18 Books Every Mom Needs in Her Beach Bag This Summer
You've packed the juice boxes, the snacks, the kid-friendly sunscreen, the sand toys, and the goggles (along with about 50 other things); don't forget a little something just for mom: a can't-put-it-down, everyone's-talking-about-it book of the Summer. The following 18 reads are perfect for your next trip to the pool or the beach, full of stories that every mom can completely relate to or has totally fantasized about.
Keep reading to find the books you need to pick up before you head out to your next sun-filled vacation, and be sure to warn your kiddos that they're building that next sandcastle solo.
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn
Part memoir, part self-help book, How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids ($27) will make you laugh out loud and knowingly nod your head as journalist Jancee Dunn tries to bring her marriage back from the brink after realizing that having a baby has had the side effect of making her despise her well-meaning but totally clueless husband. After consulting the country's most renowned couples' and sex therapists, fellow parents, and even an FBI hostage negotiator on how to contain an "explosive situation," Dunn and her husband realize that kids require you to reevaluate your marriage — and their journey will reassure you that success is possible.
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
Every parent's worst nightmare comes to life as two couples take their four kids — ages 6 to 11 — on a cruise, then lose them when they go ashore for an adventure in Central America. Told from both the parents' and children's perspectives, Do Not Become Alarmed ($27) is one of the most buzzed-about books of the Summer for good reason, highlighting how our power as parents has its limits.
The Gypsy Mother Summer by Julia Fierro
It's the Summer of 1992 on Avalon Island, an islet off the coast of New York's Long Island, when a gypsy moth infestation takes over. The ravenous caterpillars are all anyone can think and talk about, when another arrival disrupts the island even further. The daughter of one of Avalon's most prominent families returns, with her African-American husband and biracial children in tow, upsetting the balance between the haves and have-nots on opposite sides of the tracks. Covering issues of race, class, and privilege, The Gypsy Moth Summer ($27) is a sweeping novel about a Summer that changes everything.
The Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton
The Misfortune of Marion Palm ($26) is a superentertaining story of a Brooklyn Heights wife and mother of two who has managed to steal $180,000 from her daughters' private school, money she's used to pay for fancy vacations, exercise equipment, and even a Sub-Zero refrigerator. When the school faces an audit, she pulls piles of cash from her hiding places and goes on the lam, leaving behind her trust-fund poet husband, his maybe-secret lover, her two daughters, and an irate school board.
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
What would happen if we took the phrase "it takes a village" to the next level and raised our children collectively, without telling them who their biological parents are? It's an interesting question raised by Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang, in Perfect Little World ($27). Pregnant recent high school grad Isabelle Poole is bright enough to know she can be a good mother but has none of the resources to make that happen, when she meets Dr. Preston Grind, an awkward, charming child psychologist, who convinces her to join The Infinite Family Project and raise her son in a wholly unconventional way.
Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown
When a beautiful Berkeley mom disappears on a hike, her husband and daughter are left to deal with the aftermath in Watch Me Disappear ($27). Her husband, Jonathan, copes by writing a memoir of their life together. Her daughter, Olive, begins experiencing strange visions of her mother in which she is alive. While Jonathan worries about Olive's mental stability, he joins her on a journey to discover the truth about his wife, with twists and turns that will keep you guessing.
Saints For All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
J. Courtney Sullivan (bestselling author of Maine) dives into a fascinating, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking world of family secrets, sacrifice, and love with Saints For All Occasions ($27). The story follows sisters Nora and Theresa Flynn, who are 21 and 17 when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Fifty years later, after making a decision with ramifications neither sister could have predicted, they come back together after a sudden death.
The Girls by Emma Cline
The Girls ($27) follows Northern California teenager Evie Boyd during the violent end of the 1960s. You'll be fascinated as Evie is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader and even more fascinated by her mother's complete obliviousness as her daughter comes closer and closer to unthinkable violence.
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Working mothers will totally relate to A Window Opens ($27), from Glamour magazine books editor Elisabeth Egan. Mother of three and part-time editor Alice Pearse longs to have it all, and when her husband makes a big career change, she knows it's her time to lean in by taking a job at a hip young start-up that promises to be the future of reading. As her life becomes more and more like a three-ring circus, Alice realizes that maybe the question shouldn't be whether she can have it all, but what does she really want?
Lying to Children by Alex Shahla
A fictional father recounts his hilarious family history to his college-aged children in author Alex Shahla's Lying to Children ($14). A hilarious celebration of suburban families and the reality of raising kids, you'll laugh out loud at the interconnected vignettes, centered around the untruths parents regularly tell their children (i.e. "Daddy Loves his Job" and "There's a Jolly Fat Man who Brings You Presents (Assembly Required)."
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott's suspenseful, thought-provoking You Will Know Me ($26) is a story about the Knox family, including exceptional teenager Devon, a gymnast whose talents dominate her parents' and brother's lives as she dreams of Olympic gold. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community, everything the family has worked for and sacrificed is suddenly at risk. Devon's mom, Katie, tries frantically to hold her family together while also uncovering information about the crime, forcing her to consider what price she's willing to pay to achieve Devon's dream.
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
Claire Fuller's Swimming Lessons ($26) is a literary mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. Wife and mother of two Ingrid writes letters to her husband about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected at their house by the sea. When she's written her final letter, she disappears and is assumed to have drowned. More than a decade later, her daughter attempts to discover the truth behind her mother's disappearance.
Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Ever fantasized about getting in your car and, instead of dealing with dinner and bedtime, just driving into the sunset? Then you'll love Gayle Forman's Leave Me ($27). Stressed-out working mom Maribeth Klein is so busy taking care of her husband and twins she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack, and when her family can't deal with the recovery, she packs a bag and leaves. With distance from her family and career, Maribeth is able to see her life from a different perspective. You'll love the wonderful characters that permeate this book and the core question: what happens when a mother runs away from home?
The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares
Who said YA books are just for kids? Check out The Whole Thing Together ($19) from bestselling author Ann Brashares of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. A novel about a fractured family's Long Island Summer, this book tackles class differences, betrayal, and the unusual paths we can follow to find love.
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Still hoping for a sequel to Big Little Lies? (We are, too.) In the meantime, check out the author Liane Moriarty's newest book Truly Madly Guilty ($27), another edge-of-your-seat story about how a single night can put cracks in the lives of seemingly perfect families. Read it now, and you'll be all set for the screen adaption, currently in the works from Big Little Lies stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.
Sleepless Nights and Kisses For Breakfast by Matteo Bussola
A bestseller in Italy, Sleepless Nights and Kisses For Breakfast: Reflections on Fatherhood ($18) is now available in the US. Author Matteo Bussola, an architect turned cartoonist, shares his sweet observations about parenting his three young daughters, ages 2 to 8. Beautifully written, the book reminds us to savor the ordinary moments of family life.
The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green
In The Sunshine Sisters ($26), Jane Green introduces us to Ronni Sunshine, a London-born girl turned Hollywood megastar and the mother of three daughters who grew up in her immense shadow. After Ronni discovers she's dying, she summons her three kids home to make amends. Will these very different women be able to come together for their mother's final bow?
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
Thirteen-year-old Julie is kidnapped from her home in the middle of the night at the beginning of this psychological thriller, Good as Gone ($23). When she returns home eight years later, her doubtful mother, stalwart father, and younger sister, who witnessed the kidnapping silently, must wrestle with what Julie's return means for their family and whether she really is who she claims to be.