Beach Read Book by Emily Henry

Published in 2020, Beach Read marked Emily Henry’s debut in the adult contemporary romance genre. As the name suggests, it’s the perfect beach read book, but when she drafted it, Emily Henry didn’t even realize there was a market for this style of writing.

Yellow Beach Read book by Emily Henry on a blue tray

Having previously written a YA romance with magical realism elements, Henry began writing Beach Read without really knowing where it was going and didn’t even send it to her agent for a year after it was complete. But once she noticed other beach read books in the market, she realized people might want to read her story after all. And have they ever!

Beach Read received a Goodreads Choice Award nomination for Best Romance in 2020 and now has over 1.1 million ratings on that platform.

Beach Read Summary

Best-selling romance novelist January Andrews is suffering extreme writer’s block after finding out her parents weren’t the perfect couple she thought they were. 

After her father’s sudden passing, she retreats to his secret Lake Michigan beach house in a last-ditch effort to meet her next book deadline as a romance writer. Instead, she finds another distraction in the form of her college English department rival. 

January is none too pleased to discover that Gus lives next door, but it turns out that he is suffering from his own bout of writer’s block. When they challenge each other to swap genres, we’re left with a romance writer researching a local cult and an often-cranky literary author writing a love story.

If you love this novel as much as we do, then you’ll want to read the bonus epilogue, titled The Layover, on Emily Henry’s website. Or you can pre-order the gorgeous hardcover colletor’s edition of Beach Read that will include the epilogue.

Beach Read Review

Beach Read was among our favorite reads of 2020, and to this day we recommend it to everyone who will listen. It ticks all the boxes for what we look for in a summer read: an idyllic location, laugh-out-loud banter, swoon-worthy moments, and realistic characters with complexities and flaws. While this summer read has moments of cute sitcom comedy, it also digs deeper as January and Gus struggle to overcome family betrayals and writer’s block.

Through January and Gus, Beach Read also provides commentary on the romance genre and questions why fiction written by women about women is classified as “women’s fiction,” whereas fiction written by men is just “fiction.” We found this aspect of the novel refreshing, and it’s even more interesting given Henry’s own initial hesitancy to push Beach Read into the world.

In an interview with The London Magazine, Henry reveals that the characters’ conversation about the romance genre reflects similar conversations Henry has had over the years in which friends and acquaintances have belittled her writing because they deemed it not “literary” enough.

By challenging perceptions of the rom-com genre head-on through her characters, Henry has created exactly the type of romantic comedy that most resonates with us – one that indulges our love of romance and a happily ever after while also exploring the character’s struggles in a realistic and relatable way. In Emily Henry’s own words: “Overall the book doesn’t read like a typical rom-com because it is a little bit more understated and a little bit more serious.”

If you enjoy Emily Henry’s style of “beach read,” be sure to check out our overview of all of her titles in order. Our BMAC members can even download a cute printable tracker featuring the covers of all of her novels. Additionally, we think fans of Emily Henry will enjoy books by Abby Jimenez and Katerine Center.

In Our Readers’ Words

We recently asked our readers to vote on their all-time favorite beach read books, and it came as no surprise to us that Emily Henry’s Beach Read made the list. Here’s what our readers had to say about it:

“The characters are funny, and the writing is fabulous. Grabs you in and speeds you along.” -Anne C.

“I love the mix of humor, real life, romance, and entertaining way the characters communicate through the window!”

“Anything by Emily Henry is always a good choice, but this, in particular, is perfect for reading while on vacation or at the beach. It tackles some serious topics like grief but does so in a way that feels light, if that makes any sense. The romance and relationship between the main characters make it a top-tier beach read for me!” -Victoria A.

“I think I love this one because, while formulaic and a romance novel, the characters feel so real. It’s the type of book that feels easy and fun, but also has a lot of themes about the human condition that leave you feeling more empathy for people around you.” -Emily D.

Beach Read Movie

Author Emily Henry has confirmed that Beach Read will soon become a beach movie! Additionally, People We Meet on Vacation and Book Lovers are also in development to become films.

While we haven’t yet heard any confirmations regarding casting or news of potential release dates, we do know that author Yulin Kuang (of How to End a Love Story) is collaborating to adapt two of Emily Henry’s books into movies. In April of 2024, Kuang reported that the film scripts for both Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation are nearing completion.

Beach Read Setting

Some readers are surprised to learn that Beach Read is set on the shores of Lake Michigan rather than on a beach at the ocean. Emily Henry, on her website, suggests that readers who are unfamiliar with the beaches of Lake Michigan look at some photos to help them visualize the vastness of the lake and the beauty of the landscape. In an interview, she explained that Lake Michigan looks like an ocean from many vantage points and that the beaches “are idyllic” with less tourism and crowds than many oceanfront beaches.

Beach Read book cover overlayed on photo of a Lake Michigan beach

Lake Michigan was actually Henry’s first inspiration for the novel, long before she knew where the plot was going to lead. She attended college in Michigan and fell in love with a cute small town that she knew would make a perfect setting for a book. While North Bear Shores is a fictional town, it is based on everything Henry adores about the region.

If you enjoyed the setting of Beach Read, be sure to check out our full list of books set on lakes as well as our list of books set in Michigan.


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