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Beach Reads

I am making my way through this week at a frantic pace…the to do list is a little out of control at work and in my personal life. I’m trying to get everything in a good place at work, packing, getting the blog ready so you guys have things to read while I’m gone, running errands and trying to maintain some semblance of my normal routine with teaching/workouts.  It’s not easy! But again, so worth it for vacation!

So by Friday afternoon I’ll be settled in a beach chair with a cocktail looking at this…

But I’d also like to have a book in my hand! What am I going to read!?

I spent about 45 minutes browsing at Barnes and Noble yesterday and come home with these two books.

Pictures of You” by Caroline Leavitt. I remembered Jenna saying it was the best book she’d read all year so I picked it up. Looks like a great beach read!

Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah. I actually read another one of her books, “Firefly Lane,” on our last vacation two years ago and couldn’t put it down. I’m hoping this book is just as good!

The stop at Barnes and Noble was a last minute decision and I wasn’t prepared.  I wish I would have done more research before I went. I love reading on vacation and like to find those types of books that just totally consume you. Hopefully the two that I came home with will live up to that.

I usually fly through books on vacation so I would love to pick up another book before we leave…that’s where you come in. I would love suggestions for “must read” beach books!

Also, Brandon is thinking about starting the Hunger Games series on our trip. Thoughts on those books? I know they’re really popular.

Hope everyone is having a great day! 😛

{ 51 comments… add one }
  • lauren May 10, 2011, 12:12 pm

    last month on my vacation i read “sarah’s Key”–so awesome. i read it in a matter of hours, could not put it down!

    enjoy your trip! load up on SPF, the sun is so strong down there!

    • Jen May 10, 2011, 12:21 pm

      lauren – i actually picked up sarah’s key yesterday but didn’t get it. good to know that it’s a winner!

  • becca May 10, 2011, 12:14 pm

    the hunger games trilogy are probably the best books i’ve read in a long time. if brandon’s a quick reader, he could easily go through all of them on your vacation. (i’d suggest you reading them too; they were that good!) and i’m sure everyone’s suggested water for elephants for you, but it is a good book. and an easy read. very jealous of your upcoming vacay. enjoy!

    • Jen May 10, 2011, 12:22 pm

      loved water for elephants! i want to see the movie now.

      i’ll let brandon read hunger games first and then talk me into reading them. that’s what happened with twilight and i was obsessed!

  • Lindsey May 10, 2011, 12:15 pm

    I’m a newer follower but I love your blog! I love all of Jodi Picoult’s books. They can be deep sometimes and I’ve been known to shed a tear or two while reading them. I did a blog post about her http://justasmalltowngirlblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/jodi-picoult.html I also love Jane Green. Her books are witty and I can fly through them. (Her latest – Promises to Keep – is a tear jerker.) Emily Giffin is another good one. If you haven’t read Something Borrowed or Something Blue, you definitely should! Happy reading and have fun on vaca!!

    • Jen May 10, 2011, 12:23 pm

      i’m hit or miss with jodi picoult. some of her books i really love and some not so much.

      i like jane green and haven’t read that book. thanks for the head’s up!

      loooovveeed something borrowed and something blue. quick, easy and entertaining.

  • Allie May 10, 2011, 12:29 pm

    i’m always looking for “easy reads” since i’m an english teacher – sometimes i need a break from all of the classics…that said, i LOVED “The Help” – couldn’t put it down! i recently saw it on sale in paperback at target for about $12. enjoy your vacation!!

    • Jen May 10, 2011, 12:31 pm

      oh allie, i LOVED that book too. it was my favorite book of 2010 for sure!

  • Heather May 10, 2011, 12:29 pm

    The Smart One and the Pretty One is such a fun beach read and one of my favorite chick lit books ever.

    Also, I ADORE The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life. It’s a fantastic book, and it’s kind of fun because the author lived in Charlotte for a while, and some of the characters live in Charlotte in the book. So, she calls out some local places and it’s kind of nice to know exactly where she’s talking about.

    Have a great vacation!

    • Jen May 10, 2011, 12:32 pm

      I haven’t read (or heard of) either of those! Thank you Heather!

  • Bridget May 10, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Have you read anything by Elin Hilderbrand? The ones I’ve read (Blue Bistro and Barefoot) are good beach reads!

    • Jen May 10, 2011, 12:31 pm

      I haven’t! Love finding new authors. Thank you!

      • Beth Copley May 10, 2011, 3:35 pm


        I just finished reading “The Island” by Elin Hildebrandt. Really good beach read. There is also a book called “Vintage Affair” that is similar to “Sarah’s Key” that is really good. Have fun on vacation!!!


    • Christina May 10, 2011, 3:19 pm

      I second the nomination for Elin Hilderbrand! I’ve read all of her books and really enjoy them – Blue Bistro is one of my favorites, it’s sort of a “behind the scenes” peek into the restaurant industry, so you might really enjoy it!

  • Jilli May 10, 2011, 12:33 pm

    The Savannah series by Mary Kay Andrews!!!! My absolute favorite beach read of all time. Quick, funny, Southern, and best enjoyed with a drink in hand!


  • Josie May 10, 2011, 1:04 pm

    I read Falling Home by Karen White a few weeks ago – it is set in middle Georgia and was really really good. Loved it! Saving CeeCee Honeycut was also a cute/entertaining read. Have fun on vacation!!

    • LM May 10, 2011, 1:25 pm

      I read this recently, too, and loved it! Great book.

    • caitlin May 10, 2011, 1:26 pm

      I loved Saving CeeCee Honeycut- it was such a great read!

      • Jen May 10, 2011, 2:52 pm

        i read that book and LOVED it too! :

  • Maggie May 10, 2011, 1:15 pm

    Yaaaayyyy for your rapidly approaching vacation!

    Everyone is raving about Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” though I hear it’s one of those “read in public at your own risk” books because you’ll be laughing and snorting your way through it. (This doesn’t deter me, by the way.)

    The foodie in you would enjoy “Blood, Bones and Butter” by Gabrielle Hamilton, chef at Prune restaurant in NYC. She won the James Beard Best Chef Award yesterday, and her memoir is excellent!

  • caitlin May 10, 2011, 1:25 pm

    I love all of Kristin Hannah’s books, they are all great! Here are my suggestions:
    1.)The Art of racing in the Rain. This book was SO good! You will especially love it because of your dog 🙂
    2.)Homeless to Harvard. Great, great read. I couldn’t put it down!
    3.) Loving Frank- one of my all time favorite books.
    Check out my link on my blog, it has alot great books! http://scatterbrainjane.com/bookshelf/
    Hope this helps :)!

  • Kelly May 10, 2011, 1:46 pm

    I don’t know if I would call Water for Elephants a beach read, but I absolutely loved it! Some of my other favorites are Wicked, Holy Cow – An Indian Adventure, In the Time of the Butterflies, The Help, The Color Purple, and Gone with the Wind. Come to think of it, none of these are really “beach reads”, but I really loved them and I’m super picky when it comes to books.

  • Katie May 10, 2011, 2:04 pm

    “The Memory Keeepers Daughter” by Kim Edwards. Not sure that it’s a beach read, but very good!

    • Katie May 10, 2011, 2:09 pm

      oops *Keepers*

  • Nancy May 10, 2011, 2:47 pm

    I never comment but I felt the need here- you HAVE to read the Hunger Games books! They are, by far, the best books I’ve read recently and are definitely among my all time favorites. You (and your husband) will love them!

    • Jen May 10, 2011, 3:18 pm

      nancy – thank you so much for the comment and for the head’s up about hunger games. we will definitely read it. i’ve heard tons of great things!

  • Michelle @ A Voracious Appetite May 10, 2011, 2:53 pm

    Hey I’m a new reader! I loved the Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. I’ve read a handful of her books and Firefly Lane is my favorite. Winter Garden is a close second. I was crying at the end!

    I also love anything by Jennifer Weiner or Marian Keyes. Both are lighthearted and fun to read but they touch on real topics in a way that speaks to the reader.

    I hope you have fun on your vacation!

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:11 am

      michelle – welcome and thank you so much for your comment. love hearing from all readers – especially new ones! 🙂

      i am so happy to hear a good review of winter garden. and i love a good tear jerker! 🙂

  • Alaina May 10, 2011, 2:55 pm

    I’ve always liked the murder mystery books and I’m a huge fan of James Patterson. They’re a quick and easy read. I usually go through them in no time.

    I also could not put down the Green Mile. I think I read the whole thing in 3 days.

    I’m reading Water For Elephants right now and I love it!

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:12 am

      i loved water for elephants too! so good.

      i haven’t read a good murder mystery in a while. i used to love john grisham and mary higgins clark when i was in high school!

  • ashley May 10, 2011, 2:56 pm

    I also breeze through books on beach trips so I always take a few in case one turns out to be a dud. I recommend Saving CeeCee Honeycutt if you loved The Help. And Hunger Games was discussed during my Young Adult Lit class last semester – everyone raved about it. I want to finish out the whole series – especially before the first movie comes out. Oh – and you HAVE to read Edisto by Padgett Powell. So good.

    I could really go on and on and on about books!

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:13 am

      i knew i could count on you for some good recommendations! 🙂

  • Janine May 10, 2011, 2:59 pm

    If you loved something borrowed/blue you definitely need to see the movie! So cute 🙂

    Have so much fun!

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:10 am

      i don’t think i knew that there was a movie. awesome!

  • Becky May 10, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Beach reading is the best! There’s something so relaxing about sitting by the ocean and getting lost in a good book. I’ve heard great things about both of your choices and I just downloaded the Hunger Games on my Kindle. I’m excited to get started.

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:09 am

      i’m on the fence on getting a kindle. my grandmother has a nook and doesn’t even buy books any more!

  • Jonna May 10, 2011, 4:07 pm


    Love reading your blog…as for beach reads…I love Nantucket and
    have read every book by Elin Hilderbrand. All of her stories take
    place on Nantucket (she lives there), great vacation books, nice style of writing, she’s one of my favorites. I read Pictures of You and Firefly Lane, Sarah’s Key, all are great books. Elin Hilderbrand book Titles are:

    The Beach Club (2000)
    Nantucket Nights (2002)
    Summer People (2003)
    The Blue Bistro (2005)
    The Love Season (2006)
    Barefoot (2007)
    A Summer Affair (2008)
    The Castaways (2009)
    The Island (2010)

    Enjoy if you read any!

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:09 am

      jonna – thanks SO much for the head’s up on elin hilderbrand. i will check her stuff out!!!

  • natalie (the sweets life) May 10, 2011, 4:17 pm

    The Help
    The 19th Wife
    Sarah’s Key
    Skeletons at the Feast

    and I’m reading The Weird Sisters right now…good so far!!

  • kat May 10, 2011, 4:31 pm

    i’ll second or third the hunger games….just finished the 1st book and i read it in two sittings. hoping to get my hands on the second one tomorrow night from a friend. i’ll also second the art of racing in the rain, though it will have you SOBBING on the beach. i read it at the beach last year and got more than a few strange looks from passersby as i openly sobbed. my parents were like “are you OK??” lol. great book though, and very heartwarming at the end.
    enjoy your vacay, so jealous!! 🙂

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:08 am

      kat – i read art of racing in the rain last year. definitely a tear jerker but a great book.

      i did the sobbing on the beach thing with my sisters keeper the first time i ever went to the beach with brandon’s fam!

  • Tracy May 10, 2011, 7:30 pm

    Have a blast! A few of my recent faves – Secret Daughter, The Art of Racing in the Rain (you’ll love b/c you’re a dog person), and Room. I’ve read a lot of others this spring but those were the best!

    I also read the Hunger Games and would recommend the series! It’s light and fun and I’m sure it will be a great movie I’m sure.

    I’m going on vacay tomorrow (to California for a wedding) and am bringing the Postmistress. 🙂


    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:07 am

      tracy – thanks for the suggestions. i loved art of racing in the rain but haven’t read the others you mentioned.

      have fun in california!

  • Tracy May 10, 2011, 7:32 pm

    “This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper is also a great one!! Forgot to add that!

  • Miriam May 10, 2011, 9:10 pm

    I like anything by Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One Your With).. “Something Borrowed” is out in theatre now and was great!! These are light reads and so entertaining 🙂

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:06 am

      i’ve read all of her books except the most recent – heart of the matter. i always fly through those books. so good!

  • Stephanie May 10, 2011, 10:05 pm

    I just read Kristin Hannah’s newest book on vacation last month, Night Road. Couldn’t put it down. Read it in 2 days!

    • Jen May 11, 2011, 9:05 am

      oh i saw that one at the bookstore but wanted to stick with paperbacks and they only had it in hardback. i will definitely read it this summer!

  • Bess @ Bess Be Fit May 10, 2011, 10:40 pm

    I really like the Bridal Quartet books by Nora Roberts…easy reads, girly romance books but funny too! lighthearted.

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