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23 Best Beach Reads Of All Time To Chill Out With

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Are you looking for the best beach reads of all time? Check out these summer reads perfect for a chilling and escapist summer vacation.

Best Beach Reads Of All Time blog post cover with book covers for The Guest List, Burial Rites, I Let You Go, Bel Canto, Daisy Jones and The Six, Artemis and Murder On The Orient Express
In need of a summer reading list? Don’t miss some of the best beach reads of all time–with a twist. Chill out with a good book this summer on our collaborative beach books reading list.

Back when we lived in Florida, I felt like I was melting.  The windows steamed up every morning and the parched lizards started moving slower.

Even sitting by the pool was a challenge.  This frying an egg–aka me–on the pavement scenario proved problematic.  My favorite past time involves catching up on some of the best summer books with a cool drink in hand and The Uncorked Librarian in a lounge chair. The ultimate summer vacation scenario, right?

So how do you make these hot days bearable?  Book to beach is like wine to Christine.  There is, of course, only one solution: More alcohol!  Well, frothier drinks, at least, and maybe more engaging summer reads.  Like the best beach reads of all time.

But with millions of summer reading lists out there, how do you pick the perfect beach read? Which books will take your mind off of the stifling heat? Personally, my favorite beach reads include thrilling and chilling romance and mystery novels.

I asked my favorite bloggers, bookstagrammers, and Goodreads friends for the best beach reads EVER, in their humble opinions, that promise to help you chill out and beat the summer heat.  Throughout this eclectic list, I dare you to not find a few great diverse summer books with a cooler theme.

Let’s get started!

Best Beach Reads Of All Time To Chill Out With Pinterest Pin with book covers for Beach Read, Daisy Jones & The Six, Sex and Vanity, Royally Roma, Artemis and The Guest List
Loving too many of these beach reads? Save this summer books reading list for later on Pinterest.

Best Beach Reads Of 2020

Best beach reads of 2020, The Guest List Lucy Foley book cover with stormy black and gray and sky and house on a hill on an island

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

One of my favorite new beach reads of 2020 will chill you to the bones: The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Set on a haunted island in Ireland with frat boys, if you love Agatha Christie, you’ll scream for The Guest List.

With alternating timelines and perspectives, a waitress starts screaming about a dead body during Gatsby-proportioned wedding festivities. From the start, all of the guests are extremely unlikeable, rich snobs. The ushers are part of this weird childhood cult-like prep school and have never grown up. The women have destructive and poisonous relationships with the men in their lives. Everyone has secrets and a motive…

The Guest List is a fast-paced, thrilling murder mystery and perfect beach book to take your mind off of the heat. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Beach Read by Emily Henry book cover with woman and man laying on beach towels with writing paper and pencils

Beach Read by Emily Henry

One of the new and most-talked about best summer reads of all time is Emily Henry’s Beach Read. If you are in need of a rom-com that even includes dancing in the rain–the perfect way to cool off, right?!–then you won’t want to skip this 2020 book release.

January Andrews is stuck with a case of writers’ block. Her mother has battled cancer twice, her father just died, and she recently learned that her dad had a mistress. In fact, she’s currently living in their private beach cottage.

On the flip side, Augustus Everett, January’s next-door neighbor, is also in a writing rut. Mysterious and broken, he remembers January from their college days.

When the two challenge one another to write each other’s genres, romance and American lit, they learn more than just how to craft a particular type of story. OK, you might heat up a little here, too. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Sex And Vanity By Kevin Kwan book cover with apartment building with someone floating in a pool on the rooftop surrounded by pink trees

Sex And Vanity By Kevin Kwan

What could be more soothing than a swim in the Blue Grotto or falling in love amongst the blue and white dotted Italian island of Capri? One of the most atmospheric new beach reads, Sex and Vanity will remind you of a younger Crazy Rich Asians. Although not as character-building as Kwan’s first series, Sex and Vanity promises over-the-top wealth and couture rom-com.

Lucie meets George Zao during a snobby extravagant wedding weekend in Italy. Chinese-born but raised in Australia, George’s mom is both envied for her excessive wealth but also ostracized for her gaudy taste.

Lucie, a Churchill, has pilgrim blood from her father and Chinese-American roots from her mother. Although Lucie doesn’t understand George, they are caught via drone in a faux-pas, comprising situation.

Years later, Lucie is engaged to Cecil, forgetting all about Capri… Until George lands in town. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Life-Altering & Intense Beach Reads

 Life-Changing Beach Reads, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh book cover with insect looking in a window covered with rain

 I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Submission by Haley Gibson of Backpacking Bookworm

It’s raining. Not just a light drizzle. That heavy November downpour that soaks you through and has you shielding your eyes as you run for cover. The kind that kids chase, looking for the deepest puddle. On the way home from school, 5-year-old Jacob wants to race his mum home. It happens in seconds.

The headlights. The squeal of breaks. The slam of his body. His final breath.

On this day, Jenna Gray’s world is turned upside down. Unable to cope in the town where she is constantly reminded of the tragic accident, she moves to an isolated cottage in Wales. She struggles to live with her uncontrollable grief.

After finally adjusting to a simple way of life, Jenna starts to see a possible future in this quiet little town. That is until the past re-surfaces and she finds herself back in the middle of the nightmare. A nightmare with life-changing consequences…

What better way to cool down in the summer than with a beach book set in winter with biting winds and chilly temperatures? Not to mention the events in this book are sure to get that spine-tingling. Amazon | Goodreads

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult book cover with young brunette girl wearing a red hat and coat in the snow

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

Submission by Elle of Elle Louise

An ethical and captivating beach read with an icy backdrop, Handle With Care focuses on a family and their two daughters.

Willow is diagnosed at birth with Type III Osteogenesis Imperfecta, sometimes called ‘Brittle Bone Syndrome.’ The eldest daughter loves ice skating, but Willow who has OI, can only dream of going out onto the ice. One fall can shatter more bones than you can even name.

Living in America, the health care expenses for such an illness can easily rack up.  Worrying about covering the expenses, Charlotte—the mother—finds a solution. A wrongful birth lawsuit will give complete financial stability for her daughter since her ob-gyn didn’t tell her that her daughter would be born severely disabled.

But, if Charlotte goes through with this, she will have to stand up and sue her ob-gyn, who also happens to be her best friend. She will have to tell everyone, including her daughter that she would have terminated the pregnancy had she known about the Osteogenesis Imperfecta in advance. Amazon | Goodreads


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Best Classic Summer Reads Of All Time

Classic Best Beach Reads Of All Time, The Godfather by Mario Puzo book cover with hand holding puppet strings

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

One of the chilliest and best beach reads of all time has to be The Godfather.  Now if you happen to drink a Godfather (that my husband loves) while reading it, that helps chill you out too. Just saying…

Anyone else Italian-American and terrified that they will find a horse’s head in their bed?  Yea, me neither.

This summer read doesn’t need a lot of explanation, but follow along with the mafia underbelly in New York as the Corleone family wheels and deals…and bullies and kills. Amazon | Goodreads

Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie book cover with steam engine train on tracks

Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

If you watched the movie, you know what all the hype is about for Murder On The Orient Express.  One of my favorite summer reads, this mystery won’t quite chill you to the bone but will instead leave you mistrusting everyone and their intentions.

Samual Ratchett lies dead in his cabin–his body pierced with relentless knife wounds–on the infamous train, The Orient Express.  The killer is, of course, still on the train, and no one is safe.  Can Detective Hercule Poirot solve the mystery before it’s too late? Agatha Christie is an older favorite of mine. Amazon | Goodreads

Bestselling & Popular Beach Reads

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger book cover with cartoon woman dressed in high brown boots and red jacket and skirt

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

What could make for a better beach read than a story about a hard cold, b*tchy boss?  You know that I love my books set in places, and Manhattan is the ultimate location for a freshly minted grad to start as an assistant for a snooty high fashion magazine.  Sounds a bit like Super Girl to me…

Laugh along with your typical Hades workplace experience as Andrea questions if the job of her dreams is killing her soul and if her boss is evil in The Devil Wears PradaSpoiler Alert: It Is! Amazon | Goodreads

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman book cover with devil with wings sitting on the ground

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

My apologies now, but I basically add Good Omens to all of my book lists because it is pretty much considered one of the hottest stories of 2019 with the arrival of the TV series.  …Or should I say coldest with the Antichrist and Armageddon coming?  

Beach reads are those that make you think, give you a wickedly good storyline, and are well-written by famous authors.  Watch the battle for good versus evil with a sweet and naive angel and a kind-hearted and fiery devil.  Find witches, love, and friendship. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

The Girls by Emma Cline book cover with woman's face covered in red light and wearing blue lighted sunglasses

The Girls by Emma Cline

I remember reading Emma Cline’s The Girls and thinking what the actual f*ck.  Taking place in California in the 1960s watch as a gaggle of girls gets sucked into one creepy cult.  Freedom is not all that it is cut out to be.

A psychological thriller, fall into the mindset of the leaders and the girls.  See if you are entranced enough to kill.  The Girls is a brilliant summer read. Amazon | Goodreads

Nonfiction Beach Reads

Nonfiction beach reads, In Cold Blood By Truman Capote book cover with black and white farm town

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Capote’s In Cold Blood is not your typical best beach read type kind of suggestion, but if you want engrossing horror, this nonfiction title is for you.

In 1959, two-ex convicts robbed and brutally murdered four members of the Clutter family.  Capote investigates and reconstructs the story, bringing what later became controversial humanity to the killers. Amazon | GoodreadsBook Information→

Science Fiction Beach Reads

Artemis by Andy Weir book cover with picture of an astronaut and turquoise stars
Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis by Andy Weir

Submission by Steffen Heinrich

Cool down in the frozen wastes of space! Kind of. Artemis is a fun and breezy (not literally, infinitesimal atmosphere) summer read that starts in humanity’s first and only colony on the moon.

In this near-future vision, Artemis is a relatively new settlement and mainly the playground of the rich elite who pay big money to travel from Earth and play tourist. It’s largely lawless, with a few sizable corporations and various nationalistic trade unions running the show.

The story follows Jazz, a young and tough Artemisian woman, who has a head for business and a knack for landing in trouble. One of the working-class poor who inhabit and labor in the colony, she struggles daily to survive. Using her intellect and ambiguous moral compass, Jazz is on a constant lookout to make it big.

After accepting a job with an enormous payoff, things quickly begin to go sideways and Jazz becomes embroiled in a much larger scheme with the various factions vying for control of Artemis.

Finding herself in a tight spot between mafia-style cartels and the cabals, pursued by a hitman as well as a vigilante lawman, Jazz must piece together the puzzle while navigating a myriad of dangerous obstacles using her guile, sarcastic wit, and the power of science to try and save the day. Amazon | Goodreads

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood book cover with obscured buildings

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Submission by Erica Næss of Naessessary Escape

Margaret Atwood has received attention in recent years due to the television adaptation of her novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. If you liked that series and/or read the book, then The Year of the Flood is a good summer read for you.

This post-apocalyptic novel is part of Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy. Although published after Oryx and Crake, it is more of a companion piece than a sequel, so it’s not necessary to have read the other book first.

The novel is set in a world in which corporations have taken control of science and technology with terrible consequences for both humanity and the rest of the planet.

A manmade plague eliminates most humans, and readers follow two female survivors, Toby and Ren, who were once part of a group called God’s Gardeners. The God’s Gardeners are kind of like a vegan cult with hymns and saint’s days. Amazon | Goodreads

Romance Beach Reads

Best romance beach reads, Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas with large home covered in snow with pink and purple glow

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Submission by Korri K. of My First Homelands Have Been Books

Devil in Winter (2006) by Lisa Kleypas is the perfect historical romance beach read for chilling out and steaming up. Although Book 3 in The Wallflowers series, you can pick up this book for a standalone, too.

In 1843, shy, stuttering wallflower Evangeline “Evie” Jenner stands to inherit a fortune from her father’s gambling club.  She just has to escape from her abusive relatives and forced marriage with her unscrupulous cousin.

The scandalous libertine, Viscount Sebastian St. Vincent, needs an infusion of cash; Evie approaches him with a shocking proposal: marriage. She gains control of her life, he gains a fortune, and no love is lost between them…Or is there? Evie & Sebastian warm up to each other during a frigid carriage ride to Gretna Green. Amazon | Goodreads

Royally Roma by Teri Wilson book cover with people riding a pink vespa and wearing blue jeans

Royally Roma by Teri Wilson

Submission by Jess of From Me to You..Video, Photography, and Book Reviews

Royally Roma is one of the best romantic beach reads. After feeling beaten down by his own royal responsibilities, Niccolo, the heir to the Lazaretto throne, decides on escaping his gilded cage by pretending to be someone else.

Then, he meets Julia. Julia is an American tour guide living in Rome. She is running from her own notorious past and is in the midst of pulling her life together when she meets Niccolo.

Their attraction is instantaneous and blooming by the minute. Unfortunately, Niccolo’s “quick getaway” turns into something a whole lot more. Can Niccolo return to his “real” life, after all, is said and done? Or will he be able to change his life for the better with the help of Julia by his side? Royally Roma will steam you up and cool you back down with a thrilling plot. Amazon | Goodreads

Historical Fiction Beach Reads To Cool You Off

Historical summer fiction books, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent turquoise book cover with brown, beige, dark blue and black feather

 Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Submission by Jennia, Bookstagrammer

Feel the chill of an Icelandic winter in one of the best books perfect for summer: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is the result of years of extensive research and a decade long fascination with Icelandic figure, Agnes Magnusdottir.

In 1828, the council found Agnes guilty in the murders of two men, one of whom had been her employer. As retribution for her part in this crime, Agnes is sentenced to death by beheading.

Kent uses a masterful blend of historical records, local folklore and gossip, and fiction to create a story that takes a deeper look at the motives, history, and lives of those involved. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Popular summer reads, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid book cover with redish-hair and pale woman's face

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Why not jump in the pool high on…life. One of the most popular summer reads perfect for the beach is Daisy Jones & The Six.

Head back to the 1960s and 1970s with an innovative interview format to learn about a band that is said to be a lot like Fleetwood Mac. Daisy Jones & The Six captures the creation and ultimate demise of a young, up-and-coming, 1960s band where everyone is pretty self-centered, doped up, and creatively annoying.

A bit of a cliche ’60s band story, you watch as members fall in love, try to get sober, and almost die in the process. Daisy Jones and Billy are the stars, and Daisy entrances her audience, readers, and Billy in this coming-of-age story. Daisy Jones would make for a great audiobook listen on the beach. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Best Beach Reads Set Around The World

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini book cover with young boy holding up a kite string and flying a kite

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Set against the fall of Afghanistan’s leaders and during Soviet occupation, we learn about friendship, survival, and betrayal. 

The Kite Runner is a chilling story with some hard to swallow scenes. Not your average beach book recommendation, readers will fall in love with the simplicity and innocence of kite flying and themes of redemption in a time of death and destruction. The Kite Runner is both captivating and insightful, making for a strong global bestselling title. Amazon | Goodreads

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith green book cover with alligator eating the title of the book

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Meet Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s number one lady detective.   Precious is smart, fun, and endearing while at the same time trying to solve mysteries set in a gorgeous backdrop.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is one of the best beach reads of all time because the title not only transports you to Africa, but the series will last you all summer long.  Not quite a cozy mystery, McCall Smith adds culture and a feminist flair. 

You won’t shiver or shriek, but I also think that parts of the African continent are hotter than where I am.  Comparatively, I am much cooler. Amazon | Goodreads

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett book cover with people dressed up in black tuxes, suits, and dresses for a party

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I don’t know about you, but hostage situations chill me to the bone.  Set in South America, watch as terrorists take over a ritzy, private opera birthday party.  In a weird turn of events, the hostages and terrorists build relationships and empathy for each other–some even falling in love.

You know that the outcome can’t be good, and the story is more sad and unnerving than terrifying.  I love Ann Patchett and champion any of her novels as the best beach reads, ever, including thought-provoking Bel Canto. Amazon | Goodreads

Young Adult Beach Reads

Best Beach Reads YA, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll book cover with black and white woods and red sky

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll is a haunting YA and equally gripping adult-appropriate graphic novel. Uncork five short stories full of gothic, macabre illustrations.

If you are laying out on the beach, get ready for a bone-chilling book. Warning: don’t snack while reading this one.  Truly, Through the Woods is my best beach read of all time if you want to be scared.

Skin becomes the vessel for worm-like babies, bad dreams can kill, and there is a plethora of ghosts, murderers, and chopped up body parts. Most importantly: Do not walk through the woods late at night. In reality, there is no escaping the inevitable doom regardless of precautions.

Most appealing to this excellent debut graphic novel is the intentional use of colors and details or lack thereof. Carroll draws humans without eyes, sometimes using grayed out beady holes.  Darkness lurks beneath their skin. Sound a little Neil Gaiman-esque? Amazon | Goodreads

Young Adult Beach Reads, Noggin by John Corey Whaley book cover with action figure like Ken-doll man with muscles

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Noggin by John Corey Whaley is unlike any other young adult novel out there, and even better: it is perfect summer read for adults. Remember our innovative buddy, Walt Disney? …When he died… Ahem.  Cough, cough. Feeling chilled to the bone, yet? Yet? …If you catch my drift.

Noggin is a coming of age story with a science fiction twist. Sixteen-year-old Travis’ body is dying of cancer. He signs up for an experimental procedure that may one day bring him back to life.  Doctors saw off Travis’ head and freeze it for five years.

When Travis wakes, he has a different body.  However, Travis still loves his teenage girlfriend, Cate, who is now 21 and engaged to someone else.

Much of the story focuses on Travis coming to terms with his rebirth and his determination to win Cate’s heart, which is at times a frustrating obsession to witness. Especially curious to this plot, Whaley chooses not to focus on religion, heaven, or the afterlife. Amazon | Goodreads

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer book cover with pale white arms holding a bright red apple

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Looking for the best beach reads of all time in a cheesy-famous kind of way?  Why not break all of your rules and try Twilight?

I am not going to lie:  I could not resist this series.  Sexy vampires and werewolves, cheesy teen romance, and scenes that crack you up?  Plus, Washington is cold and cloudy AF.  Why not imagine yourself there freezing cold and drinking a coffee instead?

Find out what happens when a vampire falls in love with a human. Amazon | Goodreads  Book Information→

Best Beach Reads Pinterest Pin with book covers for I Let You Go, Artemis, Bel Canto, and Burial Rites
Did you find new summer books to read? Add these beach books to your TBR pile and save this post for later on Pinterest.

 Phew, are you cooled off yet?  What are your favorite beach reads?

Have you read any of these summer books? What books do you consider to be the best beach reads of all time? What does your summer reading list look like? Let us know in the comments!

P.S. Headed to the beach?  Check out my friend, Kathy’s, Beach Packing List for a fabulous beach day.

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