June 30: beach reads

It is at this time of year that newspapers turn their minds to the compilation of their lists of good reads for the beach. The beach read is characterised by its light and airiness, by (I suppose) its happy ending, its themes (holiday romance oblige), the so-called ‘feel good’ quotient. The idea is that we have licence to shift down in our reading matter for the beach. You may well read Kafka during the year but on the beach you are allowed to read Jeffrey Archer or Robert Ludlum who in one of his novels has someone paying a London cabbie with a £100 note. Of course, if you are used to reading Kafka, Robert Ludlum (God bless him) will not be a page-turner; it will be unbearable. It will be like reading Proust if you are used to Harry Potter. It will actually be impossible. and yet, strangely, there is the assumption that your deep naughty-but-nice desire is to trade down and you have permission to do that on the beach. Awkwardly propping yourself up on you elbows on a beach towel at 32 degrees Centigrade while you flip through Jeffrey Archer is not my idea of a good time. And as a PS, feel good films don’t make me feel good either.


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