Seaside Stories

Beach Reads for a Vicarious Escape

April 7, 2020 | by Shellie Bailey-Shah

Chances are, you have more time to read right now than you have had in the past decade. And we all know, a good book can transport you to another time and place — far from the realities of the COVID-19 outbreak. Karen Emmerling, owner of local institution Beach Books, has some recommendations for a vicarious escape.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Los Angeles Times best-selling author Alix E. Harrow is about a young woman named January Scaller who embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery through a magical book that carries “the scents of other worlds.”

House Lessons: Renovating a Life by New York Times best-selling author Erica Bauermeister is a memoir about the power of home and the transformative act of restoring one house in particular in Port Townsend, Washington. Discover what lessons this home has to teach and ultimately how to make your own home and life better.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel begins at a five-star hotel on Vancouver Island but then takes readers on a ride that involves a Manhattan Ponzi scheme and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea. The New York Times put this novel on its “20 Books We’re Watching For in 2020” list.

Greenwood: A Novel by Canadian author Michael Christie is a time-hopping tale of one family through generations of love, loss and dark secrets. The common thread: trees and the hopeful yet sometimes impossible task of growing toward the light.

In addition to those page-turners, Emmerling shares her favorite picks for Oregon Coast-themed books. These selections are perfect for the curious traveler looking to get a better sense of  coastal Oregon as well as its riveting history.

Emmerling’s first three recommendations are all written by the same author, Bonnie Henderson. Henderson, a former editor for Sunset magazine, lives in Eugene but spends much of her time along the Oregon Coast. In her book Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris, she traces the stories of trash washed up along the Oregon Coast to places as far away as Shenzhen, China, and Hokkaido, Japan. In The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast, Henderson looks at the science behind past tsunamis and the inevitable tsunami that will one day slam the Oregon Coast, along with the people who study them. Emmerling also recommends Henderson’s comprehensive guide Day Hiking Oregon Coast: Beaches, Headlands, Oregon Trail. The book details 132 hikes along the Oregon Coast, including several in Seaside.

Another good guide for would-be hikers? Emmerling recommends Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail: 40 Consecutive Day Hikes From the Columbia River to the California Border by Connie Soper, which includes a comprehensive trail map with details on day sections along with the history of Oregon’s open-beach laws.

If you’re a history buff, Emmerling points to Tillamook Rock Lighthouse: History & Tales of Terrible Tilly by Brian D. Ratty. It’s the story of those who built the lighthouse near Seaside, those who manned it and those who paid the ultimate price to keep the beacon burning bright. 

All the books mentioned are available online at Beach Books’ website.

Photo courtesy of Beach Books.

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