Beach reads or rainy day reads

The Drowned WorldSameer Rahim has written in the Daily Telegraph about the Do’s and Don’ts of  beach reads

He says ‘There’s something strange about the idea of saving our reading for holidays. After all, we watch films and listen to music all year round. But something about that long stretch of free time by the pool or the beach tempts us to cram in 12 months’ worth of improving fiction or science. Here are five books better saved for a rainy day — and five that are perfect summer alternatives.’

Here are his takes and don’t takes.

No to  The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoevsky =  1,000 pages long and includes complex disquisitions on theology and morality. A great novel, but one you will probably regret taking to the beach.

Yes to  The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy –  The simple story of a man facing up to his last days on earth contains much profound wisdom. It’s also only 100 pages long.

No to Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty.  The book no self-respecting political geek can be without (it’s on Ed Miliband’s shelf). But how many of the 200,000 who bought this work of dense economic theory will quietly leave it in their hotel?

Yes to  Whoops! by John Lanchester –  A lucid and entertaining guide to how the financial crisis happened by one of our leading novelists. Also look out for his forthcoming How to Speak Money.

No to  The Golden Bowl by Henry James is a no-no  By the time he wrote his final novel, James was dictating seemingly endless sentences to his secretary. Some are clever, but many are downright incomprehensible.

Yes to  Daisy Miller,  James’s first hit. A novella about a charming American girl and her uptight admirer. Set in Geneva and Rome, this is James at his brilliant best.

No to   A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. Fans of the Game of Thrones television series have been flocking to buy the books on which the fantasy sequence is based. But beware: you will have to deal with Martin’s terrible, bludgeoning prose.

Yes to  The Drowned World by J G Ballard, his first novel is the powerful story of a future London swamped by water. A science-fiction classic, this is a gripping and thought-provoking read.

No to A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking  One of the most bought but least read science books of all time; for many this turgid history of time is not brief enough.  

Yes to  The Richness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould  – a science writer who could really write. This selection of his essays is perfect to dip into for some biological education.