Pedestrian’s Guide To Great Summer Beach Reads

This Summer everybody’s favourite super green drink MIDORI has teamed up with PEDESTRIAN to create a series of Summer Guides to keep you well-dressedwell-fed, and primed for witty banter across the picnic rug. As part of this we give you a guide to great Summer reads: a selection of books that are fun, easy to read, but (mostly) low on the trash factor.


With only three painfully slow months until Baz Luhrmann releases his adaptation of The Great Gatsby, now is the time to get reading the original. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Roaring ’20s-era literary canon mightn’t have Leo, but it is an easy poolside read AND comes with the option of letting you become one of those extremely rare people who says the book was, like, waaaay better than the movie. In a similar vintage of American classics are Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road; all novels that’ll make you want to swan around in something silky.


OK, so you’re stuck in the Maldives and everybody is talking about bank mergers and what hair gel best achieves that slicked back douchebag look. Poor you! Martin Amis, Charles Bukowski, and (earlier) Bret Easton Ellis are perfect for working out all that yuppie aggression you accumulated during the work year, with Amis’ Money and Ellis’s masterpiece American Psycho still routine chart toppers. Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke and the new release from Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, Skagboys, also come seriously recommended.


Ahhh chick lit: that perfect combination of handbags, sordid love affairs with shipping heirs a la Paris Hilton, and some heartbroken lady who somehow always works at a beauty magazine called “Gloss”. If you’re after some chick lit that’s half intelligent (although that is certainly not always a requirement), then Maggie Alderson’s your go-to for easy reads with a bit of a humour and detailed descriptions of outfits. More adventurous is Eva Luna by Isabelle Allende, a book that will spoon feed you Latin American politics via mouthfuls of these ones:


So we know you’re on holidays, but that doesn’t mean your bulging cortex needs to go to mush entirely. New York Times and Vanity Fair writer Michael Lewis has long been the go-to man for words on finance, corrupt banks, and all things CA$H money. His latest read, Boomerang, is no exception, with Lewis somehow managing to make the European financial crisis both devastating and LOL-filled at the same time. Also easy to read yet heaps learned good is Jonathan Safran Foer’s beautiful Eating Animals and Lucy Siegel’s To Die For: Is Fast Fashion Wearing Out The World? [Disclaimer: read these last two and you will return home from holiday a vegan that only wears potato sacks. You have been warned.]


Your great-great-grandma was onto something with her lady lit. Anything by Jane Austen is still completely relevant and witty in 2013, as long as you understand that languid stares across the breakfast parlour are the closest thing to steam that this shower is going to omit. But trust me, the raunchless sexual tension in Jane Austen novels is more effective anything described in the entire E.L. James trilogy. Pride & Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet is definitely the feistiest of Austen’s heroines, although she’s admittedly got nothing on the Southern sass of Scarlett O’Hara from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind. This 1939 classic is THE BEST EVER and will inspire you to wear more questionable giant green velvet hats.


Sixty years before your Mum was frothing herself silly over Christian Grey in the aforementioned E.L. James triplex, French lady Pauline Reage penned another S&M novel that actually challenged boundaries and conceptions of female sexuality: Story Of O. In a similar category (i.e. “titillating” yet intelligent) are the real-life diaries of Anaïs Nin, namely Henry & June. It features choice lines like “I hate men who are afraid of women’s strength” and deserves to be accompanied by this soundtrack on your beach boombox:



Autobiographies are a lunchbox staple of Summer book lists but they can sometimes go awry if you’re the latest retired cricket player to hire a ghost author. Resist all those shiny, smiley book covers and go for one of the better autobiographies of recent years: Just Kids by none other than Patti flipping Smith. Her chronicle of life with collaborator, lover, and gay best friend (yup, all possible) Robert Mapplethorpe is poolside poetry and totally loveable. On a radically different track is Dr Catherine Hamlin’s 2004 biography, The Hospital By The River, an easy read that’ll make you want to spend 2014 saving all those little babies in Ethiopia.


When in doubt head over to The Guardian, The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The Spectator, Salon, the Good Reads website, or, hell, even Oprah’s Reading List to get recommendations from professional readers in the know. And remember, as Madame Bovary scribe Gustave Flaubert once said: “Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”

Words by Emilia Terzon