We’ve determined the best beach reads for your weekend tote this summer, and you basically need all of them
Sometimes you need a dense, flowery 10-pound novel to read next to a fire. Sometimes you need a thriller to keep you up way too late. But in the summer, you need a very specific type of book. Something you can toss into your tote with your towels and sunscreen. Something you can read a few pages at a time while also sipping a drink and chatting with friends. Something light and fluffy and joyful and funny and sweet.
Summer requires beach reads.
And we have them for you. Below, find our ten favorite beach reads of the summer. No brooding plots, grisly murders, or darkness are to be found here: only fun and sun. Books that feel like eating snacks by the pool, swinging in creaking hammocks, and jumping into lakes while holding hands. Wherever you’re off to this summer, make room to pack them all.
Gala is a trans woman who works at a hostel in New Mexico—and she’s a super fan of a long-lost band called the Get Happies. Obsessed with why the band broke up, and never released their last album, Summer Fun, she begins writing letters to one of the band members. So begins this epistolary, musical novel that explores the ideas of what it means to create, collaborate, and just exist as an authentic person in the world.
It doesn’t get beachier than this: an entire book that revolves around an epic end-of-summer party, thrown by the famous Riva family on the beaches of Malibu. In this 24-hour period, you’ll meet the four adult children of famed rocker Mick Riva—all of whom are at crossroads in their lives—and get to experience the biggest bash of the year in Malibu. And we can’t not mention: it all takes place in the 1980s.
Want your beach read to be a completely feel-good romance that will have you laughing and smiling from beginning to end? This is the pick for you. From the author of the also-fabulous Beach Read comes People We Meet On Vacation—the story of two unlikely friends, Alex and Poppy, who go on a vacation every summer together no matter where they are in their lives. Okay, yes, you can probably guess how this one ends, but it’s all about the journey (or, literally, the vacation) for this light, fun tale.
As teenagers, Eva and Shane spent one hot week together, madly in love—but it didn’t work out. Now, 15 years later, they are both successful writers with lives of their own. But when they meet again, they can’t help but rekindle what they started years ago. If you want something super steamy to go with your tropical vacation, or if you are all about reading about creatives in high society, this is your best pick.
Written by Jennifer Weiner, one of the bosses of the beach read, That Summer is a page-turner about female friendship that will make afternoons at your kids’ swim lessons fly by. The story centers around Daisy and Diana, two women thrown together simply because they have a very similar email address. But as the story unfolds, we discover that something more tangible does connect the women—and they might truly need each other. While this is an addictive read with a beach on the cover, this one gets deep, and is the perfect summer read pick for someone who likes a little more seriousness in their story.
Lady Sunshine mixes 70s nostalgia, artist compounds, and endless summer days for a shimmering, light-speckled novel about creativity, friendship, and belonging. The story follows Jackie, a woman who once spent a summer on her uncle’s artsy California estate The Sandcastle, before returning to her normal life. Now, years later, she’s inherited The Sandcastle, and she can’t help but return, emotionally, to that magical summer as she prepares the estate for sale. At the same time, there’s a page-turning plot involving the mysterious end to that first summer, and you won’t stop reading until you find out exactly what happened.
You can’t have a summer of reading without a family saga—and this one hits the spot. Taking place in 1930s Atlantic City, we follow Esther Adler and her two daughters as they navigate one summer filled with tragedy, secrecy, and survival. Poignant and richly-told, this is the summer beach pick if you want a tale that is focused on gripping, beautiful storytelling above all else.
If you want your summer read to have you howling out loud, Dial ‘A’ For Auntie is your pick. This is genre-bending caper comedy with some romance worked in, too. Think The Hangover meets Finlay Donovan Is Killing It. Meddilin Chan is in for the worst (best?) weekend of her life when she accidentally kills a blind date and has her four aunties try to help her stay out of jail—but everything is complicated by the fact that the family business is wedding planning, and the biggest union of the summer needs to go off without a flaw.
For the Goldman and Weingold families, summers at the Golden Hotel in the Catskills has been not only tradition but also the family business. But times are changing and the hotel is falling out of favor (and falling apart). This family drama-comedy tells the story of one summer through the eyes of all of its participants one at a time—and it’s so engrossing that you’ll burn through it before your own vacation ends.