After three separate friends texted me this week asking about my favorite beach reads, I knew it was time for me to put together an official list of my recommendations.
If your brain is still in a pandemic fog, there’s no reason to “should” yourself when it comes to reading right now. I know it can feel like we “should” take this extra time at home to finally read War and Peace or Infinite Jest or Atlas Shrugged, but I’m a firm believer that all you should do this year is read whatever you’re in the mood for.
While many of us may not make it to an actual beach this year, we can still replicate the feeling of vacation by diving into some nice, easy beach reads at home. Below I’ve rounded up some of my favorite authors of light fiction as well as fifteen other books you should add to your summer reading list right now!
The Queens (and King) of Beach Reads
There are a handful of authors that I’d recommend across the board. All of their books make for great beach reads, and many of them have new books coming out this summer that I’ve already pre-ordered!
Elin Hilderbrand is known as ‘the queen of the summer beach read’, and with good reason. All of her books are set at the beach and will instantly make you feel as if you’ve got your toes in the sand. She’s extremely prolific and has written over twenty books. It won’t feel like summer’s officially here until I read her newest book, 28 Summers, which comes out in just a couple of weeks.
Am I a broken record when it comes to my love for Taylor Jenkins Reid? Um, yes. No doubt about it. But she’s just so wonderful! If you’re only going to read one of her books I’d suggest The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Or maybe One True Loves? OK, I take it back. I can’t pick just one!
Kevin Kwan is best known for his Crazy Rich Asians series. The series should definitely be read in order and then followed up with by a viewing of the movie adaption of the first book in the series. In my opinion it’s a rare case of the movie living up to the book. It’ll make you feel like you’ve taken a trip to Singapore without even leaving your couch. Kwan also has a new book coming out next month that I’m so excited to try!
When American Royals was released last fall I think everyone jumped on the Katharine McGee bandwagon. But y’all, I’ve been a fan for years! Here’s the proof. Everyone describes her books as perfect for fans of Gossip Girl and I can’t argue with that description. While so many futuristic books are just sad and dystopian, her first series, The Thousandth Floor, is pure fun. Set aside a whole weekend to read the trilogy because once you start reading you won’t be able to stop.
If you’re in the mood for some mildly steamy romance, turn to Jasmine Guillory. I’d suggest reading her books in the order in which they were published, but you certainly don’t have to. I’m hoping to read her latest book, Party of Two, this summer, but I’m anticipating a verrrry long wait for it at the library so it may end up as more of a fall beach read for me. I’ve also heard from friends that her books are good on audio!
If you’re only familiar with Sophie Kinsella from her Shopaholic series, you should really check out her standalone novels. While I won’t say that they’re fine literature, they’re all pretty cute. I especially like Remember Me.
15 Other Great Beach Reads
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I’ve told you many times before how much I love The Royal We. I’m a re-reader and this is one that I think I’ve picked up once a year since I first read it. When I found out that the authors were writing a sequel I just about lost my mind. To say that it’s one of my most anticipated beach reads this summer is an understatement.
Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson
I’ll share a full review in my May reading recap, but I just read and LOVED Matchmaking for Beginners. I’m not kidding when I say I’m counting down the days until the sequel is released next week. And the best news? Both books are free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited!
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
Are you surprised to see a book by Nick Hornby on this list? Understandable. I wouldn’t describe most of his books as beach reads but Funny Girl, set in London during the swinging 60’s, is so funny and sweet.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Evvie Drake Starts Over is one of my favorite books that I read last year. It might be the best rom-com book that I’ve ever read, although to call it that makes it seem fluffier than it is. My only complaint is that no one has optioned it to be a movie yet. Read it, let me know who you think should play Evvie, and we’ll go petition Reese Witherspoon to make our dreams come true.
Fitness Junkie and The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Fitness Junkie and The Knockoff, both co-written by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza, have very similar vibes. I guess you could say they’re about women having midlife crises? I know that doesn’t sound fun, but in the hands of these authors the topic is humorous. (PS: I’ve talked about The Knockoff before as a great choice if you’re looking for something to read in one sitting!)
The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale
I’m including The Actor and the Housewife on this list in part because I don’t think I know anyone else who’s ever read this and I want people to talk about it with! Read this if you share my fascination with Mormons or if you’ve ever thought that you and Brad Pitt would fall in love for real if only he could meet you.
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
While we’re on the topic of weird religious fascinations of mine, here’s one for anyone who’s ever been a little bit obsessed with the Duggar family. The Book of Essie may not be the sort of thing that a lot of you would gravitate to while on vacation. It can be pretty heavy at times. But it’s something I read in one sitting on a long flight a few years ago and I know lots of people have found it similarly unputdownable.
Waiting on Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Waiting on Tom Hanks is another book about a normal person who meets their celebrity crush in real life. It’s got kind of a Gilmore Girls vibe to it and I’m sure the sequel, coming July 7th, will be just as good.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Eligible is the book for classics fans who aren’t in the mood for serious reading at the moment. It’s a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Cincinnati, OH. It sounds odd, but you’ll just have to trust me on this one. But also, let’s be real – I’d read the phone book if Curtis Sittenfeld wrote it. (And yes, I’m frantically checking my mailbox for my copy of Rodham.)
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
I read Tweet Cute in February as part of my Valentine’s romance binge. It’s Young Adult and features a rivalry turned romance between two high school students, but it doesn’t feel all that juvenile. This is the perfect book for you if you can’t stop baking banana bread in lockdown!
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
Field Notes on Love is another great Young Adult read, and this one uses a true story as a jumping off point. I’m going to be honest – if you’re only going to read five books this year this doesn’t need to be one of them. But if you’re a prolific reader looking for something new and different, this one is definitely worth your time.
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
So I should preface this recommendation by saying I am not a sports person at all. However, if I was a sports fan and book lover, I think The Singles Game, a beach read about a professional tennis player, would be right up my alley. Even as someone who knows absolutely nothing about tennis, this was really enjoyable.
The Andy Cohen Diaries and Superficial by Andy Cohen
For my non-fiction fans I wanted to include the most silly and delightful pieces of non-fiction that I’ve ever read, the non-fiction I’d curl up with if I was at the beach this year – The Andy Cohen Diaries and Superficial by Bravo legend Andy Cohen. Both books are diaries of a year in the life of Andy. They are so dishy and spill all the behind-the-scenes gossip on Bravo celebs, his friends, his dog, and his craziest guests on Watch What Happens Live. I just read them last year but I have a feeling I may read them again this summer because both books really are that great.
I hope you’ve found a couple of books on this list to keep you busy this summer! Please let me know what you pick up, and I’ll continue to share what I read through my monthly reading recaps.
PS: You can find a recap of my favorite reads from a past summer here!