What is a beach read?
Is it fat?
Is it breezy?
Does it tickle our most base emotions?
Does it have a fairly upbeat ending? Or does the villain at least get the comeuppance he or she deserves?
Well, all my criteria were tossed in the trash when I saw the audience picks for the Best 100 Beach Reads of All Time.
I think these books were booked because people liked them. Are these also the greatest airplane books of all time? The best sitting by the fire during a snowstorm reads of all time? The best read with a few of your friends just so you can get through it and then discuss it (and so begat the book club) read of all time?
On the other hand, I can't say no to a good list. And for a good list of books you must...count the number of books you read on it.
My rules of thumb:
1. If a series is listed, you only have to have read the first book to count it (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings). After all, there are other series (from Anne Rice, Janet Evanovich, Alexander McCall Smith), where only the first book is listed.
2. If you can't remember reading it, you probably didn't (example: I think I read Huckleberry Finn in school, but I can't pin down when.)
3. You had to finish the book.
4. You can't have skimmed more than 50 boring pages.
I'm currently scheduled to be one of the guests on WHAD's Ben Mehrens show to discuss the list on Thursday (that's tomorrow), August 6th, at 5 PM. The show also airs on many Wisconsin Public Radio stations around Wisconsin. (I'll try to come back and link to it after it's posted online).
Here are the top 5, if you were too lazy to link:
1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen