River Forest Public Library River Forest Public Library

Not Your Average Beach Reads

By Shannon Gruber, Adult and Teen Services Manager


Growing up, it seemed that as soon as spring arrived, every woman’s magazine had an article about getting a bikini body for summer. Just do 100 reps of these 20 moves every day and follow this boring diet and you, too, will be slim & toned enough to be worthy of a bikini, they said. Fortunately, we are more body positive now and people are starting to realize that they can wear whatever they want to the beach. How can get you get a bikini body in 2023? Have a body. Wear a bikini. It’s that simple!

So, what does this have to do with beach reads? For too long, we’ve been told that if we’re going on vacation (or spending any time reading outside in the summer), the book better be a romance with a candy-colored cover or a fast-paced thriller that we forget as soon as we finish. That’s great, but what about those dense, historical biographies that we never have time to read? What about that critically acclaimed short story collection we’ve heard so much about? There’s room for all of these on your summer reading list! The next time I’m asked for a perfect beach read by a patron, I will say this – get a book. Read it at the beach. It’s that simple!

Here are some of my current & all-time favorites. 


Shannon joined the Library in December, 2019. She manages the adult collections and programs, offer readers advisory, and collaborates with the Township to create special program opportunities for our senior population.  Shannon has a BS in Fashion Merchandising and her MLIS from Dominican University. She has worked in libraries for the past 14 years.

Biographies, celebrity memoirs, anything set in France, travel writing, historical fiction, literary fiction, and humor, are all genres that Shannon enjoys.