Books to Fill Your Beach Bag

Welcome back, reading friends! A new season of sun on our shores means a fresh crop of fun, enlightening, comforting, and beautiful books to fill your beach bag with, grace your table and get lost in while enjoying our sparkling beaches.

Start your visit with Living at the Water’s Edge: A Heritage Guide to the Outer Banks Byway by Barbara Garrity-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher (Paperback, $22.00, UNC Press, 2017). While the term “guidebook” could be applied here, Living at the Water’s Edge strives to carry the reader along their journey up and down our barrier islands by sharing stories from the villages and people who’ve long populated our shores. Starting at Whalebone Junction and moving south, Garrity-Blake and Amspacher have collected the memories of locals, including those whose families began life on the beaches as fishermen and still remember mail-ferry deliveries twice a week. The book’s authors present these stories so that readers can almost see the past right where they stand. The authors encourage visitors to drive leisurely down NC12, stopping often to take in the sights while reading a story or two about the heritage and history of the area around them.

Professional photographers, and amateurs alike, flock to our shores to capture the beauty of a perfect pink and purple sunrise, a special shot of our local wildlife, and the turbulent wrath sometimes wrought by Mother Nature. In North Carolina’s Barrier Islands: Wonders of Sand, Sea, and Sky (Hardcover, $35.00, UNC Press, 2017), North Carolina nature photographer and forest ecologist, David Blevins, shares a must-have collection of photos worthy of prime real estate on your coffee table. Atmospheric, striking, vibrant and colorful, North Carolina’s Barrier Islands features more than 150 photos from the Currituck Banks, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and the southern barrier islands of our state. An ecologist, Blevins strives not only to capture the eye, but in doing so, draws attention to the conservation needs of our land, and the precious animals that populate it.

The Lost Colony of Roanoke is a mystery for the ages, piquing the curiosity of all who’ve heard the tale of Englishman John White and his failed attempt to start a colony on our shores, only to find it abandoned after a three-year supply run to England. What happened to those souls and where they ended up has been the speculation of historians for centuries. And while archaeologists believe they may have finally found the answer, the imagination can’t help but fill in the gaps. Author Ed Gray offers his theory in the latest historical novel to tackle the mystery, Left in the Wind: The Roanoke Journal of Emme Merrimoth (Paperback, $15.95, Pegasus Books, 2017). Told from the point of view of Emme, a self-proclaimed harlot who finds herself the paramour of the famous White, Gray paints a tale of an impulsive and quick-tempered leader who quickly leads his people into conflict with the local Native Americans, and whose situation on Roanoke Island rapidly spirals out of control. Emme’s voice is smart, quick-witted, and wise, making Left in the Wind an easy read in which to lose oneself for hours on the beach.

We’re always proud to tout the success of one of our locals. In the autobiographical fiction A Smile in One Eye, a Tear in the Other (Paperback, $15.95, CreateSpace, 2016), Ralph Webster shares the story of Wobsters, a happy family living in Prussia when Hitler comes to power. Though christened Lutheran, the fact of Judaism in their ancestral heritage makes the family prime targets in the rounding up of “undesirables” throughout Germany. Forced to flee their home in order to survive, they become refugees seeking a new home that will accept them. Both historically significant and timely, A Smile in One Eye has been on the list of every local book club on the beach this past winter. For those on the lookout for a special title to add to your book list back home, this is definitely one to pick up.

Don’t forget about your little bookworms, who love to curl up with a book on vacation as much as you do. For the children in your life, the beautifully illustrated Madeline Finn and The Library Dog (Hardcover, $16.95, Peachtree Publishers) has become a bookseller favorite since its late-2016 release and is geared for ages 5 to 8. Madeline Finn hates reading, especially out loud. She trips and stumbles over words and is often laughed at by her classmates. One day her mother drags her to the library (her least-favorite place in the world) only to find a special reading group for children – and a group of dogs await, ready to be read to. Madeline finds a fluffy white giant named Bonnie who sits patiently while she struggles to read out loud. But Bonnie’s silence is non-judgmental and encourages Madeline to try. Madeline Finn is a wonderful book, not just for reluctant readers, but for any child who is struggling to overcome a challenge and needs a little encouragement.

For those collectors out there, Suzanne Tate has another installment in her Outer Banks Nature Series for Children (Paperback, $5.95, Nags Head Art). The variety and sources of wildlife on our shores never cease, and neither does Suzanne’s dedication to seeking out and featuring animals in accessible books that entertain and educate (like hiding veggies in macaroni and cheese). Her latest, Timmy T. Frog, is the winsome tale of a tree frog – a fun and fascinating tiny bright green creature which can be found all over the Outer Banks. Just look under your patio umbrella or on your windows on a humid night.

Meaghan Beasley has been lucky enough to be a book buyer and marketing manager at The Island Bookstore for more than 13 years. 

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