Oh this? It’s just a beach read. I honestly don’t know how it got into my tote bag. I certainly would never have meant to pack a book like this. I’m pretty sure it’s not even mine. A friend must’ve lent it to me! When I’m not at the beach, I carry a well-worn copy of Ulysses in this bag. I would never even look at a book like this one if I wasn’t so bewitched by the mind-numbing effects of the sun and the sea. In fact, I don’t plan on opening this book at all. I might just toss it into a sandpit.

If I do decide to open this frivolous beach read (ironically, of course), I can assure you that its pages will only ever see hot, summer sunlight beating down upon them. For they are not worthy of the cool florescent light of a true intellectual space. Sadly, I’m not even interested enough in this wildly popular, bestselling, romantic comedy to read its back cover, nevermind open its pages. Under different seasonal and geographical circumstances, you’d see that I only read important books by important people in important places. You can ask my friends. Just last week I was reading Infinite Jest for the sixth time. I told everyone about it. Repeatedly.

However, I’m at the beach right now. And it’s undeniable that, as a society, we’ve informally agreed upon the beach as an acceptable place for books like this — thrillers, romance novels, and any work of contemporary fiction featuring a female protagonist. Why allow such mindless literary debauchery here? Maybe because it’s a mystical, liminal space, not quite land, not quite sea — the demilitarized zone of academic posturing. A safe space, if you will. What’s read at the beach stays at the beach, right? Like this book here, which I only opened because I thought my car keys might be inside it.

You know, I can’t quite shake the feeling that you still think this is the type of book I normally read. It’s not that I want to read this simplistic nonsense about two co-workers pretending to hate each other despite their undeniable sexual chemistry. It’s that I couldn’t risk any of my big important books being exposed to the damp ocean air. Anyone who knows me knows that I’d much rather be reading my absolutely colossal copy of Lyndon B. Johnson’s multi-volume biography. I’m on volume III and I stopped at a real cliffhanger!

I would’ve brought that book with me today, but I’m sure you’d agree it’s much too heavy for trekking across shifting sands beneath the blistering heat of a midday sun. Surely you see why I was forced instead to grit my teeth and tolerate this much lighter (both thematically and physically) fictional workplace comedy about the thin line between love and hate. Plus, you wouldn’t have me getting my real books all wet and sandy would you?

In my defense, this particular beach read isn’t like other beach reads. In my very limited reading of it, which I succumbed to out of extreme and life-threatening boredom, I found that some parts were actually kind of good. Not like “a white man with an MFA would recommend it” good, but that’s a high bar for any female author to clear without being a Brontë sister.

That said, this book is still clearly meant for overheated minds, sitting in the sun, sipping white wine spritzers, barely able to intellectualize over the sound of crashing ocean waves. If I was safely inland, away from the corrupting influence of the coast, I would never be so weak-willed as to fall for the allure of such blatant escapism. I’m a true literary purist who delights in books that make me feel as if I’ve just slogged through mental quicksand while bearing the burden of existential dread and the fate of humanity on my shoulders. This ridiculous beach read is far too clichéd, derivative, and — oh, you’ve read this book too?

… It’s SO GOOD, right?!