When Sheila Daley vacations in Bermuda this summer, she will have the chance to spend time with her children and grandchildren, relax on the beach and dive into a good book -- five of them, actually.
It might make her luggage "a little bit heavier," but for the staunch bookworm, the novels are just as important as sunscreen and sunglasses.
"It's so wonderful to find an author with a great imagination, who can really draw you in with his or her language and create a whole different space for you," Daley, the owner of Barrett Bookstore in Darien, said. "When I go away, I always have lots of authors to choose from."
Daley will be among the sea of beach-goers basking in books this summer -- a warm weather ritual that has been around since the advent of the printed word. But as readers pack their bags for a day in the sun, they might be wondering: What new titles make the best beach reads?
From dark comedies and heartfelt dramas to romantic mysteries and captivating thrillers, the following are a few recommendations from area bibliophiles:
Sheila Daley, owner of Barrett Bookstore in Darien:
"Gone Girl," by Gillian Flynn -- This story about a marriage gone wrong centers on Nick Dunne and his wife, Amy, who disappears on the day of the couple's fifth wedding anniversary. "It is told in the alternating voices of Amy, who recounts the couple's marriage up to that point, and Nick, who is in an increasingly dire situation as the investigation into Amy's disappearance continues," Daley said. "It's a very well-written, gripping mystery."
"Overseas," by Beatriz Williams -- This novel by the Greenwich author is about a love affair that transcends explanation -- and time. The relationship between bookish Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson and British billionaire Julian Laurence is unheard of in 21st century Manhattan, but when the author brings the story to World War I-era France, it all starts to make sense. "It's implausible," Daley said, "but you're totally drawn in and swept away."
"Seating Arrangements," by Maggie Shipstead -- This dark comedy follows several families as they descend on an island off Cape Cod for what should be an idyllic New England wedding. However, when misplaced desires come into play, the arrangements -- and the newlyweds faith in a wholesome American tradition -- are thrown into jeopardy. "The title," Garrett said, "refers to a game of musical chairs."
"15 Seconds," by Andrew Gross -- This thriller by the Rye Brook, N.Y., resident revolves around a successful plastic surgeon who finds himself in a race for survival when he becomes the target of a police manhunt, and the prey of a cunning perpetrator bent on revenge. "It all happens right off the top and you don't have too much description about background," Garrett said. "Andy always gives everybody a good ride."
Nina Sankovitch, creator of the Read All Day blog and author of "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair":
"Falling For Eli: How I Lost Heart, Then Gained Hope Through the Love of a Singular Horse," by Nancy Shulins -- In her just released memoir, the Norwalk author tells of the suffering she endured after a series of unsuccessful infertility treatments, and the lovable, if crabby, horse that helped her through it. "It's all about how she filled the hole in her heart with a horse," Sankovitch, of Westport, said. "It's funny, sweet and honest."
"Dead Scared," by S.J. Bolton -- In this psychological thriller, detective Lacey Flint goes undercover at Cambridge University to investigate a spate of suicides ripping through the student body. Playing the role of a vulnerable young woman, Flint must uncover the source of the mayhem, without becoming a victim. "It will make you want to turn on every light in your house and stay awake," Sankovitch said.
"Train Dreams," by Denis Johnson -- This novella and a New York Times Notable Book tells the story of Robert Grainer, a day laborer in the American West at the turn of the 20th century. Beset by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to navigate a world that is changing before his eyes. "It's very creative and poetic," Krauss said. "I was quite taken with it."
"Salvage The Bones," by Jesmyn Ward -- The winner of the 2011 National Book Award centers on a poor black family in Mississippi, and the tension that builds as a devastating storm brews off the coast of its small rural town. "The story is told from the point of view of an African-American teenager, who gives her account during Hurricane Katrina," Krauss said. "She really captures you with her honesty."
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