Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 🙂
See, here’s the thing about these bookish memes – after awhile, I’m bound to reach topics that has zero relevance to me. “Fall reads”, “beach reads”, and all the seasonal stuff comes to mind when I think of these. Where I live we don’t have summer holidays. We live in eternal summer (and you have to go to school, even when it’s so hot your brain is a puddle on the floor.) We have a LOT of school holidays but they’re usually arranged neatly to coincide with festivals like Eid or Chinese New Year so most of us would be back at our parents’ or grandparents’ fake-smiling at elderly relatives asking awkward or annoying questions (or is that just me?). Of course, I’m OLD so maybe things are different now.
So back to the week’s theme: beach reads. I don’t know what they’re supposed to be. Are they books set near beaches? Books you read at the beach (but those can be anything, right)? Books set during summer? My parents live about three minutes away from a beach, so to me a “beach read” is just whatever I read when I’m at their place. And what I do like to read when I’m at their place are… children’s fiction. Books that get me out of reading slumps (because the heat + my brain getting all fuzzy and sleepy almost always = reading slump). Books that I either loved as a kid, or wish I had read as a kid. Books exactly like these:
The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley
This is a book I only got last week at a used bookstore while I was in Singapore. I started it while waiting to board my flight back, and finished it before we landed at KL. It’s about the adventures of Aladdin’s son, Abu Ali – and reads just like a missing story from Arabian Nights, which I suppose makes sense since even Aladdin was one of the stories added by enterprising booksellers/printers once upon a time. Plus, the edition I have has interior decorations (illustrations) by Edward Ardizzone! He’s one of my favourite children’s illustrators. I didn’t realise that this edition had his illustrations when I bought it, because the cover was by someone else, so it was a lovely surprise when I started reading.
Half-Magic by Edward Eager
I only started reading Edward Eager last year, and I am both so glad that I did, and a little regretful that I hadn’t read him when I was younger (and a huge E. Nesbit fan). This is exactly the sort of book that I loved during my school holidays – it has all the ennui and desperation for magic I had, but of course, in here, magic actually (sort-of, halfway) happens.
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
If you’re reading this post, can you tell me if you read Enid Blyton (either as a child, or later in life), and which of her books did you like/dislike the most? I think my first proper “children’s book” was a Secret Seven book and then I promptly gobbled up all the rest of the series as fast as I could – or rather, as fast as my parents/my pocket money could afford it, since even secondhand and rental books were a luxury then – before moving on to Famous Five. Once I discovered the Faraway Tree (which Enchanted Wood is part of) and Wishing Chair series I stopped reading any of the mysteries, though.
Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson
Eva Ibbotson is one of those authors that I never really appreciated until recently, but I think I would have loved a LOT more had I discovered her at the right age. This story doesn’t really feature a child or young adult, so it wasn’t a relatable sort of escape like the other books are, but it’s a lot of fun, and I like the many sorts of witches and magic that appeared in it.
Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones
Like Half-Magic, I related to this in that holiday-ennui sort of way, and unlike Half-Magic, it also has that family-members-are-best-tolerated-from-afar feeling I’d get after spending too long at a relative’s place, which happened to me and my siblings a lot up until we were fifteen at least (and sometimes even after), because neither of our parents had much time to entertain us during the holidays. I remember wishing that I could summon Loki by starting a fire in the yard…
Maybe it’s just that I wish that I could magic myself out of the heat! Anyway, I love children’s fantasy, but fantasy isn’t the only means of escapism – the other sort of book I like to read when I’m feeling like I can’t brain (thanks, Malaysian weather) are probably closer to what others consider summer reads – YA contemporary romances. At least some of them are set during summer, I think? Books like:
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
I was really surprised by how much I liked this. I tend to judge (YA) books by their cover and I normally wouldn’t have gone for this. I think I received a review copy and decided to give it a chance, and I’m glad I did. Huntley Fitzpatrick’s fiction are always more serious than they seem at first, bringing up real, complex issues, so technically it shouldn’t be in my list of books for when I can’t brain, BUT. Her books are also really good, and romantic, and funny when they need to be, with characters (and side characters!) I enjoy reading.
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Confession: this is the first Morgan Matson I’ve read. I bought my late sister her first book, and she loved it, and continued buying her. I had requested for a copy of this from the moment I heard of it, but of course, by the time I got it, my sister was no longer around. So I read it. And I could see why she had liked Morgan Matson, since it combines all the stuff we liked in books/movies. Oh, and I remember that this IS a summer book, so – yay!
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Kasie West is another author I normally wouldn’t read, because of the cover. (I don’t like covers that scream “THIS IS A ROMANCE”, in general.) But I enjoyed her speculative YA novel Split Second, and thought that I would give this a try. Like Huntley Fitzpatrick, Kasie West’s romances discuss difficult issues, but in a more lighthearted fashion, and the main reason I enjoy reading her books is that I find them literally unputdownable.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
The book that made me love Jenny Han, and Lara Jean. The Lara Jean books (there are two so far, with a third coming out) are romances, but they’re mainly about sisters and I love them so much because they’re so SPOT ON. Also, it’s been a long while since I read a POC character in a contemporary novel – there are more of them in the fantasy/SF books I’ve been reading, but not in the YA contemporaries. Maybe I’m reading the wrong books? Give me suggestions!
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Well, this is just pure escapism, and I mean it in a good way. (The thought of living in a place with more tolerable temperature!) There are bits that annoy me, like when Anna was actively not enjoying her time in Paris – I wanted to give her a good shake because oh gods the opportunities you’re missing out on, girl – but at the same time, I get it. Sometimes it’s hard to open up to new things. Sometimes it never happens, and sometimes it just takes time. And I like that about this book, her falling into this group of friends and finally finding her place in the world.
And so there it is, ten books I personally consider good “beach reads”, despite hardly having beaches in them at all. What do/did you read during school holidays, and what are real “beach reads”? Tell me in the comments 😀