That is, reading on the beach

I live at Coogee, close to the beach in a unit with my husband of 47 years. Coogee Beach is located on Sydney’s famous Coastal Walkway, which stretches from Bondi Beach to Maroubra Beach. The name Coogee is taken from a local Aboriginal word “koojah” which means “smelly place”. Mountains of seaweed collect on the beach at times due to winds and tide influences. But daily beach cleaning by Randwick City Council ensures that the sands are pristine and soft white, stretching along the 200 metre shoreline of the bay. The beach is partly protected by a rocky outcrop called Wedding Cake Island, and shark nets have been laid nearby, so that few sharks have been seen in the area for many years.

Australians are great sun and sea worshippers, and many are lucky enough to live near the ocean. They are also reputed to be great readers of books. This post combines those two pastime passions within it.

It was the first hot Sunday during the Pandemic and a crowd had spread out across the sands at Coogee Beach. I walked along the foreshore and saw that many people of all ages were reading books, paperbacks stuck in the sand, or held high by sun worshippers on their backs or bellies on towels; some were reading on electronic devices, but I had to eschew those for this post. I saw that most sunbathers had settled down at a safe distance from one another, that is, despite the look of the crowd in the header photo, taken from high up.

I’ve been in the habit of noticing, for some time, what people read on the beach at Coogee. Always from a safe distance, and with my mask on, during these anxious times. This day, as I looked from the shoreline with my 20:20 vision (since cataract surgery), I noted down the titles on my iphone; sometimes I slipped cautiously between bodies, to take a closer up look. Never talking, always at a safe distance…

Here are some of the books being read this day…

  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari: This book highlights the biggest challenges in the modern world, and it offers advice on making sense of and navigating such transitional times. (Shortform Readers)
  • Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn:  A 2012 crime thriller by an American writer. The sense of suspense in the novel comes from whether or not Nick Dunne is involved in the disappearance of his wife Amy. (Wikipedia)
  • A Little Life: Hanya Yanagihara: A stunning “portrait of the enduring grace of friendship” about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves. A masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century. (Goodreads)
  • The Hunted: Gabriel Bergmoser: Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide – an electrifying, heartpounding, truly unputdownable thriller.
  • The Promised Land : Barach Obama: A memoir by the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017, including the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
  • Songbirds: Christy Letferi: A beautifully crafted novel, intelligent, thoughtful, and relevant, by the author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo. (Allen&Unwin)
  • Against All Odds: Craig Challen & Richard Harris: The inside account of the Thai cave rescue and the courageous Australians at the heart of it
  • I Catch Killers: The Life and Many Deaths of a Homicide Detective, by Dan Box & Gary Jubelin: Australia’s most celebrated homicide detective, leading investigations into the disappearance of William Tyrrell, the serial killing of three Aboriginal children in Bowraville and the brutal gangland murder of Terry Falconer. During his 34-year career, former Detective Chief Inspector Jubelin also ran the crime scene following the Lindt Cafe siege. (Booktopia)
  • Karma: Sadhguru: A new perspective on the overused and misunderstood concept of ‘karma’ that offers the key to happiness and enlightenment, from the internationally bestselling author and world-renowned spiritual master Sadhguru. (Penguin)
  • China Rich Girfriend: Kevin Kwan: a satirical 2015 romantic comedy novel. It is the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians a novel about the wealthy Singapore elite. Kwan was urged to write the sequel by his publishers after the initial success of Crazy Rich Asians. (Wikipedia)
  • Midnight’s Children: Salman Rushdie: It portrays India’s transition from British colonial rule to independence and the partition of India. It is considered an example of postcolonial, postmodern and magical realist literature. (Wikipedia)
  • Sorrow & Bliss: Meg Mason: In the hands of its acerbic narrator – dealing with a crushing mental illness – even the darkest material is handled lightly, and is all the more powerful for it. (Guardian)
  • Girl, Woman, Other: Bernardine Evaristo, the Anglo-Nigerian award-winning author of several books of fiction and verse fiction that explore aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, imagined. Her novel Girl, Woman, Other won the Booker Prize in 2019. (Goodreads)
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People: Dale Carnegie: American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking and interpersonal skills. Born in poverty on a farm in Missouri, his most famous book first published in 1936, a massive bestseller that remains popular today. (Goodreads)
  • Your Erroneous Zones: Wayne Dyer: A popular American self-help advocate, author and lecturer. His 1976 book Your Erroneous Zones has sold over 30 million copies and is one of the best-selling books of all time. It is said to have “brought humanistic ideas to the masses”. (Goodreads)

A recent survey of Australian reading habits provides insights into contemporary preferences, behaviours and attitudes of Australians towards books and reading. The Australia Council has partnered with Macquarie University on this third and final stage of their three-year research project titled ‘The Australian Book Industry: Authors, Publishers and Readers in a Time of Change’.