I've spent the summer reading The Stories of John Cheever, mostly on the beach. Some other memorable beach-reading experiences:
Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: When I was seventeen, I was really taken in by the whole objectivism thing, as most impressionable youths are, I guess. Thankfully, my critical thinking skills improved in college.
Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter. I read this sometime in college, maybe the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. I could only read it in the daylight because it scared the crap out of me.
May Sarton's A Shower of Summer Days. Another summer read during college. My memory is a little hazy on this one, although I do remember subtle lesbian undertones.
William Somerset Maughan's The Moon and Sixpence: Loosely based on the painter Gaughan's life. Not technically a beach read, but I read it when visiting Put-in-Bay, Ohio, one of the little islands off Lake Erie.
Katherine Anne Porter's Oh Immortality: I read this last summer while visiting friends in Myrtle Beach.
Jen Michalski is author of the novel The Tide King, winner of the 2012 Big Moose Prize. She is the author of two collections of fiction, From Here and Close Encounters, and a collection of novellas, Could You Be With Her Now. In 2013 she was named one of "50 Women to Watch" by The Baltimore Sun and won a "Best of Baltimore" for Best Writer from Baltimore Magazine. She is the founding editor of the literary quarterly jmww and host of The Starts Here! Reading Series and the biannual Lit Show. She lives in Baltimore, MD