The first day of summer is just days away! Summer is the perfect time to take a vacation on the beach. And no summer vacation would be complete without the perfect beach reads.
I always love to bring a book or two with me when I go on vacation. But for a summer vacation, I don’t bring just any summer books. My preferred beach books are fun and easy to read. I am not looking for the most thought-provoking and deep text. I love summer books that are light-hearted and enjoyable to read in the moment.
In my opinion, the perfect beach reads are standalone books. They absolutely cannot be part of a series. Otherwise, if it’s a great book, I will just agonize that I don’t have the next book in the series with me. So if you are like me, skip the first book in a series when you are looking for beach books.
Also, beach reads should be interesting without being too riveting. I don’t want to be too enthralled in my book that I don’t spend time enjoying the beach. I leave my most anticipated summer books for when I get back from my vacation.
So here is my list of beach reads that will satisfy any summer mood.
Beach Reads That Are Book Club Favorites
Let’s kick off this beach reads list with a book perfect for any book club summer reading list. The crotchety old A. J. Fikry is struggling in life. He is now a widow. His bookstore is failing. To top it off, his rare edition of Edgar Allan Poe has been stolen. On the verge of becoming a complete recluse, a plot twist occurs that will give Fikry a second chance at life. If your book club is looking for books to read this summer, feel free to offer this one up.
Generally, I prefer short beach books for vacation, but I think this book is enjoyable enough to earn it a spot in your suitcase. I love being swept away in good summer books, and Kate Morton always delivers. Just so you know, this book is not the same story as the Sandra Bullock romantic movie. Kate Morton’s story is set in 1933. During a big summer party, a baby boy from a wealthy family disappears from the country estate. Now, seventy years later, a police detective starts to uncover the truth of what happened at the lake house. If you are in the mood for longer beach reads, this well-written novel is worth your time.
You probably started this beach reads list expecting my choices to all be books like The Lake House. While I love fun summer reads, sometimes I’m really in the mood for a great science fiction tale. For the sci fi lovers out there, Old Man’s War deserves its place on the list of fantastic books to read this summer. John Scalzi begins with the classic science fiction premise: What If? What if old men and women could get a second life if they sign up to fight in an interstellar war? Even if you aren’t a huge science fiction reader, you should give this book a spot on your summer reading list.
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Beach Reads that will Make You Laugh
Need some funny beach reads to add to your summer reading list? Sometimes you just need a clever satire, and I promise you’ll laugh at the ridiculous Bernadette, a Seattle-area mom who takes antisocial to a whole new level. As soon as Bernadette referred to the annoying school moms as “gnats,” I knew I would love this book. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the ending. Yet, the buildup was so much fun that I still like recommending it to others. Also, since it’s one of the books becoming movies in 2019, this is definitely should be on your list of books to read this summer. Read more →
When my friend recommended this as one of the best summer reads, I was rather put off by the mouthful of a title. In spite of its long title, this wonderful novel has earned its place among the best summer reads. On the German-occupied island of Guernsey, the residents form a book club as an excuse for breaking curfew. Written as a series of letters after the war between the book club and writer Juliet Ashton, the story gives you a look at what life was like on the occupied island. I’ve written how much I love World War II novels, but if I wouldn’t consider many of my favorites as beach reads. Yet this fun novel is sure to leave you smiling at the colorful cast of characters and makes the perfect book for your summer reading list.
Beach reads don’t have to be just the latest summer bestsellers. Sometimes you’re just in the mood to reach for a classic. If you want to save space in your suitcase, nothing beats a play for a short classic. And if you want a play to make you laugh, not much beats Oscar Wilde. I’m always a fan of witty humor, and Oscar Wilde’s clever play on words starts with the title and carries on throughout the entire play. You could simply watch the movie, but why not curl up with the book from your summer reading list instead?
Young Adult Beach Reads
Is it cheating to add a middle-grade reader into my young adult beach reads? Ally Condie’s Summerlost is one of those terrific summer books you can read along with your preteens. This coming-of-age story of the healing power of friendship follows Cedar, a 12-year-old girl whose father and younger brother both recently died in a tragic accident. When Cedar meets the unusual Leo, they strike up a friendship that will carry her through the summer. Throw in a fun mystery at the local theatre festival, and you have all the ingredients of fun summer reads. A sweet story perfect for your summer reading list.
Have you ever made a snap decision that changed your life? In typical Young Adult fiction manner, Allyson, your average American teenager, meets a handsome Dutch boy Willem De Ruiter while visiting England. In the spur of the moment, she is whisked away to Paris to spend one perfect day with him. If that was the whole of the book, I wouldn’t be recommending this story on your summer reading list. However, Allyson’s journey after her perfect day is what made this one of my best summer reads. If you are a hopeless romantic and love young adult fiction, add this to your pile of books to read this summer.
You will have to settle for a vague description of this book because I don’t dare risk spoiling it for you. It has all the classic characteristics of thriller beach reads: a wealthy extended family, a private island, a tragic accident, and secrets and lies. As the protagonist Cadence slowly starts regaining her memory and all the details of what happened start becoming clear, half the fun is in trying to figure out what is going on. I enjoyed trying to piece the mystery of this book together. All I can say is that at some point, you’ll want to grab the tissues because this is one of those books that will make you cry. But that is all the spoiler you will get from me. Read more →
Beach Reads Sure to Thrill
A private jet flying from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City crashes into the ocean. The sole survivors are a young boy who is now the sole heir of his parents’ extensive fortune and Scott Burroughs, a down-and-out painter who just happened to catch a ride. I love beach reads that keep you engaged, and the mystery of why the plane crashed unfolds masterfully and keeps you wanting more. But the beauty of this book is that it is more thought-provoking than the typical summer book. It’s a commentary on the consequences of our 24-hour news cycle and the desperate need to know everything right away. One of my favorite books to read this summer. Read more →
Over the years, I’ve read most of John Grisham’s books, so you could save I am a bit of a fan. I think his books are perfect beach reads for a vacation. Since they aren’t a series, you don’t feel like you need to read them in any particular order. They are exciting enough to capture your attention without quite reaching the can’t-put-down stage. I particularly love his early books, and for the best summer reads, I recommend The Firm, a tale of a young lawyer caught up in a shady law firm. If you haven’t read John Grisham before, this is a great place to start.
If you want a quick classic mystery for your summer reading list, Agatha Christie is the way to go. You’ll have fun trying to figure out whodunit on an isolated island mansion where the suspects start dying off one by one. I’ll be impressed if you figure it out. I never do. A classic for a reason, this novel is surprisingly short, leaving you plenty of time to also enjoy swimming at the beach … or fitting in a few more beach books.
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Nonfiction Beach Reads
Why limit the best summer reads to just fiction? Nonfiction books make some fantastic light and fun beach reads. Randall Munroe’s What If? is the perfect example. From the author of the xkcd comics, What If? answers all the ridiculous questions you never thought to ask. What would happen if the moon went away? Is it that dangerous to be in a swimming pool during a thunderstorm? You’ll have fun reading this funny, clever, and factual book.
Poetry on a beach reads list! I never would have expected it either. I’m not really into poetry, which tells you this must be good if I’m recommending it with my books to read this summer. Growing up as an African-American in both South Carolina and New York during the 1960-70s, Jacqueline Woodson never truly felt at home in either place. Caught between the highly urban New York and the Southern views of South Carolina, she learned to find a place in the world balancing the best of each. Told in enchanting verse, the story of her childhood is poignant and moving. I’m not usually one for poetry, but Woodson’s eloquent lines bring her story to life.
Instead of snagging a magazine while you wait for your flight, why not grab a celebrity autobiography instead? The handsome twins Drew and Jonathan Scott of Property Brothers fame have a new memoir full of personality perfect for your summer reading list. Reading about their life, I was extremely impressed at how talented they are. Modern-day jacks-of-all-trades. The brothers alternate writing chapters, with the other brother leaving snarky comments along the way. (I’ve heard this makes the audiobook hard to follow because the two of them sound so much alike!) And it might seem silly, but I love that the hardcover edition uses high-quality paper with color images. Sometimes it’s the little things that turn a book into one of the best summer reads.
Which beach reads are on your summer reading list?