F**k Facebook, kill your Kindle and leave your phone at home. When you hit the beach this summer we think you should give your brain a break and read a book. A paperback ideally, so you can get suntan lotion sheen and sand all over the pages. But what to read? Over the next week or so we'll give you four lists grouped tenuously into the following themes: sea, style, trip, and music. The books won't be new but we're pretty sure they'll still resonate. And if not then we hope you'll enjoy the covers at least.
1. THE BEACH BY ALEX GARLAND
Before the Leo movie there was a book and it was a belter. English backpacker Richard goes in search of a fabled beach community paradise far removed from the backpacking hordes that blight the rest of Thailand. It's fast-paced, funny and not afraid to cast a critical gaze on everything in its path.
2. BONJOUR TRISTESSE BY FRANCOISE SAGAN
We first read this with a gun to our heads at school but ended up loving it. Set over a long hot summer on the French Riviera, Cecile is used to having her widowed Dad's affection all to herself, inconsequential mistresses aside. Then he meets someone he really likes. Sagan was 17 when she wrote this. When we were 17 we were listening to too much Bob Marley.
3. THE WASP FACTORY BY IAIN BANKS
The breakthrough book for Iain Banks (RIP) stars 16-year old Frank who lives not the most cheerful life with his father on the east coast of Scotland. To offsets the darkness he tortures wasps, as you do. Appreciate this may sound depressing but it isn't, it's actually very funny, if a little gruesome at times.
4. TAPPING THE SOURCE BY KEM NUNN
Published in 1984 and set in an early 1980s version of Huntington Beach with bikers, hustlers and a lawlessness that is way removed from the branded up reality of today's HB, especially as the frothers gather for the Vans US Open of Surfing. It stars Ike, an inlander who finds surfing and it changes his life. A bit like in Point Break which apparently it inspired.
5. A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING BY RUTH OZEKI
When walking along the beach in British Columbia Ruth chances upon a message in a bottle, except it's the third millennium so it's actually a diary hidden in a bubble-wrapped Hello Kitty lunchbox. And so begins the story of 16-year old Japanese schoolgirl Nao, told alongside Ruth's, who may or may not have died in the tsunami. You'll have to read this deep and dreamy book to find out.
6. JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL A STORY BY RICHARD BACH
Non-conformity, freedom, a love of flying and the meaning of life. And a seagull protagonist. All in one tiny little 70s cult book you'll probably manage to finish on your way to the beach on the first day of your holiday. Make sure you spend some time checking out the rad illos too.
7. LORD OF THE FLIES BY WILLIAM GOLDING
A classic text that's still super relevant and enjoyable to read today. A group of schoolboys crash land on a desert island. To survive they'll need to shun swimming and playing about their tropical paradise and work together to find food, but such commitment would be hard enough for adults let alone kids. Especially when their adolescent egos collide.
8. DROWN BY JUNOT DIAZ
An early collection of short stories from the awesome Junot Diaz who was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic then brought up in New Jersey, USA. His tales of a young male hailing from both places but not really belonging to either are both funny and brutally real.
9. NEVER LET ME GO BY KAZIO ISHIGURO
The "sea" link may not run throughout this dystopian gem but it's there to provide some killer symbolism when Ruth, Tommy and Kathy enjoy a carefree trip to the coast after finishing school. Like normal teens. But they aren't normal teens they're just organ donors for the rest of the human race. Fully bleak but powerful and thought-provoking in the way a holiday read should be.
10. BREATH BY TIM WINTON
Alongside Tapping the Source above, Breath is one of the best surf novels ever written, albeit from a not especially crowded field. Set in Western Australia in the 1970s, our hero Pikelet and his pal Loonie go from holding their breath in the river to surfing with the help of 30-something guru Sando. But only Loonie has what it takes to surf the big stuff leaving Pikelet to watch and pine. And then there's Sando's wife…