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Vacation List?

I always strive to find the perfect books for vacation—something that is not impossibly difficult, but at the same time not trashy fluffy. I tried authors whose works I have previously enjoyed, but there’s always a demand for beach read (I never vacation in cold climate) that is not the league of James Patterson. This list, per The King’s English Bookshop again, might answer my call.

25 Novels That Are Easy to Read and Hard to Put Down

1. Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson, 1978
2. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty, 1985
3. Rich in Love by Josephine Humphries, 1987
4. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, 1988
5. A Short History of a Small Place by T.R. Pearson, 1985
6. Chinchilla Farm by Judith Freeman, 1989
7. A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Haily, 1989
8. Daddy by Loup Durand, 1988
9. China Boy by Gus Lee, 1991
10. Brothers K by James Duncan, 1992
11. I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots by Susan Straight, 1992
12. Ruin Creek by David Payne, 1993
13. A Big Storm Knocked It Over by Laurie Colwin, 1993
14. Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons, 1993
15. Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin, 1991
16. Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler, 1995
17. Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, 1989
18. Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg, 1995
19. Hanging Tree David Lambkin, 1996
20. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, (Reissue) 1998
21. Armadillo by William Boyd, 1998
22. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire, 1999
23. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, 2001
24. Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, 2002
25. Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos, 2004

A whole new realm of authors and books that I haven’t read or heard of. Elizabeth Berg, Anne Tyler, Gregory Macguire and Sue Monk Kidd—authors I have heard of but never read. Which ones have you read? What do you recommend?

21 Responses

  1. I’ve only read the Dodie Smith one and will recommend it unreservedly.

  2. I haven’t read any of these. I have I CAPTURE THE CASTLE and TIRRA LIRRA in my TBR pile though!

  3. I haven’t read any of these either, but I keep hearing about I Capture the Castle. I need to read it…apparently. I have no idea what it’s about.

    • Neither I have. According to wikipedia:
      “I Capture the Castle is Dodie Smith’s first novel, written in the 1940s when she and her husband (also British and a conscientious objector) lived in California during WWII. She longed for England and wrote of a happier time— unspecified in the novel but probably early 1930s— between the wars. Smith was already an established playwright and later became famous for authoring the children’s classic The Hundred and One Dalmatians.

      The novel relates the adventures of an eccentric family, the Mortmains, struggling to live in genteel poverty in a decaying English castle during the 1930s. The first person narrator is Cassandra Mortmain, an intelligent teenager who tells the story via her personal journal.”

      Sounds like a perfect read by the pool.

  4. I’ve read The Secret Life of bees (surprisingly decent) and The Power of One (good, not great). I’ve read Wicked by Geoffrey McGuire but not the one listed. The rest I’ve never even heard of. Wow!

    • I remember The Secret Life of Bees being a hot bestseller back then. Everybody was reading it. The Power of One I have never heard of. It sounds like a self-help book! Geoffrey Macguire I’m also curious because I always see his books.

  5. I’ve only read I Capture The Castle, but the style was not for me. That said, for Dodie Smith you can’t got wrong with The 101 Dalmatians 😀

  6. I loved The Secret Life of Bees when I read it in high school. I also read a lot of Elizabeth Berg back then…her books seem to find a sweet spot between total fluff and respectable prose. I’m going to try some of the other books on this list; lately I’ve been reading a lot of light books to recover from the hours I spend nodding off over journal articles each day, but I need something other than Sue Grafton – something a little more filling. Thanks for posting this!

    • Elizabeth Berg is also on my to-read author list. I’m glad this list has popped up and now I can explore a slew of new authors to me.

  7. I’ve only heard of a handful of authors as well and have only read The Secret Life of Bees. Which was so good! Thanks for this list.

  8. I’ve read 4,7,16, 18, 20, and 24. I Capture the Castle is my favorite of the bunch!

  9. […] Finally, Matthew from A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook shares The King’s English Bookshop‘s list of 25 easy to read yet hard to put down vacation reads. The King’s English, in Salt Lake City, is one of my favorite independent bookstores – my mom and I go and spend time there whenever we visit Utah. I have read four of the twenty-five and several of the others look interesting. I long ago decided to never again read Elizabeth Berg or Gregory Maguire because I did not enjoy the novels by those authors I have read, but the list is definitely eclectic enough to have something to please every one and is well worth checking out. […]

  10. I’ve not read any of these except for maybe the one by Elizabeth Berg. I’ve had mixed results with her work. It can be a bit too predictable and borderline “chick lit” in a way. Many love her work but for me it is a toss up.

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