Great Beach Reads for 2021
What’s your favorite go-to genre for beach reading?
Do you always prefer light and easy romances?
Or are you a mood reader? A fast-paced book one day and a slow-going intense fiction the next?
If you ask me, I was uncertain about reading a new genre. I always picked up my comfy romance beach reads.
But for the last few months, I have been reading some great historical fictions and mystery novels and I am loving them. It’s nothing like what I had expected. They’re much more engrossing and intriguing.
So if you’re considering exploring more genre this summer, I have got you covered. Here are 57 epic books for your beach reading list. From contemporary fiction and YA books to thriller and LGBTQ, get ready for the ultimate reading challenge.
It’s time to grab these Epic page-turners for your upcoming beach reading sessions.
Contemporary Fiction Beach Reads
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
A humorous tale that explores the themes of family, immigration and the great American dream. There are a few main characters: a widow from Kolkata, Pival Sengupta who is preparing for her American journey. There is the owner of a tour company, Ronnie Munshi, a Bangladeshi. And Rebecca Elliot, a young actress turned tour guide. With easy-to-love characters and countless laugh-out-loud moments, Leah Franqui’s debut novel is a feel-good summer read.
Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
This sweeping love story tells the story of Vivian Howe, an author and a mother who unfortunately got hit by a car while jogging near her home on Nantucket. However, she has been allowed “summer watching” and “nudging” her family. A charming novel that depicts motherhood and life in general. A delightful summer read for sure!
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
An incredible book about the life of Ruth Jefferson, an African American labor and delivery nurse of twenty years. She is accused of murdering the newborn child of a white supremacist. A gripping read that discusses power and race.
There There by Tommy Orange
Tommy Orange’s groundbreaking novel is about the urban Indians living in Oakland and follows twelve distinct and engaging characters from the community. Interestingly, the story doesn’t discuss the stereotype issues but rather the struggles such as the identity and poverty of modern Indians in contemporary society. An insightful novel worth reading during your summer vacation.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Queenie Jenkins is a Jamaican Brit from London. She has just broken up from her long-term white boyfriend and has been struggling with anxiety and self-doubt. Now she finally decides to find her purpose in life. Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel is an honest portal of a modern Jamaican Brit. It’s both humorous and heartbreaking.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
31-year-old Eleanor Oliphant loves almost everything except talking to people. She has been working as an office manager for years and has spent every weekend treating herself with frozen pizza, vodka, and chatting with mom. But at times she finds herself lost and confused because she can’t get rid of her haunting past. An astounding novel with quirky and memorable characters worth reading as a summer beach read.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Such a Fun Age is a striking debut novel about two women- Emira Tucker, a babysitter, barely able to make ends meet, and Alix Chamberlain, a wealthy blogger and social media celebrity and Emira’s employer. However, when Emira is mistaken for kidnapping Alix’s daughter, things get complicated. An unputdownable page-turner for your beach reading.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
The bestselling author Fredrik Backman’s new book is about a bank robber and the hostages. Among the hostages there is an old couple who love hunting new houses, there is a wealthy banker, a couple who is looking to start a family, and an old woman who is caring and sympathetic towards the robber. And there are two police officers who are debating to catch the robber. This outstanding novel deep dives into each of the hostages and the bank robber. An epic, endlessly humorous tale you don’t want to miss.
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
This gripping New York Times bestseller is a multigenerational Chicago family drama. It tells the story of the couple- Marilyn Connelly and David Sorenson. From their marriage in the 1970s to their life now with four grown-up daughters- Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace. Their complicated family is full of flaws and troubles. A rich and complex family drama to add to your summer reading list.
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
A Good Neighborhood tells the story of two families from Oak Knoll. Valerie Alston-Holt is a professor of forestry and ecology and single parent, living with her artistically inclined son. However, when Brad Whitman, a local businessman moves in with a family she senses trouble. An engrossing tale that explores race and class in a Southern community.
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
In this charming coming-of-age story, we meet Casey Peabody, a struggling writer who works as a waitress to pay the debt. Although nothing seems to go right, Casey is persistent and remains true to herself. Grab it immediately to add to your beach reading list.
Silence Is a Sense by Layla Alammar
A compelling novel that discusses the refugee crisis and Syria’s Civil War. The narrator is a young girl who suffers extreme trauma ever since her solo escape from Syria. She finds solace in silence and loneliness. Later on, becomes an acute observer of her neighbors’ lives. A powerful novel that discusses the aftermath of war.
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah is the story of Afaf Rahman, a Muslim school principal, and daughter of Palestinian immigrants. The story is intertwined with Afaf ‘s childhood memories and her present-day encounter with a shooter at the school. A unique story with the elements of hope, forgiveness, and courage.
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
Caleb Azumah Nelson’s astonishing debut novel takes us to an intense love story of two young black artists, struggling to find common ground in their relationship amidst the backdrop of racism in London.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
The Pulitzer Prize Winner for fiction is set in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine. It’s written in the form of short stories, bound together by the main character Olivia, a retired school teacher. It’s through these characters that we learn more about her. An enriching novel for your summer reading.
My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy
This novel is set on the coast of Massachusetts, on Ichabod Island. When the adoptive parents die in a car crash, ten-year-old Sky is orphaned for the second time. She is now living with her guardian Leo who meanwhile, is trying to save his failing marriage. A beautiful novel about a caring community, family, and friendship.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
This impassioned family drama is about the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family in California. The novel starts with a wedding. Hadia, the bride, has chosen her own husband, breaking the family tradition. Apart from that, she has invited her brother Amar who was estranged from the family for years. A heart-wrenching novel that includes the themes of culture, tradition, and family.
Romance Beach Reads This Summer
500 Miles from You by Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan’s new book tells the story of Lissa, a hard-working nurse from London. After witnessing a horrible accident she has been experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Later, she was sent to a rural neighbourhood in Scottish Highlands. While in London, Cormac takes over her place. As both try hard to fit into the new environment, they find relief in each other. A joyful read with memorable characters that are perfect for reading at a beach.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
A charming romantic novel filled with numerous laugh-out-loud moments. Olive has always considered herself unlucky throughout her whole life. However, after the unexpected food poisoning at her sister’s wedding, she is forced to travel with Ethan to an exotic destination. A vivid and tropical romance you don’t want to miss out on.
28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
Based on the classic film ‘Same Time Next Year’, 28 Summers tells the story of Mallory and Jake who met one Labour day weekend. Regardless of their relationship status, they continue to spend summer weekends together. And they keep this habit for 28 years. 28 Summers is a captivating novel on love, parenthood, and friendship.
How to Save a Life by Eva Carter
How to Save a Life is an extraordinary coming of age story that spans over 18 years. The story follows three protagonists- Kerry, Tim, and Joel. As one terrible night changes their course of life, we get to explore their long-lasting friendships and bravery. A heart-wrenching novel that’s difficult to put down.
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People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
This sparkling adorable novel is about two polar opposite best friends- Alex and Poppy. They are the best pals from college, always took the summer vacation together. However, due to unexpected events they didn’t talk for years. But poppy suggests one last trip to save their friendship. The story takes us to both their present and past summer trips. Gorgeous beach read for rom-com fans.
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
The story follows 25-year old Ruthie Midona who has been working at a luxury retirement villa for six years. She doesn’t have time for anything else, not even to dress her age as she considered herself as 125 years old… When the new owner’s son Teddy Prescott, who has a reputation for being charming, shows up she feels a little shift in herself. An absolutely beautiful romance with many laugh-out-loud moments.
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
November 9 tells the story of Fallon & Ben who follow a unique relationship. Fallon was a successful child actress until she got in a severe house fire. Ever since the fire incident, she is unable to pursue her acting career, feeling lost and scared. But when she meets the aspiring novelist Ben, they feel a mutual affection. Later, they decided to meet every year on the same day, November 9th. An exciting summer beach read for 2021.
Daddy’s Girls by Danielle Steel
Daddy’s Girls tells the story of JT Tucker, a self-made man and a father to three daughters Caroline, Gemma, and Kate. Upon his sudden death, the daughters discover the shocking secrets. Soon, they are forced to resolve their problems on their own. A captivating tale of family and sisterhood.
The Temptation of Gracie by Santa Montefiore
This remarkable romantic tale is about Gracie Burton, a grandmother from Devon. When she decides to travel to Italy for a week’s holiday, her daughter and granddaughter decide to follow half- heartedly. But what Gracie really wants to do is to revisit her extraordinary past and her broken love story. A captivating story that will transport you to enchanting Italy.
This Is Not How It Ends by Rochelle B. Weinstein
USA Today’s bestselling author Rochelle B. Weinstein’s new novel follows the couple, Charlotte and Philip. They decide to settle in Florida as they plan to get married soon. However, Charlotte notices a change in Philips’s affection towards her. Which makes her wonder whether he really loves her. But when she meets Ben, there’s an unexpected bond. A fascinating read in the backdrop of vibrant Florida.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
This delightful novel follows Tiffy and Leon who agree to follow an uncommon agreement, sharing a flat and a bed. However, they are not in a relationship as they never get to meet each other. A sweet, loving story that is perfect to read near the beach.
The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis
The Lemon Sisters follows adventurous Brooke and Mindy, estranged siblings, living their separate lives. However, one day Mindy pays an unexpected visit to Brook in the city and expresses her grief about her mom/ wife life… In order to help her, Brook, half-heartedly, travels to her countryside family house. A charming beach read about family, love, and friendship.
The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery
Susan Mallery’s family drama follows Mackenzie Dienes, an orphan, now an elite winemaker at her husband Rhys Barcellona’s family vineyard. She has it all, a beautiful marriage, a lovely family, and a successful business. However, when her husband suddenly asks for a divorce, her whole world is upside down. Shockingly, it occurred to her that her whole life depends on this decision. An intriguing novel that you wouldn’t be able to put down.
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
The New York Times bestselling author of “The Unhoneymooners” new novel is about a single mom Jessica Davis, a hardworking freelance statistician. When she and her best friend Fizzy learn about a new DNA-based matchmaking company they decide to give it a go. To her surprise, Jess’s DNA is compatible with the company’s founder. A delightful book that will keep you engaged throughout.
Fantasy- Magical Realism beach reads
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
The Night Tiger is set in the British colony of Malaysia in the 1930s and written in the basics of folktales. The story follows 11-year-old Ren, a house boy who is on a mission to fulfill his promise to his dying master. During the journey, he meets Ji Lin who works as a dancehall girl. A jaw-dropping tale of mystery and magical realism.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Spellbinding fantasy fiction for the lovers of Greek mythology. Circe is the daughter of Helios. Although born to a divine family she lacks talents and power and is constantly being overlooked by others. When her family banishes her to a new world she finds her hidden abilities. A spectacular novel that includes Greek heroes and gods.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Sing, Unburied, Sing is a captivating read set in rural Mississippi. It tells the story of a young boy Jojo and toddler sister who live with their loving grandparents, and an uncaring, drug addict mother. Jojo looks after his younger sister along with doing other household duties. When his mother, Leonie, learns that Jojo’s father is getting released from prison, she drags the kids to take a road trip to get to him. An intimate, heart-wrenching Southern gothic you would love.
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende’s debut novel follows three generations of a Latin American family. It primarily tells the story of three women, Clara, Blanca, and Alba. The story also involves the history of Chile and the political turmoil during the fight for socialism. It a spellbinding family saga that you won’t be able to put down.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Matt Haig’s new novel follows Nora Seed who feels the world doesn’t need her. When she tries to commit suicide she ends up in a space between life and death, the midnight library. She gets a rare opportunity to take alternative paths from her own life and see how life would have been. An extraordinary novel that reminds us to embrace life, including failures and regrets.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
This instant New York Times bestseller is set in Otera where every girl has to undergo a purity blood ceremony to show the community that she is pure and belongs to the village. However, Deka is in fear as she is always looked down upon as “different”. During the ceremony, she turns out to be impure. An adventurous fantasy novel that will take you on an epic journey.
Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer by Jamie Figueroa
This dazzling debut novel follows two siblings, Rufina and Rufa, as they try to overcome the grief over their deceased mother. However, their own past memories haunt them. A fascinating novel that takes place over the course of three days which also includes the elements of tragedy, sorrow, and abuse.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Canadian fantasy adventure follows 27-year-old “Pi” Patel, a boy from the South of India. When his zookeeping family travels to Canada along with the animals, a storm hits the ship. Later, the young boy is stuck in a lifeboat with a few animals including a tiger named Richard Parker. A gripping adventure story that you don’t want to miss. The movie based on the same name was a critical and commercial success.
Best Young Adults Beach Reads
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
The multi-award-winning author of The Poet X’s sophomore novel follows 17-year-old Emoni Santiago, a teen mom, and a great cook. Unlike her classmates, she knows the limitations of her life. However, with the help of her grandmother and friends, she finds her life purpose in becoming a chef. A beautifully written novel with strong characters along with numerous sumptuous recipes.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
This utterly absorbing YA mystery thriller follows Cadence Sinclair. Every summer her family takes summer vacation on a private island. That’s the time when Candy gets to meet up with her childhood companions, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat, also known as “The Liars”. However, after a mysterious accident during one of those summer vacations, the liars split up. But Candy has no clue what really happened.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Belly loves summer and always looks forward to spending her summer vacation at Cousins Beach with her mom’s friend and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Although she always had a crush on Conrad, they always considered her to be a little sister. However, she hopes something different happens this time. A light and easy YA summer romance.
Tropical Kiss by Jan Coffey
Seventeen-year-old Morgan Callahan is traveling to Aruba to spend the summer with her dad as her mother goes on a honeymoon with her new husband. Morgan doesn’t like her “always busy father” so not at all looking forward to the trip. But when she meets Cy unexpectedly, her life is about to change. A beautiful summer romance set on an idyllic tropical Island.
Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
New York Times bestselling author Nicola Yoon’s third novel follows eighteen-year-old, Evie. Ever since her parents are divorced she doesn’t believe in love. She feels that all great love stories have to end in broken hearts. When she meets X, her dance partner, she begins to ponder her opinion about “love”. An irresistible love story that you wouldn’t be able to put down.
Best LGBT Summer Beach Reads
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life is a profoundly moving novel about impoverished four college friends who moved to New York City to fulfill their dreams. JB is quick-witted and full of life. Malcome is an aspiring Architect. Willem is a young actor and enigmatic Jude who has been a mystery for all three of them. An epic novel that explores the darker side of relationships.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
The New York Times bestselling author Casey McQuiston’s new novel is a refreshing read. This is the story of twenty-three-year-old August who is starting a new life in New York. When she meets gorgeous Jane on the subway she experiences something special. With diverse characters and historical references, this is a charming and sexy novel.
The Guncle by Steven Rowley
Guncle is a hilarious tale of a retired sitcom star, Patrick. After losing the love of his love to a car accident, he leads an isolated life with occasional socializing. When he learns that his best friend and brother’s wife, Zara, passed away, he is forced to bring her two little kids to his house. After all how hard that can be to look after two kids! An endearing novel perfect for the summer season.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This coming-of-age novel follows two Mexican-American boys who find solace in each other’s presence. Aristotle doesn’t have many friends. When Dante offers to teach him swimming they become close friends. Later, they explore their own world. A fascinating novel with memorable characters that will remind you to express love without shame.
With Teeth by Kristen Arnett
The story follows the stay-at-home mom Sammie who is a wife of a successful businesswoman, Monika. However, Monika’s busy work life leaves Sammie in grief and anger. To top it all, their son is a handful, at times Samme is scared of him. A warm and witty epic page-turner about queer parenting.
Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So
This is a short story collection that portrays the lives of Cambodian-Americans in California. It discusses homosexuality, immigration, and the shocking consequences of intergenerational trauma. A heartfelt debut you will definitely enjoy.
Mystery-Thriller Beach Reads
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
A profoundly emotive story that tells the story of a Chinese American family in the 1970s. When the Lee family comes to know about the death of Lydia, the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, their dreams are shattered. Filled with family loss, relationships, and secrets Ng has written an incredible page-turner for the lovers of mystery and drama.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
This twisty dynamic thriller follows Nella Rogers, an editorial assistant at Wagner Books. The only black girl at the office. Her initial enthusiasm to bring diversity and change at her workplace was lessened once she realized her efforts are going nowhere. However, when the firm hired Hazel, she is delighted to meet another black girl; But soon the acquaintance turns to jealousy.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
The story starts at the wedding of Jules and Will, a gorgeous high-profile couple who are yet to get married in a remote location, on an island off the coast of Ireland. Told in multiple points of view over the course of a weekend, The Guest List is surprisingly funny and absorbing.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
This instant New York Times bestseller takes us to Blythe’s life. She has had a traumatic childhood. Both her mother and grandmother had problems in their motherhood. Which makes Blythe doubtful about her own role as a mother. When her daughter Violet is born the same thought disturbs her. Later, she finds her daughter unlovable. Awesome book for the fans of psychological thrillers.
Verity by Colleen Hoover
This riveting romantic thriller follows the struggling writer Lowen Ashleigh. When she gets the job offer as a ghostwriter for the bestselling author Verity Crawford, who is unable to get back to writing. When she visits the house to refer to the note and other resources she finds a half-done autobiography of Verity which contains some dark secrets of the family. An awe-inspiring thriller to add to your summer reading list.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
This addictive mystery thriller focuses on family and love. Told in two timelines the story follows Hanna Hall. She is living with her husband Owen and step-daughter, Bailey. One day Hanna gets a note from her husband which said “Protect her”. Later she learns that own has disappeared. She has no clue about what exactly the note meant. So she decides to find answers on her own. A gripping action-packed tale you don’t want to miss.
Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price
This clever and witty suspense murder mystery is the retelling of Jane Austen’s romantic novel Pride and Prejudice. Seventeen-year-old Lizzie Bennet is an aspiring lawyer. She takes up a murder case to prove to her father that women are just as competent and qualified as men. However, Mr Darcy, the young solicitor, seems to be more than just a competition. An entertaining page-turner for the lovers of crime and mystery books.
There you have the ultimate list of beach reads.
Remember to look at historical fiction and other beach read recommendations here.
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Time for your action.
What genre do you love to read at the beach? Let me know in the comments.
Always curious to hear from you,
More beach reads for your summer reading list 2021