Top 20 beach reads

Rather than just give you a list, we asked poet Matthea Harvey to pen us a masterpiece, using lines plucked from the summer's top beach reads.

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Go ahead and sit anywhere 1—
you’re just in time for poetry.2
Needless to say, tensions are running high.3

I saw the leaping flame fashion itself,
for just a moment, into the image of a dragon.4
It was the burning center of the house. 5

The alarm was shrilling 6—sounds like fate to me.3
Under different circumstances,
this place would be beautiful. 7

Close my left eye and I was high,
shut my right and I was drunk. 8
I was only waiting until you showed up.6

I am sorry about the meal. 9
Gone is gone; pretending
anything else is a waste of time.10

If I am wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no
If you’re lucky, there’s still some birthday cake left.12

I put my cheek to the ground
in order to blow softly on an ember.13
It felt like the world was rushing up to meet the sky. 14

Flames licked the edge of my desk.15
There is no you and me. 16
Are you sleeping here tonight or am I?17

What we are trying to do is replicate18
reality. Here you go, baby.19
Welcome home. 20

Harvey’s books of original poetry include Modern Life and Sad Little Breathing Machine. She reads Thu 12 at A Public Space and Jun 18 at Poets House (

1 Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin (St. Martin’s Press, $24.95) 2 South Beach by Brian Antoni (Black Cat, $14) 3 Lovehampton by Sherri Rifkin (St. Martin’s Griffin, $13.95) 4 Odd Hours by Dean Koontz (Bantam Books, $27) 5 More than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss (Dutton, $24.95) 6 The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner (Dutton, $24.95) 7 The Beach House by Jane Green (Viking, $24.95) 8 Slumberland by Paul Beatty (Bloomsbury, $24.99) 9 Careless in Red by Elizabeth George (HarperCollins, $27.95) 10 The Likeness by Tana French (Viking, $24.95) 11 The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974–2008 by Sean Wilentz (HarperCollins, $27.95) 12 Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin’s Press, $27.95) 13 The Other by David Guterson (Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95) 14 Personal Days by Ed Park (Random House, $13) 15 When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (Little, Brown; $25.99) 16 Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot (William Morris, $22.95) 17 The Host by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown; $25.99) 18 Mexican High by Liza Monroy (Spiegel & Grau, $21.95) 19 Black Widow by Nikki Turner (One World Books, $14) 20 A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin’s Press, $27.95)