The month of August typically finds us scrambling to check off everything that remains on our summer bucket lists. Grilling, road-tripping, picnicking, and—of course—beaching. On weekends and days off now through Labor Day, you can bet your bottoms that we’ll be down at Jacob Riis Park or Brighton Beach, soaking up whatever sun the summer has left to offer.

Along with sunscreen, delicious sandwiches, and inconspicuous bottles of rosé, no trip to the beach is complete without a good book. That’s why we’ve teamed up with the swell librarians at the Brooklyn Public Library to share their recommendations for beach-friendly reads to get you through the month. Charisma Lee, Senior Librarian at the Brooklyn Heights branch, was kind enough to offer up 10 choice selects. Check them out below!

Need more book recommendations? Try your hand at The Brooklyn Public Library’s Book Match service. They’ll team you up with your own personal librarian and a custom list of books to match your tastes!

west elm - 10 Books For The Beach from the Brooklyn Public Library

All My Puny Sorrows
by Miriam Toews

Toews’ novel might not be the first to spring to mind when thinking of a beach read. If you can appreciate that darker turns of life can be balanced with some levity (however inappropriate), then you just might tear through these pages as I did.

The Blue Fox
by Sjón

This fantastical sliver of a book filled my eyes with wonder and sent me into a dreamlike state when I finished reading. Victoria Cribb’s translation also made me feel that I should learn Icelandic.

Do What You Love, And Other Lies About Success and Happiness
by Tokumitsu, Miya

Sure, the last thing you want to read in order to relax your mind is a book about work. Should you be in the mood for a very brief but gripping argument about how requiring passion for one’s job can be problematic, look no further.

Exit Wounds
by Rutu Modan

A cabbie and a soldier search all over Tel Aviv for the missing figure who binds them together. Translated from Hebrew by Noah Stollman, Modan’s subtle humor pokes fun at the detachment from everyday terror.

Freeman’s Arrival
by John Freeman

The first issue in an anthology of writings, all hand-picked by former Granta editor John Freeman. I was especially taken with Lydia Davis’ method of learning Norwegian, Kamila Shamsie negotiating gender and class with Pakistani military intelligence, and Fatin Abbas on relations in a NGO in Sudan.

How to Be A Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life
by Heather Havrilesky

If you’re between the ages of 20 and 50 but are unable to afford a therapist, Heather Havrilesky’s column may provide temporary relief. Even if a lot of “Polly’s” advice is couched in goofy and slightly snarky language, the underlying common sense still shines through.

John Peel: Margrave of the Marshes
by John Peel

I never got the pleasure to listen to this legendary DJ’s shows when he was still spinning records and promoting music with BBC. Fortunately, this compelling autobiography paints a very clear picture of Peel’s passion–and I’ll admit it, makes me envious of all the folks he’s worked with.

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
by Simon Garfield

It’s a layperson’s guide to fonts—I mean, typefaces! Garfield has helped me better appreciate the much-maligned Comic Sans and revealed why Gotham worked for the Obama campaign. Honestly, who knew?! (Besides designers, that is.)

Panic in A Suitcase
by Yelena Akhtiorskaya

Another novel one can read quickly, not because its characters are likeable but more that they’re intimately familiar. It begins with the persnickety uncle set in his ways and ends with the “third culture kid,” trying to reconcile her Ukrainian heritage with her Brooklyn upbringing.

Why Not Me?
by Mindy Kaling

A strong contender for “writing at which I would snort aloud while riding public transit.” Kaling’s brand of humor is particular, to be sure, but she also displays her self-confidence and her drive to work hard for what she wants.

 Charisma Lee of the Brooklyn Public Library

BookMatch Librarian: Charisma Lee, Senior Librarian at the Brooklyn Heights branch library
Before becoming a librarian, Charisma worked as a translator and a teacher abroad. She speaks four languages but is always keen to learn more. In her free time, Charisma can be found visiting art exhibits, admiring textiles, or laughing at bad puns.

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