The 27 Best Books to Read on the Beach This Summer
What makes a great beach read? There's really no one perfect definition or genre to encompass all these varied, wonderful books. In general, though, we usually think of beach reads as the kinds of books you can pack in a bag and bring with you to read while you're lounging by the pool, on the beach, or in the park to soak up some sun while you relax. They might be fluffy romances, engrossing adventures, or heartwarming tales of family and history, but they probably won't be too heavy or demanding — they're reads for relaxation, above all.
From icons of literature to brand-new books from the past few years, there's no shortage of great picks for your beach reading! Check out just a handful of our favorites that will pair perfectly with your summer plans.
— Additional reporting by Emily Weaver and Sabienna Bowman
"A Lot Like Adiós" by Alexis Daria
Steamy, fun, and full of second chances, "A Lot Like Adiós" ($9) by Alexis Daria is the kind of summer read you'll want to tuck into your beach bag for the day. Thirteen years after breaking each other's hearts, graphic designer Michelle and fitness entrepreneur Gabe are thrown into each other's lives when Michelle is brought on to help spearhead a new marketing campaign. Old feelings bubble up again, and they'll have to decide whether they can pick up where they left off or if things between them are better left in the past.
"Beach Read" by Emily Henry
You can't go wrong with a book literally named "Beach Read" ($8)! Emily Henry's summer bestseller centers on two authors who make a pact when they find themselves staying at neighboring beach houses for the summer. Romance writer January and literary novelist Gus agree to try to write in each other's style in hopes of unsticking their writers' block, but in the process, they'll also unstick some of their emotional baggage.
"The City We Became" by N.K. Jemisin
Looking for something a little more fantastical for your summer reading? Try N.K. Jemisin's "The City We Became" ($15). Set in a New York summer, the story follows a group of people who find themselves mysteriously connected to the very soul of the city itself — and all that comes with it. You can also pick up the sequel, "The World We Make," to find out what happens next!
"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan
Kevin Kwan's "Crazy Rich Asians" ($9) became a summer sensation movie a few years ago, and it's easy to see why. Rachel, a professor from New York, agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, fellow professor Nick, so that he can attend his friend's wedding. What Rachel doesn't realize until she arrives is that Nick's family is part of a glamorous world of almost unimaginable wealth — and his family and friends aren't so sure she can ever fit in.
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you want to feel a little literary during your beach reading, pick up the classic "The Great Gatsby" ($3) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set in the Roaring Twenties, it's the story of Jay Gatsby, a seemingly self-made rich man who can't shake his years-long love for the flighty socialite Daisy. It's a glittering picture of a stylish time, but also a poignant picture of what history calls the Lost Generation.
"The Guncle" by Steven Rowley
In "The Guncle" ($12) by Steven Rowley, a former sitcom star (and doting gay uncle to two adorable kiddos) goes through some major life changes with plenty of heart and humor. Patrick has never wanted kids of his own, but he's happy to be the favorite "guncle" to Maisie and Grant. When tragedy strikes, though, Patrick finds himself thrust into the role of primary caregiver, and none of the three members of this unexpected new family is sure what comes next. Patrick's doing his best, but it's going to take some serious adjustments to be the adult these kids need.
"Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Really, you can't go wrong with any Taylor Jenkins Reid book for your beach reading list, but "Malibu Rising" ($11) certainly feels the most summery of them all. It's 1983, and their massive end-of-summer party puts the famous Riva siblings right in the spotlight. This year, though, things are different. By the end of the night, all four of the siblings will have long-held secrets come to light, even as the party spins out of control. By dawn, nothing will be the same again.
"The Marriage Game" by Sara Desai
A charming and sexy romantic comedy feels like exactly the right kind of book for those hot summer days, which is why you should definitely pick up "The Marriage Game" ($12) by Sara Desai. When Layla returns home after her career hits a serious speed bump, her parents try to help her "fix" her life by secretly setting up a dating profile in her name. As she tries to fend off unwanted suitors, she also becomes entangled in something of a bet with Sam, the corporate downsizer who, through a mix-up, ends up sharing work space with Layla — and who might have the answers she's looking for.
"Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie
Prefer beach reads of the whodunit variety? Start with a true classic, Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" ($9). It's the epitome of detective fiction, featuring all the tropes we've come to know, love, and expect: a murder behind a locked door, a cast of suspects who all have something to hide, a setting that forces them all together, and an intrepid detective who will stop at nothing to solve the case and ensure justice prevails.
"Mrs. Nash's Ashes" by Sarah Adler
Sarah Adler combines the joy of a summer road trip rom-com with the seriousness of dealing with grief in the delightful "Mrs. Nash's Ashes" ($14). Millie is on a mission to fulfill a promise she made to her elderly BFF before she died: to take her ashes to reunite her with her long-ago lost love in Florida. The attempt to make the trip, however, soon turns into a comedy of errors, forcing her to hitch a ride with Hollis, a writer and college acquaintance of Millie's nasty ex-boyfriend. They become reluctant road-trip buddies, and maybe help each other work through the things that are holding them back.
"Next Year in Havana" by Chanel Cleeton
Chanel Cleeton's "Next Year in Havana" ($9) kicks off a whole series of books from her focused on the strength, resilience, and romance of generations of Cuban and Cuban-American women. In 2017, writer Marisol heads to Cuba to scatter her grandmother Elisa's ashes, discovering along the way some of the secrets her family has kept for decades. In 1958, Elisa seems to live a charmed life as the socialite daughter of a sugar baron, until revolution shakes the country and Elisa herself falls in love with a rebel, setting her — and her family — on a very different path than they planned.
"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
You know it, you love it, and "Pride and Prejudice" ($6) by Jane Austen is the epitome of beach-read comfort food. The story of witty Elizabeth and haughty Mr. Darcy making terrible first impressions on each other, then slowly realizing that they actually are perfect for each other, is iconic for a reason. Sometimes, the best beach reads are the ones where you already know how it ends, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride!
"One Italian Summer" by Rebecca Serle
The summer feeling is right there in the title of "One Italian Summer" ($12) by Rebecca Serle, but it's not all sunshine and chill vibes. After the death of her mom, Katy is faced with the devastating decision to go on their planned mother-daughter trip to Positano alone. When she arrives, Katy slowly begins to feel like herself again. Then, she somehow stumbles across her mother, alive and well — and 30 years younger. Over the course of one magic-touched summer, Katy gets to know a new side of her mother and finally gets closure on the loss that has shaken her to her core.
"Queenie" by Candice Carty-Williams
If your idea of a great beach read is the witty, deeply human story of a messy woman trying to figure life out, then you'll love "Queenie" ($10) by Candice Carty-Williams. Queenie is a Jamaican-British woman in her mid-20s, and her life is not going to plan. She struggles with not fitting in completely with either culture, she faces constant comparisons from her privileged newspaper colleagues, she's just broken up with her boyfriend, and she's making a lot of questionable decisions. Along the way, though, she just might find what she really needs amid all the chaos.
"Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston
After watching the just-released Amazon Prime Video adaptation, catch up on "Red, White & Royal Blue" ($11), the hit rom-com from Casey McQuiston. Alex, the first son of the United States, has one mortal enemy: Henry, the youngest British prince. When an incident at a wedding threatens to cause a massive diplomatic headache for both countries, the men are forced to fake a friendship for the public. Over time, their fake friendship becomes real, then becomes more than friendship, turning into a secret romance that could shake the world if it gets out.
"Something to Talk About" by Meryl Wilsner
A sleek, swoony Hollywood romance feels just right for a beach read, which is what puts "Something to Talk About" ($10) by Meryl Wilsner on this list. When A-lister Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, everyone assumes they're a couple — but they're not. Still, the gossip keeps spreading, and Emma and Jo find themselves spending more time together (for work, of course!). As their professional relationship becomes more personal, they'll have to finally figure out if maybe all those fans were on to something when they spotted that red carpet moment.
"The Summer Wives" by Beatriz Williams
"The Summer Wives" ($10) by Beatriz Williams is an excellent beach read for lovers of historical fiction. In 1951, Miranda is cast into a sparkling world of the society elite when her mother marries a rich, well-connected man and they begin spending summers on Winthrop Island. There's a divide on the island, though, between the carefree socialites who summer there and the working-class people who live there all year. Nearly 20 years after that first summer, Miranda returns, a successful actress hiding a heartbreak and determined to uncover the truth about a terrible tragedy that once cost her everything.
"Take a Hint, Dani Brown" by Talia Hibbert
All three of Talia Hibbert's Brown Sisters books are fantastic choices for a summer romance read on the beach, but "Take a Hint, Dani Brown" ($14) just might be the best of the bunch. When a workplace fire drill gone wrong results in a viral video of Dani being "rescued" by security guard Zaf, the pair agree to play along to help drum up publicity for Zaf's charity for kids. The thing is, Dani is looking for a satisfying friends-with-benefits situation, and Zaf could be the perfect candidate . . . if only there weren't pesky real feelings starting to crop up.
"The Unhoneymooners" by Christina Lauren
For beachy vibes and a breezy romance, grab Christina Lauren's "The Unhoneymooners" ($10). Ethan and Olive despise each other, but they're stuck with each other when the rest of a wedding party they're in get food poisoning. To appease the bride and groom, and to not waste money, the duo find themselves taking what was supposed to be a honeymoon trip. Their temporary truce soon gives way to an inconvenient attraction, but a few secrets lurking beneath the surface might turn them back into enemies — for good this time.
"The Wedding Date" by Jasmine Guillory
"The Wedding Date" ($8) by Jasmine Guillory — and the entire six-book series it opens — is as breezy as a day at the beach and as bubbly as a glass of Champagne. Alexa impulsively agrees to go to a wedding with Drew, a stranger she meets in an elevator. They're both high-powered professionals with semi-disastrous personal lives, but there's a connection between them that neither can deny. When they have to go back to their real lives, however, will they be able to make it work, or was it just a lightning-strike moment destined to never be repeated?
"Seven Days in June" by Tia Williams
If mojitos are your go-to summer cocktail, it's probably because of their refreshing, citrusy lime and mint taste, which is exactly what you'll need while devouring Tia Williams's novel "Seven Days in June" ($16). Two writers unexpectedly reconnect after running into each other at a book event in Brooklyn. It's work, so they'll have to keep it professional; no one can know about the seven days that happened 15 years ago.
"Last Summer at the Golden Hotel" by Elyssa Friedland
Between IPAs, ales, stouts, ciders, and lagers, beer has a lot of personalities — much like the management and guests at the Golden Hotel, the It vacation spot in the Catskills. After 60 years, the Goldmans and Weingolds are on the brink of losing the establishment for good, and it doesn't help that they aren't getting along. Not to mention, there's a big financial hiccup no one knows about . . . yet. Elyssa Friedland's laugh-out-loud summertime title "Last Summer at the Golden Hotel" ($12) will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy all over, just like your beer flight.
"Sorry I Missed You" by Suzy Krause
If you're looking for something a little bit different this summer, then you need Suzy Krause's "Sorry I Missed You" ($9) in your life. The unconventional story follows a trio of women who live in the same rental house and have all been ghosted by someone close to them. When a letter with an illegible address lands in their mailbox, they all want it to be for them, but they have bigger problems than the letter to contend with, including ghostly sounds around their shared property.
"Exciting Times" by Naoise Dolan
Set in Hong Kong with an Irish expat protagonist, Naoise Dolan's "Exciting Times" ($14) is the story of an unconventional love triangle. At the center of the story is Ava, who works in Hong Kong as an English teacher and is in a relationship with a banker who won't say he loves her. Enter Edith, an exciting lawyer who woos Ava with flowers and her endless ambition, leaving Ava to wonder who she should really be with.
Out June 2
"The Proposal" by Jasmine Guillory
You can't go wrong with a Jasmine Guillory novel, but "The Proposal" ($10) hits it out of the park (literally) when it comes to feel-good beach reads. Instantly, readers will become infatuated with and lost in the complicated love story of Nikole Paterson and Carlos Ibarra, who first meet at a baseball game.
"The Truth and Other Hidden Things" by Lea Geller
If book characters could meet IRL, we have a feeling Lea Geller's protagonist Bells Walker would be BFFs with Lady Whistledown from Bridgerton. With two kids and a baby on the way, Bells and her husband uproot their city lifestyle for something a little more rustic out in the Hudson Valley. With lots of time on her hands, Bells starts a blog under the pseudonym County Duchess where she dishes about mom life and, of course, delivers the piping-hot town gossip. "The Truth and Other Hidden Things" ($12) explores exactly that: the truth and other hidden things — or people.
"Summer of '69" by Elin Hilderbrand
It's not truly summer until you have an Elin Hilderbrand novel in your beach bag. "Summer of '69" ($11) is her first historical novel, marrying history with the character-rich stories that make her books so compelling. The Levin family are going through quite a lot — son Tiger has been drafted, eldest sister Blair is pregnant with twins and unable to travel to Nantucket, middle sister Kirby is getting involved with the civil rights movement, and youngest sister Jessie feels utterly alone. It's a summer where nothing will ever be the same again.