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18 Brilliant Beach Reads for Your Summer Vacation

Three book covers: "While We Were Dating", "Malibu Rising", "Incense and Sensibility"
Berkley/Ballantine Books/William Morrow

One of the best parts of summer is the beach read: those breezy, emotionally satisfying books that are perfect for when you’re relaxing by the pool or sea. From sweet romantic comedies to perplexing mysteries, these summer titles are smart and interesting, without being too heavy or intense. Be sure to pick up a few before you head off on your summer vacation.

Kisses and Croissants

This novel by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau is perfect for your summer Parisian dreams! Mia is excited to spend a summer in France as part of a ballet-intensive program, but the demanding teachers and her competitive classmates almost send her into a tailspin. Then, Louis, a local boy, gives her a whirlwind tour of his city, she starts to fall in love with Paris, not just her ambitions for a ballet career.

Meet Me in Paradise

Two sisters—one a homebody, one a globetrotter—agree to go on a spa retreat together on a tropical island in this novel by Libby Hubscher. When everything that could go wrong does, both sisters find themselves reevaluating their life choices, fears, and their relationship with each other.

It Had to Be You: A Novel

This sunny, Love Actually-style collection of intertwined love stories by Georgia Clark is tied to a wedding planner in New York. When the co-owner of the business dies, his wife is shocked to find that he left his half to his much-younger mistress. This forces his widow and ex to work together to save the company, while they and the people around them, all find new love.

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

Gilded Age New York and pre-revolution Cuba collide in Chanel Cleeton’s latest historical fiction novel. It’s the story of three women: A reporter, a Cuban activist, and a rebel courier, all trying to free the activist as tensions with Spain bring everyone closer and closer to a world-changing war.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club

Ghost stories and romantic comedies collide in this novel by Amy E. Reichert. When Sabrina has to move back to her small Wisconsin hometown, her family “gift” reactivates: hearing and seeing the spirits of the departed. Trying to ignore (or help) the spirits gets in the way of her burgeoning romance with supper club owner, Ray. Until, that is, the secrets of both their families’ pasts unexpectedly intersect. 

People We Meet on Vacation

Emily Henry is back with this story about best friends. Alex and Poppy used to take trips together every summer until two years ago, when one moment ruined everything. Feeling stuck and wanting to fix her life, Poppy reaches out and convinces Alex to take one last trip together, but the past still lingers.

That Summer: A Novel

Jennifer Weiner’s latest is about suburban mom, Daisy, who finds herself increasingly intrigued when she keeps getting emails meant for a woman with a near-identical address to hers. When Daisy actually connects with her “name neighbor” and strikes up a friendship, though, she slowly comes to realize that maybe their connection wasn’t as accidental as it seemed.

The Newcomer: A Novel

If you like your beach reads a little more thrilling, then this one by Mary Kay Andrews’s is for you! After Letty finds her sister dead, she suspects her sister’s husband is behind it. So, Letty goes into hiding with her niece in a small town. While there, she tries to unravel her sister’s past, while avoiding the suspicions of the close-knit town citizens who don’t particularly like outsiders.

The Summer of Lost and Found (The Beach House Book 7)

Mary Alice Monroe’s new beach read is set during the strange summer of 2020. As Linnea struggles to keep her life together and her family safe, she’s also stuck dealing with romantic complications. Her new flame is stuck in England, while her ex winds up quarantining right next door.

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island

This quirky novel by Colleen Oakley is all about lost love and second chances. After her husband’s untimely death, Piper starts to act as if he’s still alive—and her whole town goes along with it out of sympathy. When a journalist stops in, he’s intrigued and starts to investigate the story. However, he ends up getting much more involved than he ever imagined. Release Date: May 25.

One Last Stop

Want a love story that’s just as much about a city as it is about a couple? Then pick up this title by Casey McQuiston. It’s a summer romance (with a twist) in New York City. Jane, the charming woman August meets on the subway, is a woman out of time. She’s trapped on the subway after somehow being bumped out of her own era in the 1970s. As she tries to figure out what happened to Jane, August also has to face the fact that she really, really doesn’t want Jane to leave. Release Date: June 1.

The Checklist

In this novel by Addie Woolridge, ambitious corporate consultant, Dylan, is sent to her hometown of Seattle on a near-impossible job after upstaging her vengeful boss. While trying to rescue a tech company run by a mercurial entrepreneur, Dylan also finds herself growing closer to her parents’ neighbor’s son. It’s a charming, charismatic love story and a journey of self-discovery. Release Date: June 1.

Malibu Rising: A Novel

Nina’s end-of-summer party is the event of the season in 1983. Unfortunately, the four siblings hosting have a lot more on their minds than just the party in this latest novel from Taylor Jenkins Reid. By the end of the night, chaos reigns. Before then, though, each of the four Riva siblings will have come to new realizations about themselves and their family’s legacy. Release Date: June 1.

Lady Sunshine: A Novel

You get a more bohemian kind of beachy vibe in this title by Amy Mason Doan. When her uncle leaves her a beach compound and music catalog, Jackie unexpectedly finds herself having to revisit one fateful summer in the 1970s. That was the year she visited her bohemian, musical aunt and uncle, spent time with her cousin, and, one night, saw something that changed everyone’s lives forever. Release Date: June 29.

Incense and Sensibility: A Novel (The Rajes Series Book 3)

Jane Austen meets modern-day romance in this (very) loose retelling of Sense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev. After a traumatic near-death experience, gubernatorial candidate, Yash, can’t get it together enough to get back on the campaign trail. He ends up enlisting the help of India, his sister’s best friend, who is also a yoga/stress management coach. The two also share an emotional secret from the past. Release Date: July 7.

While We Were Dating

Jasmine Guillory’s latest is perfect for fans of Notting Hill and other classic rom-coms. When ad man Ben lands a campaign with Hollywood superstar, Anna, he’s surprised at how down-to-earth she is—and she finds him charming, too. However, in a world where every move they make is up for public consumption, it’s going to take more than a few flirty days together to make love happen. Release Date: July 13.

Heartbreak for Hire: A Novel

The fake-dating trope gets a major twist in this beach read by Sonia Hartl. Brinkley works for a discreet company that specializes in getting revenge on men who have burned women, personally or professionally. She’s appalled when her boss reveals that the company is now hiring men. But she’s even more horrified when the new hire is Mark, a former target of hers with whom she felt an all-too-brief, but real, spark. Release Date: July 27.

The Heart Principle

Helen Hoang’s upcoming novel is a fizzy romance that also touches on very real, relatable things, like burnout, anxiety, and family pressures. After accidentally becoming famous on YouTube, violinist Anna feels even more pressure to perform to perfection. In an attempt to shake off her struggles, she tries to have a no-strings arrangement with Quan, a handsome, motorcycle-riding, would-be one-night stand. In the process, though, she ends up much closer to a real relationship than she ever expected. Release Date: Aug. 31.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »

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