Best Books for Summer: Coastal Edition


The coastal life is the good life, especially if you're a bookworm--making Cornwall the perfect summer reading spot. Wherever you might be, here's a list of perfect reads to set the summer mood. 

There is something about the summer months that makes me want to get outside – that’s probably a throwback of school days when summer meant freedom from the confines of a classroom. Ideally, as a sea-faring Cornish resident, getting outside means heading to the coast. For many summers, my husband and I went sailing on our yacht, Whinchat, so there’s a strong nautical element in my best books for summer. That said, summer is also a time to recharge, refresh and hang out with family and friends. The following books, I hope, might inspire you to head for the coast.

1. The Sea Around Us, by Rachel Carson

First published in 1951, this book in many ways was ahead of its time. It is a lyrical, affectionate narrative about our oceans – their creation and habitats. Some of the scientific knowledge has moved on, but that doesn’t undervalue it. For anyone who wonders at the sea or is caught up in the ‘plastic free’ movement, it’s essential reading.

2. Breath, by Tim Winton

Winton is one of my favourite writers, for clean, yet poetic prose. Breath(shortly to be released as a film) is a story of a boy who gets caught up in the world of surfing, extreme surfing. It is a stunning read. Our very own Wyl Menmuir will be interviewing Tim Winton via The Edge of The World Bookshop on 27thJune. Tickets available via the bookshop.

3. Passage to Juneau, by Jonathan Raban

Another nature writing narrative, this time with a journey at its heart. Raban’s account of a sailing trip from Seattle to Juneau (Alaska) is interspersed with the eighteenth century expedition of Captain George Vancouver to chart the coastline for the British Crown. Raban’s writing about the sea is glorious – he is one of the best writers, in my opinion, about the sea. This book makes me want to plan another sailing trip of my own.

4. The Odyssey, Homer

I read this epic when sailing in Greece, not expecting to enjoy it. I loved it. It is the ultimate in sea adventures – wide ranging, wonderful, and magical. On a day when the ‘Cornish liquid sunshine’ falls, it’s one to curl up with and wish you were somewhere else.

5. The Campervan Cookbook, by Martin Dorey

This book makes me want to take to the beach, build a fire, sit around it with a bunch of friends and put the world to rights. Obviously, we’d be on a Cornish beach, ideally looking west. You don’t need the campervan, but this it is the epitome of the summer lifestyle for Cornwall.

by Julia Webb-Harvey