For your next trip to the beach, take along one of these fascinating reads. I have read all of these books and find each one to be either a detailed glimpse into history unknown or a venture into a fictional world that leaves you thinking deeply about your own. All of these books can absorb your mind while you rub your toes in the sand.
Joyland by Stephen King
A more recent novel of King’s, this story will make you feel nostalgic for old seaside amusement parks. The story centers on Devin Jones who works at Joyland, a North Carolina amusement park, in the summer of 1973. What ensues is a mixture of horror and mystery as Devin and his friends set out to find the truth of who murdered Linda Grey, the park’s resident spook house ghost. There are some bittersweet moments in this novel too when Devin meets Mike, an ill, wheelchair-bound child, and his mother. The coming-of-age themes in this story will evoke memories of the simultaneous tribulations and good times of a reader’s own youth. After reading this book, you just may have the urge to go on some of the old rides at your favorite local amusement parks.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/35UHqCX
Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson
Fans of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire would be remiss to not read this book of Nelson Johnson’s, which was the basis for the TV series. This book takes you through Atlantic City’s humble beginnings as a resort town dreamed up by Jonathan Pitney in the 1850s all the way up to when Donald Trump built his Taj Mahal hotel and casino. You’ll see how Atlantic City flourished as a weekend getaway for workers only to decline in later decades before seeing an eventual resurgence. We also get an extensive look at how the town’s politics and businesses were overseen by bosses Louis “The Commodore” Kuehnle, Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, and Frank “Hap” Farley for decades. Boardwalk Empire is a unique and frank exploration of what made Atlantic City one of New Jersey’s most iconic places.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3hM8oz2
Lighthouse Ghosts: 13 Bona Fide Apparitions Standing Watch over America’s Shores by Norma Elizabeth and Bruce Roberts.
Great for late night beach bon fires to scare yourself silly, this book will take you across the country revealing the many spirits still tending to America’s lighthouses. Start with the eerie sounds of Seguin Island Lighthouse in Maine before heading to St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida to catch a glimpse of the ghost of a young girl. Then travel to the mid-west to visit Split Rock Lighthouse standing high above Lake Superior and the lighthouse keeper who refuses to leave his post. Finally stop at California’s Battery Point Lighthouse to see what has been spooking the resident cats. The best part? You can visit many of these supposedly haunted lighthouses in person!
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/35YaDgy
The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks.
This book is a treasure for those interested in pirate and seafaring lore. Author Richard Zacks explains how Captain William Kidd went from being known as a respected privateer to a pirate after gossip and smear campaigns ruined his reputation. He paints a sad tale of how greed and politics lead to Kidd being back-stabbed by his own crew and government officials alike. The various forms of injustice Kidd is subjected to will undoubtedly infuriate you the further you read. Aside from Kidd’s story, other points of intrigue Zacks writes about are the harsh realities of a life at sea, democracy aboard pirate ships, the various cultures that European sailors came across, and the less than fair judicial system of the time.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RPmIfw
Joy Cancer by Lily Markova
I came across this novel on Amazon as a free e-book and I’m glad I did. The story starts out with Joy Cancer, the foul-mouthed, jaded eponymous character, trying to commit suicide on an island in the Indian Ocean. She is saved by a quirky, carefree man named Kirk who takes her back to a party he’s having at his house so that she can meet his boyfriend Adam. Her time with the couple helps her to come to terms with her depression and overall frustration with life so that she can learn to be happy for herself. The novel is presented in the style of a chaotic stream of consciousness, but I found much of the character’s internal struggles resonating with me on a personal level. For anyone looking to see what goes on in the mind of someone struggling with mental illness, this is a must read.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RKweRh
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