The Good Life: The 411: Beach Reads

No, these aren’t books to take to the beach. (That status is reserved for paperbacks with pink covers or the words "By John Grisham" on ’em.) Rather, they’re eye-candy tomes — all covering the Jersey Shore, and mostly released within the past few years — to dress up any coffee table.

In America’s Boardwalks: From Coney Island to California (Rutgers University Press; $27.50), James Lilliefors historically strolls down 12 legendary walkways, including those of Atlantic City, Wildwood, Cape May, Rehoboth, and Ocean City, Maryland. … Atlantic City: 125 Years of Ocean Madness (Ten Speed Press; $22.95) chronicles the madcap history of “America’s Playground,” from Harry Houdini and W.C. Fields to Miss America and the diving-horse girls, augmented by co-author Vicki Gold Levi’s treasure trove of archival photos taken by her father Al, the city’s official photographer from 1939 to 1964. … Dean Davis highlights the magic of The Ocean City Boardwalk: 2 1/2 Miles of Summer (Schiffer; $19.95). … Joe Jordan’s Cape May Point: The Illustrated History: 1875 to the Present (Schiffer; $24.95) serves up a soup-to-nuts history of New Jersey’s southernmost tip. … With the loving feel of an old scrapbook, Boardwalk Memories: Tales of the Jersey Shore (Globe Pequot; $24.95) finds author Emil Salvini charting how “the Boardwalk” became a pop-culture institution. … Kirk Hastings celebrates Wildwood’s signature architecture in the eye-popping confection that is Doo Wop Motels (Stackpole; $19.95). … In the slim, gorgeous Down the Shore: A Photo Tour of the Jersey Coast (Photo Tour Books; $24.95), New Hope photographer Bob Krist’s color-drenched portraits dazzle with looks at Shore landscapes both well-known and secret. … Sating even the most weather-obsessed, Seven Superstorms of the Northeast (Down the Shore; $32), by James Lincoln Turner, and Great Storms of the Jersey Shore (Down the Shore; $26.95), by Larry Savadove and Margaret Thomas Buchholz, meticulously retell tales of some of the Shore’s worst natural disasters. … Calmer, gentler views are on display in Four Seasons at the Shore (Down the Shore; $48), convincing argument for year-round residency. … Buchholz and Savadove team up again for Island Album (Down the Shore; $48), a richly textured love letter to LBI. … While it’s a bit slim on interiors, Caroline Seebohm’s Cottages and Mansions of the Jersey Shore (Rivergate; $39.95) delivers Cape Cod-worthy images of some of the Jersey coast’s toniest addresses, from Atlantic Highlands and Mantoloking to Beach Haven and Stone Harbor. … For the young reader (nine to 12) in your beach brood, Trinka Hakes Noble’s The Legend of the Cape May Diamond (Sleeping Bear; $17.95), lovingly illustrated by E.B. Lewis, explores the lore of the quartz rocks that have served as pirate’s treasure for generations of beachcombers. Ahoy!