TTT: Beach Reads

TTTAs with last week’s “freebie” topic, I may have interpreted “beach reads” a little too literally. I can’t help it if The Beach was the first book that popped into my head. I can’t help it if I then examined my Goodreads bookshelves for other books that were set on or contained beaches. I can’t help it if I then found more than 10 books that fit the criteria. I can’t help it if I then complied this list and thought, “Bugger it, i’ll post it.”

The Beach by Alex Garland. As the title may suggest, this book is largely set on a beach. Or, at least, on a small island. With a beach. I had tried to watch the film before I ever picked up the book, but couldn’t get through it. The book, however, I devoured.

Rough Music by Patrick Gale. Set mostly in Cornwall, the family in this book stay in a holiday cottage with the beach just on their doorstep. It’s a picturesque setting for the drama that unfolds.

Off the Map by Hib & Kika. There are several beaches in this book, which is told in short vignettes of Hib and Kika’s travels around Europe.

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham. Where there are sea creatures emerging from the depths, there are beaches…

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. While mostly set at sea, there are one or two beaches. And you know, the sea is a vital component of a beach.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. Set on a small Scottish island, the beach may not be sunny and idyllic, but there is a beach.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. Your classic stranded on a desert island pick.

One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night by Christopher Brookmyre. This book is the one anomaly in my list, as I can’t be certain whether it includes a beach or not. But, there is the North Sea coast and an oil rig converted into a holiday haven for people who love sun but hate other cultures.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Your second classic (with a twist) stranded on a desert island pick.

Island by Richard Laymon. Shipwrecked, stalked, kidnapped and murdered. All in the sun on a beautiful sandy beach.

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Off the Map

otmgallery1Title: Off the Map.

Author: Hib & Kika

Summary: This is what it means to be an adventurer in our day: to give up creature comforts of the mind, to realise possibilities of imagination. Because everything around us says no you cannot do this, you cannot live without that, nothing is useful unless it’s service to money, to gain, to stability.
The adventurer gives in to tides of chaos, trusts the world to support her—and in doing so turns her back on the fear and obedience she has been taught. She rejects the indoctrination of impossibility.
My adventure is a struggle for freedom.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: This is a book about travelling, about adventure and about an alternative way of seeing and doing things. I loved this book. I love that this book exists, and would encourage any and everyone to read it.

Most people travel on planes and stay in hotels. A budget traveller may travel by train and stay in hostels, but I know from experience that there are some people who can’t even afford to ‘budget’ travel. It was refreshing to see the budgetless travel not only represented, but also loved, chosen and enjoyed.

This is the story of Hib and Kika, who buy a one-way plane ticket from San Francisco to Europe, and spend long months hitchhiking, sleeping rough, living out of backpacks and relying on the kindness of strangers. And there are still people in the world who will offer all the help they can to people who need it.

…you get what you pay for. Pay a lot and you get an expensive life. Take what’s free and you get freedom.

I could pretty much quote 80% of this book. I loved reading views and opinions about the world, and ways to live in it that i could appreciate and share. To read about people who see the world in a similar way to me was a joy. I might not agree with everything Hib and Kika expressed, but the fact that they don’t take the world as it is given to them—that they see and think for themselves—was what i most strongly agreed with.

The book is by no means perfect. The chapters are told from either Heb or Kika’s point of view, but i was never able to tell which until whoever was narrating mentioned the other. That could get rather confusing.

Also, for my tastes, it was at times written a little to poetically; too dreamy. I love to daydream, but i think Heb and Kika’s daydreams were not quite my style. They involved too much a feeling of helplessness and overly feminine tones, such as mermaids, witches and pretty flowing dresses… For two punk girls in dirty overalls, i didn’t like the juxtaposition, personally. As if their real dreams involved being meaninglessly beautiful. Rubbed me the wrong way.

The book is not written as a typical story; it’s not a straightforward account of their travels. Instead it more like snippets and stories of their travels. Time and space skips in large chunks, without pause, and you just have to keep up. I liked it like that. Instead of weaving an intricate narrative, they present you with 30 small ones. It’s a book that you could flip through to read any random chapter and you wouldn’t be thrown into the middle of a story you wouldn’t understand—each chapter is its own story.

My favourite of these 30 small stories was Street Rat Dreamers. I’ll leave you with a snippet.

…off the map and beyond the boarders there are other formulas. Abandoned house – permission = free shelter and adventure. Rain + covered doorway = gratitude. Soon it’s obvious that what you thought was flat actually has an underside, an edge, a core. That the mirrors you grew up with are as warped as the ones in the funhouse, and there’s no going back to them. There’s either giving up, or going on. One way cynicism, the other, dreams.