Beach reads are required reading in the warmer months. These summer books deliver on page-turners filled with family drama, steamy love stories, and small-town feelings. Bookmark this summer reading list for your next library day.
Beach books have been a hot top request in our book club and today I wanted to share a few of my top recommendations for this summer’s reading.
After all, summers should be filled with good books, fun drinks, and fictional escapes. I also have one REALLY compelling memoir that reads as fast as fiction.
Escape real life with a few of my favorite reads this year.
The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer
Vogue described this as “a perfect summer read,” and I have to co-sign this comment. This book is now my go-to summer recommendation for a sophisticated romance with enough dimension for a thoughtful book club discussion.
The fake dating trope rarely works for me, but this debut examines the media and public’s obsession with Hollywood figures.
Whitman (“Win) Tagore is a well-known actress making headlines with a jet-setting playboy named Leo Milanowski.
The two have made headlines for a decade with their on-again, off-again romance. The public doesn’t know that the entire relationship is staged.
The two manipulate the press for necessary coverage and to gain favor and attention when necessary. All these situations are carefully orchestrated events between two friends.
As you might guess, this gets complicated but in all the best ways. Rather than leaning into the stereotypical plotlines, this goes into smart places like examining what it is like to be a woman of color in Hollywood.
This wife writing duo truly crafted one of my new favorite romances. I can’t wait to see what they write together next! (P.S.- Stay tuned for a summer interview with this fantastic writing duo on the Book Gang Podcast)
This buzzy novel has been making its rounds on bookstagram, and that’s how it landed in my stack. Described as Inventing Anna meets Catch Me If You Can, get ready to meet the next prominent con artist.
While the novel clocks in at 362 pages, the page count is quite deceptive and can easily be read in a day. Told in diary entries, emails, and text messages, the reader can observe a naive aspiring writer get conned in real-time.
Lora can’t believe she has landed a summer internship at ELLE Magazine, where she meets Cat Wolff, a contributing editor and heir to a clean-energy mogul. The two begin a side project crafting a short story for a potential magazine submission.
Cat has story ideas, but they aren’t fleshed out well. Lora is a great writer but struggling to make rent. Why not solve both issues at once?
Cat’s brilliant plan is that Lora can move into the Plaza Hotel with her, and the two can work on the story together. Lora’s name won’t be on the work, but she can earn a salary and get her start as a ghostwriter.
Lora grapples with this decision but loves the lifestyle that Cat provides and the ability to do what she loves. It becomes more difficult as she awaits those precious paychecks and as her work begins to gain notoriety. Lora doesn’t know that Cat is being investigated by the FBI, and she may be the next victim.
What makes this story the perfect reading slump buster is that it moves SO FAST by including these different documents and diary entries.
I have been immersed in both Inventing Anna and the memoir that it helped to inspire (My Friend Anna). If you are familiar with this story, it borrows most of its plot from that experience.
It wasn’t until the 58% mark that the plot switches.
What makes it the reason you want to finish it is that the last fifteen pages will give you the best plot twist whiplash that you will, FOR SURE, never see coming.
The book is worth the read for the ending alone.
It is the early 1960s, and Elizabeth Zott wants to do her job and get credit for it. As a chemist, her work environment is less than desirable, with a boy’s club mentality among her coworkers at the Hastings Research Institute.
One man, though, treats Elizabeth with the respect she’s always desired, and their relationship evolves into a mutually beneficial exchange that brings them both unexpected joy.
In a pivotal plot point, Elizabeth has unexpectedly become a single mother and an incredible television star on a cooking show called Supper at Six.
What makes the show such a success is Elizabeth’s refusal to see women as just housewives and to see them as aspiring chemists too.
The leading lady isn’t the only notable character because Garmus has made an entire beloved cast of characters for the reader to adore, including an adorable dog that the reader will fall in love with.
This novel is quirky, heartwarming, and feminist-forward in all the right ways.
This will be on my best books of the year list and would be the perfect selection for any book club. Read this before the TV series on Apple+.
Finlay Donovan fans will devour this fun Southern story that blends heart and humor into a perfectly satisfying story.
An antique-shop owner overhears a gossipy conversation about her husband that draws into question whether her husband has been unfaithful to her or not.
If her husband has been cheating, she will not let him get away with it, and she decides to hire a private investigator to look into this affair and what else he could be hiding.
What she doesn’t expect is that her new assistant is the perfect accomplice to help her uncover his hidden secrets.
Not only is Ruby a wildly talented seamstress, turning her store’s trash into treasures, but she also knows all the right people to get any job done in town.
These two women become unlikely friends, and there are some lovely layers to this story with checkered pasts and town secrets.
It is no secret that I am a sucker for coming-of-age stories, and this debut delivered on so much beauty. If you enjoyed our book club book, The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones, this novel would hit all the sweet spots.
Almost-eleven-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB) has undergone some challenging changes in her life.
Not only has her father died, but her mother also has left.
She and Nia (her sister) are dropped off at her estranged grandfather’s home for an indefinite amount of time with no explained reasons.
Told through KB’s eyes, this story is beautifully told as she learns more about what tore her mother and grandfather apart.
It’s a big summer of discovery for many reasons.
Still, one of the most powerful is the transition between the two sisters as Nia begins to separate herself from her sister and move away from the things of her youth to embark on the big girlhood journey of self-discovery (and boys).
I have never read this stage so beautifully captured- it reminded me a lot of the transition between my sister and me at that stage.
If you want a book that you want to hug when you finish, this is the book to add to your stack.
Harris writes vividly and beautifully with turns of phrases that are a delight to read.
It also layers in more significant themes like mental illness, race, and identity that add depth to this sweet summer adventure story.
Described as an ode to “black girlhood and adolescence,” this was one of my favorite library discoveries.
The book opens with a young painter (Cleo) meeting an older successful businessman (Frank). They could not be more opposite but immediately are drawn to one another’s company.
They find a deep appreciation for one another and also acquire their nicknames, Cleopatra and Frankenstein, yielding the book’s unique title.
Cleo requires a Green Card, and Frank offers her both the steadiness that her artistic life lacks and a permanent residence in the states.
We follow the two as their marriage goes through the highs of new love to the monotony in the middle and then what it feels like to fall out of love.
Each chapter is a month, and the observations of family and friends round out the story as they too observe this relationship and try to forge their own in different ways.
There is so much humor throughout these pages, even in heartbreaking moments in their marriage.
Their brief stint as parents of a sugar glider (go ahead and look that up on Tik Tok and tell me you aren’t intrigued) may be some of the most memorable chapters I’ve read in a long time.
Mellors writing draws Salley Rooney comparisons. Comparatively, I thought this delivered on Katherine Heiney writing joy.
It’s not just the unlikely love story though, for me. It is the dry humor where this one shined and made it such a wildly memorable debut.
If you are looking for really readable literary fiction, this is it.
Beach Read was my favorite book by this author until this latest contemporary romance dropped.
When a New York City literary agent goes on a small-town getaway with her sister, the two work through a checklist of adventures that you would appreciate in any Hallmark movie.
Expecting to find romance with a hunky local in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, is just what Nora believe is destined to happen.
She couldn’t expect that a difficult editor she worked with from the city just might be living there too.
In Henry’s signature writing style, this has heart, humor, and loads of bookish moments.
This love story also loves to poke a little fun at the romance tropes while leaning into a few of them in its own story.
Fans of Elin Hilderbrand or Jennifer Weiner should definitely get acquainted with Emily Henry’s backlist selections as well as this fantastic new release.
This fascinating memoir of Jenny Pentland’s childhood is the book that you won’t be able to put down.
Imagine your real-life becomes episodes for a sitcom. Most of us can’t fathom this existence, but the life of Jenny (and her siblings) became the show we know as “Roseanne. “
Jenny’s mom, Roseanne Arnold, is more of a compassionate side note, while the meat of this story focuses on Jenny’s anxieties from paparazzi encounters and struggles with obesity.
In response to these trials, she goes through various programs, including those infamous wilderness camps and fat camps.
A couple of truth bombs about Pentland’s journey (both in these programs and with the paparazzi) may have yielded an audible gasp. I was also unfamiliar with Roseanne’s backstory, so the captured moments are pretty surprising.
Through even these sad and challenging moments, Pentland embraces the funny.
I, indeed, will count this among my favorite memoirs. (P.S.- Stay tuned for a summer interview with Jenny on my podcast)
Craving a summer blockbuster film in a book? This lighthearted science fiction book is just what your beach bag needs.
The timing for this is just as the pandemic is descending on the world, but there is no need to stick around to see the devastation when you get to go to another world.
Jamie is a driver for an Uber Eats competitor although he never expected his corporate job to take such a turn.
Stuck in the rat race of trying to make ends meet, he ends up making a life-changing series of food deliveries to someone that promises him a job that can get him away from what’s happening in the world.
AND pay him far better too.
Jamie joins a team of scientists in an alternate world intent on the preservation of Kaijus (giant dinosaur monsters).
This book is filled with laughs and “boy humor” that I couldn’t wait to pass on to my husband, from laugh-out-loud mating rituals to heart-pounding danger.
I love that Scalzi never takes things too seriously and isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at some of the more predictable themes.
Stick around for the author’s note on this one- it includes a tale of a double-saved manuscript that was lost and how this book came to be.
I fell in love with Ashley Winstead’s thrilling debut and was so surprised to see that her next book was a romance.
This gigantic genre leap shouldn’t have worked so well, but Winstead delivered on a laugh-out-loud plot that has made me a believer that she can write anything.
Lee works as a communications director at a women-run electric car company.
While serious and successful at work, Lee definitely leans into the “work hard play hard” mindset. She’s not afraid to throw back a few or call a guy for a one night stand.
Her carefree attitude isn’t because she’s so easygoing.
There have been many heartbreaks in her life (both in her childhood and as she is older), which is why she keeps so many at a distance.
This jumping to conclusions and mistrust is exactly what ends an important relationship in her life with some of her signature sabotage.
It is also why, five years later, she is stunned to discover that she must reunite with this old boyfriend when the two are both working towards getting a clean energy bill rolling.
With a political backdrop that doesn’t lean into the negativity, lots of chemistry between old flames, and loads of LOLs, this is destined to be a favorite in this summer’s book stack.
Thank you to the publishing house for the complimentary copy.
The story opens with the disappearance of a young mother, and Kiester builds a beautifully believable mystery layered with big book club themes.
Ben never expected to be at a police station inquiring about the procedure for filing a missing person case, but that is precisely where he has found himself.
The juggle of work and family without his wife takes its toll quickly and he would do anything to have June back.
Ben discovers that he doesn’t really know his wife at all and, frankly, neither do her friends.
Kiester takes the reader on a journey to understand June’s motives and a rarely explored topic in literature. To tell you what this is, though, would rob you of the beauty in this read.
CW: suicide ideation
Looking for a few thrillers to add to this stack? Be sure to check out this list of the best psychological thriller books to check out!
What beach reads would you add to today’s stack? Let me know what I’m missing in the comments below!