Chatelaine's beach books

Whether sitting on a dock or in a pitched tent, summer is the perfect time of year to stay outdoors and catch up on some reading. Our annual beach books list includes everything from easy-breezy chick lit titles to inspiring classics that you can really sink your teeth into

Whether sitting on a dock or in a pitched tent, summer is the perfect time of year to stay outdoors and catch up on some reading. Our annual beach books list includes everything from easy-breezy chick lit titles to inspiring classics that you can really sink your teeth into.

Choose a category:


The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper
From acclaimed, bestselling author Andrew Pyper, a suspenseful page-turner that explores the repercussions of that most dishonest of thefts: stealing another’s story and calling it your own. Patrick Rush, a former bright light at the National Star now demoted to the reality TV beat, is still recovering from his wife’s death when he joins a writers’ group in Toronto. His goal: to write the book he’s always felt lived within him. Trouble is, Patrick has no story to tell and then the circle’s members start to go missing, one by one.

Larry’s Party by Carol Shields
Larry Weller, born in 1950, is an ordinary guy made extraordinary by his creator’s perception, irony and tenderness. Carol Shields gives us, as it were, a CAT scan of his life, in episodes between 1977 and 1997 that flash back and forward seamlessly. As Larry journeys toward the millennium, adapting to society’s changing expectations of men, Shields’ elegant prose makes the trivial into the momentous. His odyssey mirrors the male condition at the end of the 20th century with targeted wit, unerring poignancy and faultless wisdom.

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
This 2008 Giller Prize winner is an astonishingly powerful novel about contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss. While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family.

Apologize, Apologize! by Elizabeth Kelly
Already optioned to Hollywood producers and set to be published in the United States and across Europe, Apologize, Apologize! is a story about a wildly eccentric Massachusetts clan that is both blessed and afflicted with an inexhaustible reservoir of old money, unwavering subversive charm – and a veritable chorus of dogs. At the centre of this maelstrom is sensible Collie Flanagan, first-born son and heir to his grandfather’s publishing fortune, whose easy life is shattered by the outcome of a casual afternoon outing. Affecting, funny and wise, this is a rollicking story packed with characters that are a delight to get to know, and are impossible to forget.


The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
This is a cutting commentary on America’s nouveaux riches, their upward-yearning aspirations and their eventual downfalls. Undine is the beautiful heroine, a spoiled heiress who looks to her next materialistic triumph as her latest conquest throws himself at her feet. Wharton presents a startling, satiric vision of social behavior in all its greedy glory. As Undine moves from America’s heartland to Manhattan, and then to Paris, Wharton’s critical eye leaves no social class unscathed.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Wellington leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. This is a brilliant satire on the corrupting influence of power.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The classic bestselling book – the subject of a play, movie, and a song – tells the darkly fascinating story of a young, unorthodox teacher and her special, and ultimately dangerous, relationship with six of her students.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations tells the story of Pip, a poor orphaned boy who wishes to transcend his humble upbringing. He finds himself unexpectedly given the opportunity to live a life of wealth and respectability but learns as his life advances that his money is tainted and the girl he loves cannot return his affections. He is forced by circumstance to learn to seek happiness in the very things he gave up in the pursuit of a place in city life.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s most famous romance – a tale filled with heartache, scandal, and true love. Be charmed by the witty and independent spirit of Elizabeth Bennet as she plays hard to get with the eligible bachelor Mr.Darcy.


The Outcast by Sadie Jones
In this brilliant debut, Jones tells the story of a boy called Lewis who refuses to accept the polite lies of a tightly knit community that rejects love in favor of appearances. Written with nail-biting suspense and cinematic pacing, The Outcast is an emotionally powerful evocation of postwar provincial English society and a remarkably uplifting testament to the redemptive powers of love and understanding.

A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
Professor Lee, an Asian-born mathematician nearing retirement age, would seem the last person likely to attract the attention of FBI agents. Yet after a popular young colleague becomes the latest victim of a serial bomber, Lee’s detached response and maladroit behavior lead the FBI, the national news media, and even his own neighbors to regard him with damning suspicion.

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who – or what – could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness? Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters. But her involuntary admission and subsequent attempt to stonewall investigators only deepens the mystery.

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
Thirty years ago, six-year-old Joanna witnessed the brutal murders of her mother, brother and sister, before escaping into a field, and running for her life. Now, the man convicted of the crime is being released from prison, meaning Dr. Joanna Hunter has one more reason to dwell on the pain of that day, especially with her own infant son to protect.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family. There was no corpse, no witnesses, no evidence. But her uncle, Henrik, is convinced that she was murdered by someone from her own deeply dysfunctional family. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to investigate, but he quickly finds himself in over his head. He hires a competent assistant: the gifted and conscience-free computer specialist Lisbeth Salander, and the two unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.


The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale
In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
The true story of a 24-hour period on Mount Everest, when members of three separate expeditions became trapped by a vicious storm, which ended in the worst, single-season death toll in the peak’s history.

The Lost City of Z by David Grann
After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer Grann set out to solve the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century: what happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z? In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions helped inspire Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions around the globe, Fawcett embarked with his twenty-one-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilization—which he dubbed “Z”—existed. Then he and his expedition vanished.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Pollan’s eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating. He proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Not becoming my mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way by Ruth Reichl
On what would have been her mother’s one hundredth birthday, Reichl (also editor-in-chief of Gourmet) opens up her mother’s diaries for the first time and encounters a whole new woman. This is a person she had never known. In this intimate study Reichl comes to understand the lessons of rebellion, independence, and self-acceptance that her mother succeeded in teaching her daughter.


The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Two sisters compete for the greatest prize: the love of a king. A rich and compelling novel filled with love, sex, ambition, and intrigue.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
From bestselling, Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, comes a collection of eight dazzling stories that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life.

The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This Pulitzer Prize winning book stars Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who shares his New Jersey home with his old world mother and rebellious sister. He dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world. Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is. An edge-of-your-seat mystery that explores what it means to be human.


American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Alice Lindgren, born an only child in the 1940s has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. When her husband unexpectedly becomes governor and then president, she discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with–and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
This story centers around three ordinary women living in Mississippi who together embark on an extraordinary movement that will forever change their town. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope.

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank
This novel traces the coming-of-age of Sophie, black sheep of the Applebaum family of Surrey, Pennsylvania. As we follow her from the sweet bewildering moments of adolescence through the rigors of life and love in New York City, we are treated to a profoundly intelligent, page-turning triumph that is filled with Bank’s trademark blend of emotional depth and wry humor.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age 13 she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. Anna was conceived as a bone marro match for Kate – a life and role she never questioned …until now.

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan
Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with her grandmother’s rosary beads in hand and a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancé she left behind in Savannah; Sally, pristinely dressed in Lilly Pulitzer, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a “Riot: Don’t Diet” T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately. Together they experience the ecstatic highs and painful lows of early adulthood: Celia’s trust in men is demolished in one terrible evening, Bree falls in love with someone she could never bring home to her traditional family, Sally seeks solace in her English professor, and April realizes that, for the first time in her life, she has friends she can actually confide in.

Do you like your lit with a dose of technology and for free – if you can get it?

Here are three free ways to read your books online:

Download the free Shortcovers app to your mobile device and discover thousands of bestselling books, magazine articles and short stories (plus, some of them are free).

2. DailyLit
Have you been meaning to read War and Peace but don’t want to lug around this tome-size book? Then DailyLit is perfectly catered to you, dear reader. Choose from thousands of free titles, delivered free to your inbox. Then customize your profile by specifying what day and time you’d like to receive each installment. How does 10pm, just before bed, work for you?

3. Read Print
Forgot to pack your books? No problem, as long as you packed your laptop. Read Print is a free online library that caters to the classics enthusiast. With over 8,000 titles, such as The Scarlet Letter, a satisfying read is just a click away.

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