If there’s one thing that signifies summer in my mind, it’s the image of my mom sitting in a beach chair reading a beach-worthy book.
Maybe it’s because I only saw her doing this on our summer vacations, maybe it’s the nature of having the luxury of time when you’re facing lapping waves on the sand. Whatever the reason, I don’t feel like it’s truly summer until I go to the beach with a book and slow down for a few hours.
So it’s with this criteria in mind that I present to you 15 beach-worthy reads.
What makes a book beach-worthy? Your definition will vary, I’m sure, but for me a beach-worthy book is one that, regardless of genre, either (1) takes place in summer, (2) in a vacation spot or (3) near the ocean.
Beach-Worthy Books: Growing Pains
Setting: 1972, Elephant Beach, New Jersey
Snarky Synopsis: 18-year-old Katie hangs on the periphery of a ragtag group of ruffians for the summer.
Summer Vibe: Drugs, Vietnam War fallout and disenfranchised youth
Setting: 1980s California
Snarky Synopsis: Highly improbable things happen when 20-year-old Allie steals a Wonder Bread bag full of uncut cocaine from her employer in an effort to recoup wages owed to her.
Summer Vibe: Road trip!
Setting: 1976 Santa Barbara
Snarky Synopsis: 14-year-old Jamie comes of age. A first boyfriend, less innocence, and naked swim parties hosted by her hippie parents.
Summer Vibe: Free, lazy summer days of youth in which anything is possible and disaster lurks behind every corner
Setting: 1960s California
Snarky Synopsis: Man hopes to escape fame by staying in a cabin in Big Sur but ends up having to battle his own alcoholic demons instead.
Summer Vibe: Like giant waves crashing into the craggy cliffs that comprise the California coastline
Beach-Worthy Books: Chick Lit That’s Not
Snarky Synopsis: Adrienne spends her summers working for hotels in exotic beach towns. This summer she ends up in Nantucket, where she ends up working at a restaurant for the first time.
Summer Vibe: Salty breezes, sultry nights, booze and food
Setting: Southern Florida
Snarky Synopsis: Teen mom’s baby daddy comes back to town, and all bets are off.
Summer Vibe: Stifling humidity with a slight chance of breeze
Beach-Worthy Books: Historical Fiction
Setting: 1922 New York
Snarky Synopsis: Woman chaperones 15-year-old Louise Brooks from Wichita to New York for dancing school. Adventures ensue.
Summer Vibe: Hot summer in the city
Setting: 1930s Key West
Snarky Synopsis: Woman works as a housekeeper for Ernest Hemingway and navigates hardships, especially when a hurricane arrives that threatens the safety of everyone she loves.
Summer Vibe: Boats, beaches & tropical plights
Setting: Porto Vergogna, 1962
Snarky Synopsis: Intergenerational storyline revolves around a Richard Burton plot line, which sounds like it will be terrible but it’s actually very good.
Summer Vibe: Searing sun, bright blue water, every story is a love story
Setting: Palm Beach, 1966 & Europe, 1930s
Snarky Synopsis: Intergenerational storyline revolves around a vintage Mercedes and two women who go on impromptu road trips when it’s clear their lives are in danger.
Summer Vibe: Road trip, lingering on the beach, unrequited love
Beach-Worthy Books: Mystery & Intrigue
Setting: Brighton and Hove, Sussex, England, 1932
Snarky Synopsis: Bored wife goes on holiday with a friend to a beach resort, where she becomes embroiled in murder.
Summer Vibe: Resort playground of the rich and stealthy
Setting: 1922 New York & Long Island
Snarky Synopsis: Man assumes a fake name, buys a giant house on Long Island and throws lavish parties to impress a very selfish woman.
Summer Vibe: Drunken nights jumping into swimming pools + the hangover the next morning
Setting: An island
Snarky Synopsis: 10 guests arrive on the island for fun and games. Then they start dying.
Summer Vibe: Vacation gone bad.
Beach-Worthy Books: All Hell Breaks Loose
Setting: Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Snarky Synopsis: Man takes it upon himself to save everyone he knows from an impending series of tsunamis.
Summer Vibe: It’s Hawaii, so … Hawaii!
Snarky Synopsis: Traveler stumbles upon a utopian island, but all is not what it seems. Leo is great in the movie, but the book (per usual) is even better.
Summer Vibe: Discovery, living free, constant sand in hair don’t care
Do you have a beach-worthy book that needs to be added to this list? Let me know in the comments!
P.P.S. Island daydreaming!