural appropriation because it has such a compelling argument and discussion regarding ethics and morality. I still appreciate it for the discussion though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So I looked up the appropriation, and it’s part of an novella that fills in background gaps for the first book. Thankfully I can skip right over it and go straight to the second book.


      1. Absolutely!! I was honestly amazing at the world building Shusterman has accomplished. With each successive book he expands and enhances the conversation, instead of it running dry. I was pleasantly surprised by the later books!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I read American Psycho, Birdsong and The Kite Runner on one beach holiday and have never been on a beach holiday since. I can’t help but feel these two things are connected. Maybe better for a moody autumn city break, like your list?


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