The 20 Best Beach Reads of All Time

Best Beach Reads of All Time

Is there anything better than sitting on the beach and reading a book? I 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!

What makes a great beach read? I think great beach reads are page-turners- books that will keep you engrossed in the book. I also think a great beach read needs to have a great story, but nothing so heavy that your mood will be dampened. When you are relaxing on the beach you need something that is a little on the lighter side.

These books are juicy books that are easy to read on the beach. These are not necessarily the newest books but if you have not read these summer reads, you are missing out on some of the best beach reads of all time.

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Best Beach Reads of All Time

Thrillers/ Mystery/ Romance / Fiction / Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Women’s Fiction / Book Club

Best Thrillers to Read on the Beach

The Last Thing He Told me

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

May 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

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 is a powerful book about motherhood.

Why I Like It: 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. This is one of the mystery books that will keep you turning the page.

Find this book in Domestic Noir / Books About Mothers / Ultimate Mysteries / Best Beach Reads

the resort

The Resort by Sara Ochs

Set on a secluded resort island in Thailand, the story is told by Cass, an ex-pat who is outrunning her former life, and Brooke, a travel influencer who isn’t quite what she seems.

When Cass discovers the body of a murdered resort guest while teaching her scuba diving class, their sleepy resort is thrown into chaos. Cass and her fellow ex-pats, known as The Permanents, will do anything to avoid media exposure, but as bodies pile up, Cass and Brooke begin to explore what dark secrets lie at the heart of the island.

Why I Loved It: This novel was a thrill ride from the opening murder scene. I was left completely unprepared for the conclusion and the final chapter had me gasping out loud! I can’t imagine a more fun tropical thriller.

Find this book in Hotel Novels / Full Cast Audiobooks / Best Beach Reads / Best New Thriller Books

The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

June 2020 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

I’ve just read THE thriller of Summer 2020 and it’s soooooo good.⁣ A murder at a wedding. On an isolated island. In the middle of a power outage.⁣ Yaaaaaaaaas. ⁣This is an unputdownable psychological thriller book and a vacation I would NOT want to be on.

The murder sets the scene and then we get the story in flashbacks without knowing who is murdered until the end. ⁣

Why I Love it: I’ve become very picky about thrillers recently and this one is hands down my favorite of the year so far.⁣ It also made our Best of 2020 list!

Find this book in Locked Room Mysteries / Books Like People We Meet on Vacation / Best British Mysteries / Books Becoming Movies in 2024 / Hulu Book Adaptations / Best Beach Reads

Best Mystery Beach Reads to Fall in Love With

Dial A fo Aunties

Dial A for Aunties by Jessie Q Sutano

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? Did I mention that the wedding also happens to be at a hotel where her ex-boyfriend and love works?

Netflix is adapting this comedy of errors and if it is anything like the book, it will be amazing too.

Why I Like It: 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. The characters are flawed which makes them even more loveable, and the absolute chaos is hilarious.

Find This Book In family drama books / Best Beach Reads

Anxious People  and more of the best books of 2020

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman is a master storyteller and he does it again with this book. ⁣He somehow manages to tackle difficult subjects without trivializing them but still allowing them to be humorous.

This book is a story of a bank robbery gone very wrong and the idiots in the story (his word, not mine) who are taken hostage after the failed robbery. While the police are interviewing each of the hostages to find the robbers, they become more confused after each interview. ⁣It is also a story about compassion, human relationships, and the daily struggles that we all have. ⁣

Why I Love It: I love how Fredrik Backman’s books show the good in people despite the flaws that make them human. Backman writes so many different kinds of books but they all have so much heart. Backman weaves themes of love, friendship, and compassion throughout all his books.

Find This Book in Books Like A Man Called Ove / New Year’s Eve Books / Best Beach Reads / Locked Room Mysteries

Best Romance Beach Reads for Vacation

beach read

Beach Read by Emily Henry

This is one of the best romance books 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. This might be my favorite pick from our list of enemies-to-lovers books.

Find this book in Enemies-to-Lovers Romance Books / Grumpy Sunshine Romance / Emily Henry Books / Books About Books / Best Beach Reads

unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive and Ami are twins. While Ami seems to be lucky in everything, Olive knows that if it can happen, it will happen to her. So when everyone gets food poisoning at Ami’s wedding except Olive and her nemesis Ethan, she can’t decide if her luck has changed. This is the fake dating trope to the extreme- fake marriage.

As the two head out on the free, all-inclusive honeymoon that was supposed to be Ami and her new husband, Olive hopes they can call a truce long enough to enjoy the trip.

Why I Love it: I loved this hilarious romance as soon as I read it. It is the perfect romantic comedy book.

Find this book in Romance Tropes / Rom-Com Books / Fake Dating Books / Grumpy Sunshine Books / Books Like People We Meet on Vacation / Seaside 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 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 meet 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.

Why I Love It: I like to think that this is the story of Wils and Kate. It is the ultimate royal read and this is the royal book I recommend most often.

Find This Book In Books Set in College / Royal Reads / Books Like The Selection / Best Beach Reads

Best Beach Reads: Fiction

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.

Why I Love It: This is a wonderful beach read with heart, I hope you take a chance and get swept away too. It’s one of the best family saga books I’ve ever read.

Find this Book in Family Saga Books / Best Beach Reads

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.

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

Find This Book In: Feel-Good Book / Book set in Italy / Best Beach Reads of All Time

Next year in Havanna gorgeous

Best Historical Fiction Beach Reads

the seven husbands of evelyn hugo 1

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 add 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 forgot that Evelyn Hugo was not a real celebrity. 

Why I Love It: Taylor Jenkins Reid slays with this story finding the perfect balance of glamour and grit. Evelyn seeks to change her life and in doing so, changes for the better. Every person who has read this book at my recommendation has loved it/

Find This Book In: Best Romance Novels of All Time / Books Like A Man Called Ove / Best Book for Book Clubs / Best Books to Read on Beach

the island of sea woman

Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

This historical fiction tells the story of a friendship between two women on the Korean Island of Jeju. There, women work as a diving collective to provide for their families while men look after the children.  It was interesting to read a story where some gender norms are 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 the decades.

Why I Loved It:  Lisa See has done it again with this remarkable story. I was captivated from the first page, as I am with anything See writes.

Find this book in Best Books 2019 / Family Saga Books / Friendship Books / Best Beach Reads of all Time

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 is about a young Cuban American woman, Marisol, who visits Cuba for the first time.

She’s arrived to spread her grandmother’s ashes but what Marisol thought would be a simple quest turns her world upside down as she uncovers secrets from her grandmother’s past.

Why I Loved it: Cuba becomes a character in this novel and it’s truly spectacular. I was so sad when my time with Perez Family ended, but I’m delighted that Chanel Cleeton decided to return to the family.

Find this book in Best Books of 2018 / Best Beach Reads Ever / Chanel Cleeton Books / Best Beach Reads

Best Beach Reads: Fantasy Books

the House in the Cerulean Sea

House in 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 isolated on an island where 6 of the world’s most dangerous youth live. 

Linus is sent to determine if the children are being cared for properly. Linus, who lives his life by the book, will have to look deeper to try and find the real answers to his questions.

Why I Love it: This story was so much more than the sum of its parts. I felt like I had met each of the children in the story. Even though the story has magic, it somehow seems completely relevant to our society now. The magic and the orphan aspect are all reminiscent of Harry Potter.

Find this book in Magical Realism Books / Feel-Good Books / Book for Book Club / Books About Friendship / Cozy Reads / Books With Color in the Title / Best Beach Reads

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle has done it again with this book set in Italy. 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 return 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.

Why I Love It: This is a beautiful, well-written book with a touch of magic. I loved how Katy and Carol are able to develop a relationship in Italy after Carol died. It is unique and wonderful.

Find This Book In: Contemporary Fiction / Book Set in Italy / Book About Grief / Best Magical Realism Books / Books About Mothers/ Books Set on a Beach / Book Club Book

Best Women’s Fiction Beach Reads

Under the Southern Sky

Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey


This book 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!!⁣

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

Find This Book In: Best Books of 2021 / Best Beach Reads of All Time

Five Star Weekend

The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand

Hollis Shaw’s life comes crashing down when her husband dies in a car accident. In order to get her life back on track, Hollis decides to have a 5-star weekend- one weekend with her best friends from her teens, twenties, thirties, and middle age.

While not my favorite Elin Hilderbrand book, this delightful story was so much fun. The drama made for an entertaining story and a clear winner for one of the best beach reads of 2023. It had me reminiscing about my lifetime best friends and what a weekend with them all in one home would be like. It’s one of the most unique books about friendship I’ve ever read.

crazy rich asians

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Ready for some over-the-top wedding shenanigans? Kevin Kwan delivers in this wedding book! 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 within these pages were so vivid, I could picture everything in this one-of-a-kind contemporary fiction!

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

Book Club Picks for the Beach

hula

Hula by Jasmin Iolani Hakes

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 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 and vignettes that explain Hawaii’s history, colonization, and the struggle of native Hawaiians today.

Why I Loved it: 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!

Find this book in Thought-provoking Books / Beach Reads 2023 / Best Books 2023 / Best Female BIPOC Authors / Family Saga / Best Beach Reads of All Time

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. Patrick is basically David from Schitt’s Creek with snark and sass. He treats the kids like mini-adults in the most delightful way.

Why I Love It: I am such a fan of Steven Rowley and each book provides depth and insight into people at their best and worst. While this is a book about grief, you will find yourself laughing out loud multiple times throughout. It’s a poignant reminder of the importance of family.

Find This Book In: Books About Grief / Best Beach Reads of All Time / Poolside Novels / Popular LGBTQ Novels

The 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. This is the ultimate in family drama books.

Three generations of the Goldmans 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 was a pleasure to read it while staying at the Hyatt on the Chesapeake and experiencing some resort life of my own. 

Find this book in Best Books for Book Clubs / Summer Camp Books / Books With Colors in the Title

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelridge

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 an intricate tale.

Why I Love It: This is a wonderful contemporary fiction book about love and survival.  It is so much more than it appears on the surface. I cried during the ending and have been singing it’s praises ever since. Everyone I’ve ever recommended this one too has had the same response.

Find this book in Kirsten’s Favorite Books / Feel-Good Books / Plane Crash Novels / Books Like People We Meet on Vacation / Books Set at the Beach

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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