Whether you’re relaxing next to the ocean or in a lounge chair on your back porch, your summer reading will be more enjoyable with one of these books in your hand and another in your beach bag.
What type of book makes the best beach read for the Book Girls?
We want our summer books to be very engaging, but not super-deep. The kinds of books that keep the pages turning are key, especially when there are light, fun moments to counter serious scenes. Sometimes we want a love story, sometimes a family drama, and sometimes we want a gripping novel full of suspense. Our favorite might be when we’re able to escape to a different world than our own real life. Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re on an island for a while?
With that description in mind, we gathered some of our favorite new beach books from 2021 to give you a good book selection that will keep you entertained all summer long.
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The successful Riva siblings are always the envy of those around them in Malibu. Their father is legendary singer Mick Riva, but each of the four siblings have found success of their own in pursuits like professional surfing and photography.
The book is set in 1983 at sister Nina’s famous end-of-summer beach house party. However, by midnight, the party is out of control and before dawn, Nina’s mansion has been burned to the ground. During this unforgettable night, each sibling has secrets - which will be revealed?
We can’t wait to pick up this new summer novel by the author of Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo!
Struggling novelist and divorced mom of two Finlay Donovan is BARELY holding things together. Each day has new challenges, like her ex-husband firing the nanny with no warning right before an important meeting.
Money is running out, and her next novel is way behind schedule. While meeting with her agent and attempting to buy more time, she receives a mysterious envelope with an offer of quick cash for a job.
Desperation and intrigue leads her to follow up with the number on the note, and before she knows what’s happening, she’s kind of agreed to be a contract killer for a woman with a truly terrible human of a husband. Whoops.
While that sounds pretty dramatic, this book is definitely witty and hilarious versus gory or scary. We’ve both read it and can’t wait for the sequel!
Marin has lived life as safely as possible, never even stepping foot outside Tennessee. Her concern started after her journalist mother was killed on assignment, but the tragedy had the opposite effect on her sister, Sadie, who travels the world as a photographer.
After returning from a tough assignment, Sadie convinces Marin to join her in a spa weekend on the island of Saba. She’s skeptical about leaving home, even for a girls' weekend, but agrees. Her long-time fear of travel is confirmed when Sadie misses the flight, a stranger steals her sister’s seat on the plane, and Marin’s luggage is mixed up with another passengers.
Luckily, the seat stealer is handsome! Lucas ends up being the perfect travel mate around Saba, and Marin begins to discover more about herself through each adventure. The book is a blend of romance and fiction, with heavier themes than a basic romance novel while still being an enjoyable rollercoaster of emotion.
Poppy and Alex became unexpected best friends on a car share ride home from college, despite their utter lack of things in common. Poppy is an extroverted wild child and Alex is a pragmatic introvert. As the years go by, Poppy has a good life in New York City while Alex remains in their small hometown. But the duo has still reunited each summer for a glorious week of vacation together.
But two years ago, everything changed and they haven’t spoken since. Poppy has everything she could want in life, but remains discontent and knows the last time she was truly happy was her last trip with Alex. In a desperate attempt to find joy again, she contacts Alex hoping for one more trip to make everything right.
The book pops between present-day and past trips and is perfect when you’re craving some chick-lit romance reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally. Last year, Emily Henry's Beach Read was one of our favorite books, so be sure to grab that one too!
We both loved Elin Hildebrand’s 2020 release, 28 Summers, so we’re anxiously awaiting the June 1st publication of Golden Girl. The main character, Vivian Howe, is an author of beach novels herself. While out jogging on Nantucket, Vivi is killed in a hit-and-run accident.
After her death, Vivi is granted the opportunity to watch what happens to her family for one final summer. In addition to watching, she gets three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth. Between troubles for her children, the investigation into her death, and a childhood secret wrapped into the final novel she was writing, Vivi must be very careful with her nudges while learning to let her family make decisions without her.
This might be a fun pick with lots of good discussion points for one of your summer book club meetings!
With secrets, scandals, steamy relationships, and stormy weather approaching a Caribbean Island, The Siren will quickly immerse you into the lives of the characters as you go behind the scenes of a blockbuster movie set. The producer and lead actor, Cole, also owns the island. His son Jackson wrote the script and is directing the film. What could go wrong when Jackson hires his dad’s ex-wife, Stella, to star opposite him on screen?
The soap opera-like story is told from three different woman’s perspectives - Stella, who desperately needs a hit film to revitalize her career, Taylor, a young producer who left her prior company in a scandal, and Stella’s assistant Felicity, who comes to the island with her own secrets.
Warning: While the overall tone of the book has a vacation feel, it does address heavy and dark topics as well, especially in the 2nd half, including rape, miscarriage, and substance abuse.
For twenty years, Liv has run a successful NYC wedding-planning business with her husband, Eliot. When he dies unexpectedly, Liv is shocked to learn that he's left his half of the business to his young girlfriend that Liv knew nothing about. Much to Liv's chagrin, Perky Savannah shows up on her doorstep eager to be her partner and protege.
In addition to Liv and Savannah, we are introduced to many of the wedding vendors that they work with - the florists, a caterer, servers, and musicians. In a Love Actually-style narrative, this book follows each of them as they navigate love and friendship, and we see their lives overlap at weddings throughout the city.
The Book Girls Say... As promised, this book is Love Actually-esque in its intertwining stories of five different couples. With five different storylines, we were worried that we'd be left feeling like we didn't get enough of any of them, but the characters were very well developed. Each sentence in the book moved the story and characters forward, and we were both sad to reach the end. This book was especially lovely in its representation of so many different types of love stories.
Our 2020 Beach Read list includes Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner, so we were happy to see she had a new book for 2021. While many books on the list focus on romance, That Summer is friendship-focused.
Daisy Shoemaker has a great life, with her own business and a beautiful home. Except she’s still discontent with her distant husband, typical teenage daughter, and a lack of a close friend. While she’s dealing with these relatable challenges, she starts getting emails for Diana, a successful single woman with a very similar email address.
The women begin to build a relationship over the misdirected emails, but then Daisy finds out the connection was NOT accidental. Who IS Diana? With page-turning wit, the book explores past, future, and the power of sustained friendship.
Do you spend a good portion of your summer vacation research looking at restaurant options? If so, Arsenic and Adobo may be your perfect summer pick. The Filipino food descriptions incorporated throughout the book will make your mouth water!
The main character in this cozy mystery is Lila, who has returned from her life in Chicago to help her Tita Rosa’s restaurant. Lila’s ex-boyfriend, a food critic, and all-around annoying guy, visits the restaurant and dies in his dessert shortly after an argument with Lila. She’s the prime suspect, and in order to clear her name, she’s determined to find out what really happened.
This debut novel reminded Melissa of the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series, so if you love a light-hearted and amusing whodunit-style novel, this is a great pick for you!
Dreaming of island hopping on a sailboat? Float Plan will take you right to the Caribbean with Anna as she sets off on the boat she was left after the loss of her fiance. While Anna initially begins her adventure alone, she quickly realizes that she’s in over her head.
Queue the entry of Keane, a professional sailor also dealing with a future that looks different than he planned. Readers praise the authentic, imperfect characters and details that help you escape right onto the boat with Anna and Keane.
Fair warning, this book does start off heavy with a suicide, but reviews say that it does get lighter and uplifting as you go and the story ends leaving you feeling much better than how it begins.
If you’re looking for an unpredictable thriller with a side of small-town socialites, grab The Hunting Wives ASAP. After moving from Chicago to a small town in Texas, Sophie’s life would be idyllic if she wasn’t so bored.
After meeting Margot, who is anything but boring, Sophie is drawn into the world of an elite, secret group of women called The Hunting Wives. From late-night target practice to reckless partying, these women are full of secrets. In one of the shocking plot twists, a teenager is found dead at The Hunting Wives meeting place and Sophie’s life begins spiraling
While psychologically thrillers aren’t usually our go-to genre, we’re looking forward to the promised page-turning nature of this engrossing novel.
The author of The Editor and Lily & the Octopus is back with a twist on a classic trope in this hilarious novel. When family tragedy strikes, uncle Patrick needs to take custody of his niece and nephew for the summer. GUP - Gay Uncle Patrick, is a former sitcom star and loves the kids, but is used to them going home after a weekend.
His career is stalled and his lifestyle isn’t exactly ideal for a 6 and 9-year-old. He quickly realizes that having the kids longer than a few days means he needs to be more of a parent figure and that treats may not solve everything.
Full of laugh-out-loud humor, heartwarming moments, and happy endings as the family explores grief, this is a well-rounded novel with characters you’ll adore.
Mary Kay Andrews has been called the Queen of Beach Reads and this year’s new release is no expectation. Letty’s sister Tanya made her promise that if anything happened to her, Letty would take Tanya’s daughter Maya and run.
When Letty finds Tanya dead, she knows the murderer is Tanya’s ex, Evan, so she follows Tanya’s instructions to get out of town. Tanya left behind a go-bag of cash, and huge diamond ring, and a faded magazine article about a small mom-and-pop hotel in a Florida beach town.
She heads south to Florida with four-year-old Maya, trying to comfort the child and unravel her sister’s secrets while trying to keep a low profile among the locals, including the handsome police chief Joe. Sisterhood, romance, and mystery intertwine throughout almost 500 pages, so this is great if you’re looking for a longer option.
Beth O’Leary stole our hearts with The Flatshare, her first book, and we bet she will warm our hearts again with The Road Trip.
Ex’s Addie and Dylan haven’t spoken in two years, but are headed to their friend's wedding in Scotland. When their cars crash into each other, they have no choice but to carpool if they want to make it to the wedding on time. In addition to Addie and Dylan, Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride are cramped into a Mini for the long ride across England.
Along the way, Addie and Dylan are forced to explore the events the tore them apart. The book features a “Now and Then” split timeline and is said to be a bit more somber than the author’s first two books, while still incorporating some humor.
When we saw Shipped recommended for fans of Unhoneymooners and The Hating Game, we were instantly intrigued. Who doesn’t need a steamy romance in their beach read pile?
Henley and Graeme are up for the same promotion at a cruise line. While they’ve never met, they’ve exchanged more than a fair share of snarky emails.
To determine who will receive the dream job, their boss requests that they each prepare their best proposal on how to increase bookings for the Galapagos Island cruise. To give them each an equal chance, their boss sends them on the cruise to experience it for themselves. Obviously, because this is a rom-com, they’re forced to travel together.
Soon, Henley realizes Graeme MIGHT not be as terrible as she thought. This classic troupe is always entertaining when done well, and Angie Hockman pulled it off. You’ll be left with a reinforced belief in the power of second chances.
Our 2020 Summer Picks
Looking for a bit older book you might have a better chance of snagging at the library?
These were our favorite summer reads published last year.
Are you a fan of The Bachelorette? If so, this new July 2020 release might be your perfect match.
Bea is a plus-sized fashion blogger tired of watching casts full of size 0 models. After a drunken post about the un-realness of the reality dating show Main Squeeze, she gets a shocking call asking HER to be the next star of the show.
Can she trust the male contestants with her heart or is it safer to remember she's on the show largely for her career?
As the season progresses throughout the book, you'll forget about the real-life craziness of 2020 and root for Bea to find love.
Melissa enjoyed that the story varies between the actual narrative/ standard book format and snippets of podcast dialog, emails, etc ABOUT the show as fans watched. All the aspects came together and serve as a great way to help your brain fully engage in the story.
In 1993, Mallory inherits a beach cottage in Nantucket and decides to embrace the unexpected gift and move to the island full-time. Shortly after, she hosts a bachelor party for her brother and meets his friend from college, Jake.
After things go wrong for other attendees, Mallory and Jake are left alone for the rest of the weekend. They have undeniable chemistry and after watching the classic movie, Same Time Next Year, they decide that they'll continue getting together one weekend every summer, no matter what.
The book follows their story from 1993-2020, and you'll keep the pages turning to find out how their lives change individually and together each year. The chapters each start with a fun recap of what was happening in the world each year, and you'll be transported through time as their lives move forward.
This was a 5 star read, just keep the Kleenex ready for the ending.
Does reading about summer vacations just make it feel worse that you're working all summer? This work-place romance might be a good alternative!
Samiah is getting ready for a date when her sister starts reading a ridiculous Twitter thread about someone else's terrible date. Soon Samiah realizes that the woman is out with the same guy she is supposed to be dating. And she's not the only other girlfriend, a third woman also thinks she exclusively dating the jerk.
The three women decide to team up instead of hating each other, and then decide that they're each going to work on themselves before dating again.
Samiah is totally on board with the plan until a hot new guy appears at work. But he isn't at all what she thinks.
After 6 years of not speaking to her best friend, Daphne is shocked when she's suddenly asked to attend her big society wedding. On top of that, her former friend begs her to be maid-of-honor.
Daphne is only tempted by the prospect because the offer comes with a weekend in a Cape Cod mansion and the promise of lots of single guys at the wedding. The friends have changed over the years, but will this unexpected turn help them reunite as best friends?
Entertainment Weekly called this new release “The beach read to end all beach reads," so we can't wait to read it!
We both love historical fiction novels, but usually gravitate toward those in the fall and winter. However, this new June 2020 release set in 1939 is the perfect summer escape.
The main characters are Maxine, who dreams of being a journalist for the New York Times and Vivi, who wants to be an actress in LA.
When Vivi is given the chance to be the star of the Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World's Fair, the lives of these two big-dreaming women collide. They navigate a summer of opportunity and adversity together as friends who what to achieve so much more than society expects in 1939.
Great list! I've read several of these. The Guncle has been my favorite this year. I really liked Shipped, Beach Read, People We Meet on Vacation, and One to Watch too. I've got The Siren and Road Trip on my list! I've started Big Summer a couple times, but I haven't gotten into it. I'm reading Dial 'A' for Aunties right now. I finished a fun beach read last week called The Layover.
Books Set on Islands - Book Girls' Guide
Thursday 20th of May 2021
[…] you’ll find some great rom books and escapist fiction on our list (and even more on our new beach reads list), but our recommendations also run the gamut from historical fiction to epic family sagas, with a […]
Friday 26th of June 2020
I am halfway through "Big Summer" and it just took a major twist that I did NOT see coming! It's really good. It is actually sitting right next to me, awaiting my return! :) I love all of Jennifer Weiner's books. I have actually read a lot of your prior recommendation from the Book Club and have never been disappointed! I also have read "Evvie Drake Starts Over" and enjoyed it. Before I pick up "Big Summer" and find out what happens, I'm going to request quite a few of these recommendations for summer reading from my local library. I don't have the space to accumulate purchased books now, so this is a great alternative. Thank you again for proofreading for us so we all know what's worthwhile and fun!!!
Friday 26th of June 2020
Oh good! I heard from another friend last night that they just finished Big Summer and loved it too. Now I'm extra excited to read and find the twist! My pile to read is outrageous at the moment, but Big Summer is towards the very top. - Melissa