25 Summer Books + Beach Reads That Will Take You On A Literary Vacation
While it's a lot harder to go on a worldwide adventure than it used to be, there's still one way to experience exciting new places: summer books that take place anywhere and everywhere. From Paris to Los Angeles and everywhere in between, these books will take you on a literary vacation, no passport required.
Every Summer After by Carly Fortune ($10+)
Persephone Fraser made her biggest mistake ten years ago. Since then, she hasn't felt like she can go back to the beautiful lakeshore she grew up on. When she unexpectedly finds herself back in Barry's Bay, and back with Sam, she can't deny they still have a connection. But finding their way back will be more difficult than Persephone wants to admit.
The Peach Rebellionby Wendelin Van Draanen (Available May 17, 2022)
In 1947 California, childhood best friends Ginny Rose and Peggy are reunited after a decade and World War II. The difference that didn't matter to them as children, like the fact that Ginny Rose's family were pickers on Peggy's family's peach farm, seem inescapable now. Peggy's new best friend Lisette is also the daughter of a wealthy banker, making things even more complicated. But all three girls have a couple things in common: all of their families are about to split wide open, and none of them are willing to accepting things as they are anymore.
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle ($14+)
This novel from the In Five Years author examines the powerful bond that mothers and daughters have. Grieving the death of her mother Carol, thirty-year-old Katy decides to go on the trip to the Amalfi Coast (where Carol met Katy's father) that they had planned together. When Katy arrives, she can feel her mother's presence and ends up meeting the thirty-year-old version of her mom in the flesh. Throughout the course of the summer, Katy gets to know the version of Carol that she never got to meet and discovers new things about life, death, and her relationship with her mother.
The Summer We Forgot by Caroline George ($10+)
An estranged friend group is brought back together after the body of their former science teacher is found in their old summer camp's marsh. They start looking for answers together but can't remember anything about that time in their lives. They don't have much time to remember — they're pretty sure the murderer is going after their next victim.
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka ($20)
From bestselling author Julie Otsuka comes an intimate mother/daughter story told through the lens of a group of recreational swimmers. Without Alice's daily swim routine and access to her fellow swimmers she finds that she is forced back into memories of her childhood at a Japanese American incarceration camp. Her estranged daughter reenters her life to witness her tragic decline into dementia.
Girl Overboard by Sandra Block ($10)
Izzy and Jade become fast friends on their cruise to Bermuda. Izzy loves how Jade turns her family vacation from boring to thrilling...until Jade goes missing. While everyone is saying Jade fell overboard, Izzy knows that her friend's secrets could have gotten her into a lot of trouble. Izzy also realizes that if she's not careful Jade isn't the only one who could end up overboard.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry ($10+)
Poppy and Alex are best friends, even though they couldn't be more different from one another. They've spent every summer throughout the last decade taking a vacation together, until they ruined it and stopped speaking. Poppy knows that she hasn't been truly happy since that last vacation, and convinces Alex to embark on one more vacation to set everything right. Now she has one week to set everything right, and the clock is ticking.
The Garden of Broken Thingsby Francesca Momplaisir ($15+)
Written before the 2021, earthquake that hit Haiti in 2021 this novel is about Genevieve, a single mother, who's excited to travel to Port-au-Prince with her teen son Miles. While the trip teaches Miles about his family's roots, it's also an excuse for Genevieve to escape her life New York City, which has been completely taken over by her failed marriage, and the daily pressure of raising Black children in America. But after a terrible earthquake puts their lives at risk, the family is just trying to make it out alive.
Avalon by Nell Zink (Available on May 24, 2022)
Bran is raised by her "common-law stepfather" in Southern California after her mother joins a Buddhist colony. The duo lives on Bourdon Farms, a plant nursery that also acts as a cover for a biker gang. Then she meets charming, troubled Peter, a college student from the East Coast, who teaches her about literature. Bran searches for meaning in every corner of her world as she beings a long-distance relationship with Peter, but to find her place in the world, she'll have to learn how to take control of her life.
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens ($10+)
It's 1969 and Kya lives deep in the marshes of North Carolina by herself. She only has one day of formal education, but her affinity for nature and skills make her a quick learner. When Barkley Cove's golden boy Chase turns up dead, Kya is everyone's number one suspect. Read this novel in time for the film's premiere on July 15, 2022!
You Have a Friend in 10Aby Maggie Shipstead (Available on May 17, 2022)
From theNew York Times best-selling author of Great Circle, this collection of short stories has something for everyone. A decades-long love triangle plays out on a ranch in Montana. A young woman searches an unfinished ski resort for the lover that disappeared. A former child actress finally breaks out of a Hollywood cult. In the Olympic village, a hurdler and gymnast spend the night together. A newlywed couple's honeymoon in Romania doesn't go as planned, and an old man's deathbed connects a variety of destinies and lives, mistakes and mysteries.
The Force Of Such Beauty by Barbara Bourland (available on July 19, 2022)
Caroline is a former marathon runner who dropped out of school to go after an Olympic medal at fourteen. Finn is the handsome prince of a small kingdom in Europe. Disciplined, attractive, and unfazed by public attention, Caroline makes the perfect princess. But once she examines the world she has entered, and herself, Caroline realizes that the bargain she made might not be as dreamy as she expected.
Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey ($13+)
It's summertime on the North Carolina coast and Gray Howard is reeling after losing her mother to cancer, her husband to another woman and her sister to her controlling husband. Taking out her frustration on her local pharmacy, she feels bad when the incident causes an employee, Diana, to lose her job. Ridded with guilt, she invites Diana to stay in her guest house. Living so close to one another, the two women begin to form a friendship that will help them both through their difficult situations. But then Diana's first love shows up out of the blue, exposing her secrets and creating chaos for both women.
The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward ($12+)
Seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins misses the days when her children were young and thought the world of her. In an effort to get her family back together, she submits a sexy essay to the Become a Jetsetter contest, and much to her amazement, she wins. Sharing the prize with her children, the estranged family packs their bags and boards a ship for a 10-day Mediterranean cruise. Throughout these 10 days, secrets are brought to light and everyone must find a way to come to terms with the difficult decisions and circumstances that tore their family apart years ago.
Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster ($13+)
When Heddy Winsome leaves her home in Brooklyn to begin a nanny job on Martha's Vineyard in 1962, she has no idea the transformative summer that's ahead of her. Working for a young, wealthy and alluring couple and their two young children, Heddy quickly finds herself enamored with her new life. But then she learns that her scholarship has been revoked, leaving her unable to return to school in the fall. Now feeling the pressure to create a new future for herself, she sets her sights on starting a new life in Martha's Vineyard. Through numerous romance attempts and new friendships, Heddy eventually learns that no matter how perfect everyone's lives look, no one on the island is as happy as they claim to be.
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory ($8+)
Olivia Monroe has just moved to Los Angeles to start her own law firm when she meets Max Powell, a dangerously handsome junior senator. Quickly falling for one another, they keep their relationship a secret to avoid the public scrutiny that comes along with being a well-known politician. When they finally decide to make their relationship public, Olivia's worst nightmares are recognized as people start digging up things from her past that will threaten her reputation and her new business. As strong as their feelings may be for one another, Olivia will have to decide if she's willing to give up everything she's worked for in exchange for a shot at real love.
The Library of Legends by Janie Chang ($13+)
When Japanese bombs begin dropping on Nanking, China in 1937, Hu Lian and her classmates at a nearby university are ordered to flee to China's western provinces over a thousand miles away. Making the journey even more tumultuous is the fact that they've been entrusted with a 500-year-old collection of folklores and myths known as the Library of Legends. As relationships are tested and Lian learns who she can and can't trust, she also learns that as the ancient book travels across China, it awakens immortals and other ancient spirits who begin their own exodus, changing the fate of the country forever.
Brunch and Other Obligationsby Suzanne Nugent ($10+)
A story about three unlikely friends who are grieving over the recent loss of their friend Molly, Brunch and Other Obligations brings readers into the lives of Christina, Nora, and Leanne. After Molly's passing, her friends find she had one final request for them: have brunch together once a month for a year. It's through the next year of brunch dates that Nora, Christina, and Leanne find healing and new friendship. Set in both the Boston area and Paris, this novel highlights the importance of friendship and the bond between women.
The Last Train to Key Westby Chanel Cleeton ($12+)
Depending on who you are, Key West can either be a fabulous vacation destination or a prison. Key West-native Helen Berner wants nothing more to escape. Mirta Perez has just gone through with an arranged marriage and has arrived in Key West for her honeymoon where she learns of her husband's dangerous business practices. Elizabeth Preston travels to Key West to save her family after a Wall Street crash threatens to ruin their legacy. When these three women cross paths over Labor Day weekend, they find themselves both terrified of both their current predicaments and a deadly storm that's headed straight for the Keys.
Kismetby Amina Akhtar (Available on August 1, 2022)
Ronnie Khan never thought she'd get out of Queens. But when she meets socialite Marley Dewhurst, Ronnie gets a lesson in shooting for the stars. Suddenly Ronnie is obsessed with finding the best version of herself and leaves for the Arizona mountains. The yoga, hikes, and juice cleanses are great until gurus around town start getting murdered.
City of Likes by Jenny Mollen (available June 14, 2022)
Megan is having an identity crisis. She's talented but unemployed, and after the birth of her second child, she and her family move to New York City. It's in the Big Apple that Megan meets stylish momfluencer Daphne, and Daphne immediately starts showering Meg in compliments, gifts, and attention. Meg soon realizes that among all of the clubs, wellness rituals, and thousands of followers, her friendship with Daphne isn't as authentic as she might have believed and it's up to Meg to bring Daphne back to her real life. If she can even remember what "real" means.
That's Not a Thing by Jacqueline Friedland ($1+)
Since Meredith Altman's engagement to Wesley Latner ended, she's been doing her best to get over him and move on with her life. Newly engaged to Aaron Rapp, a former football player and doctor, Meredith is excited to start the next chapter of her life with him. But all of that goes out the window when she runs into Wesley at a trendy New York City restaurant and she learns of his recent ALS diagnosis. Growing close to Wesley once again, it's not long before she begins to see Aaron in a new light, realizing he may not be the kind of man she wants to spend the rest of her life with after all.
The Paris Hours by Alex George ($13)
Paris is full of brilliant artists from all walks of life in 1927. But amongst these genius creators are four people struggling to find their rightful place in the city. Jean-Paul is a journalist who tells other people's stories because his own past is too painful to relive. Souren, an Armenian refugee, spends his days putting on puppet shows for children. Guillaume is an artist running from a debt he'll never be able to repay when a woman walks into his studio and changes his life forever. Camille has betrayed her employer Marcel Proust and must get rid of the evidence of the crime before she's caught. Over the course of one day, the lives of these four people are completely changed, making them re-evaluate their lives in Paris.
Book Loversby Emily Henry ($10+)
Nora loves books, but she's not a heroine. Well, except for when she lands crazy deals as a literary agent, and when her sister Libby needs her. So when Libby begs for a sisters' weekend, Nora agrees to stay with her in Sunshine Fall, North Carolina for all of August. Even though Libby's hoping Nora can benefit from small town life, Nora can't seem to escape Charlie, a book editor from the city who she can't stand.
You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer ($11+)
Alexis Gold has spent most of her teenage daughter's life working, leaving her husband Tommy to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to parenting CeCe. But everything in Alexis's life changes when Tommy is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Headed to Florida to spend the summer at their favorite beach, what Alexis doesn't know is that Tommy's ex, an actress CeCe admires, will also be at the beach. While CeCe struggles to come to terms with her father's diagnosis, she finds hope in a new love interest — one that she hopes her mother won't ruin for her. Meanwhile, Alexis begins to pick up the pieces of her family's life, determined to bond with her distant daughter and save the family she hasn't made enough time for in the past.
Glorious Boy by Aimee Liu ($12+)
Having lived on the remote Andaman Islands for five years, Claire Durant, her husband Shep, and their mute four-year-old son, Ty, must pick up their lives and abandon their home when the Japanese pose a threat to the island in 1942. Forced to leave behind Naila, the only person who can communicate with Ty, Claire and Shep are sent into panic mode when both Naila and Ty disappear on the morning they're supposed to leave. Staying back to find the two kids, Shep forces Claire to go ahead without them. But when the Japanese overtake the island and Claire no longer has a way to communicate with her husband, she travels back to the dangerous place, on a mission to reunite her family for good.
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Additional reporting by Chloe Williams.
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Ashley Johnson is the Content Editor + Producer at She Reads, specializing in the latest and greatest fiction and nonfiction titles. Supportive book-buying parents influenced her love of literature and storytelling as she grew up. And today, when she's not reading new releases or developing new story ideas, Ashley can be found curled up with her rescue chihuahuas or exploring breathtaking locations throughout the U.S.