Books for the beach

Posted: Wed Aug 18 2010

Need a hot new book for your two weeks away? Chris Moss rounds up this season's searing reads

For your romantic hotel suite in the South of France…
'The Last Letter from Your Lover'
by Jojo Moyes (Hodder, £12.99)
Jojo Moyes has a reputation for forcing her legion of readers to break down and cry; this story of adultery, love and loss is for all those who've just split with someone or who are holidaying with the emotionally retarded who think weeping is anti-social.

For the oil-free beaches of the Southern States…
'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot (Macmillan, £18.99)
A story about the 'immortal' cancer cells of a poor Southern tobacco farmer - removed without her permission - might not sound like a sunny read, but Skloot's intelligent biography is very moving. Henrietta Lacks's cells have saved many lives and contributed to the advancement of modern science.

For a bar on Venice beach, LA…
'The Killing Seasons' by Miles Corwin (Ebury, £12.99)
What is it about flying and kicking back in hotels that makes us want to read gritty, even gruesome stories from the dark edges of society? This true crime account of 'a summer in South-Central with LAPD Homicide' was a US bestseller and did for LA what 'The Wire' did for Baltimore.

For the car-park, Newquay…
'On Roads' by Joe Moran (Profile £8.99)
Since any journey to a British beach in midsummer is likely to be mainly an experience of asphalt, caravans and signage, you might as well enjoy your surroundings. Joe Moran's cultural history of motorways, A-roads and back lanes and the world of the driver is quiet, considered and oddly gripping.

For your faux shack in Panama…
'Vacation' by Deb Olin Unferth
(Atlantic, £16.99)
Unferth's characters do what we all do on holiday - visit foreign beaches, linger in internet cafes - but they are also careening into the unknown. In 'Vacation' we follow Myers on a crazed quest through Central America looking for a man who he thinks has seduced his wife. The beach as theatre of existential crises.

For your average hol with your average family in Mallorca…
'The Art of Marriage' by Catherine Blyth (John Murraye, £12.99)
Holidays are times to indulge in self-help and Blyth's follow up to 'The Art of Conversation' dispenses lots of pithy and profound advice. The chapter on 'The Joy of Children' might help get you through a tantrum session.

For moody Tyrella beach, Northern Ireland…
'Collusion' by Stuart Neville (Harvill Secker, £12.99)
Neville's latest is a fast-paced, coolly plotted, well- researched follow up to last year's brilliant 'The Twelve'. Ex-hitman Gerry Fegan is in New York, there's a psycho killer called the Traveller stalking Belfast, and the cops are in cahoots with the crooks who are being screwed by the loyalists and Real IRA throwbacks. You'll read it in an afternoon.