28 Best Books for Beach Reading: Find Your Next Vacation Novel

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sun and surf with this list of the best books for beach reading, guaranteed to help you soak in the rays of summer and unwind.

Going to the beach is a favorite activity in the summer. Sitting on a chair in the sun or lounging on a towel under an umbrella is a wonderful place to be, with the sound of the waves helping you unwind and relax. Many people consider the beach the best place to read, and there’s no question why.

When you are free from distractions, you can open a new book or pull out your Kindle to explore your favorite genre. No matter what type of book you like reading, there is a beach read for you. Our article will help narrow down some options for your next beach read and guide you on the best beach reading books for your next summer or vacation trip. Many of these are potential additions to our list of classic books to read

1. Beach Read by Emily Henry

What better way to begin summer reading than with a book entitled Beach Read? In this romance novel by Emily Henry, two authors, Augustus and January, stars in polar opposite genres, are stuck living next to each other while on a three-month-long beach vacation. As the summer goes on, they begin to notice new things about each other, and what started as an exercise to expand their creativity turns into romance.

“I’ve never met someone who is so perfectly my favorite person.”

Emily Henry, Beach Read

2. Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron

Just One Look is a thriller that takes you into the mind of an obsessive personality. Cassie is obsessed with finding the perfect partner, and when she comes across personal emails. However, Cassie soon decides that just watching isn’t enough anymore, and she must take Annabelle’s place for herself.

“Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul. Emails are.”

Lindsay Cameron

3. The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta

In The View was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta, we explore the fictional lives of Hollywood stars who struggle to keep up appearances. While life on the red carpet might seem glamorous and romantic, actress Whitman and her playboy boyfriend, Leo, it’s far from the truth. But when secrets rise to the surface, the two are forced to confront their feelings while maintaining their images to the press.

“I’m always on your side. You just forget sometimes.”

Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta, The View was Exhausting

4. James Patterson: The Stories of My Life by James Patterson

James Patterson
James Patterson via Wikipedia, Public Domain

This autobiographical book, James Patterson: The Stories of My Life, looks at the man behind the cover. This book details the people he met, the moments that made him, and all the steps he took to become one of the world’s bestseller writers. Filled with plenty of humor and moving moments, this memoir is a great book to take to the beach and dive into.

“The day, and it was a day, that writing started to be fun for me, the day things began to really click, was the day I stopped trying to write sentences and started writing stories.”

James Patterson, James Patterson: The Stories of My Life

5. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Katherine Center
Katherine Center via Wikipedia, Public Domain

In The Bodyguard, a rom-com by Katherine Center, Hannah might not look like a bodyguard but has proven herself as one of the most dangerous people in the world. Her latest job is working for model Jack Stapleton. When Jack needs to head home to visit his family, he doesn’t want them to know he needs a bodyguard, so Hannah is forced to pretend to be Jack’s girlfriend to keep him safe and hide her cover.

“You can’t make people love you. But you can give the love you long for out to the world. You can be the love you wish you had. That’s the way to be okay. Because giving love to other people is a way of giving it to yourself.”

Katherine Center, The Bodyguard

6. Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman
Laura Lippman via Wikipedia, Public Domain

After author Gerry Adam has a freak accident that leaves him bed-bound, he receives strange phone calls. He knows Aubrey is a made-up character from his novel, but why is she calling him? As he tries to keep the past and present separated and figure out what is going on, the caller keeps threatening him. Dream Girl by Laura Lippman is a fantastic slow-burn psychological thriller that will keep you guessing.

“No one uses words correctly and if you call them on it, they claim that words are fungible, that it’s oppressive and prissy not to let words mean whatever the speaker wishes them to mean.”

Laura Lippman, Dream Girl

7. Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Nora Hamilton’s world has just been turned upside down after her husband walks out on her. But as a romance channel screenwriter, she takes matters into her own hands. When a major studio picks up her story, she’s shocked to meet former Sexiest Man Alive Leo Vance. It becomes clear to Nora that she needs to take life into her own hands and learn how to love again in Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan, a great summer beach read.

“I like the way he notices things. A noticer is a person who can never be entirely self-absorbed.”

Annabel Monaghan, Nora Goes Off Script

8. Lucy Checks In by Dee Ernst

Lucy Checks In by Dee Ernst is a must-read novel where Lucy takes the fall for a high-profile love affair and ruins her personal life and career. Without anywhere else to go, she travels to France to begin working at the rundown Hotel Paradis. Will she be able to find friends, love, and happiness once again? This novel explores the idea of starting over at an older age and gives readers a feel-good story about finding your place in life.

If you enjoyed our round-up of the best books for beach reading, you might also enjoy our list of the best Zen books to expand your knowledge in meditation.

“Napoléon did his part, sitting patiently and watching. As I backed out of their room and turned off the light, he shot me a look, suggesting what a martyr must do for love and country.”

Dee Ernst, Lucy Checks In

9. My Summer Darlings by May Cobb

In My Summer Darlings by May Cobb, three best friends in small-town Texas sit around and drink wine together, wishing their little town would offer some excitement other than ungrateful children and approaching middle age. That’s when Will Harding comes to town, providing plenty of fascination and disruption for all three women. However, Will’s true intentions might be more sinister and deadly than they envisioned.

“I heard him before I saw him. He arrived in the middle of a hot, balmy morning, a week ago today, the low rumble of his 1967 Chevy pickup snaking around the block as I was bent over, twisting the rusty nozzle on the garden hose.”

Dee Ernst, Lucy Checks In

10. We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

Andrea Bartz
Andrea Bartz via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Pack your beach bag with this thrilling novel entitled We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz, featuring backpacking best friends Emily and Kristen. On the last night of their trip, Emily returns to find a room covered in blood, and Kristen tells a story about being attacked and forced to defend herself. The problem? The same thing happened the previous year, and now Emily is wondering if there’s something off about Kristen that she has never noticed before.

“All the hand-wringing about women tempting fate by going on adventures, how it was our responsibility to protect ourselves… wasn’t it simply a way to keep women’s lives small? To keep us cowering at home, controlled, contained?”

Andrea Bartz, We Were Never Here

11. A Theater for Dreamers by Polly Samson

Polly Samson
Polly Samson via Wikipedia, Public Domain

In A Theater for Dreamers by Polly Samson, a young woman named Erica travels to the Greek island of Hydra in 1960, where poets, musicians, and painters revel in their dreams and praise their leaders for providing them with a paradise. However, Erica soon discovers there is more to this paradise than free love and artistic revolution. This historical fiction novel explores themes of art, culture, politics, and innocence in a beautiful setting and is a great beach read.

“We were heady with ideals, drunk with hopes of our languorous lope into a future that had learnt from its past.”

Polly Samson, A Theater for Dreamers

12. Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert is a classic tale of opposites attract. Eve Brown is the youngest of three sisters who can’t seem to get it together. She ends up at a B&B run by the strict and in-control Jacob Wayne, who isn’t sure how to handle the unpredictable Eve. However, when an encounter ends with a broken arm, Jacob is forced to allow Eve into his life, as the two become closer over time.

“I told you before, that there are different ways to fail. Imperfection is inevitable. That’s life. But it doesn’t sound to me like you failed at all, Eve. It sounds like your dream broke, and you’ve been picking up shattered pieces, and blaming yourself when your hands bleed.”

Talia Hibbert, Act Your Age, Eve Brown

13. We Want What We Want: Stories by Alix Ohlin

Alix Ohlin
Alix Ohlin via Wikipedia, Public Domain

We Want What We Want by Alix Ohlin is a short story collection that looks at the lives of thirteen people who have stumbled into the strangest moments of their lives. From a girl who returns home to find her father hooking up with her best friend to a woman who tries to rescue her cousin from a cult only to be drawn in herself, this book explores the fun, dark, and beautiful moments in the lives of different individuals.

“She was used to a constant exchange of friends and lovers, and the idea that one of these relationships should be considered permanent struck her as inconsiderate.”

Talia Hibbert, Act Your Age, Eve Brown

14. What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins

In What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins, two parents are forced to come to terms with the shocking death of their sons in a murder-suicide. Desperate to find answers, both parties are disturbed when a girl comes onto the scene claiming to have spent the summer with the boys before the tragedy. Desperate to understand what caused the problem, the two turn to each other to find the truth.

“The mystery of whether a life can turn on a single touch given or withheld.”

Joanne Tompkins, What Comes After

15. The Son of Mr. Sulemen by Eric Jerome Dickey

Eric Jerome Dickey
Eric Jerome Dickey via Wikipedia, Public Domain

In this final novel by Eric Jerome Dickey, The Son of Mr. Sulemen tells the story of a Black man from Memphis named Pi trying to survive in 2019. He’s forced to constantly bite his tongue and ignore the prejudice he faces at work and in the world. At the same time, he’s being blackmailed by another professor who knows that no one will believe him if the truth is revealed. After his father’s death, it’s time for Pi to discover who he really is.

“When gods became bored in heaven they walked among mortals.”

Eric Jerome Dickey, The Son of Mr. Sulemen

16. The Guncle by Steven Rowley

In The Guncle by Steven Rowley, Patrick is forced to take custody of his niece and nephew after a tragedy strikes. Overwhelmed, Patrick needs to learn to be a responsible parent and move from the fun uncle to the primary caretaker of two young children. It’s a beautiful novel exploring grief and new parenthood as Patrick, Maisie, and Grant learn to live as a family and take new steps to become happy together.

“Grief orbits the heart. Some days the circle is greater. Those are the good days. You have room to move and dance and breathe. Some days the circle is tighter. Those are the hard ones.”

Steven Rowley, The Guncle

17. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix
Grady Hendrix via Wikipedia, Public Domain

For fans of 80s slasher horror and final girls in general, The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix is right up your alley. In this murder mystery story, girls who have survived encounters with killers form a support group to keep each other going in the wake of their trauma. However, when one girl doesn’t show up for a meeting, it becomes clear that the past is beginning to repeat itself, and new horrors await.

“Men don’t have to pay attention the way we do. Men die because they make mistakes. Women? We die because we’re female.”

Grady Hendrix, The Final Girl Support Group

18. The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

In The Wolf and Woodsman by Ava Reid, Hungarian and Jewish mythology come together in a beautiful take on imagination. Evike doesn’t have powers like the rest of her community, which makes her an outcast. She is betrayed by her neighbors and offered as a sacrifice to the Woodsmen, but she’s forced to form an unlikely alliance with one of the Woodsmen when they are attacked along the route.

“All that talk of quiet obedience is for their benefit, not yours. They don’t have to go to the effort of striking you down if you’re already on your knees.”

Ava Reid, The Wolf and Woodsman

19. Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

In Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by author Alexis Hall, Rosaline manages to grab a spot as a contestant in a baking show. Embroiled in friendly competition and an emerging love triangle, it soon becomes clear to Rosaline that this is no ordinary baking competition, and her life will soon change forever.

“That’s the thing with putting yourself out of your comfort zone: once you get there, you’re like, Now I’m uncomfortable, what am I supposed to be doing?”

Alexis Hall, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake

20. The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

In this novel by Adele Myers, entitled The Tobacco Wives, a dressmaker finds herself taking matters into her own hands and investigating the town’s elite during her summer vacation. It’s a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat and entertain you while relaxing at the beach.

“Knowledge is power, she had argued. And conversely, the withholding of knowledge is an act of oppression.”

Adele Myers, The Tobacco Wives

21. Fake by Erica Katz

Fake by Erica Katz is a mystery story that tells the tale of Emma Caan, who creates copies of famous artwork for a living. However, one day, a wealthy collector comes and offers her a chance to change her life. When things go wrong, Emma is forced to fend for herself in high society and turn things around to her benefit.

“Life is complicated. That’s why we have art. To help us make sense of it”

Erica Katz, Fake

22. One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Sometimes the best beach reads take place right on the beach. In the fantasy novel One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle, a woman travels to Hotel Poseidon in Italy to grieve her mother’s death, marriage, and life. Once there, she meets a woman who reminds her of her mother but is decades younger. Together, the two new friends take off on a magical journey to learn and discover the true power of friendship and family.

“My mother, you see, is the great love of my life.”

Rebecca Serle, One Italian Summer

23. The It Girl by Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware via Wikipedia, Public Domain

In The It Girl by Ruth Ware, a group of college friends are forced to come back together after years apart. When Hannah Jones’s friend April was killed when they were students at Oxford a decade ago, she thought she had finally moved on. However, when new evidence indicates the wrong man went to jail for the crime, Hannah and her friends reunite to figure out whodunit, even if it means unveiling long-hidden secrets.

“But perhaps that is why she loves him so much—the unattainability of him, the rare flashes of vulnerability that he reserves for her alone.”

Ruth Ware, The It Girl

24. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

If Hitchcock and Christie are your idols, then The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James is the beach read for you! This story follows a true crime blogger named Shea, who gets the opportunity to meet an acquitted killer in a dark mansion. What follows is spine-tingling suspense that will delightfully creep you out and make you glad you’re sitting out in the sunlight.

“It made no sense, but guilt doesn’t have to. It simply exists, weighing you down and choking you until you can’t breathe anymore.”

Simone St. James, The Book of Cold Cases

25. Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

For readers looking for a heist book, then Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li will deliver. A group of Chinese-American students is offered a job to steal back a piece of Asian artwork, but complications soon arise. This story of friendship and identity is the perfect beach read and keeps you turning the page. Are you looking for more books to binge on your beach trip? Check out our round-up of the best mystical books! Or use the search bar at the top right of the page to search for the best book topics you are interested in.

“For all that people in power claim to care about looting, it doesn’t seem to matter when it’s museums doing it.”

Grace D. Li, Portrait of a Thief

26. It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark

Georgia Clark
Georgia Clark via Wikipedia, Public Domain

In It Had to Be You by author Georgia Clark, intertwining love stories follow Liv and Savannah, two rivals now forced to work together in a wedding-planning business in Brooklyn. While Liv and Savannah aren’t a match made in heaven at first, they begin to adapt to each other as they help couples around the city find true love.

“I like this… Let’s always believe in the best in each other. That’s how we’ll make it work.”

Georgia Clark, It Had to Be You

27. A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin

In A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin, a secret club for exclusive ladies exists in New York City. When journalist Jillian gets a chance to explore the club for herself, she learns that dark secrets hide behind the girl boss exterior of the club, and she might have taken on more than she can handle.

“Sometimes, to make something strong, we have to tear out the rot in the foundation and start again.”

Laura Hankin, A Special Place for Women

28. One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver tells the story of columnist Cleo Wolder, who plans a solo retreat only to discover that Mack Sullivan, a man soul-searching for deeper meaning, also books her vacation rental. While the two clashes at first, they soon begin to think differently of each other as they spend more time together.

“Life is the stuff that happens in the cracks between your plans and expectations.”

Josie Silver, One Night on the Island

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best romance authors!