All reading is escapist, but there's nothing quite as simply delectable and satisfying as a summer read.
Though we may not all be able to spend our summers laying on a towel by some Mediterranean beach with a novel in hand, there is, without a doubt, a universal specialness – a vibe, if you will – about summer reading.
Captivating summer reads enhance any sun-kissed setting, whether in the sweltering heat on a backyard porch or under the lazy rays of a coastal sun.
What Makes It a Summer Read
There's probably an essay or two that deftly details the minute elements that make a book a perfect read from June to September. Yet the real magic behind a great summer vacation read is a book that demands nothing but to be enjoyed: no pretense, no pressure, and no lengthy analysis required—just the thrill of free falling into disarming storytelling.
While waiting for spring showers to melt the winter away, there's no better time to put together a summer reading list while pining after our next summer road trip or beachside getaway.
With that in mind, these book recommendations will help start your list with the best books across many genres that will keep you riveted all summer.
Brand New Beach Reads
Shiny new books to add to your reading list will have you counting the days to vacation. There is never a shortage of amazing new releases best enjoyed with a cheeky summer cocktail in hand. Summer looks great with a promising selection of great reads perfect for packing in your beach bag.
“Hula” by Jasmin Iolani Hakes
Set in beautiful Hilo, Hawaii, “Hula” is a vivacious coming-of-age story about Hi'i, a young woman born into a revered family on the Big Island. But a mysterious disappearance and years of fallout have stretched this family's bond to breaking point. Hi'i hopes that by infusing her island's generational traditions in the Miss Aloha Hula competition, she can be worthy of restoring her family dynasty. n
“The Three of Us” by Ore Agbaje-Williams
Now here is a beach read that promises tea and tension. This summer, Ore Agbaje-Williams gifts us a comedic domestic drama about the bitter tension between a husband, his wife, and her best friend. As you can imagine, a thrilling spectacle ensues throughout the course of a single day.
“Loot” by Tania James
Abbas is a gifted carpenter and woodcarver commissioned to build a massive wooden tiger automaton by Sultan Tipu to commemorate his sons' return from British captivity. This commission changes this young man's life and even takes him to Europe. But the Tiger, a symbol of India's fortune, is plundered by British forces and displayed in some English Countryside Estate. Abbas embarks on a quest to retrieve his – and India's – pride possession.
“All-Night Pharmacy” by Ruth Madievsky
“All-Night Pharmacy” is Los Angeles depravity: sex, drugs, and desperate actor types. But at the core, this is the story of two sisters as they hurtle towards adulthood, contend with their decisions, and call into question their sisterhood.
“Bad Summer People” by Emma Rosenblum
What happens when a body turns up off the side of the boardwalk on a luxurious island inhabited by beautiful, rich, and maliciously manipulative people? Everyone on Fire Island has something to hide. You can expect this suspicious death to send all their manicured lives ablaze.
Beachside Classics for Your Summer Reading List
New reads are great, but nothing is more comforting than a worn, classic summer read that can be tossed into our totes on a backpacking adventure or afternoon at the lake.
‘’Beautiful Ruins’’ by Jess Walters
In “Beautiful Ruins,” two stories are woven into one. On an Italian coast in 1962, a young man is mesmerized by a young American actress who walks into his hotel for the filming of Cleopatra. Fifty years later, in Los Angeles, this Italian man, now an elderly gentleman, sets out to find the actress he last saw in his hotel half a century ago. “Beautiful Ruins” is an endearing tale of long-lost love and the classic entrapments of Hollywood.
‘’Gone Girl’’ by Gillian Flynn
Over a decade later, “Gone Girl” remains one of the most enthralling thrillers and a book club favorite. Amy and Nick's is the portrait of a perfect marriage. Still, Amy's sudden disappearance and presumed death spark an investigation that exposes many bitter secrets. But who is really the victim here?
‘’Red Island House’’ by Andrea Lee
Shay's husband, Senna, has built her a beautiful vacation home in the island nation of Madagascar. American-born Shay is happy to play the carefree observer of people's lives around her. But as she returns year after year with her husband and children, Shay becomes deeply attached to the island, its magic, and its myths. And, as the collision of cultures becomes fraught, Shay must make a choice.
‘’The Girls’’ by Emma Cline
It's summertime in 1960-something, and young Evie Boyd finds herself drawn to Suzanne and her friends, mesmerizing older girls and their embodiment of freedom. Blinded by her fascination with Suzanne and desperation for acceptance, Evie does not realize she gravitates to unimaginable violence.
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It's wealth and opulence. It is an indescribable obsession and desperation. Set in the lavishness of the 1920s jazz age, “The Great Gatsby” follows a young Nick Carraway as he falls into the world of millionaire Jay Gatsby. Gatsby's sole motivation is to reunite with an old lover, Daisy Buchanan.
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Get ready for a journey through the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's golden age with this captivating novel. The story follows the life of legendary film star Evelyn Hugo and her rise to fame through seven tumultuous marriages. With secrets and scandals lurking around every corner, readers will hang onto every twist and turn of this dazzling and dramatic story.
Best Beach Reads From Last Summer
As the summer season approaches, it's time to reminisce about some of the best beach books from last year that made my sun-soaked days even more enjoyable.
“Something Wilder” by Christina Lauren
Looking for a summer romance with a little more excitement? Check out Christina Lauren's latest release, a Western adventure filled with unexpected twists and turns. This departure from their usual rom-com style is perfect for fans of the author duo who are ready for something new. This book is the ultimate beach read with plenty of action and romance.
“One Italian Summer” by Lori Nelson Spielman
This heartwarming and inspiring summer beach read will take you to the beautiful Italian countryside. Join three generations of women as they navigate personal challenges and embark on a journey of discovery, healing, and love. This feel-good novel will leave you with a smile on your face and a renewed appreciation for the power of forgiveness and the importance of family.
“Carrie Soto Is Back” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This novel is a must-read for the summer if you're a fan of Reid's previous hits. Following retired tennis player Carrie Soto as she attempts a comeback at age 37 to defend her world record of 20 Grand Slam titles, this novel is a story about the cost of greatness and one legendary athlete's journey to reclaim her status. Take advantage of this unforgettable and riveting novel that may not have been on your book list last season.
“The Spanish Love Deception” by Elena Armas
With a mixture of humor, romance, and complex relationships, this steamy summer romance is the perfect addition to your beach reading list. The novel follows the story of Catalina Martín, who needs a date to her sister's wedding after lying about having an American boyfriend. Enter Aaron Blackford, her colleague who surprisingly offers to be her date. As the wedding draws closer, Catalina begins to see Aaron in a new light, leading to a captivating and addictive storyline.
Let The Cover Speak for Itself With These Summer Books
Let's face it, sometimes choosing the perfect summer book is about how well the cover will accessorize with your other summer essentials. This one is for the great summer reads with even greater covers.
“Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams
New Yorker Eva Mercy is a best-selling erotica author who feels stifled by her literary creations. Shane Hall is an award-winning author and recluse. Shane and Eva share a past marred by trauma that both have long since buried. But Shane's arrival in New York forces them to reckon with their scars and undeniable chemistry for a second chance at love.
“You Are Here” by Karin Lin-Greenberg
A sense of loss slowly creeps into the lives of an upstate New York Community as their once vibrant shopping mall prepares to close indefinitely. A stylist at the mall's hair salon, Tina dreams of becoming a visual artist. Kevin, a bookstore manager, reels from a marital crisis with his wife. And Ro, a little old widow, uses the mall to cope with loneliness. “You Are Here” depicts a community in transition and the conflicts and connections that evolve along the way.
“House of Cotton” by Monica Brashears
Magnolia is young, broke, and alone. Her life takes a turn for the strange when a mysterious man named Cotton hires her to model as a recently deceased woman to provide a grieving family with comfort. There's no reason for Magnolia to say no. But Cotton's requests still become stranger, and Magnolia realizes there may be more at stake than she thought.
“Popisho” by Leone Ross
“Popisho” is an archipelago on a warm sea filled with exquisite beauty and undeniable corruption. It is a place of magic and chaos. In the space of a day, journey across the island and its history as its residents prepare to face a brewing storm.
No matter your summer destination, these great beach reads – and many more – will provide you with endless entertainment and bookstagram opportunities throughout the summer months, whether you prefer a sweltering murder mystery or an idyllic summer romance. There are still a few months to go before summer but don't let that stop you from heading to your local bookstore or library to pick up your most anticipated summer reads.
Before You Go
Check out these related stories for more beach inspiration:
- Best Texas Beach Resorts for Your Summer Getaway
- Lively Beach: Boutique Resort on Mustang Island
- How to Plan the Best Trip to Destin Florida
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.