25 Novels You Can Read on a Beach Without Embarrassing Yourself (PHOTOS, POLL)

In Ye Olde Days, I used to do all my heavy reading in the summer and, if possible, on the beach. This made sense -- to me, anyway. Why read deep books on serious subjects when it's cold and dark and your body is screaming for warmth and light? It's in the dead of winter when you want comedies, travel books, memoirs of desert life.

So, in Ye Olde Days, you might find The Plague on my summer reading list. (And, indeed, I re-read it the week after Katrina; it was a bookend to the White House disdain for New Orleans.) Or Samantha Power's A Problem from Hell, the first and last word on 20th century genocide. This summer, if it were cooler, I'd suggest you read the eye-opener of the year: Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Or, the ultimate: Proust.

But Ye Olde Days, they're gone -- whatever the explanation for this heat and the doldrums that are its first cousin, serious reading looks like cruel and unusual punishment. You want "heavy" this summer? Let's redefine it to mean thick, as in lots of pages. Like: Stieg Larsson.

This summer, I'm thinking Reading Lite. An iced drink, (make mine an Arnold Palmer). A cool breeze. A careful application of sunscreen. A thin book, so I can get through it and still grab some zzzs. And make it fiction, so I can experience life through other eyes.

Books like these:

Cross-posted from HeadButler.com