What are some good beach reads?
Ah, summertime. Beaches, boardwalks and fairs galore. Unfortunately, the world is looking vastly different this year, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy the kinds of beach reads that are the perfect reprieve at this time of year. Bring on the pool, A/C and a tall glass of iced tea please. If you feel that you need a bit of a distraction – which I think we all do from time to time – here are some great summer beach reads to accompany you through these hot, sticky months.
1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The Amazon Prime miniseries is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name. Ng tackles racism and classism in her most recent novel, and the idea of achieving perfection. Nomadic artist Mia Warren arrives in the planned community of Shaker Heights with her daughter Pearl, disrupting the predominantly white community, and the Richardson family who they rent a house from. As the two units with opposing values are drawn together, they discover that everyone has secrets in their past, and happiness and perfection are not what they believe. A gripping narrative and strong female voices make this novel a must read.
2. Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
Is there anything that evokes an image of summer more than a big wedding? Summer is high season for weddings and all things marriage – with the exception of this year that is. Daphne Berg hasn’t spoken to her former best friend Drue in six years, since they had a blowout that ended their friendship. Needless to say she’s shocked to receive an invitation to Drue’s wedding, along with a request that Daphne be her maid of honor. What follows is a story of friendship and all of the things that go along with it, set against the backdrop of Cape Cod and wedding madness. The perfect distraction on a hot summer day.
3. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This one’s for all the spooky folks who still enjoy their summer reads with a little horror (namely me). When Noemi receives a mysterious letter from her cousin asking for help, she travels to their house in the Mexican countryside. As she steps into the chilling world of High Place and the secrets it holds. A socialite, Noemi is unprepared for the darkness that she will uncover as she is drawn into a world of secrets that she may never be able to escape. The setting and atmosphere themselves are reason enough to draw in any fan of horror and gothic fiction. Catch spooky while you’re catching some rays!
4. Beach Read by Emily Henry
The title speaks for itself here. Two writers who couldn’t be more different – he writes acclaimed literary fiction, while she pens popular romance novels – are both staying in neighboring beach houses for the summer. January is processing (or ignoring) a severe loss and sense of betrayal, and she learns that Gus is also harboring a difficult past. Suffering from writer’s block, they strike up a deal: switch literary places. He’ll write something upbeat and happy, and she’ll aim for the next great piece of literary fiction. This romp on beaches and through the eyes of relatable writer January gives the greatest sand-filled, book nerd escapist vibes that we all need this summer.
5. Slay by Brittney Morris
Young adult novels are some of my go to choices for summer reading – ok for all year reading, but they’re really perfect for the summer months. Teen Kiera Johnson is an honors student with secrets: by night she participates in the online rpg game called SLAY, along with hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who use Nubian online personas dueling in the game. Also, she happens to be the one who developed SLAY in the first place. However, when a teen is murdered over a dispute that occurred in the game, the mainstream media attacks SLAY, labeling it as racist and claiming “anti-white discrimination”. Kiera must fight to preserve her identity in the world that she’s created as well as the real world around her that’s intimidated by the colour of her skin. A timely read about staying true to oneself in a world intimidated by People of Colour, this is a must for your summer reading list.
6. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Grady Hendrix has a knack for creating atmospheric horror while making up quirky and twisted situations for his characters all at once. Set in Charleston South Carolina, the story follows Patricia, an overworked wife and mother who feels that she’s invisible to her husband and children. The only thing that keeps her going is her book club meetings, where discussions of true crime, murder and mayhem keep her distracted from her hum drum routine. When a mysterious stranger rolls into town, Patricia and the rest of the club are convinced that he isn’t who he pretends to be. Together, they’ll be the first line of defense against the unknown monster lurking in their town.
7. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Any fan of And Then There Were None will want to jump into this novel asap. A group of people stuck on a remote island, resentments, and a murder. Throw in a lavish wedding and all of it’s bells and whistles and you’ve got a recipe for a great mystery. A whodunit reminiscent of Agatha Christie herself, this thriller is full of twists and turns that keep you hooked. A great way to get lost in a story while getting your tan on.
8. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Vignes sisters are physically identical, but after running away from their upbringings in a small black community, they now live separate lives. One sister lives in that same small community with her daughter, while the other lives far away, secretly passing for white, with a husband who knows nothing of her history. Spanning several decades, this is a story of family, relationships and the passing of time.
9. Afterland by Lauren Beukes
Strangely on the nose for 2020, Afterland follows the world a few years after a pandemic has wiped out the majority of the strictly male population on the planet. A woman named Cole travels across America with her son, one of the few remaining males, in the hopes of hiding him from anyone who may want to use him to re populate the earth. A sci fi thriller released at the perfect time, this story is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.
10. The Shadows by Alex North
Twenty-five years ago, Charlie Crabtree committed an unspeakable murder, and then dissapeared. His crime inspired many a copycat, one of whom is now on the loose. Paul Adams, a former friend of Crabtree, has come home to take care of his ailing mother. At first, he believes it’s her senility that’s causing her to ramble about something being in the house. Soon however, Paul starts to wonder what ever happened to Charlie, and whether or not this supposed copycat is really a copycat after all. A chilling read from the author of The Whisper Man, this thriller will keep you on your toes metaphorically, while you’re really lounging by the pool side.
Hopefully these picks help to keep you going through the balmy months. Whether you’re spending your days in the pool, sitting in front of a fan, or picnicking in the park (at a safe distance from others of course), just remember that there’s an endless supply of entertainment sitting on your bookshelf. Happy reading, and don’t forget the sunscreen!