However, I thought I would offer my two cents on five books that you ought to consider reading this summer. I can't really say whether these are beach reads as such, but these are books that I have either read and enjoyed thoroughly this year or am set to read very soon.
#5: The Bishop's Man by Linden McIntyre - This was last year's Giller Prize winner (a Canadian award for literature). I don't think I've ever read a Giller winner, and if I have it was purely incidental. And McIntyre is a fellow Maritimer, so there's one more reason to place this book on my library queue. The subject matter is a bit bleak, dealing with a priest called in to deal with accusations of child molestation by another priest in a Maritime parish. Timely by accident, as it was published before the whole fiasco involving the Vatican this year.
#4: The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman - Sarah Silverman is adorable and unassuming, but that girl has a real potty mouth. I think that's why I love her. I have enjoyed her stand-up and her canceled-too-soon sitcom, and now she's written what might best be described as a memoir--though I think this will be a more entertaining read than anything the self-indulgent celebs could write.
#3: Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon - It's a wonderful thing when you can watch a horror film or read a horror novel involving teens and not feel like your intelligence has been insulted. It's even better when the story is riveting from the get-go and manages to ramp up the tension with each chapter. Kenyon managed to tip-toe around a lot of possible clichés and offer an apocalyptic tale that feels fresher than most.
#2: Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky - This book came out of nowhere--well, it actually came out of Germany. Bronsky (a pseudonym) offers a very good debut effort with the story of a teenage girl named Sascha and her sullen existence in a seedy part of the city lovingly known as Broken Glass Park. One of the main things getting her through the day is a seething hatred for the man who killed her mother, the father of her two step-siblings--and the promise to herself that she'll kill him as soon as he's out of prison. Grim subject matter, but an engrossing read.
#1: Black Hills by Dan Simmons - This is my favorite read of the year so far. Dan Simmons somehow managed to blend the supernatural with a literary piece of historical fiction. After a young Sioux boy touches the body of a freshly killed General Custer, he becomes haunted by the war hero's ghost--or something of that sort, it seems--through the rest of his life. The book jumps back and forth through time, showing Paha Sapa's formidable youth, blossoming romance with a white woman, and his dying days as he plans to blow up Mount Rushmore on the day of its unveiling. It's a gripping piece of work that you definitely ought to read.