Summer Movie Reading List for Beachgoers

If you're lucky enough to be lazing under the bright blue sky this summer, you'll probably bring along a book or two to pass the time as your skin sizzles. What will you be reading?

Personally, I'm always in catch-up mode with books, and I tend to spend at least half my reading time checking out books that are due for adaptation. I'd prefer to allow as much time as possible to pass between reading a book and seeing the movie -- that way both can stand on their own merits without endless mental comparisons. Unfortunately, that rarely works out. If you're like me, I've listed three essential reads for upcoming movies after the jump. But just to get in the right mood, let's start with a classic.

Jaws by Peter Benchley
What, you say you're already seen the movie and know its plot by heart? You're probably too young to remember that Benchley's book was a monster bestseller and is the very definition of a summer beach read, not only because it takes place in the summer, but because Benchley writes in short declarative sentences and doesn't waste too much time on extreme character development. And, as I recall, there are pages of stuff where he writes from the point of the view of the shark, which is kinda cool, and the book ends differently than the movie. Shocker! Bonus: if a shark does attack you while you're reading this book on a raft in the ocean, you can use the paperback to beat him senseless.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This is not, apparently, light and fluffy entertainment, which is what I normally associate with beach reading, but it's one that I intend to finally catch up with when I do (eventually) get to lay out and soak in the sunshine, just to see what all the noise has been about. The trilogy has gained steam, with the third book now in hardcover, the adaptation of the second book ready to hit theaters this coming weekend, and the first book about to be redone for American audiences by David Fincher. And it sounds deliciously perverse to read a dark mystery thriller about crime and corruption whilst innocent people play in the water nearby.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
You've seen the trailers, now read the book(s). The series of five volumes -- the sixth is due to be published on July 20 -- quickly developed a loyal core of followers, and that core has expanded into an anxious army waiting to see what Edgar Wright has wrought (the movie version, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, is due on August 13). If you start now, you have time to catch up on all the books, but it shouldn't take you long to decide if you're a Pilgrim person. Buy the book, wrap it in your beach towel, unfurl it at the beach or pool, note the admiring, knowing glances that other hip young people throw your way, and dive in. Bonus: much of the action takes place in Canada in the winter, so you're bound to feel cooler!

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Opening the same weekend as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the movie version stars Julia Roberts in the true story of a woman who spends a year soaking in the ambience of Italy, India, and Indonesia. The account has won critical raves since its publication nearly four years ago and currently sits atop the New York Times nonfiction paperback best-seller list. If you're home bound and can only dream about traveling the world -- and if your only near-beach experience will be sitting all wrinkled up in your bath tub -- this might be the one to get.