11 Beach Books Perfect to Read by the Water

As you pack your bags for your next trip to the beach, the one thing you cannot forget to pack is a great book, or three. Take your pick from this list of some of our favorite beach books.

What Makes A Good Beach Read?

The best beach reads are page turners. It’s the kind of book that makes you lose track of time. Maybe it’s because a love story is so captivating, a mystery so puzzling, or an adventure so exciting.

Books for the beach come in all forms, genres, and lengths. And though beach reads are typically lighter in subject matter, as you’ll see in this list, there are worthwhile beach reads from the world of mental health and true crime.

Our list includes both easy-reading novels and great nonfiction books that will keep you glued to the pages.


Beach Books - My Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey

1. My Killer Vacation

by Tessa Bailey

A relaxing vacation on Cape Cod turns into a murder mystery when Taylor finds a body in the rental house she is supposed to share with her brother. When a handsome and dangerous bounty hunter shows up, Taylor, a true crime fanatic, insists on helping him track down the killer.

Romantic and suspenseful, My Killer Vacation is the perfect excuse to plant yourself on the beach all day. According to one Goodreads reviewer, “This was the light and funny read I needed… but make it spicy & murder mystery. I wanted a quick and captivating book and this hit the perfect spot.”

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Beach Books - World Travel: An Irreverent Guide By Anthony Bourdain with Laurie Woolever

2. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

by Anthony Bourdain with Laurie Woolever

Maybe the nearest beach, or even the local pool, is as far as your summer travels will take you. The good news is, World Travel, a collection of writings and thoughts by the late chef and writer Anthony Bourdain, will take you just about anywhere in the world you want to go.

Part travel guide, part cultural reflection, this book is a good choice for the reader who likes short, snackable bits. The collection also features essays from Bourdain’s friends, family, and colleagues on food, travel, and personal exploration.

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Beach Books - French Exit By Patrick DeWitt

3. French Exit

by Patrick DeWitt

Patrick DeWitt’s short and delightful novel French Exit is for lovers of wit, sarcasm, and dark humor. When an aristocratic Upper East Side widow finds herself at the end of her rope socially and financially, she takes her childish adult son to Paris, the City of Light, in the hopes of starting over. But it turns out things aren’t so easy, and our main characters get caught up in the wry friction of Parisian high society.

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Beach Books - Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family By Robert Kolker

4. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

by Robert Kolker

The history of the Galvin family is a page turner if there ever was one. Hidden Valley Road is the story of an American family rocked by a string of diagnoses—over a decade, six of the twelve Galvin children are diagnosed with schizophrenia.

This is the tragic yet completely enrapturing story of the family whose contributions to the science of mental health are unmatched, yet in many ways unauthorized.

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Beach Books - The Summer I Turned Pretty By Jenny Han

5. The Summer I Turned Pretty

by Jenny Han

Summers at Cousins Beach are always magical for Isabel “Belly” Conklin. Her world revolves around the small beach town and the friends there who have become like family, including Conrad and Jeremiah, two brothers Belly has known since childhood. But as they’ve grown, the relationships have changed. Could one of them be more than a friend? This YA romance novel is full of the genre’s favorite tropes and golden settings—and it just begs to be read.

You may know Jenny Han from her best-selling book and Netflix movie of the same name: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. And if you can’t get enough, you’re in luck! The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first book in Han’s summer trilogy, which includes It’s Not Summer Without You and We’ll Always Have Summer.

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Beach Books - The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm By Hilarie Burton Morgan

6. The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm

by Hilarie Burton Morgan

When the actress Hilarie Burton Morgan became pregnant with her first child, she and her partner, the actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, decided it was time to opt out of the glamorous life they had been leading between New York City and Los Angeles, and instead move to a working farm in rural Hudson Valley, New York. On Mischief Farm, the Morgans have raised a family, a bunch of animals, and plenty of hell.

Readers needn’t be familiar with the Morgans or their work to love this charming, tender, and often hilarious memoir that reflects on love, parenting, ambition, and what it means to fall in love with a community.

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Beach Books - Reason and Romance By Terrance Layhew

7. Reason and Romance

by Terrance Layhew

George Austen believes romance novels are beneath him. Ever concerned with being a “serious” author, a rival goads him into writing his own romance book. So George must begin at the beginning, by asking, is romance more than a genre?

A contemporary romance novel for readers who resist, or even frown upon, the contemporary romance novel, Reason and Romance will delight and charm.

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Beach Books - Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders By Kathryn Miles

8. Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders

by Kathryn Miles

In 1996, two women were murdered while backpacking in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Forest. Both were skilled and experienced outdoorswomen. Twenty years later, journalist Kathryn Miles tries to crack open the case that went cold long ago.

In her book, Miles eliminates previous suspects and identifies new ones, discovers potential cover-ups, and gains access to key witnesses and documents. The story is consuming and endlessly readable. True crime fans will love Miles’s earnest and thoughtful investigation of the crime and her reflection on the dangers that women face in the wilderness and in U.S. national parks, and why crime investigations fail so many women.

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Beach Books - Painting Time By Maylis de Kerangal

9. Painting Time

by Maylis de Kerangal

Painting Time is the story of Paula Karst, a blossoming artist on the verge of a great artistic breakthrough and mastery of craft. Yet in many ways Paula is lost—young, still living with her parents, and unsure of where her work will take her. This coming-of-age novel is a rich and atmospheric journey into the world of art and painting, and across Europe.

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Beach Books - On Rotation By Shirlene Obuobi

10. On Rotation

by Shirlene Obuobi

Angela “Angie” Appiah has everything she’s supposed to: medical school, a promising career, a successful boyfriend, and successful friends. When her world starts falling apart, Angie realizes these aren’t the things she wants, but the things she has been told she should want.

When she finds herself wanting Ricky Gutierrez, the kind of partner she never envisioned for herself, Angie has to recast herself in the story of her life—in a role that she chooses. Obuobi’s debut novel is funny, romantic, and deliciously readable from start to finish.

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Beach Books - Diner of Lost Souls By Graham Diamond and Hedy Campeas

11. Diner of Lost Souls

by Graham Diamond and Hedy Campeas

Cora Drakos is the owner of the Athena Diner—and a part-time sleuth. Her work takes her around the world, from New York to Athens and every dangerous corner in between. The latest mystery, though, has come dangerously close to home. Cora is on a mission to track down the person who brutally beat a homeless man near the diner, a would-be murderer who wanted the anonymous man dead.

This short indie title is a must-read for those who love an international mystery thriller.

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