20 Best Vacation & Beach Reads to Pick Up This Summer

by Allie Gemmill
Jun 17, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. ET
SheKnows Ultimate Beach Reads:
Image: Gareth Fuller-PA Images/Getty Images

These 20 books are full of romance, mystery, comedy and intrigue; which will you read first?

1 /20: 'A Work of Art'

1/20 :'A Work of Art'

When Samson and Julene broke up, they each balmed the pangs of their heartbreak with a different approach. Samson buried himself in his burgeoning job and explored the dating scene, while Julene jetted off to Australia to start an art career. When reunited, the encounter set off a shift in their perspectives, and they came to a surprising revelation: They are still in love. A heartwarming and breezy summer read that will make you fiercely believe in second chances, A Work of Art is the perfect beach read for fans of Jojo Moyes.

2 /20: 'American Family'

2/20 :'American Family'

Richard and Michael are about to celebrate their love and sobriety by moving in together — the problem? Richard is determined to reunite with his estranged 10-year-old daughter and must battle her grandparents for custody in order to bring her back into his life. A heartbreaking and emotionally riveting reading experience that reminds readers that most every American family has its dysfunctional ghosts. This explosive novel will add drama to your summer from Page 1. 

3 /20: 'The Best of Adam Sharp'

3/20 :'The Best of Adam Sharp'

A former pianist has a second chance at romantic fireworks when a former lover, an actor, knocks on his door… nearly two decades after he let her go. Will he dump his mundane life at a second chance for adventure, excitement and romance? Or…will he settle for his midlife average circumstances forever. A vibrant beach read about taking chances and leaping (even when you don’t trust your parachute), The Best of Adam Sharp will inspire every summer reader who picks it up. 

4/20 :'Eden'

When matriarch and community pillar Becca Meister Fitzpatrick discovers her late husband squandered away their family fortune, she must accept that it’s likely her last summer season in her beloved Long Harbor and find the courage to reveal a long-hidden secret that could shatter her family. In the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, a vibrant and emotionally harrowing literary parade of family drama unfolds as Becca asks herself the ultimate question: Can family always be saved? This riveting read marks Blasberg as a debut author to watch.

5 /20: 'The Forever Summer'

5/20 :'The Forever Summer'

Cape Cod, New England, drama, shocking paternity tests, three generations of women and a web of long-buried secrets. If those plot points didn’t inspire you to add this to your summer reading list immediately, we don’t know what will. A delicious family drama that explores one group of relatives put to the ultimate test, The Forever Summer will have you second guessing summer vacations with family for the foreseeable future.

6 /20: 'The Girl Who Knew Too Much'

6/20 :'The Girl Who Knew Too Much'

There are few ways the lifestyle of Southern California could be any more glamorous… but trade in 2017 for the 1930s, and there you have it. A delicious tale of Hollywood moguls, steamy affairs, dangerous secrets and one dead actor, The Girl Who Knew Too Much explores a scandalous murder and the shocking connection to a dazzling Tinseltown hotel. This 1930s SoCal drama will satisfy every mystery-loving heart this summer.

7 /20: 'In This Moment'

7/20 :'In This Moment'

This is not a drill: Karma Brown has a new novel, and it’s definitely the most emotional event of summer. Meg Pepper is doing a routine after-school pickup when her life changes forever — she beckons a teenage boy to cross the road, and he is hit by a car. Her guilt drives her to the boy’s side during the entire rehab process (at the expense of time with her own family), but will she stay when she starts feeling drawn to the boy’s father? A magical reading experience that reminds us that small decisions can change a life forever, In This Moment is necessary summer reading material.

8 /20: 'Into The Water'

8/20 :'Into The Water'

The author of The Girl on the Train returns with a summer thrill-ride sure to spike our adrenaline levels. This enrapturing story dives into the electrifying mystery surrounding a string of murders — and they all involve women turning up at the bottom of a lake. Every chapter of this suspense novel comes with a twist that will leave you stunned. Leave it to Paula Hawkins to take our breath away during beach time and have us edging away from the water. 

9 /20: 'The People We Hate at the Wedding'

9/20 :'The People We Hate at the Wedding'

Awkward family weddings we would rather go to the dentist than attend  — we’ve all been there. But the hilarity-laced pages of The People We Hate at the Wedding will charm you and take your wedding aversion to the next level. Paul and Alice’s glamorous half-sister Eloise is tying the knot in a luxurious London ceremony, but instead of dreamy slices of cake, they are served a super-dose of family drama. This witty, dazzling and unputdownable literary feat is a vivid celebration of the power of family (the good, the bad and the super-annoying). 

10 /20: 'Proof'

10/20 :'Proof'

If you couldn’t get enough of Tobisman’s first novel Doubt, you’re going to devour the thrilling sequel in one beach day. Attorney Caroline Auden is still reeling from the case that nearly destroyed her legal career when her life is turned upside down once again. Caroline’s late grandmother leaves her entire estate and family heirlooms to a mysterious charity called Oasis Care — but underneath the facade of helping damaged souls is a secret that could destroy Caroline’s entire life. Gripping and adrenaline-inducing, there isn’t a chance you’ll be able to put this novel down once opened. 

11 /20: 'The Rules of Half'

11/20 :'The Rules of Half'

This one is for beach readers who need more literary drama to keep their summer reading hearts fulfilled. Will Fletcher suffers from bipolar disorder and the heartbreak of losing an infant daughter. When a 15-year-old orphan claims to be Will’s daughter, will he abandon fear and take on fatherhood again? A moving tale of the obstacles modern families must overcome in order for love to triumph, The Rules of Half is one of summer’s most poignant and brave releases.  

12 /20: 'Saints for All Occasions'

12/20 :'Saints for All Occasions'

From the author of beach-read classic Maine comes a sweeping new novel about sisterhood and the unbreakable bonds of family. When Nora and Theresa Flynn leave their small Irish village as young women, their new starts in America spur their lives down two drastically different paths. When decades of silence and a heartbreaking secret threaten to tear them apart forever, will they allow resentment to shatter their relationship, or will they allow love to patch it together? Deeply moving and emotionally epic, Saints for All Occasions is a summer must-read if you’re a sister.  

13 /20: 'Salt Houses'

13/20 :'Salt Houses'

A sweeping, breathtaking and golden story of three generations of a Palestinian family and their heartbreaking displacement from the life they know, Salt Houses is unlike any other beach read on this list. Told with urgency that reads like poetry, this heartbreaking literal feat is a parade of one of life’s ultimate truths: We can’t always return home. Authentic and bravely told sentence after sentence, this epic novel on human bonds reminds us that family drama often goes behind romance and summer vacation homes.

14 /20: 'Same Beach, Next Year'

14/20 :'Same Beach, Next Year'

Two couples meet coincidentally on one of Charleston’s most stunning islands, and what unfolds will connect them for decades to come. Oh, and result in a forbidden romance. A rich and intoxicating plot that will keep you hooked from beginning to end, this story of old flames and friendships set in the South will leave you craving more. This tale is classic Dorothea Benton Frank, and it captures Charleston flawlessly.

15 /20: 'The Saturday Evening Girls Club'

15/20 :'The Saturday Evening Girls Club'

Four young immigrant women in the 1900s ditch their domestic shackles for a weekly pottery-making group — which doubles as a haven to conjure up American dreams. A potent tale of the empowerment found in bonds of female friendship, The Saturday Evening Girls Club will enliven and uplift the reader. Every year requires a brilliant literary celebration of feminism, power and the American dream, and The Saturday Evening Girls Club delivers.

16 /20: 'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo'

16/20 :'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo'

When reclusive and aging Hollywood starlet Evelyn Hugo hires rookie magazine reporter Monique Grant to pen her memoir, the journalist is left to answer one mysterious question: Why her? As Monique dives into the tumultuous and scandalous life of the actor, she discovers a secret connection that could change both of their lives forever. Addictive, dazzling and bound to leave you in tears (classic Taylor Jenkins Reid), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo should be your No. 1 reading priority this summer.  

17 /20: 'The Simplicity of Cider'

17/20 :'The Simplicity of Cider'

Reclusive cider-maker Sanna Lund’s life is interrupted when a hunky man and his son arrive at her family’s apple orchard in Wisconsin. The three form an unlikely and reluctant bond that will warm every reader’s heart — and rattle it when an outside threat jeopardizes it. Our heart exploded just putting this charming love story into our Amazon cart, so we can’t even imagine the magic to be devoured within these pages.

18/20 :'Startup'

Multimillion-dollar apps, investors, tech journalists looking for their big break and the hectic personal lives (and love stories) of the young and ambitious. Yes, this is the startup fiction you’ve been waiting for your entire millennial existence, and we assure you it won’t disappoint. Oh, and it’s from our JCF (journalist crush forever) Doree Shafrir of BuzzFeed — need we say more?

19/20 :'The Beach Inn'

The New York Times best-selling master of quintessential beach reading material Joanne DeMaio returns with a true summer gem. An exquisite coastal Connecticut beach inn is in jeopardy until a band of locals and friends come together to save it — but will their “inn-tervention” work? A perfect New England trifecta of adventure, love and page-turning relationships that will warm the soul, The Beach Inn is as breezy as summer reading gets. 

20 /20: 'The Leavers'

20/20 :'The Leavers'

When Deming Guo’s Chinese immigrant mother disappears one day on her way to work, the boy is left to grapple with his growing pains (and lost sense of identity) alone. His mother, Polly, is forced to face the mistakes of her past and make choices that will irreversibly change her life. A global emotional journey that takes readers from the streets of New York to the heart of China, The Leavers is the mother-son story you can’t miss this summer.