8 Gripping Beach Reads to Cool Off With This Summer

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8 Gripping Beach Reads to Cool Off With This Summer

Summer is finally upon us, and for many, that means more time lounging around – whether it’s at the beach, by the pool, or in front of an air conditioner. And there’s no better way to unwind than by adding a good book to the mix.

Of course, some stories scream summertime more than others. These eight fit that description, making them ideal for any day off, a trip to the beach, or a seasonal getaway.


Family of Liars by E. Lockhart

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We Were Liars proved a perfect beach read when it came out back in 2014, and its prequel is no different.

Bringing fans back to the Sinclair family’s private island, E. Lockhart’s Family of Liars elicits all the feelings of summer that We Were Liars did. It will treat you to bonfires, barbecues, and boat rides—along with a dark twist reminiscent of Lockhart’s previous work.

And Lockhart’s writing has a way of pulling readers in from start to finish. A short, easy read, Family of Liars is the sort of book that keeps you in the sun way too long. It’ll feel like no time has passed once you look up and realize you’ve finished reading.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

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As its title suggests, Emily Henry’s Beach Read is a solid addition to any summer TBR pile.

The novel sees a romance unraveling between two writers who are spending the summer in neighboring beach houses. Both Augustus and January find themselves struggling in their careers. And although their writing styles couldn’t be more different, the two band together to overcome their lack of inspiration.

As they tackle their summer writing experiment, sparks start to fly. A fun, lighthearted ride that any book lover will enjoy, Beach Read will grip you right from the very beginning. That’s precisely why it lives up to its name.

Shipped by Angie Hockman

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Those on the hunt for romances should make time for Angie Hockman’s Shipped this summer. Following two competing colleagues forced to take a company cruise together, Shipped is every bit as entertaining as its premise makes it sound.

Readers follow Henley and Graeme to the Galápagos Islands, where they’ll realize they don’t detest one another as much as they’d assumed. However, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re gunning for the same promotion. Their blossoming relationship will complicate matters, forcing them to take a good, hard look at what’s important.

Fans of workplace romances and hate-to-love entanglements will no doubt devour Shipped in one sitting. And its cruise and island settings make a promising case for reading it in the sun.

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther

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Speaking of summer romances, readers may also want to check out K.L. Walther’s The Summer of Broken Rules.

Set during a family trip to Martha’s Vineyard, the setting alone makes this one an ideal pick for the pool or beach. Walther’s novel follows Meredith Fox, who’s still reeling from her sister’s death when the story opens. She hopes to push herself back into the world by attending her annual family trip. This year, that happens to include a wedding.

The celebrations also feature the family’s regular game of Assassin, which promises to present Meredith with unexpected challenges – the biggest of which is that she’s falling for her “target.” The groomsman she’s up against threatens to wheedle his way into her heart, giving readers plenty to swoon over as they enjoy the game and festivities.

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

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Who doesn’t love a little escapism this time of year? Rebecca Serle’s One Italian Summer delivers on that front, whisking readers away to Italy, where they’ll experience the sights, sounds, and delicacies through the book’s main character.

Unfortunately, Katy’s story starts on a more melancholic note than some of the others on this list. One Italian Summer opens with the loss of her mother. Worsening her grief is a trip to Italy the pair planned to take—one that Katy will now embark on alone. At least, that’s what she believes will happen.

When Katy arrives, however, she’s in for a surprise: her mom shows up, decades younger but very much present. The two spend one last trip together, offering readers a touching and magical story about love and grief. It’s perfect for your beach bag—just remember to pack tissues with it!

If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber

The cover of Robby Weber’s If You Change Your Mind simply screams summertime, and its contents confirm it’s perfect for the season.

A young adult story centered on an aspiring screenwriter, If You Change Your Mind opens with its main character swearing off boys for the summer. Harry’s set on winning a screenplay competition that will boost his chances of getting into his dream school. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

Despite Harry’s focus on his screenwriting dreams, he soon finds himself in a summer love triangle. Should he choose the ex who broke his heart or the new boy in town? It’s a classic setup, but it’s one that always manages to draw us in.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reed

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Taylor Jenkins Reed captured hearts with The Seven Lives of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & the Six. Her 2021 novel, Malibu Rising, offers a similarly gripping story, this time set in 1983, covering 24 hours in the life of the Riva family.

Every year, they throw a party to celebrate the end of summer. This time, things promise to get out of hand—from secrets being revealed to an evening ending in literal flames.

Malibu Rising is an atmospheric, mysterious, and character-driven story that will keep readers turning the pages. It’s precisely the sort of addicting, fast-paced novel you might reach for – and finish – during a summer afternoon.

The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

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Horror and thriller novels tend to be more popular during the Halloween season, but some are just made for summer—and Lucy Clarke’s The Castaways fits that description to a tee. The Castaways features two sisters who plan a holiday to a remote island. However, only one of them ever boards their plane. Lori and the rest of the passengers are never heard from again. And years later, Erin is still attempting to uncover the truth about what happened.

Told over two timelines, The Castaways presents a mystery readers won’t be able to put down. The island setting is a bonus that makes it a great choice for the beach. Just maybe don’t read it ahead of any island getaways…

Amanda Mullen is a pop culture writer who can usually be found juggling her never-ending Netflix queue with the pile of books she needs to read. You can find her gushing about all things entertainment @peaksandpages on Twitter.