The 20 Best Beach Reads of All Time

best beach reads
The 20 Best Beach Reads of All Time 25

Is there anything better than sitting on the beach and reading a book? We made a list of the best beach reads of all time that are a must the next time you can indulge.

Some of these books can be finished in one sitting, and some will take a little longer but, either way, each of these books will keep you turning the pages. Just be sure to keep reapplying the sunscreen because you will definitely be preoccupied!

For more summer reading, look at the Beach Read Hub for all things related to summer reading or the Ultimate List of Beach Reads 2023 for the latest vacation reading.

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Table of Contents

Best Thrillers to Read on the Beach

We Were Never Here 1 1

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

A thriller that had me on the edge of my seat! Two best friends, Emily and Kristen, commit an accidental murder on vacation in Cambodia when they try to stop Emily from being sexually assaulted.

But the following year in Chile, it happens again. As Emily begins to suspect something is off with her best friend, she starts trying to distance herself from Kristen. But Kristen wants to keep Emily close.

With a narrator that is unreliable because she can’t seem to trust her own instincts or memory, the twists and turns keep coming with this thriller.

The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

June 2020 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

This is by far the best thriller that I have read in a while.  Thank you so much to for my copy of this book.  I love the multiple narrators, it really made the story come alive. 

The book starts with a dead body at an exclusive wedding being held on an island off the coast of Ireland.  The catch? We don’t know who was murdered.

I love the way this story and the characters were developed.  It was smart and suspenseful and completely unputdownable.  I not only needed to find out who did it and why but, who was the victim? This book also made our best of 2020 list.

Best Mystery Beach Reads

Dial A fo Aunties

Dial A for Aunties by Jessie Q Sutano

I heard great things about this romantic comedy/ murder mystery mashup. It sounds like the weirdest combo, right? This book had me laughing out loud.

Meddelin Chen has an amazing, meddling Chinese-Indonesian family. Meddelin and her four Aunts run a wedding business together. When Meddelin accidentally kills her date and he ends up in a cooler at a wedding with two thousand people, what can go wrong?

This comedy of errors is being adapted by Netflix and if it is anything like the book, it will be amazing too.

We also had to include this book in our Ultimate List of Feel Good Books

big summer

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

I love Jennifer Weiner.  Her writing is always fun and completely engaging.  This story was no exception.  It added a twist that I did not see coming but, loved. 

The story has a little “more” than some of her other books and it adds to the story. In a world of Instagram and influencers, mean girls, and over-the-top weddings this book asks the question: Can people really change? 

This book is perfect to read on the beach or a virtual beach with some ocean sounds in the background! 

Best Romance Beach Reads

beach read

Beach Read by Emily Henry

This is the best romance I have read in a long time.  What could be better than a romance about writers?  January is a romance writer who no longer believes in love.  Until she was 28, she led an idyllic life filled with the ideas of perfect love.  Augustus Everett is a literary fiction writer who has never believed in love.  They could not be more different.  When they find themselves living next door to each other they decide to help each other overcome their writer’s block by challenging each other to a writer’s duel. 

The Royal We

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Look no further than this royal romance. If you haven’t read this romance loosely based on Wills and Kate’s love story, read no further. This is the end-all, be-all of Royal Reads.

This novel spans from the time Bex and Prince Nick’s meeting in college until the night before their wedding. It goes through the ups and downs of the relationship and ends on a cliffhanger. But do not worry. The Heir Affair is already out and you can read that one next. If you need more royal reads, then we have an entire list you will love.

Next year in Havanna gorgeous
The 20 Best Beach Reads of All Time 26

Best Historical Fiction Beach Reads

the seven husbands of evelyn hugo by taylor jenkins reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A tell-all about a fictional Elizabeth Taylor-esque celebrity’s rise to Hollywood stardom, her seven husbands, and the true love of her life.

Evelyn Hugo has asked an unknown reporter, Monique Grant, to write her life story in a no-holds-barred book. There is a bit of mystery around why Monique was chosen and Evelyn certainly has her fair share of hardships as she claws her way to the top.

The drama and suffering adds dimension to the story that makes it so much more than fluff, though the inner workings of Hollywood were fun to read too. The story seems so candid that I honestly forgot that Evelyn Hugo was not a real celebrity. Taylor Jenkins Reid slays with this story finding the perfect balance of glamour and grit.

the island of sea woman

Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

I read the Island of Sea Woman by Lisa See and was captivated from the first page.   Lisa See’s last novel The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was absolutely brilliant and I felt the same way about this book.  

This historical fiction tells the story of a friendship between two women on the Korean Island, Jeju.  There, woman work as a diving collective to provide for their families and the men look after the children.  It was so interesting to read a story where some gender norms are completely reversed and others, like feeding women and children last, were still perpetuated.

Beyond the incredible history of this small island is the story of a remarkable friendship between Mi-Ja and Young-sook over decades.  Lisa See has done it again with this remarkable book.

Our Ultimate List of Best Historical Fiction has an amazing list of more books to check out.

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton - A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick! #reesewitherspoonbookclub #nextyearinhavana

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

July 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

I picked up Next Year in Havana after Reese Witherspoon recommended it in July – I wasn’t disappointed! This historical fiction tale about a young Cuban American woman who visits Cuba for the first time to spread her grandmother’s ashes is one of my favorite books of the year. What Marisol thought would be a simple quest turns her world upside down as she uncovers secrets from her grandmother’s past. Cuba becomes a character in this novel and it’s truly spectacular. 5 stars.

Best Beach Reads of 2021

The Last Thing He Told me

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

I raved about this book when I read it earlier this month! Well chosen, Reese! The story of a stepmother and her daughter as they try to find the girl’s father after his abrupt departure.

This mystery has so much heart as you see Hannah bond with and try to protect her new stepdaughter, Bailey. I did not see the ending of this book coming, but absolutely adored it.

haven point

Haven Point by Virginia Hume

What a wonderful read. I truly can’t explain how much this book swept me away to Haven Point as I learned about four generations of the Demarest family.

This story focuses on the great-grandmother, grandmother (Maren), mother, and daughter (Skye) as they spend their summers in the waspy coastal town. Secrets unfold, loves bloom and fade, and the ties that bond are explored.

A wonderful beach read with heart, I hope you take a chance and get swept away too.

the House in the Cerulean Sea

House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune

Linus baker works as a caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth.  He is sent on a mission to a secret orphanage where 6 of the world’s most dangerous youth live.  This story was so much more than the sum of its parts.

The magic and the orphan aspect are all reminiscent of Harry Potter. The story has just a touch of magic but somehow seems relevant. 

If you love Magical Realism like I do, be sure to check out our amazing list of Magical Realism Books!

Best Beach Reads of 2022

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle has done it again with this book. Katy’s mother, Carol, has died and left Katy to take their trip to Positano alone. When Katy leaves she is uncertain about everything and whether she will retun to her marriage.

Then, the impossible happens, and Carol appears at Katy’s hotel. She is in perfect health and thirty years old. She is not the woman Katy thought she knew. As she gets to know her mother, she realizes more about herself. Beautifully written and a must-read.

The Patron Saint of Second Chances

Patron Saint of Second Chances by Christine Simon

The mayor of the Italian town needs money to repair the town’s pipes, so he hatches a plot to drum up business in town by saying a famous movie star is coming to make a movie.

The next thing he knows, he’s having to make an actual movie starring the locals with no experience and the craziest script while keeping up the ruse that the celebrity is coming.

I laughed so hard at scenes in this comedic feel-good book that I woke up my sleeping husband. This was a charming book set in Italy and the perfect vacation read. It is a five star contemporary fiction book.

Best Women’s Fiction Beach Reads

Under the Southern Sky

Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey

This southern beach reads is a total summer 2021 must-read. It’s uplifting and poignant and had me laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time.⁣

It starts with a woman whose marriage is ending and a widower dealing trying to move on. They are childhood friends and she discovers that the embryos he froze with his deceased wife are deemed abandoned. ⁣

He’s determined to find a surrogate and she’s determined to support him. Their mothers, on the other hand, are determined to get them together.⁣

The story is set in Palm Beach and Cape Carolina, with a touch of NYC. Some of the scenes gave me such Dawson’s Creek vibes too!!⁣

28 Summers

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

This is my favorite  Hilderbrand book to date and it is an emotional story is a tear-jerker for sure.

At the end of her life, Mallory asks her son to make a phone call.  The person who answers the phone is  McCloud whose wife is the front-runner to become the next POTUS.⁣

The story follows a unique love that spans a lifetime – one weekend each summer, for 28 years to be exact.⁣ 28 summers redefine what it means to be a soulmate. This is one beach read that you need to purchase this summer.

crazy rich asians

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Ready for some over-the-top wedding shenanigans? Kevin Kwan delivers! When a young man decides to bring his girlfriend home to Singapore for a wedding, she has no idea what to expect.

She didn’t know he was crazy rich, that his family was crazy, and that everything in Singapore is more, more, more. The details in these pages were so vivid, I could picture everything!

This one makes it onto our list of the best books about weddings, too!

Book Club Picks for the Beach


Hula by Jasmin Iolani Hakes

Hula is not only one of the best beach read of 2023, but it’s also one of the best books of 2023! I picked up this book based on the cover and the thoughts of the hula dance competition, but instead of the fun read I was expecting, I got a coming-of-age story about a light-skinned Hawaiian who is trying to prove she belongs by learning to Hula.

But this Hula isn’t just a dance, it keeps the legends and legacies of the Hawaiian culture alive. Sprinkled throughout this story, while Hi’i is fighting to prove her worth, we see glimpses of her mother and grandmother’s lives, as well el as vignettes that explain Hawaii’s history, colonization, and the struggle of native Hawaiians today.

There is so much to uncover in this book, so many layers to absorb. I was entertained while reading it, but more importantly, I learned so much. I’ll be raving about this for years to come! This is one of the best thought-provoking books I have ever read.

the guncle

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Steven Rowley is a writer who has mastered the art of storytelling. With his signature wit and humor, this book tackles love, loss, and growth

When Patrick’s sister-in-law dies and Patrick’s brother needs to go to rehab, Patrick takes custody of his niece and nephew for 90 days.

I am such a fan of Steven Rowley and each book provides depth and insight into people at their best and worst.

last summer at the golden hotel

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel is all about 2 families who own a resort in the Catskills and are thinking of selling or overhauling the Golden.

Three generations of the Goldman’s and Weismann clans have gathered to make the decision and family secrets are unspooling left and right in the midst of goat yoga, comedy shows, and salon catastrophes.

It’s was a pleasure to read it while staying at the Hyatt on the Chesapeake and experiencing some resort life of my own. 

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelridge

This is a wonderful book about love and survival.  It is so much more than it appears on the surface.  It’s a beautifully written book.

When Sophie and Barry find themselves on an Island as the sole survivors of a plane crash, they learn to depend on each other.  The book moves seamlessly from the past to the present, weaving and intricate tale. It’s one of Kirsten’s all-time favorites.

Looking for more amazing book club picks? We have an amazing list!

What are the essentials for reading on the beach?

Kirsten spends a lot of time at the beach so she is the expert when it comes to the essentials. I (Jackie) spend a lot of time reading outside next to a pool. Both of us are very fair skinned and take our reading very seriously. So, we wanted to give you a list of our favorite essentials. From hats and sunscreen to beach chairs, flip flops, and waterproof devices, this is a list of our absolute favorite things.

What is your favorite beach read? Did it make it onto our list of all time best beach reads?

Ultimate Beach Reads 1

Ultimate Beach Reads 2023: The Hottest Summer Reads

Looking for more beach reads? Check out our Ultimate List of Beach Reads for 2023

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