I admit I’m not much of a beachgoer — I lived for over a year in Santa Barbara and never made it to the beach. There’s just something in the combination of sand in one’s clothes, and salt on one’s sunburn, that puts me off. But this whole idea of beach reading is beginning to appeal to me, because it has now occurred to me that:

1) If you read instead of going in the water, you have no salt problems.
2) If you read in the shade, you have no sunburn problems.
3) If you read, you stay in one place, so you have no sand problems!

(Is this what adulthood is all about?)

So, here are my beach reads — the books that I would read on the beach this week, if I were on the beach. (Actually, as it’s been over a hundred degrees fahrenheit here for days now, the beach is sounding better and better…)

My first book would be Firebirds Rising, an anthology of original fantasy and science fiction stories that includes entries by Diana Wynne Jones, Tanith Lee, Emma Bull, Tamora Pierce, Patricia McKillip, and many more. I just finished reading its predecessor, Firebirds (both edited by Sharyn November), and had a great time. It’s also a handy way to sample new authors, and move those I love most to the top of my to-be-read pile! (In the interest of full disclosure, I will reveal that after reading Firebirds, I moved books by Nancy Farmer and Megan Whalen Turner to the top of my pile. I have, of course, already read everything by the inimitable Diana Wynne Jones.) 🙂

For my next book, I’ll pick a Regency romance. I confess I haven’t yet read Myretta Robens’ Just Say Yes, which on Saturday will be up for best Regency Romance in the prestigious Rita Awards (competing with our own Diane Gaston’s A Reputable Rake, Jenna Mindel’s Miss Whitlow’s Turn, and Jeanne Savery’s The House Party.) I just love the cover. The book promises to be sparkling and witty, so I’m really looking forward to it. (I also like more serious Regencies, of course! Like my own My Lady Gamester, which is also up for an award — the Booksellers’ Best Award — which will be awarded this Wednesday. Yep, tomorrow. Competing against three wonderful novels. Including one by our own Diane Gaston. So I’m not exactly holding my breath. Which is good, because if I held my breath till then, I’d have soon have no more breath to hold.)

I am very excited that World Con is going to be in Southern California this year. (World Con is short for the World Science Fiction Convention — held every year somewhere in the world. For more info, see www.laconiv.org.) I’ve never attended a World Con before, and I can’t wait for this one! As an attendee, I will be able to vote for this year’s Hugo Awards — so I’m busy reading the current slate of nominees. Next up for me is Accelerando by Charles Stross. I love science fiction — it can be so intelligent, so clear-eyed, so imaginative and brain-stretching that I don’t know any other type of fiction like it.

Believe it or not, I haven’t yet read the new Jennifer Crusie. Her latest, a collaboration with Bob Mayer entitled Don’t Look Down, has been sitting for a while now on my to-be-read shelf. (Actually, it’s a to-be-read bookcase. Though now that I think of it, I’ve never read a bookcase in my life. Which I guess is pretty obvious. Or it would be a has-been-read bookcase.)

I have loved Jennifer Crusie’s funny romances ever since Strange Bedpersons and What the Lady Wants first came out. (That’s an example of subtle boasting. If you look carefully, you’ll see I am claiming to be one of her early fans, not one of her more recent, read-the-reissue-of-her-early-Harlequins-with-covers-that-pretend-these-are-single-title-releases fans. And while we’re on the subject, let me just casually mention I was a fan of Diana Wynne Jones even before Charmed Life came out. Um. Hmm. I hope I haven’t just ruined the illusion that I am incredibly young and therefore a prodigy.)

Which brings us to today’s questions:

1) Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think?
2) Do you read on the beach? Is sand truly not a problem?
3) Do you have a to-be-read pile? Shelf? Bookcase? House? If so, do you find that certain things just stay there forever?
4) Are there any authors who you pride yourself on being an early fan of? Who?

Keep cool!

Cara Kingwww.caraking.com
MY LADY GAMESTER — Booksellers’ Best Finalist for Best Regency of 2005!