The 24 Best Beach Reads of 2024 (2024)

Technically, a beach read is just the book you happen to be reading when your toes are in the sand and you’re macro-dosing vitamin D directly from the source. But there are hallmarks of an excellent beach read, qualities that set it apart from your average, everyday excellent book. Despite their reputation as light fare, beach reads have to hold the reader in their grip for the entirety of a yawning vacation day—no small feat at all.

In a list like the one below, genre really gets to shine, from thrillers (see: Amy Tintera’s Listen for the Lie or Alyssa Cole’s inventive One of Us Knows) to romances (Ashley Poston’s A Novel Love Story) to crime fiction (Tana French’s The Hunter). Sometimes great beach reads are also set in vacation towns during the summer months, like Swan Song, the final novel in Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket series, or Carley Fortune’s electric This Summer Will Be Different. That’s a real thrill—it’s like double vacation. Below, find 24 vastly different stories that will keep you entertained, moved, and engrossed all the way to Labor Day.


Good Material, by Dolly Alderton

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Dolly Alderton, a British author with a growing U.S. following, writes a funny book. Her second novel (and third book overall) begins with a breakup. Jen ends things with Andy, which pitches him into a lovelorn fit, searching for the why of it all. Andy, 35, is a stand-up comedian whose agent is ghosting him and who can’t find friends who have time for him. (They’re dedicating all their previous hangout time to raising their young families.) This one is for those who love Nora Ephron, Nick Hornby, and Hugh Grant’s early work.


Come and Get It, by Kiley Reid

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Kiley Reid’s follow-up to New York Times bestseller Such a Fun Age takes us back to the heady, hazy days of 2017. In Come and Get It, Millie Cousins is a resident assistant at the University of Arkansas who dreams of buying a house after graduation. Agatha Paul is a visiting professor writing a book about weddings. Agatha’s and Millie’s paths cross when the academic heads to the dorms to interview students, ends up fascinated with how the young women talk about money, and ultimately pays Millie to let her eavesdrop from her dorm room. This is a book about how money shapes people’s lives, and it’s for you if you enjoy a character-driven narrative in which everyone introduced comes with an elaborate backstory.


The Women, by Kristin Hunter

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This book will pull on your heartstrings. Opening in the mid-1960s, during the Vietnam War, and spanning two decades, it follows Frankie McGrath, who joins the Army Nurse Corps. Thrown into the war-torn jungle, she must watch young men die and is forced to build relationships to help endure the pain. It’s a heavy, emotional book that you won’t be able to put down. It’s also a story will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.

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Leaving, by Roxana Robinson

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Former college flames Warren and Sarah meet at the opera after years (and marriages) have gone by. This second meeting at age 60 sparks something in both of them, but exploring a relationship is not as simple as it once was. Warren is still married, and he and Sarah both have grown children with opinions. Though he seems ready to leave his wife, Sarah feels conflicted, having gone through a difficult divorce herself. Leaving delves beautifully into what families are to each other and what’s owed to them, love in our later years, and how to balance passion and morality.

Cal Hooper left the Chicago PD to live a quiet life in the tiny town of Ardnakelty in western Ireland. He found a girlfriend, Lena, and took in a mess of a teenager, Trey. But just as Cal has guided the young woman onto a decent path, her father—a charmer and a cad—returns home with a posh Englishman. He’s plotting to strike it rich, while Trey is plotting her revenge. A couple of caveats to know going in: The Hunter has a different, more winding tone than French’s beloved Dublin Murder Squad series, and it behooves the reader to tackle her first book about Cal, 2015’s The Searcher, prior to picking up this one.


Anita de Monte Laughs Last, by Xochitl Gonzalez

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If you couldn’t look away from the relationship dynamics explored in A Star Is Born or Anatomy of a Fall, you’ll want to read Xochitl Gonzalez’s new one, Anita de Monte Laughs Last. Raquel Toro arrives at Brown in 1998 to find the famously crunchy Ivy is still a bastion of wealth and whiteness. Raquel, from a Puerto Rican working-class background, pursues her thesis in art history by researching a promising young Cuban-American artist who died in 1985 under mysterious circ*mstances. As she discovers more about Anita de Monte and the dead woman’s tricky romantic relationship with Jack Martin—a fellow artist, philanderer, and Anita’s biggest critic—Raquel begins to see parallels with her own work and relationship. Well paced, entertaining, and full of flights of fancy, this story about tragic power dynamics and dueling careers is heavy but flies by.

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Queen Charlotte, by Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes

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Yes, this book was reverse-engineered from last year’s prequel spin-off of Bridgerton, the immensely popular Netflix series adapted by Shonda Rhimes’s company from Julia Quinn’s novels—but with such good source material, it would be a mistake not to adapt the show into a book perfect for the lazy, hazy days of summer. As in the show, this one—out now in paperback—begins when Lady Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz arrives at the court of King George III to marry him. As the headstrong new queen is adjusting to her fresh life in a strange palace, she discovers a dark secret about the husband she’s just met.


The House of Hidden Meanings: A Memoir, by RuPaul

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RuPaul—a name synonymous with drag—tells the story of his life, from sticking out like a queer thumb in San Diego all the way to finding both sobriety and love with his husband, Georges LeBar. It’s less a celebrity memoir revealing decades-old gossip from a safe vantage point, and more a searching examination of Ru’s road to self-acceptance. Heady stuff indeed, but chock-full of the longtime star’s wit and humor.


Listen for the Lie, by Amy Tintera

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What happens when a wildly popular podcast and its enigmatic, handsome host begin to investigate the mystery of your best friend’s murder—in which you are the prime suspect? The story of Texas sweethearts Savvy and Lucy—one murdered, the other unsure if she did it or not—is one of those totally engrossing reads that will have you looking up from your beach chair every once in a while to say, “Oh, that’s right. I’m at the beach.”

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Selling the Dream: The Billion-Dollar Industry Bankrupting Americans, by Jane Marie

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Jane Marie hosts popular podcast The Dream, an investigation into pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing companies that have been embedded in the United States for decades—and in this nonfiction book, she’s put it all down on paper. Her exploration of MLMs—and how they trap people in working-class communities, enriching those at the top and leaving those at the bottom poorer than they were before—is a wide-reaching, well-researched, look at a business structure most Americans eventually rub up against, either directly, through a friend or family member, or indirectly, through the powerful politicians who’ve built their wealth on MLMs.


Kill for Me, Kill for You, by Steve Cavanagh

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Kill for Me, Kill for You is about two grieving women, Wendy and Amanda, who meet in New York and realize they have a lot in common. They’ve both suffered unimaginable tragedies, and they’d really like to get revenge on the men who harmed them and their families. Over drinks, they make a pact: Each will kill the other’s tormentor. It’s like Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train if both parties were into the revenge idea. For readers drawn to white-knuckle plots and unpredictable twists, this one won’t disappoint.


Just for the Summer, by Abby Jimenez

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The 24 Best Beach Reads of 2024 (23)

Emma Grant meets Justin Dahl thanks to an “Am I the Asshole?” post he wrote on Reddit, in which he described a curious “curse,” under which the women he dates all seem to leave him and then immediately find the loves of their life. Emma has the same problem. The two hatch a plan to break the curse by dating each other: They’ll give it a go for just four dates (the number it usually takes for women to break up with Justin) over the course of a month (the length of time Emma’s relationships typically last), and then split. It won’t surprise you to learn it’s not quite that simple.

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Sociopath: A Memoir, by Patric Gagne

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Consider, for your spring break reading, a different kind of memoir: Patric Gagne realized from an early age that she wasn’t like other girls. She didn’t feel fear or guilt. Empathy eluded her. Eventually, she learned of a diagnosis that explained her lack of certain emotions (and also the behaviors she dabbled in, trying to fill in that void, like stealing cars and lying): She’s a sociopath. But Gagne didn’t like how people like her have been portrayed in the media, nor did she care for the grim prognosis for living a happy life as a sociopath. When an opportunity to love presents itself, she begins to hope that she is more than her diagnosis, and that may be able to change the world’s perception of people like her.


One of Us Knows, by Alyssa Cole (April 16)

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When Kenetria Nash was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (colloquially known as multiple personality disorder), it stalled her career in historic preservation. At the start of this story, Ken has been dormant for six years while her alters fronted for her—and when she wakes up, she’s on a dock with some luggage. She discovers she’s taken a job as a caretaker of a historic home on an island in the Hudson River. As she attempts to piece together how she got there and what has been happening in the world over the last few years, mysteries arise both within Ken and in the house. Then a group comes to stay, one of them ends up murdered, and she is blamed. The unusual premise works well in Cole’s capable hands, and she writes about DID with human nuance. One of Us Knows will certainly keep your heart beating while you’re relaxing by the shore.


Funny Story, by Emily Henry (April 23)

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The inimitable Emily Henry is back with a story of opposite attraction and fake relationships. Funny Story tells the tale of Daphne, who was engaged to Peter—until they moved to his hometown in Michigan, where he realized he was in love with Petra, his childhood friend. The polished Daphne decides to move in with Petra’s ex, the disorganized and slightly unkempt Miles. Daphne and Miles then fake a relationship until they potentially, maybe, you’ll-have-to-read-to-find-out-if-they make it.

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Silk, by Aarathi Prasad (April 30)

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Silk is known as the queen of fibers. Its sheen is alluring, beautiful, and slippery, and it has a rich, rich history. Allow researcher Aarathi Prasad—who has a PhD in molecular genetics—to walk you through that history, how silk is made, and how it has been used across cultures. It’s a mix of science, history, and textiles that will teach more about the alluring fabric than you’d ever think you could know.


This Summer Will Be Different, by Carley Fortune (May 7)

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Carly Fortune is a growing voice in the world of perfect beach reads, and This Summer Will Be Different is one of her best so far. In it, she takes her readers to the coastal Northeast—beautiful Prince Edward Island. On vacation there, Lucy discovers her electrifying chemistry with a local man named Felix—before discovering Felix is the brother of her best friend, Bridget. That only makes her subsequent annual visits more complicated. What’s so great about this novel is that it’s a story about friendship as much as it is about a forbidden kind of love. (Your best friend’s brother? Has someone ever been more off-limits?)


Last House, by Jessica Shattuck (May 14)

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This one is for readers who like to immerse themselves in a decades-long, multigenerational familial saga while their toes dangle in the sand. Over most of a century, Last House explores the American empire after World War II through one man’s pursuit of oil and how his family contends with the legacy made from the stuff. Jessica Shattuck is a best-selling author, and this novel, like her others, both moves and is incredibly moving.

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Housemates, by Emma Copley Eisenberg (May 28)

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Here’s one for the road-tripping vacationers: Bernie, a photographer, answers writer Leah’s ad for a housemate, and they develop a friendship. When Bernie’s photography professor dies and leaves her a surprise inheritance, the roomies leave their home in Philadelphia to drive to his place in rural Pennsylvania, meeting an engaging cast of characters along the way. It’s a genuine book about art, love, friendship, chosen family, and America in this moment.


Swan Song, by Elin Hilderbrand (June 11)

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The 24 Best Beach Reads of 2024 (36)

Elin Hilderbrand is the doyen of the beach read, the queen of all things sun, fun, and intrigue, one of the best to ever do it,and Swan Song is the cleverly titled final installment of her popular Nantucket series. It’s a stranger-comes-to-town tale, and these particular strangers—the Richardsons—are mysterious, wealthy, and mysteriously wealthy. No one seems to know how they made their money. When the lavish summer home they bought for $22 million burns to the ground and a woman goes missing, the town is obviously upset. You’ll see all your old favorite characters from the previous Nantucket novels, and this final act is chock-full of all Hilderbrand’s hallmarks, from family drama to romance.

The 24 Best Beach Reads of 2024 (2024)


Is Beach Read steamy? ›

Rated: High, for about 20 instances of strong language and more instances of milder/moderate profanity, and sexual content including two sex scenes, one several pages long and pretty detailed and the other not as long but still detailed.

What to read on holiday in 2024? ›

  • People We Meet on Vacation Emily Henry.
  • Every Summer After Carley Fortune.
  • The Summer of Broken Rules K.L. Walther. Want to Read.

How old are January and Gus in Beach Read? ›

Jackie Robinson January is 29 and Gus is 32. By the end of the book they are a year older than that.

Does summer reading matter? ›

Most kids enrolled in summer reading programs develop an interest in reading, improve their comprehension, and further develop their memory skills. Reading content material even becomes more interesting.

What is a good summer reading goal? ›

Example Goals: Find time to read every day ● Read at least 140 minutes a week ● Read 10 books ● Choose all your books from a specific genre or a mix of genres: (historical fiction, adventure, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, memoir, biography, history, informational, poetry, etc.)

How graphic is Beach Read? ›

There are some pretty heavy sex scenes and 20 instances of strong language. However, I highly recommend her YA books "A Million Junes" and "The Love that Split the World." I love those, and they're more appropriate on content (on my Rated Reads website, I rate them both "moderate", like about a PG-13).

Which is better Beach Read or book lovers? ›

Beach Read did feel like an earlier book by Henry (which it was) than Book Lovers. I think she's a fast learner and is improving (or her editing is getting better because she's frickin' famous now). So while it is a must-read if you do enjoy romance, I did think Book Lovers was better, a tad more mature.

Can a 12 year old read Beach Read? ›

You can read this book if you're seventeen and older.

What is everyone reading now in 2024? ›

The 38 books we're excited to read in 2024
  • "The Heiress" by Rachel Hawkins. ...
  • "Shut Up, This Is Serious" by Carolina Ixta. ...
  • "Don't Want You Like a Best Friend" by Emma R. ...
  • "The Atlas Complex" by Olivia Blake. ...
  • "The Night of the Storm" by Nish*ta Parekh. ...
  • "The Fury" by Alex Michaelides. ...
  • "Come and Get It" by Kiley Reid.
Jan 31, 2024

What is everyone reading right now for adults? ›

  • A Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin. Want to Read.
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin Sarah J. Maas. Want to Read.
  • All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr. Want to Read.

Is 2024 a special year? ›

2024 is a Leap Year, which means here is an extra day in February. Why do we have leap years? It takes approximately 365.25 days for Earth to orbit the Sun — a solar year. When added, four 0.25 days roughly equal one full day.

Why is Beach Read so popular? ›

The messiness and “whirlwind” nature of a beach read plot makes it more relatable than a typical single-plotline romance. The complex and flawed protagonist leaves her toxic relationship. She falls in love. She becomes empowered.

Do Gus and January end up together? ›

Gus dances with January in the rain and explains how his wife wants him back. Gus tells January he would rather be with January, and they decide to be together. Nine months later, both have successfully published their books.

Was Gus married in Beach Read? ›

He's defensive and angry about it, but finally tells her about his wife, Naomi, leaving him for his best friend and college roommate, Parker. They have a margarita night the next day and Gus reveals more about his ex-wife, a visual artist who he was married to for two years.

Can a 14 year old read every summer after? ›

This is not a young adult novel, yet half of the book does focus on Percy and Sam as teenagers, and those chapters reflect their age. They could be read as YA meant for older readers, but they work equally well as an adult looking back on life during those tumultuous years.

Should you read during the summer? ›

Summer reading is critical to a child's ability to not only retain information learned the previous year, but also to grow in knowledge and critical thinking skills for the coming year.

How many books should my child read over the summer? ›

least five books

during the summer can maintain important literacy skills. Take your child on regular trips to the library.

How do I prepare for summer reading? ›

5 Expert-Approved Summer Reading Tips for Kids
  1. Refresh the Reading Nook. Take it outside! ...
  2. Pack a Portable Library. ...
  3. Make Car Trips Conversational. ...
  4. Relocate the Bedtime Read-Aloud Routine for Sleepovers. ...
  5. Add Variety to Your Reading Repertoire.
May 30, 2024

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