30 Beach Reads


by Anthony Doerr

The debut collection from the author of All the Light We Cannot See is maybe even better than the mega best seller everyone in your book club can’t stop talking about.

by Wednesday Martin

This buzzy new memoir follows the appalling but fascinating lives of the perfectly coiffed, absurdly rich Manhattan set. Consider it Real Housewives in literary form.

by Agatha Christie

Back to basics. This classic whodunit set on a 1930s passenger boat is as iconic a summer read as they come. Plus, Hercule Poirot!

by J. Courtney Sullivan

Three generations. A family beach house. A deep, dark secret. If you’re into big, sweeping novels with decades-old drama and astute social commentary, this one’s for you.

by Jess Walter

Intertwining love stories come together in an Italian seaside town in one of the most romantic yet rip-roaringly funny novels we’ve read in quite some time.

by Judy Blume

Dear Judy Blume: May you always write touching, heart-wrenching portraits of female friendship in the 1970s.

by Robert Kurson

Like Into Thin Air or The Perfect Storm? Then you’ll love this real-life story about two amateur scuba divers who risked everything to solve one of the last mysteries of World War II.

by Pat Conroy

If you’re headed anywhere along the South Carolina coastline, this is basically required reading. Oh, and it’s also a gripping, lyrical story of a family in crisis.

by Eric Weiner

An NPR correspondent and self-described “grump” travels the world in search of happiness in this memoir-cum-self-help guide. Read it to find out, once and for all, what makes Swiss people so darn chipper.

by John Fowles

This classic tale of an insane millionaire's sadistic game takes place on a Greek island and is full of mystery, magic, sex and, um, Nazis. Pick it up to look smarter than the average John Grisham reader.

by John Grisham

But if you do like John Grisham? We say go for it. Read the suspense master’s debut, about a racially motivated crime in a small Southern town. Then rent the Matthew McConaughey/Sandra Bullock film adaptation and see how it stacks up.

by Peter Nichols

Can we please all go to Majorca now? This Odyssean novel, about a love story gone sour (but told in reverse), is set on the coast of Spain. And yes, that jacket does look an awful lot like Beautiful Ruins.

by Jo Ann Beard

There’s something about the beach that makes us wistful for our childhood. Jo Ann Beard’s stunning essay collection takes on the almost-forgotten stuff of growing up, from lost stuffed animals to best girl cousins.

by Jenny Milchman

Want to freak yourself out? In this can’t-put-down thriller, a seemingly idyllic evening at a family home in the Adirondacks goes horribly awry with the arrival of two escaped convicts.

by Colson Whitehead

This coming-of-age novel, set in a small African-American Hamptons community in the 1980s, is full of great summer nostalgia: New Coke, Lite FM and “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” blasting out of car windows.

by Alice McDermott

High summer. The 1960s. Two madly-in-love teenagers make one crazy decision in this Pulitzer Prize-nominated novel about innocence lost.

by Caroline Zancan

Speaking of adolescence, we’re pretty excited about this new novel about a trio of friends who stumble upon a grown-up teen heartthrob at their local dive bar in steamy summer Florida.

by Diana Gabaldon

Transport yourself off the beach and into (sexy) 18th-century Scotland. Diana Gabaldon’s series about a time-traveling nurse lured into a forbidden passion is as wonderfully trashy as it sounds.

by Daniel Defoe

Get your butt back to Brit Lit 101 with this classic-for-a-reason story about a man marooned on a desert island for 30 years. Sort of like Cast Away--but with more cannibalism and less Wilson the Volleyball.

by Robert Kolker

Calling all true-crime fans. Investigative journalist Robert Kolker’s account of the now-famous Long Island serial killer is totally unputdownable. Read alone at night at your own risk.

by Ann Patchett

Set deep in the dark, damp, insect-ridden Amazon, this novel--about a scientist searching for her missing teacher--is the kind of book you pick up… and don’t put down until seven hours later.

by Frances Mayes

Is it just us or does being on vacation make you start dreaming about quitting real life altogether? This memoir, about a woman who left it all behind to restore a villa in Italy, will have you seriously jealous.

by Naomi Jackson

This debut novel--about two young sisters who leave their home in Brooklyn to live with their grandmother in Barbados--has everything we require from a summer read: good characters, a hot setting and a laid-back, sultry vibe.

by Jennifer Weiner

We firmly believe that Jennifer Weiner was created by angels for our summer-reading pleasure. Her newest, about a suburban mom confronting a prescription-drug addiction, is a not-too-heady no-brainer for your beach bag.

by Mindy Kaling

In anticipation of Mindy’s new book coming this fall, revisit her first hilarious essay collection that tackles the big, serious stuff--you know, like how to be so famous that you can never be convicted of murder.

by Harper Lee

With Harper Lee’s newly discovered novel, Go Set a Watchman, coming out this July, we think it’s worth rereading her summertime masterpiece--which we’re betting you haven’t picked up since middle school.

by Yann Martel

Perfect for poolside philosophizing, this 2001 best seller--about an Indian boy lost at sea after a shipwreck--has adventure, mystery, magic and a serious “whooooa” moment.

by Sarah Vowell

Leave it to a former This American Life contributor to turn the true story of Hawaii’s Americanization into a practical joyride. From Bible-thumping missionaries to incestuous princesses to Theodore Roosevelt, it’s the cast of characters that make this history lesson so memorable.

by E. Lockhart

Though technically a young-adult book, this twisty suspense novel about a pack of wealthy, entitled teens on Cape Cod is smart enough for grown-ups. Just don’t let anyone spoil the ending for you.

by Peter Benchley

Don’t go in the water.