In 2020, beach reads will need to focus on the earth, the natural world, travel and sustainability. The effects of global warming are tearing into our everyday lives. Inhumane business practices from the fashion industry are being brought out into the light. Our days are increasingly spent online, and away from natural surroundings. It's time to refocus ourselves through reading.
On our world travels, the beach can be a perfect oasis away from the day-to-day stresses of a professional life. Away from the deadlines and weekly reports, after researching how to travel sustainably, you're lying on the hot sand at a faraway destination. You can finally sink into a worthy distraction: a good book.
With that in mind, here is Irvetta's personal reading list of beach reads that will be perfect for your 2020 getaway.
For poetry lovers...
Oceanic by Aimee Nezuhukumatathil
It's 2020 and, after years of neglect, poetry books are back in style. Poetry might not be your first thought for a traditional beach read. But, with our lives becoming increasingly online, reading mindfully can be a great way to digital detox. And what better way than to savour some poetic language and imagery in the natural space of the beach?
This is especially true when the poetry itself is in tune with the natural world. Aimee Nezuhukumatathil's collection Oceanic combines the themes of love and family with imagery of the ocean and natural world. The poems span childhood memories to self-portraits that blur the lines between human and animal. From the very first lines, ‘Let me see your shadow/feather across/my hundred blue eyes’, dazzling imagery and imaginative use of form dance across the page. Aimee's poems alert the reader to the wonders of the natural world at a time when we need to be reminded more than ever before.
Or maybe you're more of a short story fan?
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Celebrated for her debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri's second story collection, Unaccustomed Earth, is another emotional-rollercoaster. The stories all focus on the lives and experiences of Bengali-Americans. Travel and movement are key themes, spanning settings and cultures as diverse as India, Thailand, Italy, and the US.
Lahiri has an unparalleled ability to depict the private struggles within families, and the unspoken pains of first and second generation migrants with subtlety and understanding. Her prose is deceptively easy to read, featuring some of the most intricate and detailed character studies in fiction. A housewife struggles with her feelings towards her mother’s death as her aging father comes to stay; a successful young woman tries to help her alcoholic brother; a woman recalls her mother’s troubled friendship with a young MIT student. The final linked trilogy of stories, 'Hema and Kaushik', is a story of lost love told over different times, countries and perspectives.
Feeling a bit experimental?
Transit by Rachel Cusk
Though it is the second book in a trilogy, Rachel Cusk's Transit is a book that can, and should be, picked up by any person, at any time. Cusk’s subtle and sophisticated writing style and experimental use of form make Transit a book to devour.
The unconventional novel follows Faye, a single mother returning to London with her two young sons. The book has a similar form to a series of short stories, focusing on the conversations Faye has with different people she meets during this time of 'transit' in her life. Though the non-linear narrative might initially seem off-putting, Transit keeps the reader transfixed with astute cultural criticism and moving character studies. It's the perfect read to slip in and out of throughout your visits to the beach.
But be forewarned, the novel gets its hooks in deep, and you'll be reluctant to put it down. For gothic intrigue...
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
Your first Daphne du Maurier novel will be a book you'll never forget - but that's especially true when you read on the sand with a pina colada by your side. A master weaver of tension, adventure and romance, every single one of du Maurier’s books would make a perfect beach read.
Though many readers are familiar with her novel Rebecca, not as many have read her other deliciously gothic work, Jamaica Inn. The story follows a young woman, Mary Yellan, who is forced to leave her family's farm, and her independence, behind after her mother's death. She goes to live with her Aunt Patience and Patience's husband Joss Merlyn, at their run-down inn in Cornwall. What follows is a tense and gripping thriller with a striking and determined female protagonist. Du Maurier's sophisticated gothic works stand at a level above modern thriller novels.
Interested in sustainable fashion?
Naked Fashion by Safia Minney
With the impact of the fast fashion industry coming under more scrutiny, it's always the right time to start reading about sustainable fashion. If your perfect beach read is a non-fiction book with a social conscience, look no further. Safia Minney's Naked Fashion draws close attention to the human cost of fast fashion. Minney is founder of the Tokyo-based sustainable fashion company, People Tree, and a leading voice in the fight for fair trade fashion.
Naked Fashion contains many interviews with the textile workers themselves, as they describe their experiences of working beneath a living wage. The book also covers interviews with leading fashion designers and stars, such as Vivienne Westwood and Emma Watson, to models and even organic cotton farmers. They discuss issues including why they feel passionate about challenging the status quo, alternative systems for running the industry, and what steps they have taken to start a sustainable fashion revolution.
And if you're looking for a classic...
The Odyssey by Homer
Is there any better environment to sink into a literary classic than when you're facing the wild, open sea? One of the most ancient and esteemed works of classical Western literature is Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey. Though it may seem on the heavy side for a beach read, we find it inspiring for its vivid descriptions of the 'fathomless unresting sea'. In fact, it's also the namesake of our debut sustainable swimwear collection.
Believed to have begun as an oral performance, The Odyssey follows Greek hero Odysseus as he attempts to return home to Ithaca after being presumed dead following the fall of Troy years earlier. Descriptions of his adventures and travels across exotic and dangerous islands and seas make it the perfect book to read by the waves.
Now you have the perfect beach reads for your trip...
...all that's missing is the swimsuit!
Irvetta's swimwear is all sustainably sourced, so you can feel comfortable and stylish without fear of environmental impact. Check out our full collection for more beautiful swimwear designs, or other articles on the arts, fashion and travel in our online magazine.