15 Excellent Beach Reads to Satisfy Any Summer Mood


The first day of summer is just days away! Summer is the perfect time to take a vacation on the beach. And no summer vacation would be complete without the perfect beach reads.

I spent last weekend chilling in the Outer Banks with Jaclyn’s family. Our kids had so much fun building sand castles, playing in the water, and soaking up the sun. It was the perfect combo of sand and sea.

I always love to bring a book or two with me when I go on vacation. But for a summer vacation, I don’t bring just any summer books. My preferred beach books are fun and easy to read. I really am not looking for the most thought-provoking and deep text. I love summer books that are light-hearted and enjoyable to read in the moment.

In my opinion, the perfect beach reads are stand alone books. They absolutely cannot be part of a series. Otherwise, if it’s a great book, I will just agonize that I don’t have the next book in the series with me. So if you are like me, skip the first book in a series when you are looking for beach books.

In addition, beach reads should be interesting without being too riveting. I don’t want to be too enthralled in my book that I don’t actually spend time enjoying the beach. I leave my most anticipated summer books for when I get back from my vacation.

So here is my list of beach reads that will satisfy any summer mood.

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Beach Reads That Are Book Club Favorites

Perfect Beach Reads: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Let’s kick off this beach reads list with a book perfect for any book club summer reading list. The crotchety old A. J. Fikry is struggling in life. He is now a widow. His bookstore is failing. To top it off, his rare edition of Edgar Allan Poe has been stolen. On the verge of becoming a complete recluse, a plot twist occurs that will give Fikry a second chance at life. If your book club is looking for books to read this summer, feel free to offer this one up.


Perfect Beach Reads: The Lake House by Kate Morton

The Lake House
by Kate Morton

Generally, I prefer short beach books for vacation, but I think this book is enjoyable enough to earn it a spot in your suitcase. I love being swept away in good summer books, and Kate Morton always delivers. Just so you know, this book is not the same story as the Sandra Bullock romantic movie. Kate Morton’s story is set in 1933. During a big summer party, a baby boy from a wealthy family disappears from the country estate. Now, seventy years later, a police detective starts to uncover the truth of what really happened at the lake house. If you are in the mood for longer beach reads, this well-written novel is worth your time.


Perfect Beach Reads: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Old Man’s War
by John Scalzi

You probably started this beach reads list expecting my choices to all be books like The Lake House. While I love fun summer reads, sometimes I’m really in the mood for a great science fiction tale. For the sci fi lovers out there, Old Man’s War deserves its place on the list of fantastic books to read this summer. John Scalzi begins with the classic science fiction premise: What If? What if old men and women could get a second life if they sign up to fight in an interstellar war? Even if you aren’t a huge science fiction reader, you should give this book a spot on your summer reading list.

Related: Summer Reading List: 11 Books You Need on Your To-Read List


Beach Reads that will Make You Laugh

book cover for Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
by Maria Semple

Need some funny beach reads to add to you summer reading list? Sometimes you just need a clever satire, and I promise you’ll laugh at the ridiculous Bernadette, a Seattle-area mom who takes antisocial to a whole new level. As soon as Bernadette referred to the annoying school moms as “gnats,” I knew I would love this book. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the ending. Yet, the buildup was so much fun that I still like recommending it to others. Also, since it’s one of the books becoming movies in 2019, this is definitely should be on your list of books to read this summer.


Book cover for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

When my friend recommended this as one of the best summer reads, I was rather put off by the mouthful of a title. In spite of its long title, this wonderful novel has definitely earned its place among the best summer reads. On the German occupied island of Guernsey, the residents form a book club as an excuse for breaking curfew. Written as a series of letters after the war between the book club and writer Juliet Ashton, the story gives you a look at what life was like on the occupied island. I’ve written how much I love World War II novels, but if I wouldn’t consider many of my favorites as beach reads. Yet this fun novel is sure to leave you smiling at the colorful cast of characters, and makes the perfect book for your summer reading list.


book cover for The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde

Beach reads don’t have to be just the latest summer bestsellers. Sometimes you’re just in the mood to reach for a classic. If you want to save space in your suitcase, nothing beats a play for a short classic. And if you want a play to make you laugh, not much beats Oscar Wilde. I’m always a fan of witty humor, and Oscar Wilde’s clever play on words starts with the title and carries on throughout the entire play. You could simply watch the movie, but why not curl up with the book from your summer reading list instead?

Related: The Best Summers Reads to Beat the Heat this Summer


Young Adult Beach Reads

book cover for Summerlost by Ally Condie

by Ally Condie

Is it cheating to add a middle grade reader into my young adult beach reads? Ally Condie’s Summerlost is one of those terrific summer books you can read along with your preteens. This coming-of-age story of the healing power of friendship follows Cedar, a 12-year-old girl whose father and younger brother both recently died in a tragic accident. When Cedar meets the unusual Leo, they strike up a friendship that will carry her through the summer. Throw in a fun mystery at the local theatre festival, and you have all the ingredients of fun summer reads. A sweet story perfect to add to your summer reading list.


book cover for Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day
by Gayle Forman

Have you ever made a snap decision that changed your life? In typical Young Adult fiction manner, Allyson, your average American teenager, meets a handsome Dutch boy Willem De Ruiter while visiting England. In the spur of the moment, she is whisked away to Paris to spend one perfect day with him. If that was the whole of the book, I wouldn’t be recommending this story on your summer reading list. However, Allyson’s journey after her perfect day is what made this one of my best summer reads. If you are a hopeless romantic and love young adult fiction, add this to your pile of books to read this summer.


book cover for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart

You will have to settle for a vague description for this book because I don’t dare risk spoiling it for you. It has all the classic characteristics of thriller beach reads: a wealthy extended family, a private island, a tragic accident, and secrets and lies. As the protagonist Cadence slowly starts regaining her memory and all the details of what happened start becoming clear, half the fun is in trying to figure out what is going on. I really enjoyed trying to piece the mystery of this book together. All I can say is that at some point, you’ll want to grab the tissues because this is one of those books that will make you cry. But that is all the spoiler you will get from me.

Related: 30 Books Every Millennial Needs to Read


Beach Reads Sure to Thrill

Book cover for Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall
by Noah Hawley

A private jet flying from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City crashes into the ocean. The sole survivors are a young boy who is now the sole heir of his parents’ extensive fortune and Scott Burroughs, a down-and-out painter who just happened to catch a ride. I love beach reads that keep you engaged, and the mystery of why the plane crashed unfolds masterfully and definitely keeps you wanting more. But the beauty of this book is that it is more thought-provoking than typical summer book. It’s a commentary on the consequences of our 24-hour news cycle and the desperate need to know everything right away. One of my favorite books to read this summer.


book cover for The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm
by John Grisham

Over the years, I’ve read most of John Grisham’s books, so you could save I am a bit of a fan. I think his books are perfect beach reads for a vacation. Since they aren’t a series, you don’t feel like you need to read them in any particular order. They are exciting enough to capture your attention without quite reaching the can’t put down stage. I particularly love his early books, and for the best summer reads, I recommend The Firm, a tale of a young lawyer caught up in a shady law firm. If you haven’t read John Grisham before, this is a great place to start.


book cover for And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

If you want a quick classic mystery for your summer reading list, Agatha Christie is the way to go. You’ll have fun trying to figure out whodunit on an isolated island mansion where the suspects start dying off one by one. I’ll be impressed if you figure it out. I never do. A classic for a reason, this novel is surprisingly short, leaving you plenty of time to also enjoy swimming at the beach … or fitting in a few more beach books.

Related: 19 Gripping Books You Can’t Put Down Once You Begin


Nonfiction Beach Reads

book cover for What If? by Randall Munroe

What If?
by Randall Munroe

Why limit the best summer reads to just fiction? Nonfiction books make some fantastic light and fun beach reads. Randall Munroe’s What If? is the perfect example. From the author of the xkcd comics, What If? answers all the ridiculous questions you never thought to ask. What would happen if the moon went away? Is it really that dangerous to be in a swimming pool during a thunderstorm? You’ll have fun reading this funny, clever, and factual book.


book cover for Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

Poetry on a beach reads list! I never would have expected it either. I’m actually not really into poetry, which tells you this must be really good if I think I’m recommending it with my books to read this summer. Growing up as an African-American in both South Carolina and New York during the 1960-70s, Jacqueline Woodson never truly felt at home in either place. Caught between the highly urban New York and the Southern views of South Carolina, she learned to find a place in the world balancing the best of each. Told in enchanting verse, the story of her childhood is poignant and moving. I’m not usually one for poetry, but Woodson’s eloquent lines bring her story to life.


book cover for It Takes Two by Jonathan and Drew Scott

It Takes Two: Our Story
by Jonathan and Drew Scott

Instead of snagging a magazine while you wait for your flight, why not grab a celebrity autobiography instead? The handsome twins Drew and Jonathan Scott of Property Brothers fame have a new memoir full of personality perfect for your summer reading list. Reading about their life, I was extremely impressed at how talented they are. Modern-day jacks-of-all-trades. The brothers alternate writing chapters, with the other brother leaving snarky comments along the way. (I’ve heard this makes the audiobook hard to follow because the two of them sound so much alike!) And it might seem silly, but I love that the hardcover edition uses high quality paper with color images. Sometimes it’s the little things that turn a book into one of the best summer reads.

I’m always looking for the best summer reads.
What’s on your summer reading list?

Looking for the best beach reads for your summer reading list? Look no further. We've got the best summer reads to take with you on your summer vacation.

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  • Reply Alyssa June 20, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I absolutely love this list! I haven’t read any of these, but I recognize authors, and there are a few I definitely want to add to my TBR! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Sarah June 20, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    I see some good books on this list. I love Kate Morton and also have The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on my to-read list. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Reply Sam June 20, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Hell YES, I am bookmarking this!!

  • Reply Laura June 29, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    I’ve only read one of these (The Firm – years and years ago!). I’ve loved your book recommendations so far, so I’m excited to have some new ones to add to the list. Thank you!

  • Reply CJ | A Well-Read Tart June 26, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    I love that this list of beach reads isn’t full of your “typical” beach reads!! There’s something for everyone here, and I love that you pull from across so many genres. And, I particularly love seeing Oscar Wilde on this list. Because, he is awesome. 😀

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