13 Sensational Lake Books You Will Love

Lake Books

Headed to a lake or waterfront anytime soon? Then you must read one of these lake books!

There are lots of thrillers set at the lake, but we have historical fiction and romance books too! This list is really a compilation of books that take place at one of our favorite setting.

Truly this list is filled with novels for perfect for summer reading.

*Novels set on a Lake post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

tom lake

Best Lake Books

The Guncle Abroad

The Guncle Abroad by Steven Rowley

GUP and the kids are back! Patrick, Maisie, and Grant are five years older and facing a new challenge – the kid’s dad is getting ready to remarry.

The children are not thrilled, so Patrick decides to wisk them on a European adventure to teach them the Languages of Love, Guncle Style.

As they parade around Europe and end up at the destination wedding site of Lake Como, we are treated to hysterical scenarios and GUP witticisms. Add in a rivalry between GUP and the soon-to-be Launt (Lesbian Aunt) and you have a story that will have you flying through the pages.

Why I Loved It: I adored the first Guncle book, so I was a tad nervous to read a sequel. Would it spoil the characters I love so much? Not. At. All.

If anything, I learned to appreciate Patrick, Grant, and Maisie even more on the revisit. The way that Rowley writes about living with grief as an adult and a child is touchingly hopeful. I laughed and cried in equal measure reading this story. Dare I say it might be better than the first?

Find this book in Best Fiction of 2024 / Lake Books

Meet me at the lake

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Will and Fern spent one amazing, adventure-filled day together in their early 20s with a promise to meet up again one year later. When Fern shows up and Will doesn’t, she is heartbroken.

Now, nine years later, Fern has inherited the lakeside resort that she never wanted to run, her ex-boyfriend is the resort manager, and she needs help. When Will shows up at the resort with an offer to help get things back in order, she doesn’t know if she can get over her old feelings and trust him again.

Why I Love It: Set between Muskoka and Toronto, it reminded me of my childhood and teenage years! This is a romance novel that left my heart feeling gushy. I wanted to start at the beginning as soon as I was done the last page.

Find This Book In Second Chance Romance Novels / Hotel Novels / Ultimate Beach Reads 2023 / Carley Fortune Books In Order

The Summer of Songbirds

The Summer of Songbirds by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Daphne, Lanier, and Mary Stuart met at Camp Holly Springs as 6-year-olds and have remained inseparable ever since. They have been through unplanned pregnancies and addiction, and have taken on each other’s hard things. 

Now, with the camp that they love so much in danger of closing, the three women come together to help Daphne’s aunt (and owner of the camp) save their beloved home. 

Why I Loved It: Every so often you read a book that brings you back to your childhood. Kirsty Woodson Harvey brought me back to my summers at camp. This book touched my heart. I loved every word! This is a real celebration of friendship and chosen family.

Find this Book in Best Books of 2023 / Lake Novels / Summer Camp Novels

Tom Lake

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

August 2023 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return home and beg their mother to tell the story of her romance with a movie star from long ago.

Throughout their Mom’s telling of her summer theatre experience at Tom Lake, the daughters get the long-awaited answers to questions they’ve asked for years. The whole family also re-examines their lives and relationships through the new lens of information. While this is a pandemic story, it’s more of a plot device to get the family together than anything else. So don’t expect to be triggered!

Why I Loved it: Ann Patchett is an amazing storyteller and I love all her books, so it’s no surprise that this story is one of my best books of 2023 picks! I was completely enchanted by this story, especially because Meryl Streep reads the audiobook version.

Find this book in Best Books of 2023 / Novels Set on a Lake / Isolation Books / Family Dramas

Thrilling Novels set on a Lake

the last party

The Last Party (DS Morgan #1) by Clare Mackintosh

Rhys Lloyd is having a New Year’s party in his house on Mirror Lake. By morning, Rhys is dead. The story is told from multiple viewpoints by different characters over the same time period. Rhys is not the popular guy we think he is at the beginning of the book.

This is by far the best mystery I have read in a long time. One party, one body, and everyone had a reason for wanting him dead. This is a brilliant well-thought-out, locked room mystery that reminds me of Agatha Christie or the movie Clue- because everyone had motive and opportunity.

Why I Love It: The answer is brilliant and kept me guessing until the last page- and I was still left with my mouth agape!!! Clare Mackintosh delivers excellent mysteries that are well-written and brilliantly executed.

Find This Book In Lake Novel / Ultimate List of Mysteries / Locked Room Mysteries / Best Beach Reads of 2023 / New Year’s Eve Books

The House Across the Lakew

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Casey Fletcher is an actress who is fleeing bad press after the death of her beloved husband. She retreats to the family’s lake house, despite the fact that this is where he husband drowned.

Casey spends her days drinking and spying on the house across the lake. When she saves former supermodel, Katherine Royce from drowning, the two strike up a friendship. It becomes clear that Katherine and her husband are having some serious issues

Some points in the story moved slowly for me and at one point, the story nearly lost me. But, I am so glad that I kept reading it because there were surprises that I did not see coming.

Why I Like It: We LOVE Riley Sager. His books have so many twists and turns and this one is no exception.

Find This Book In The Best Riley Sager Books Ranked / Novels Set on a Lake

book of cold cases

Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

The Lady Killer murders have haunted Clare Lake Oregon since 1977 when two men with no connection to each other were murdered. They had no enemies, were murdered with the same gun, and the only witness saw a woman’s hair under the cloak. Beth Greer seemed to fit the bill- rich and beautiful- but she was acquitted.

Years later, Shea Collins, a survivor of an attempted abduction as a child spends her days as a receptionist and her nights running a website called the Book of Cold Cases. When she meets Beth and asks for an interview, everything changes.

Why I love it: There is so much to this story- it is unexpected, scary, and unputdownable. What is it about lake books that makes them perfect thrillers?

Find this book in Novels Set on a Lake / Books Set in the 70s

the last time I lied

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Emma is returning to her summer camp as a counselor after avoiding it since the tragedy of her bunkmates, Vivian, Natalie, and Allison’s disappearance. Trying to piece together what happened that fateful summer, she realizes she might be in danger.

Why I Loved it: I was so freaked out that I finished this thriller in 2 days, maybe because I visited my own overnight camp while reading it. I just needed to know how it ended! Other people have told me they were shocked at the twists and turns too.

Find this book in Books set at Camp / Best Riley Sager Books / Lake Novels / Popular Thrillers

Pretty Things

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Taking place on the shores of Lake Tahoe, this story is a dual narrative that switches between a grifter and the heiress she is trying to rob.

Nina and her boyfriend, Lachlan, are in town to steal from the wealthy Tahoe inhabitants, specifically Vanessa, an heiress and influencer. But Nina is hiding her connection to Stonehaven, the mansion Vanessa lives in.

The twists kept coming until I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or which person was actually being conned.

Why I Loved it: I love a good thriller, but I’ve found they become predictable after a while. I adored Pretty Things because it kept me on my toes! I listened to this one, so I can tell you that the audiobook was one of my favorites of the year.

Find this book in Lake Novels / Book about Thieves

Historical Fiction Lake Books

The Lake House

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Kate Morton’s sweeping novel is set a bit later than Downton Abbey, but the large home and noble family depicted could easily be the Crawleys. This story takes place in 1933 on the night of a Midsummer Eve party when a child goes missing. 

Devastated by the loss, the Edevane family pack up their country estate and never returned. 70 years in the future, a local detective stumbles upon the case and figures out exactly what happened that fateful night. 

Why I Loved it: As always, Morton’s descriptions transport you into the story. The Edevanes and their estate come alive in this gripping gothic tale told as only Morton could tell it.

Find this book in Lake Books / Books Like Downton Abbey

mists of avalon

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

This is a fairy tale retelling of the story of King Arthur, featuring the Lady of the Lake, Paganism vs. Christianity, and an epic struggle for power.

Merlin and the Lady of the Lake practice pagan witchcraft, as they try to keep the old ways alive against the new religion gaining popularity, the choices they make for Arthur’s kingdom inspire the tale we know so well.

Why I Loved it: This was my first high fantasy book series, which I routinely think about. I read it in middle school (which I absolutely shouldn’t have) and devoured this tome in days. It captivated my imagination unlike anything I had ever read before.

The mini-series adaptation of this adult fantasy book is wonderful too and well worth the watch! It’s perfect for our list of Cornwall Books. If you love witch books, you will love this pick.

Find this book in Cornwall Books / Fairy Tale Retellings / Lake Books / Adult Fantasy Novels / Witch Books

Romance Novels set on a Lake

Just for the Summer

Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez

April 2024 GMA Book Club Pick

The premise of this story is rather straightforward and sweet – Justin and Emma discover they both have a “curse” where people immediately find their soul mate AFTER dating them. To find their own happily ever afters, they decide to date each other and then break up.

Sounds fun and light, right? But it’s so much more! Each of them is going through some very serious family drama which adds intimacy and drama immediately to their relationship. Their relationships with the secondary characters also made my heart soar. The representations of friendship, family bonds, and found family really tugged at my heart.

Why I Loved it: The romance!! Omg the butterflies this story gave me. Justin and Emma’s relationship may be my favorite romance ever. The way they supported each other, cared for one another, and loved each other was perfection.

Find this book in Beach Reads 2024 / Lake Books / New Romance Books 2024

Every Summer After and more goodreads choice awards 2022 books

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

I adored this charming second-chance romance set at a lake house. It was one of the most popular books on Instagram this summer and for good reason. Sam and Percy spent every summer together. They were best friends which turned into something more. After Percy makes the biggest mistake of her life, she stops going to her beloved house at the lake until she learns that Sam’s mom died. Now she has to return and confront her past.

Why I Love it: Sam is the teenage boy we all needed in our lives growing up, and he gets better with age! Meanwhile, I was rooting for Percy to get her happily ever after with Sam the whole time. I was swept away by their summer love story and you will be too! This is a must-read if you are looking for the best summer reads.
Find This Book in Carley Fortune Books In Order / Lake Books / Best Summer Reads 2023

Do you love this list of lake books as much as we do?

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