20 Great Beach Reads

Beach reads mean different things to different people, but since we are the ones making this list, we’ll define it the way we want! In general, we prefer our beach reads to provide an escape from reality, to be easy to read, and to be page turners (i.e., you can’t wait to see what happens next). We also have a bias toward the new when it comes to beach reads so all of these books were published in the last two years. Enjoy!

Printable list
Last updated 5/20/2022

Picture of book cover for The HomewreckersThe Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews
From Booklist: “Young widow Hattie Kavanaugh just lost her shirt on her last attempted renovation of a historic house in Savannah, so she’s desperate enough to accept Mo Lopez’s offer to star in her own show on the Home Place Television Network. Though the network lets her best friend, Cass, stay on as foreman, they bring on hotshot designer Trae Bartholomew to spice things up in the house and maybe with Hattie, too. Unfortunately, the beach house they are renovating on Tybee Island is a total disaster, and the network’s time line is tighter than the budget. Then Cass finds a wallet hidden in a wall, one that belonged to their favorite English teacher, who went missing their senior year. That, plus an overzealous inspector and a mysterious dumpster fire, makes it seem like this renovation is doomed, too. Andrews’ latest, after The Newcomer (2021), is a frothy combination of a hectic old-house-renovation story and a cozy mystery with a hint of romance centered around a likable heroine who has been holding too many feelings at bay. A perfect summer escape.”
Picture of book cover for Honey and SpiceHoney and Spice by Bolu Babalola
From Publisher’s Weekly: “*Starred Review* Screenwriter Babalola follows up the collection Love in Color with a vivacious and romantic debut novel about a young Black British woman. Kiki Banjo is a second-year student at Whitewell College, and though Kiki zealously guards her own affections, she isn’t afraid to dish out relationship advice to members of Whitewell’s African-Caribbean Society (jokingly dubbed “Blackwell”). Her campus radio show, Brown Sugar, meanwhile, blends Kiki’s brand of spicy, sharp-tongued wisdom with the perfect R&B song for any amorous dilemma. But the ambitious Kiki may have met her match when her favorite professor suggests she pair up on a collaboration with transfer student Malakai Korede. Malakai is an aspiring filmmaker whose undeniable talents (and stunning good looks) hardly make up for being cocky and annoying, but she eventually proposes the two of them pretend to pair up romantically as well, their fake relationship serving as fodder for both of their professional projects. Suffused with music and pop culture references (thanks in large part to Kiki’s vast musical knowledge and her talent for puns), their repartee is quick and clever, with the verbal sparring heightening their physical attraction and making the sexy and effervescent story emotionally intimate and hilarious in turn. Babalola’s expert handling of the messy vulnerability and joyful exuberance of young love makes this a winner.”
Picture of book cover for It's Been a Pleasure, Noni BlakeIt’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian
From Publisher’s Weekly: “*Starred Review* Christian’s delightful sophomore outing (after A Beautiful Mess) is a vibrant story of self discovery. After Noni Blake’s nine-year relationship fizzles out, Noni, a plus-sized, bisexual teacher, is ready to jump back into the dating scene. She creates a list of people she wishes she’d slept with when she had the chance and sets out to amend these missed connections on a semester-long vacation during which she’ll travel from Australia to the U.K. But when a string of disappointing sexual encounters culminates in sleeping with her college crush only to discover that the woman has a girlfriend, Noni changes her focus from romance to the pursuit of pleasure. Her quest for joy sees her buying lingerie, eating without guilt, and posing in a nude photo shoot. But she’s unprepared for Beau, a brazen Scottish tattoo artist, to weasel his way into her heart. As their fling grows serious, Noni must figure out how to carry the pleasure she’s found on vacation into her daily life. Noni is equally sincere and hilarious as she learns to be true to herself, and Beau’s unwavering support is sure to make readers swoon. Both a celebration of pleasure and a dissection of the restrictions people place on their own lives, this is sure to capture readers’ hearts.”
Picture of book cover for The View Was ExhaustingThe View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta
From Booklist: “*Starred Review* Married couple Clements and Datta use a playful trope to confront weighty issues in their excellent debut, a romance that’s as timely as it is heartfelt. British Indian actor Whitman “Win” Tagore is an A-lister who’s used to keeping tight control of her public image–and lately, she’s been working double time. When her ex-boyfriend has a public meltdown and Win is caught in the fray, it’s Leo Milanowski, her longtime friend and frequent faux beau, who comes to her rescue. For seven years, the white, wealthy playboy has played Win’s on-again, off-again lover for the tabloids, so Win’s publicist arranges for the pair to be spotted having a summer fling on the French Riviera to steal the attention away from Win’s breakup. Leo and Win easily fall back into their established patterns, but just when the line between reality and pretend starts to blur, a secret from Leo’s past surfaces and the validity of their relationship–both personally and professionally–is called to question. The authors’ slow-burning approach to Leo and Win’s relationship and fearless tackling of racism breathes new life into a favorite trope. The characters leap off the page, and their dialogue, whether flirting or fighting, is always believable. Readers will come for the swoon-worthy romance and stay for the beautiful prose.”
Picture of book cover for The Son of Mr. SulemanThe Son of Mr. Suleman by Eric Jerome Dickey
From Booklist: “Professor Pi Suleman teaches at a Memphis university by day and writes novels by night. He is the spitting image of his estranged father, whose literary oeuvre outshines Pi’s own, much to his chagrin. Beyond that, Pi begrudgingly deals with the daily assault of microaggressions from bigoted Southern colleagues as well as the persistent threat of sexual assault from a privileged white colleague who uses Pi for her own ends, then threatens him with retaliation. The tide of injustice turns when Pi’s father unexpectedly makes him his sole heir, and that financial security, along with a team of lawyers, help bring his abuser’s transgressions to light. Romantically, Pi faces a hard choice: does he take a chance on a mysterious woman from London with too many secrets or take the safe route with the like-minded professor who lives across the street? Equal parts political and erotic, Dickey’s posthumously published novel is a shining example of his skill at combining a compelling narrative voice, sharp social commentary, and poetic prose to create a complex tale featuring sensual characters with truly unique perspectives.”
Picture of book cover for The Paris ApartmentThe Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
From Booklist: “From the author of The Hunting Party (2019) and The Guest List (2020) comes this exceedingly clever new novel. Jess arrives at her brother Ben’s apartment in Paris to find that Ben seems to have disappeared. She talks to the other residents of the small apartment building, but no one seems to know what might have happened to him, although we know, from chapters written from the residents’ points of view, that something is not quite right. What’s especially interesting about the novel, apart from the deft characterizations and the overall feeling of dread, is the way Foley is cagey about exactly what kind of story this is. Could it be a riff on the Agatha Christie abundance-of-suspects theme? Could it be a twist on the traditional locked-room mystery? Could it be a psychological thriller? Could we be dealing with an unreliable-narrator? Who, exactly, is Ben? What kind of man is he? What is he capable of? The author keeps Jess and the reader guessing right up to the end. A fine suspenser from a writer who consistently delivers the goods.”
Picture of book cover for Beach ReadBeach Read by Emily Henry
From Publishers Weekly: “*Starred review* Henry (Hello Girls) hits all the right notes with this clever, compassionate contemporary romance. January Andrews, a 29-year-old romance author, has always believed in happily-ever-after. Then her father dies and she inherits his secret lake house in North Bear Shores, Mich., and discovers his long-standing extramarital affair. Broke and suffering from writer’s block, January’s moves into the “lakeside cottage brimming with charm and proof your father was an asshole and your life has been a lie.” Her new next-door neighbor is Augustus Everett, the tortured darling of the literary fiction world. Their contentious front-porch chats lead them to construct a challenge: they’ll each spend the summer writing a novel in the other’s genre, giving one another tutorials in their respective approaches and going on research trips together. Whoever finishes and sells their book first, wins. January’s struggle to reconcile her inherent optimism with the recent upheaval in her life is thoroughly convincing and handled with empathy. Her and Augustus’s path from writing partners to friends to lovers is a constant delight and the inevitable third act communication issues are deeply rooted in the characters’ psychology, making them believable and fresh. Readers are sure to fall hard for this meta, heartfelt take on the romance genre.”
Picture of book cover for The Hotel NantucketThe Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand
From Booklist: “When Lizbet Keaton finds her longtime boyfriend has been sexting another woman, she needs a fresh start, and she finds it at the Hotel Nantucket. Long viewed as a money pit on the island–and plagued by rumors that it is haunted–the hotel was meticulously renovated by London-based billionaire Xavier Darling, whose goal is to get a five-star review from the elusive Hotel Confidential on Instagram. As Lizbet takes on the role of hotel manager, she hires the staff who become the featured players in this ensemble of characters who are all hiding something, from the front desk manager to the head of housekeeping to Chad who is hired as a cleaner. As the summer bustles on, the staff tries to keep up with demanding guests, Xavier’s whims, and, yes, a ghost. Hilderbrand once again captures life on Nantucket, from the beaches to the food to the chorus of locals who comment on the goings-on at the hotel, complete with a travel guide at the end of the book. Readers will be transported by this breezy, engrossing beach read.”
Picture of book cover for Hana Khan Carries OnHana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
From Library Journal: “*Starred Review* Hana Khan is a radio station intern who dreams of sharing people’s stories on air. Until now, her life in Toronto’s Golden Crescent neighborhood has been peaceful. She lives with her family, works at the station, and waitresses at her family’s halal restaurant. When handsome Aydin Shah comes to the Crescent to open a competing halal restaurant, he brings chaos into Hana’s world for the first time, forcing her into a journey of self discovery. Packed with emotion, this romance is also a beautifully written coming-of-age story about a first-generation immigrant. Hana is a relatable, flawed narrator, and the other characters are complex, nuanced, and well-developed. The story is intricately plotted, with dramatic, often heartwrenching scenes that build to a satisfying, realistic conclusion. VERDICT Readers won’t be able to put this Own Voices Muslim romance down.”
Picture of book cover for Something WilderSomething Wilder by Christina Lauren
From Kirkus Reviews: “*Starred review* Former sweethearts team up to find potential treasure in the Utah wilderness—but the only thing more treacherous than the hunt might be their feelings for each other. At the age of 19, Lily Wilder thought she had her future all figured out. She’d take over the ranch owned by her treasure-hunting father, the infamous Duke Wilder, and live there with her boyfriend, Leo Grady. But when Leo left unexpectedly and Duke sold the ranch, Lily’s dreams went up in smoke. Now it’s 10 years later, Duke is long dead, and all Lily has left of him is his journal full of maps and mysterious clues. She makes ends meet by using his maps to lead tourists on expeditions through the Utah desert. She dreams of buying back her childhood ranch, but she’s flat broke and miserable at her monotonous job. That is, until Leo shows up on a guys’ trip with his friends, ready to get on a horse and find some treasure. Seeing Leo is the last thing Lily wants, but when their routine trip goes shockingly wrong, Leo and Lily will have to work together if they want to figure out Duke’s last clue—and survive. Fans of Lauren, the writing duo known for their delightful rom-coms, may be surprised by this shift into the world of adventure romance. It should be a pleasant surprise, though, given that the story is fast-paced, exciting, and still full of that classic Lauren swoon (in between the danger, occasional violence, and plot twists). Lily and Leo’s romance is plenty steamy (there’s a scene where they’re forced to share a sleeping bag), but the real star is the landscape, which is described in sweltering, dusty detail. A vivid escape that’s perfect for romantic thrill-seekers.”
Picture of book cover for The Summer GetawayThe Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery
From Booklist: “Robyn Caldwell is at a crossroads. Her children are grown and out of the house, so it’s just her in the too-large mansion she got in the divorce settlement four years ago. With her kids having their own lives and an ex-husband embroiled in an unsettling relationship, Robyn realizes there’s nothing keeping her in Florida. When her elderly great-aunt Lillian invites her to her palatial home in Santa Barbara, California, Robyn accepts the invitation. Mason Bishop is an army vet of twenty-five years who has no roots. When his uncle’s wife, Lillian, invites him to the family estate he is set to inherit upon her death, Mason takes her up on the offer. There he meets Lillian’s niece Robyn, and the stars and moon collide. But past hurt and broken trust may keep the two from realizing the love they could have together. Mallery’s latest contemporary romance (after The Stepsisters, 2021) has the family dynamics, heartfelt introspection, and emotional truths that keep readers coming back. The perfect escape for readers wanting to get away.”
Picture of book cover for WahalaWahala by Nikki May
From Library Journal: “*Starred review* May seamlessly weaves love, betrayal, self-reflection, and Nigerian food, clothing, and customs into this fast-paced debut. The Naija Posse is the nickname of three Anglo Nigerian best friends who live in London; all three are children of mixed-race marriages that were taboo in the 1970s. Single Ronke is a dentist and talented cook, specializing in Nigerian cuisine—jollof, moin-moin, pounded yam—but she yearns to have her own family. Simi is a successful businesswoman who’s almost sure she doesn’t want a baby, although her husband does. Boo is a wife and the mother to four-year-old Sophia, but she longs to get back to her career. When Simi’s childhood friend Isobel, a wealthy Anglo Nigerian “glamazon,” inserts herself into the group, each woman soon becomes disillusioned with her life. Isobel is wahala—trouble. Under the guise of friendship, she manipulates the women to reconsider their identities and take risky chances that lead to heartache. Then Isobel has a shocking revelation that will either strengthen the Naija Posse’s bond or tear it apart. VERDICT Fans of domestic suspense will revel in this tale of friendship, family, and forgiveness, set in the cultural milieu of Lagos.”
Picture of book cover for Nora Goes Off ScriptNora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
From Publisher’s Weekly: “*Starred review* In Monaghan’s irresistible adult fiction debut, (after the humor book Does This Volvo Make My Butt Look Big?) she introduces romance screenwriter Nora Hamilton, who pumps out happily-ever-after stories for cable television while cynically processing her divorce from Ben, who fell out of love with Nora and lost interest in having a family. After she veers from her previous script formula for one based on her ill-fated marriage, Hollywood comes calling. Enter Leo Vance, People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” cast as Nora’s ex. The production includes two days at Nora’s house, and when filming wraps, Leo offers to pay her $1,000 a day to stay for a week. There, he enjoys the real-world pleasures of grocery shopping, directing a children’s play, and eating average home-cooked meals. Arthur and Bernadette, Nora’s children, are equally smitten with Leo, and as the week goes on, his presence offers them a new sense of family. After Leo is called away for work, Nora must find a way to carry on and deal with her feelings about Ben, Leo, and the romance genre, now that she’s actually put her heart on the line. With pitch-perfect characters full of foibles and flaws, the work taps into genuine feelings as the characters fall in love. This is a winner.”
Picture of book cover for Oona Out of OrderOona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
From Booklist: “*Starred review* For Oona Lockhart, New Year’s Eve isn’t just an excuse to throw on a sparkly dress and pop a bottle of bubbly. It’s also the final day of understanding her place in the world, teetering on the precipice of what she calls time leaps. Oona’s memory issues are complicated, but she’s learned to expect that every January she wakes up in a different year. She lives her life non-chronologically, leaping from the Uber/iPhone peak of 2015 to the height of the club kid craze in 1991 to the questionable fashion choices of 1983. The time leaps are confusing, to say the least, but Oona has a bit of guidance in the form of a handwritten letter from her earlier self to explain the highs and lows of the upcoming year, and her mother, Madeleine, her bedrock. While many of us may feel that our internal age doesn’t match our external appearance, Montimore (Asleep from Day, 2018) takes that conceit to its witty, humorous, heartwarming extreme. Imbued with musical and cultural influences spanning decades and reminiscent of Lianne Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot (2011) and Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life (2013), Oona Out of Order is a delightfully freewheeling romp.”
Picture of book cover for Malibu RisingMalibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
From Booklist: “*Starred review* Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit Riva are household names in 1983, as much because their father is rock star Mick Riva as for their surfing talent. None of them wanted to live in the spotlight, but, despite Mick taking off long ago, they do. Then it’s the night of the annual Riva party, where everybody wants to be—except maybe responsible Nina—and anything can happen. Over the course of 24 hours, the Riva siblings will have to decide if their futures will be driven by the legacies of their parents or if they’ll share the secrets that might let them choose their own paths. Structuring the novel to take place over one day and night, Reid (Daisy Jones & the Six, 2019) asks if it’s possible to keep only parts of what you get from your parents. Multiple perspectives (including flashbacks to Mick and June’s courtship), intricate relationships, spot-on surf scenes, plus a wild party that could only have happened in the 1980s make for a fun summer read that challenges the idea of passing on what we inherit. Recommend to fans of Jennifer Weiner and Katherine Center.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Reid’s fan base has grown with each novel, and with multiple books in development for television, Malibu Rising will be the sought-after book of the summer.”
Picture of book cover for Honey GirlHoney Girl by Morgan Rogers
From Kirkus Reviews: “*Starred review* What happens in Vegas follows two women home. Grace Porter, newly minted Ph.D. in astronomy, has done everything right—that is to say, she’s done everything according to her father’s plan, and “a Porter always does their best.” As a Black woman in a predominantly White field, she’s had to, so when her friends take her to Las Vegas to celebrate, it’s not a shock that she abandons her lifetime of discipline for just one night of fun. The shock comes the next morning, when, gripped by her hangover, she realizes she got married the night before, and the woman she married is already on her way back to New York City. Grace and her friends want to learn more about her new wife, Yuki Yamamoto, and Grace gets to know her through her late-night radio show out of Brooklyn and old-fashioned phone calls. Before long, she does the second impulsive thing of her life. Frustrated by the bias she’s encountering in her job search, she moves out East to take a break from her perfect plans and get to know Yuki and see if their marriage is worth keeping. But now that she’s started pushing back against the rigid confines of her life, feelings kept tightly locked away are beginning to appear. And for all their attraction to each other, Grace might be carrying too much unresolved pain and confusion to make their marriage work out. This novel, Rogers’ debut, may not strictly be a romance, but it will strongly appeal to readers of the genre. For all the sweet charm of the blossoming love between Grace and Yuki, the book is especially notable for its celebration of friendship, especially in queer communities, and for exploring the many ways relationships can be meaningful and intimate beyond romance. Both Grace and Yuki have diverse, tightly woven groups of friends who buoy and ground them, and the richness of these relationships is the true core of the story. Romance fans will appreciate the happily-ever-after of it all, with a rewardingly emotional conclusion, but this is a book with true crossover appeal as well. A strong romantic fiction debut that will appeal to readers looking for a story of true love via self-discovery.”
Picture of book cover for The Last Chance LibraryThe Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson
From Library Journal: “*Starred Review* Introvert June Jones put her dreams of going to university and becoming an author on hold when her mother fell ill. After her mother died, June never left the little British village where she grew up, instead spending her days working as an assistant in the local library and her free time reading at home alone. But when the library is at risk of being closed, she finds herself teaming up with its quirky regular patrons to fight to keep it open. At the same time, June is fighting to come out of her shell and live the life her mother wanted for her–a happy life of education, travel, and romance. Sampson’s winning debut adorably illustrates how a library can be much more than a place where people borrow books. Readers will have all the feels as they root for June, learn what the library means to the village’s residents, and see how crucial libraries are to communities. VERDICT Fans of libraries and heartfelt, humorous women’s fiction with a powerful message and a hint of romance won’t want to miss this one! It’s so good that readers may very well devour it in one sitting.”
Picture of book cover for Funny You Should AskFunny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman
From Library Journal: “*Starred Review* Entertainment reporter Chani Horowitz is ecstatic and nervous when she is assigned to interview gorgeous movie star Gabe Parker. She is instantly charmed, and a whirlwind weekend ensues but ends with an awkward parting. Chani writes a flattering article about Gabe that goes viral, solidifying her writing career. A week later, Gabe elopes with his costar Jacinda, while Chani ends up marrying her boyfriend and leaving Los Angeles for New York. Ten years after their first encounter, both Chani and Gabe are divorced, and Gabe is trying to revive his acting career after getting sober. Hoping to recreate the magic of that first article, Gabe’s agent arranges for him to be interviewed once more by Chani. Sparks fly when Gabe and Chani meet again, but there’s a decade of hurt and misunderstandings in the way. VERDICT After writing YA novels (Drawn That Way; Stray; Burn), Sussman makes her adult fiction debut with a smart and sexy tale of second-chance love. The story thoroughly satisfies on a romantic level and packs an emotional punch with genuine characters.”

Picture of book cover for The Love of My LifeThe Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh
From Publishers Weekly: “*Starred review* Set in London, this heartbreaking thriller from bestseller Walsh (Ghosted) explores the complexity of secrets in marriages. Leo Philber, an obituary writer, has been happily married to 40ish marine ecologist Emma Bigelow for seven years. Emma has been battling lymphoma, and in his effort to cope with her possible death, Leo decides to draft her obituary in secret. To prepare, he begins to research her life, but after discovering secret Facebook messages and inconsistencies about her educational background, he concludes that he truly doesn’t know his wife. In chapters from Emma’s perspective, she reveals that, instead of doing extensive research at the Northumberland beaches, she has been having clandestine meetings related to the traumatizing event that changed her life 20 years earlier. Leo soon learns about the meetings and demands an explanation, but Emma vanishes after dropping off their three-year-old daughter at nursery school. Walsh cleverly integrates twists that not even jaded readers will be able to predict into an initially slow-burning plot that builds to an emotionally raw yet satisfying conclusion. Walsh is a writer to watch.”
Picture of book cover for Seven Days in JuneSeven Days in June by Tia Williams
From Library Journal: “When Eva Mercy agreed to be on an author panel featuring important voices in Black literature, she wasn’t expecting the man who broke her heart as a teen to show up, deliver a masterful analysis of her vampire erotica series, and plunge her right back into the tumult of emotions she felt so many Junes ago. While Eva and Shane have been quietly keeping track of each other’s writing careers and hiding their tumultuous past from their shared publicist, when they finally meet again in person it is clear that their magnetic connection was no fluke of young love. But as Eva struggles with writing burnout, her invisible disability, motherhood, and the trauma of her past, can she finally trust Shane and let herself have this love? “

Except as noted, annotations are supplied from the SELCO catalog