I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who can only read certain books in certain places. Pairing an environment and a book is like finding the perfect wine for a meal. I mean, yes, more is always better, but the point is, it’s an art.

Like this one time, I was making my way through all seven Harry Potter books in time for the sixth movie premier, so I brought the fourth book with me to the beach. It did not work out. There’s something about reading about magic in a huge Scottish castle that just did not mesh with the sand ‘n surf atmosphere. So then I had to stop reading, but I didn’t have my iPod and we’d run out of chips and I was just kind of lying there for the whole afternoon and the water was too cold and it just ruined the whole experience.

Now I’m a lot more careful about the books I bring to the beach with me.

I’ve found it’s incredible important to have three books with you at the beach at all times.

Category #1: (this week the position is filled by Anna and the French Kiss)
This book should be fun and light, preferably with a swoony guy. Ann and the French Kiss will be perfect, especially since I’ve heard the swoony guy in question is French. This position can usually be filled by a Sarah Dessen book (see: The Truth About Forever and Keeping the Moon), although some of her books do fall into…

Category #2: (currently occupied by The Sky is Everywhere)
This book should be that book that you’ve been hearing about, that’s just so so so good, the one that none of your friends could put down but for some reason you haven’t read it yet. For a lot of people, this summer that book is The Help, but may I also suggest 13 Reasons Why or Looking for Alaska?

Category 3: (Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks)
This one is different for everyone, because the only requirement is that it’s a book you’ve already read and loved. I loved Disreputable History the first time I read it, but it was for a class so I thought I’d give it the time and devotion it deserved.

Even if you’re only going for the day, having all three of these books with you is extremely important. Take it from someone who’s been there. How are you supposed to know what your beach experience will be like until you get there? Maybe it’s so ridiculously hot that you can’t concentrate that well, in which case rereading a book is probably your most relaxing option. Maybe it’ll be a little windy and gray and suddenly you’ll be feeling a little contemplative, making a Category 2 seem more appealing. You never know.