Looking for fun beach reads for this summer? Here’s a list I put together of fan favorites and a few favorites of my own.

sand dollars


In sad news? We aren’t going to the Cape this summer.

It just didn’t work out with our schedules and we have children traveling (Whitney is actually heading out to Africa today) and I’m speaking at several conferences.

I miss it so much.

There’s nothing like the sun rising over the ocean and fresh lobster and hearing the waves break against the shore and wiggling my toes in the sand.


Instead? I’m here sitting in a raft in my backyard.

But just because I’m not actually at the beach doesn’t mean that I’m not reading. I can’t help it. I’ve read every summer since I discovered my first Nancy Drew book tucked into the bookshelves at our beach house when I was in second grade.


So in an effort to find the best books to read during my backyard raft summer, I asked for recommendations.

There were so many recommendations that poured in. So many books and not enough summer. So to ensure maximum reading satisfaction, I’ve compiled a list of the highest-recommended books from readers (along with a few books I’ve read and loved).

And now, in no particular order are the 10 of the best beach reads for your summer vacation.


10 of the best beach reads

1. The Summer of Songbirds

My friend, Kristy Woodson Harvey’s new book just launched yesterday.

If you’ve read my book lists for more than a hot minute you know what a fan I am of her books (and I’ve read so many of them on the beach).

I’m so excited about her newest book. It’s called The Summer of Songbirds and it’s about four friends and a summer camp called Camp Holly Springs and years of shared history together. When they find out the camp is going to close they set about to save the camp and learn so much about friendship in the process.

You can see it here.

2. Snobs

My husband actually found this book, Snobs, for me at the library.

I have been the biggest Julian Fellowes fan since the first episode of Downton Abbey.

This isn’t historical fiction–it’s set in modern day but the story is as old as time. It’s about a girl named Edith who falls in love with a man named Charles who is part of the English aristocracy.  But when they rent out the house to a television crew with the most handsome leading man who is not Charles—she has to decide her future.

You can see Snobs here.

3. Remarkably Bright Creatures

Okay. You are going to have to trust me on this one. 

I went outside of my comfort zone on this book because Remarkably Bright Creatures is about an octopus named Marcellus. Someone recommended it to me and I’m so happy they did because the book is amazing. A woman named Tova who works the night shift at a local aquarium. She has suffered so much sadness and loss and is at a crossroads in her life and the octopus is instrumental in helping her heal.

It’s kind of a mystery and a love story and a heartfelt story all rolled into one.

It’s one of my new favorite books and you can see it here.


4. The Perfect Couple

This was one of our book club reads and IT IS SO GOOD.

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand is a page-turner.

I love a book that you can’t figure out the ending until it surprises you in the end.

It’s a mystery that takes place at a wedding on Nantucket. The bride-to-be is discovered dead and everyone is a suspect.

Spoiler alert. It’s NOT who you think it is.

This book is such a good read.


5. The Nightingale

I’ve read other books by Kristen Hannah, but I’d never heard of The Nightingale until it was recommended by so many readers.

And it has over 280,000 reviews on Amazon.

It looks amazing. I love a historical drama and this one is set against the backdrop of WWII and Germany’s invasion of France.

It’s the story of two sisters with romance and struggle and sometimes almost impossible choices and it’s amazing. I wish I would have read The Nightingale before I read her other books because it’s my absolute favorite book she’s ever written. If you haven’t read Kristen Hannah before? This is an amazing one to start with.

You can see The Nightingale here.

6. Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl

Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl was actually recommended to me by Audible based on all the other books I listened to.

I wasn’t sure about it—but I really liked it.

It’s about Estee Lauder and her rise to cosmetic greatness. It’s told from the perspective of her friend who has a complicated relationship with her father because he swindled tons of people during the depression. It’s set in the 1920s in New York City and it’s full of all of the glamour of the era.

It’s an easy read and there are a few plot twists that keep you guessing.

You can see Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl here.



7. Where the Crawdads Sing

If you can only add one book to your beach this summer?

Make it this one.

A reader recommended this to me last year and it does NOT disappoint.

Where the Crawdads Sing is so beautifully written and tells the story of survival and love and beauty in the midst of poverty and loss.

It will make you cheer and cry and wish it would never end.

8. Hello Beautiful

Where do I begin? Hello Beautiful is the sweetest book.

Someone said in the reviews that it was Little Women with basketball, but it’s so much more than that. It’s poignant and if you like different stories of different characters that all entwine together?

This is the book for you.

It’s about a boy named William who has a super sad childhood and he finds refuge in basketball and he finds Julia and her large outgoing family who welcome him in and surround him.

It’s a story of love and loss and overcoming where you come from to become the person you were meant to be.

You can see Hello Beautiful here.


9. The Giver of the Stars

I saw the movie Me Before You based on the book written by this author so I was intrigued when readers recommended The Giver of the Stars.

It’s another historical drama about a team of women who are part of the team helping to deliver Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library.

It’s the story of the challenges they face on the journey and the love they discover and the challenges of the land they travel.

I loved her other story, so I’m excited to read this one.

You can see The Giver of the Stars here.


10. The Newcomer

I have read zillions of books from Mary Kay Andrews.

They have kept me company on many summer beaches.

The Newcomer, is one of my favorites.

It’s about a fashionable New Yorker who is on the run fearing for her life. She finds refuge (and please act surprised) in romance at the Murmuring Surf Hotel.

It’s such a good book from the Queen of the Beach Reads.

You can see The Newcomer here.

The Midnight Library

I know I said 10–but I had to add one more because it’s so good.

The Midnight Library has almost 220,000 reviews on Amazon.

It’s a story about choices. Somewhere on the edge of the galaxy, there’s a library. The library is full of books that tell the stories of people’s lives—with different endings. Some are stories of their life as they know it. Some are stories of their life that could have been.

Nora Seed is faced with which story to choose.

And what makes life worth the living after all.

You can see The Midnight Library here.

Next year I’ll be right here.

Next year I’m going to watch the sun rising over the ocean and eat fresh lobster and hear the waves break against the shore and wiggle my toes in the sand.

But until then?

I have a backyard with a raft and tons of books to keep me busy.

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  1. Image for Rizae Rizae

    I to miss the ocean and the surf and the calm that comes with it. In my case it is eating king crab and watching the sun set on the coast of Oregon. Tidepools and beach combing and walks in the sand.... I hope to be there come spring of next year.

  2. Image for Liz Shivel Liz Shivel

    Hi KariAnne, I wish you hours of summer reading enjoyment and safe travels on your backyard raft! “Gilligan’s Island” theme song just played in my mind for your raft floats! I’ll check out your recommendations, as I seem to stick with murder mysteries and I should branch out a bit. I know you’re wishing for the East Coast and lobster instead of Texas heat, I’m with you there! I’m in Costa Mesa, California, which is next to Newport Beach, so luckily I live on the coast with that enjoyable weather and a stroll two blocks from here provides me with a view of the Pacific Ocean that’s just 2 miles away. I’ll package up a few breezes and some morning fog, and send your way! Enjoy your summer!

  3. Image for PJ PJ

    So sorry that you will not be making your trip to Cape Cod this year. I have fond memories of renting a house in East Sandwich when my kids were small. You have some great books on this list. I have read about half of them and enjoyed them. Happy Reading!

  4. Image for Pam smith Pam smith

    I have read several of these, and I thoroughly enjoyed Remarkably Bright Creatures! Such a good book! Enjoy reading on your raft!

  5. Image for Saralou Durham Saralou Durham

    Don't miss Remarkedly Bright Creatures...it's one of the top 10 books for me over the past 2 years. And I read over 175 books a year...so that's saying something. It's refreshing to read a book that isn't cookie cutter!

  6. Image for Lee Stearns Lee Stearns

    Did you buy the raft we talked about? Adult size sunning pool/raft? Love it? Can’t wait for your report! Photo? Enjoy!

  7. Image for Karen B. Karen B.

    What a great list. Two of my favorite books are on your list. REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES and WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. They are both uplifting in the end and so well written. Thanks for other titles. I've never read Kristin Hannah and have put it on my list. Thank you. Karen B.

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