Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Weekly Roundup 26: Beach Reads

Odds are slim that I will find myself on a beach this summer, but I still enjoy a beach read. Though everyone has their own preference, my informal survey/internet search indicates that beach reads are usually fiction, either contemporary or historical, and most often fall into the categories of love/romance and crime/mystery. Horror is a distant third, but there are still plenty of readers, me included, who prefer their chills in the summer.

Non-fiction choices span a wide range, from food/lifestyle to history/politics. Memoir makes the list, but some of the most popular non-fiction choices include collections of personal essays, many of them humorous. I can see that. They're short, engaging, cover a variety of topics, and are easy to put down and pick up again without having to remember plot points such as whose great aunt once-removed lived in the groundskeeper's cottage a generation ago. 

Lists notwithstanding, the perfect beach read is one that will keep the reader engaged and invested without making them work too hard. Even grownups who have been out of school forever still don't want their summer books to feel like assignments.

Author Curtis Sittenfeld, who has written seven novels and one short-story collection, has cooked up a fun experiment. Using five reader prompts submitted through The New York Times, she's going to write a 1,000 word "beach read" story. She's also going to feed those prompts into ChatGPT, with the instruction to write a story in her style. 

Fun, yes, but also a little scary because what if AI manages to pull it off? Curtis is rooting for herself--what she calls Team Human--and I am, too. I can't wait to read the finished products later this summer.

Grab a good book, and I'll see you next week!

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