What Your Favorite Beach Read Says About You
As Determined by Our Crack Team of Book Psychologists
It’s summer, so it’s now officially time for the latest edition of one of my favorite (admittedly year-round) activities: making snap judgements about people based on what book they’re reading! Only this time . . . it’s on a beach. And why not? After all, we judge each other on just about everything else, and reading material actually has the potential to say more about a person than what brand of shoe they’re wearing, or whatever else gets you going these days. Anyway, don’t pretend you don’t do this all the time—I see you peering over everyone else’s pages on the subway. But even so, please remember that tongues are firmly in cheeks over here, and no offense is meant.
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Summer is the worst. You’re counting down the days until this boring beach nonsense ends and school starts up again.
Marguerite Duras, The Lover
Your hat is, without question, the best hat in sight.
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
First time at a beach, eh?
Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley
You’ve put a lot of thought into your beach attire. And you know what? You look pretty damn good.
Sally Rooney, Conversations With Friends
You don’t want to admit it, but you really want to go play frisbee with all your friends.
Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation
You really don’t want to go play frisbee with all your friends, and you don’t mind admitting it at all.
Yann Martel, Life of Pi
You find your dog to be better company than most people. That’s why you’re at the beach with your dog and not your friends.
Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate
Everyone knows that you have the best snacks in your tote bag. (Homemade!)
James McBride, The Good Lord Bird
No matter what happens, you’ll end the day surrounded by children, who are listening in awe as you tell tales of high adventure and dastardly plots.
Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies
Your phone just died.
Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
You have a lot of other books in your bag, and . . . yes, you’ll probably get to them all.
Stephanie Danler, Sweetbitter
This is going to look great on Instagram.
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Sometimes you wish you could bury your friends in the sand and leave them there forever. Especially if they keep trying to talk to you while you read.
Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
You and your mom are best friends and you’re both wearing the same classy one-piece.
Mary Gaitskill, Bad Behavior
Your favorite part of the beach is the bar on the boardwalk.
Jasmine Guillory, The Wedding Party
You are always, always living your best life.
Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities
Buried in the sand around you are 20 cigarette butts, 17 bottle caps, and several old condoms. Tread lightly.
John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
You’re using your cooler as a foot rest.
William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
You’re always coming up with (very good) excuses for your (very bad) behavior.
Oyinkan Braithwaite, My Sister the Serial Killer
Honestly, you wouldn’t be shocked if she was.
Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Your car has a name.
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
You’re just here to pick up women.
Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
You’re think you’re good at impressions. Whether it’s true or not, I really can’t say.
Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea
You know exactly where your ex is, and it’s somewhere on this beach.
Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
You love cookies. And looking smart in front of strangers.
Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend
You came to the beach with your best friend. She wandered away hours ago, but you’re still reading passages aloud to her and asking her to pass the chips.
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
One day you too publish a book (or sell some art or make a movie, whatever you’re into).
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
Your father never really wanted to make a sandcastle with you, did he?
Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock
You’re always trying to wander off and commune with the landscape on your own, in hopes of discovering something ineffable about the universe—but you never discover magic or have a vision or get abducted by aliens or anything.
André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name
Your expectations for this summer are probably a little high.
Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse
You think the idea of “beach reading” is somewhat inane, no matter the parameters. Officially, you disapprove of this list.
Tara Isabella Burton, Social Creature
Your phone is the only thing you own without sand on it.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black
You’re at the beach playing hooky from work (or school).
Peter Benchley, Jaws
You just don’t feel like going in the water right now, okay?
Richard Hughes, A High Wind in Jamaica
You pretend to be ambivalent about having children, but you know that in the end you’re going to do it, if only to find out what happens.
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Get back to work, Dan Sheehan.