‘Beach read’ has come to connote something a bit trashy, or at least not too taxing on the old grey matter. Britain has some of the most atmospheric beaches around, so why spoil the view with something below standard? You don’t have to lug along a mind-bending bore in order to have a good page-turning time, and these novels will fill both your beach-holiday reading needs and your mind. So unfurl a luxurious towel and prepare to ensconce yourself – bundle up or slather on the sun cream because you’ll be totally absorbed. 

The Moonstone, 1868

This intricate mystery by Wilkie Collins is told from multiple points of view. A bitter British military man returns from his posting in India with a large diamond that he stole from a temple. He is estranged from his family, but upon his death he leaves the stone to his niece, Rachel Verinder. Its theft from Rachel the night of her 18th birthday party sets off elaborate cover-ups and the unravelling of terrible secrets. All’s right in the end, but everyone is left with a slightly darkened view of human nature.

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life

Also an intricate mystery but of the internal, family-drama type, George Eliot’s 1871 masterpiece will stay with you long after the last page for its range of human experience. Anyone who’s ever been in love, longed for a fulfilling career or a higher purpose, had to find a place to live, or experienced stress over money will relate to one of the many distinctive characters in this finely observed tale.

Wuthering Heights

This popular classic is best read on a sunny, crowded beach for maximum contrast with the dark psychological depths of Emily Bronte’s only novel. Published in 1847, it’s an epic tale – without the lengthy page count – of two very different but tragically intertwined families living on the moors of Yorkshire. Those dark depths have been plumbed for meaning by countless readers, of course, but they were right troublin’ to readers of the time, who were shocked by the cruelty and crudeness displayed by the primary characters.

To the Lighthouse

The compact length of Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel belies its expansive qualities. Told through thoughts and impressions more than dialogue, To the Lighthouse carries the reader along in such a dreamy fashion, you almost don’t notice the emotional pain everyone is in. You might even finish this one in a day.

Whether for a first read or the tenth, these classics will improve your beach time. Find an appropriate towel to settle on at www.towelsrus.co.uk.