Beach reads and true confessions

I have a confession to make.

It’s not an easy one to be sharing in a city like the Gold Coast where we have not only a whole stack of sunshiny days every year but also some truly fabulous beaches.

But, with apologies to Dorothea Mackellar, it’s this:

You love our summer beaches
Of hot unshaded sands,
And tanning oils and sunblock
All smeared across your hands.
Strong love of surf and swimming,
Blue waves and bright blue skies.
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.


I love a gloomy foreshore,
A place of sullen rains,
Of ragged clouds and clifftops,
Of sea wrack looped in chains.
I love the threat of thunder,
I love the troubled sea,
So empty and so chilling –
The winter beach for me!

It’s true. Call me un-‘Strayan if you want, but I’d much rather a cold beach and a hot coffee, than a hot beach and a cold beer.

And so, for me, the perfect beach read would be this: I would be inside, tucked into a comfortable reading chair, or window seat, with a view out of the window of a winter sea. The towering cumulonimbus clouds, with their leaden underside promising a storm, would be sweeping in and the waves would be pitching and heaving, throwing foam up the empty beach. The light striking through the water would cast it into that surreal colour range, past turquoise, when it becomes a malevolent green.

To be able to compete with such a dramatic landscape I would need to be reading a completely fantastic book. I had a look back over my favourites for the last couple of years and think these could manage it. The first three are all by incredibly talented Australian women. The next three are great stories in themselves and have the added appeal of being series starters, which means that I would be doubly happy to have the next book to read on into, sipping my coffee, as the storm raged outside….

My top “beach” reads:

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier – a day full of runaway girls, ghosts and rival razor gangs in Sydney in 1932.

Tapestry by Fiona McIntosh – a timeslip tale as a girl from London in the 1970s tries to save her lover and a doomed Jacobite in 1715.

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan – short stories that are fantastical, haunting and pitch perfect.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch – an investigation by the magic squad of the London police force.

The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross – from the secret files of the British department that deals with tentacled horrors.

Temeraire by Naomi Novak – a Royal Navy captain becomes a dragon pilot during the Napoleonic Wars.

Tell me what you’d recommend for a stormy beach read in the comments.