5 books that will make a splash on your summer reading list
Stay dry, soak up some sunshine and enjoy these reads from the comfort of a beach chair.
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If Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has you convinced not to go in the water, here are five new and forthcoming books to enjoy from the safety and comfort of a beach chair.
Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean, Marten Strøksnes
An antithesis to the macho, adventure-seeking great white trackers on Shark Week, the translation of this Norwegian memoir follows the unlikely duo of journalist Marten Strøksnes and abstract landscape painter Hugo Aasjord as they embark on a crazy quest. They head north of the Arctic Circle in a small rubber boat in hopes of finding the elusive Greenland shark, known to live for centuries and whose flesh is said to carry a hallucinatory toxin when consumed by humans. Though they’re ultimately unsuccessful in tracking down the formidable predator (probably a good thing), the real triumph is Strøksnes’s entertaining meditations on ocean life.
Swell: A Waterbiography, Jenny Landreth
Generations before the bikini first scandalized at a 1946 fashion show in Paris, Victorian women who wanted to take a dip were forced to wear voluminous, water-logging costumes, or to get pulled into the sea inside a bathing machine, a bizarre wooden box that would hide their bodies — that is, if they were allowed to swim without being arrested. In her fascinating “waterbiography,” British author Jenny Landreth pays tribute to the heroic “swimming suffragettes,” who in the 1930s fought for their legal right to do the front crawl, and the physical accomplishments of those who proved that women are equal to men, on land and in the water.
Turning: A Year in the Water, Jessica J. Lee
Some people turn to food or booze to mend a broken heart, but Jessica J. Lee found solace in the water surrounding Berlin, where the debut Canadian author lives. Lee, who has a PhD in environmental history, set a personal challenge of swimming 52 local lakes in 52 weeks, through all four seasons, eschewing a wet suit during the frigid months even when she had to break through the ice with a hammer. Her beautifully written memoir combines personal memories with geographic and historical observations that should resonate even for staunch landlubbers.
Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller
The perils of the seaside are ever-present in Claire Fuller’s second novel, a page-turning literary mystery about family and the legacy of grief. Notorious author Gil Coleman takes a fall near the water after believing he saw his wife, Ingrid — who went missing and presumably drowned more than a decade ago — sending his daughters, Nan and Flora, home to take care of their ailing father. The story unfolds through Ingrid’s letters to her husband, which remain hidden inside the pages of his many books, and through narration from Flora, who never believed her mother’s disappearance was accidental.
The Last Wave, Gillian Best
It’s no surprise that Canadian-British author Gillian Best, a self-declared seaside enthusiast and lifelong swimmer, has set her assured debut novel near water. The epic family tale, which takes place in Dover, England, follows more than 60 years in the life of Martha, a tough-minded woman who goes on to swim the English Channel 10 times. The ocean is an escape for Martha; the real drama takes place as she navigates relationships with her family. Due out at the end of August, Best’s novel also heralds the last wave of summer beach days.
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