10 Summer Beach Reads You’ll Absolutely Love


Officially guaranteed you’ll be reading something good. (Photo: Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy)

Summer is here! The sound of crashing waves and laughter fill the air as people flock to the sea. Umbrellas spring up, dotting the sand with bright colors, while picnic blankets offering sandwiches and tasty treats unfold. Vacation begins, whether abroad or just at home. Swing in a hammock or float in a pool and escape with that perfect book. Let the romance inspire or the fast-paced thriller excite as time simply slips away. Here are the best beach reads of the year for the upcoming lazy days of summer.


(Photo: Riverhead Books)

1. The Vacationers by Emma Straub

A vacation on the Spanish isle of Mallorca seems to be just what the Post family needs to get away from the troubles brewing at home. A multi-generational gathering is set amidst the mountains and beaches surrounded by the azure waters of the Mediterranean.

Unfortunately, the problems have also crossed the Atlantic along with the vacationers. What ensues is hilarious, riveting and insightful. The perfect book to read while snacking on tapas while the drama plays out.


(Photo: Penguin Press)

2. Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller

Fuller is known for her wry take on life’s tragedies, along with the difficulties of growing up in the wilds of Africa. This memoir is about love and survival. The love that was in her marriage, the love she has for her parents, and her love of Rhodesia. Not all of these bonds endure, but the strength and fortitude of Fuller’s life in both Wyoming and Africa remain with readers forever.


(Photo: Dey Street Books)

3. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

New York’s downtown scene in the 80s and 90s was hip, edgy, and pulsating with music. Kim Gordon is a founding member of the band that epitomized this era: Sonic Youth. This is her memoir about being an artist, wife, mother, fashion icon, and rock star. The book moves and changes along with the city as Gordon tells her story with a voice that’s both raw and lyrical at the same time.

Related: Armchair Traveler: 8 Great Summer Reads for the Escapist in All of Us


Photo: Knopf

4. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Judy Blume is back, this time with a novel for adults. In 1952, three plane crashes occur in three months in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where Blume grew up. Using this truth as a backdrop, Blume’s created adolescent characters who observe, discover and grow up as only they can. A perfect puzzle, devotees of Forever will not be disappointed.


Photo: Riverhead Books

5. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A must-read for the few who haven’t read it already, this Hitchcockian thriller moves at the speed of, well, a train. A regular female commuter turned voyeur turned police informant narrates the story. For fans of Gone Girl and the unreliable narrator, put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the cabana and dive in.

Related: The Worst U.S. Summer Destinations (and What to Do if You Go)


(Photo: Vintage Books)

6. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

There are very few books that can, and should, be read in a single day. The Sense of an Ending is one of them. Part subtle mystery, part love story gone awry, it is engrossing from the very first page. On a gentle breeze, relationships of times past waft by as the main character struggles to decipher the clues that can bring closure to his buried emotional memories. A glass of French Rose might ease the climax just a tad.


Photo: Harper Perennial

7. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Everyone loves a love story, especially one that spans not only the decades but also the globe. “Dolce Vita” would have been a perfect title for this, as Beautiful Ruins marries illusion, romance and the silver screen together in a page-turning tome. An ode to the passing of time and beauty, a la Stevenson’s poem “Gather Ye Roses,” this book should be enjoyed with popcorn while vintage film scenes flash by.

Related: 7 Cool Small Towns Perfect for Escaping the Summer Heat


Photo: Three Rivers Press

8. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

This book meets every criteria for a beach read. It’s funny, personal, and fluffy like a kitten. Plus, if the reader wants to learn how to be Mindy Kaling’s best friend, this is the manual. Kaling is engaging and self-effacing while entertaining non-celebs (and perhaps some closet celebs) with her wit and wisdom. There are even some cultural lessons along the way.


(Photo: Doubleday)

9. The Knockoff by Jo Piazza and Lucy Sykes

It’s often difficult to stay relevant while maintaining your integrity in the fashion world. Such is the dilemma facing Imogen, who returns from vacation to find a blogger taking over her high style magazine. The Devil Wears Prada of this era, this book is all about the thinly-veiled celebutantes within the pages. Never fear, if society life isn’t on your speed dial, this romp through the age of who-will-rise-to-the-top-looking-best will still entertain and amuse.


(Photo: Grove Press)

10. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

A reptile. A fallen angel. A griffon from the pages of an illuminated bestiary. Something bright and distant, like gold falling through water.“ This is the introduction to the bird, the goshawk, MacDonald is picking up at only ten weeks to take home and train. The pain of losing her father has propelled her into the challenge of training a fierce and feral bird to save her sanity. Sadness, myth, obsession and aviary magnetism fills the pages while the ever present theme of flight and freedom prevail. Smart and quirky, this book ruffles feathers as only a well-written story can.

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