Life·12 min read

21 Can’t-Miss Beach Reads For Summer 2021

18 Can’t-Miss Beach Reads For Summer 2021
May 25, 2021

This post was originally published in May 2021 and has been updated. 

A frothy page-turner and the beach go together like peanut butter and jelly. There’s simply nothing better. And you can always go for more. So we rounded up the best new reads you’ll want to bring to the ocean, the pool, or wherever you’re hunkering down for some sun and good vibes this summer. 

“Rock the Boat” by Beck Dorey-Stein

For fans of “From the Corner of the Oval”...

Beck is back, baby. This time, she’s tackling fiction with a novel set in a small seaside town in New Jersey. In it, a stumbling 30-something whose love life recently imploded returns to her hometown for a summer. Cue a cast of quirky characters, a rapidly changing town, some rekindled friendships — and you’ll get this lighthearted story about how the course of true adulthood never did run smooth. (Amazon, Bookshop)

Read it

“A Lowcountry Bride” by Preslaysa Williams

For when you want a new couple to ship…

Say ‘I do’ to this charming love story that feels like it’s straight out of a Netflix series. We’ve got Maya, who dreams of becoming the lead designer at an acclaimed NYC bridal brand. And Derek, a widowed father who’s trying to save his family’s bridal shop from bankruptcy in Charleston. After Maya comes home to South Carolina to help her father recover from a hip injury, she crosses paths with Derek. Some major sparks fly...but no spoilers on whether or not they both get a happy ending. Happy reading. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“The Housewives” by Brian Moylan

For all the Bravo-holics out there…

Who says you can’t get a reality TV fix on the beach? This nonfiction book charts the entire “Real Housewives” franchise. And drops some scoops you’ve always wondered about (like how much they really get paid). It’s compulsively readable and you’ll probably want to go on a Bravo binge sesh after. Sorry, not sorry. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“The Hunting Wives” by May Cobb

For when your book club exclusively reads thrillers…

Add this one to the queue. A woman leaves behind big-city life to settle down with her husband and son in Texas. It at first seems like the perfect idyllic community. But she soon feels boredom start to kick in...until she meets the Hunting Wives — an alluring secretive group of women that lead her directly into trouble. The plot twists? They keep on coming. (Amazon, Bookshop


“A Special Place for Women” by Laura Hankin 

For when you have a lot of feelings about hashtag girlbossing…

This one goes down at an exclusive women’s social club. A failing journalist sets out to revive her career and come out with a big story that’ll get her back on top. As she goes deeper into the super-secretive society’s world, she finds out what’s really going on behind the scenes. Dun dun dun. Oh, and Samantha Bee’s working on turning it into a TV show. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

For when you love a good old-fashioned family drama…

One of Skimm HQ’s fave authors (of “Daisy Jones & The Six” and “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” fame) set her latest book in August 1983. It revolves around four siblings with a famous father who are hosting their annual end-of-summer blowout party. They all have cool celebrity ties (it is Malibu, after all) and are each hiding something from one another. And by the party’s end...let’s just say things go up in flames. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris

For when you want a propulsive social thriller...

You’ll be able to cut the tension here with a knife. Meet Nella, a hardworking 26-year-old assistant who’s fed up with being the only Black employee at her NYC book publishing job. When she hears that her company has hired another young Black woman, she’s thrilled. That is, until things begin to take a turn and she receives an unsettling note telling her to leave her job immediately. It’s been compared to “Get Out” and “The Devil Wears Prada” and has already been scooped up for a TV adaptation too. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Mergers and Acquisitions” by Cate Doty

For when your entire IG feed is full of bridal inspo…

Say ‘I do’ to this memoir from a former weddings writer at The New York Times. Doty mixes personal stories about her own love and marriage experiences with a behind-the-scenes look at what really goes into the society pages at the NYT. For anyone who’s interested in the history of wedding announcements or wants the deets on how to actually get yours in the paper of record, this one’s for you. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams 

For when you want something a little (read: very) steamy…

A bestselling erotica author and single mother has a surprise run-in with an award-winning novelist at a literary event in NYC. Turns out they actually spent one hot-and-heavy week together 15 years ago. And before they can rekindle their former fling fully they’ll have to cope with some heavy stuff from their pasts. We’re calling it now...this one’s going to be everywhere this summer. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“That Summer” by Jennifer Weiner

For anyone who’s still having trouble focusing…

This one will solve all your ‘I can’t get into any book right now’ problems. In it, a dissatisfied mother in the Philly suburbs starts accidentally receiving emails meant for a glamorous independent woman with a similar email address. The correspondences offer her a glimpse into another life and a fun distraction. That is, until she begins to realize that maybe the emails weren’t so random and everything she thought about this happenstance wasn’t so accidental after all. Warning: there’s a #MeToo plotline so things get a little heavy. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“The Guncle” by Steven Rowley

For when you're in desperate need of an actual LOL...

Netflix, u up? This one feels like the perfect adaptation for the small screen. It follows a former sitcom star living in Palm Springs who suddenly has to take care of his niece and nephew after a tragedy. Cue some family growing pains and humorous antics, and you get this heartwarming novel you’ll devour in a flash. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Impostor Syndrome” by Kathy Wang

For all the 007 fans out there…

How about a female-led corporate espionage story instead? We’ve got Julia, a COO who’s infiltrating a Google-like organization in Silicon Valley on behalf of a Russian intelligence agency. And Alice, the tech company’s low-level employee who starts to put all the pieces together after some suspicious activity pops up during a server check. Their cat-and-mouse chase is electrifying. And you’ll be glued to the pages the entire time. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“To Sir, with Love” by Lauren Layne

For when your fave movie of all time is “You’ve Got Mail”…

Don’t miss this modern version. It follows two 30-somethings who meet on an online dating app. The good news: they have lots of virtual chemistry. The bad news: they’re also unknowingly business rivals. There’s Gracie, who’s taking on her family’s failing champagne shop in NYC after the death of her father. And Sebastian, her arrogant corporate opposite, who wants to buy out her store. Will they or won’t they? You’ll just have to read to find out. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“The Soulmate Equation” by Christina Lauren

For when you’ve been itching to do a 23andMe test…

This one follows a single mother with a full plate who’s hesitant to enter the dating game. But after a trendy new DNA-based matchmaking service comes along that includes a big payday for her, she decides she’ll try it out. The catch? She’s matched with the founder of the company who she already knows — and can’t stand. And everything she thought she understood about love, fate, and chemistry gets flipped upside down. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Summer on the Bluffs” by Sunny Hostin

For devoted fans of “The View”...

The show’s co-host is dropping her first novel — and trust us, it’s irresistible. In it, a 70-something wealthy finance alum invites her adult goddaughters for one last summer hurrah at her home in Martha’s Vineyard. Ama, or “the Witch of Wall Street,” as she’s known, is moving to the south of France to reunite with her college sweetheart. And so she’s ready to give away her massive estate to one of her three goddaughters by summer’s end. With a chateau up for grabs, so are a bevy of hidden secrets. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Dial A for Aunties” by Jesse Q. Sutanto 

For when you have a lot of dating app meetups lined up...

Let’s hope they don’t have anything to do with the series of unfortunate events that go down in this wild book. In it, a woman named Meddy accidentally kills her blind date and turns to her aunties for help. TBD if they can pull off the cover-up and keep the rest of their lives (and love lives) in order along the way. Fingers crossed it works out for them. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston 

For when your superpower of choice is time travel…

From the author of “Red, White & Royal Blue” we’re getting a new love story about a cynical 23-year-old who falls for a woman she saw on the NYC subway. The only catch? The woman’s a time traveler from the ‘70s who’s stuck on the Q train. It turns into a sweet romance filled with super-relatable millennial references. And it’s one you’ll finish in a single sitting. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Last Summer at the Golden Hotel” by Elyssa Friedland  

For when summertime = getaway time…

This one goes down at a fictional hotel in the Catskills (à la the resort in “Dirty Dancing”). It’s owned by two families — the Goldmans and the Weingolds. And for decades they’ve been the best of friends and successful business partners. But recently their relationship has been strained. And the resort is falling apart. Once an offer comes in to buy it, though, they’ll have to decide if they can come together, resolve their issues, and deal with long-buried secrets to save their beloved hotel. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Golden Girl” by Elin Hilderbrand

For when you’re head of the Elin Hilderbrand fan club…

Same. The queen of beach reads is back. In her latest, a novelist and mother of three is killed in a hit-and-run in Nantucket (not a spoiler, people — it happens super early on). And she enters into a middle ground known as the Beyond. There she’s given three “nudges” aka wishes that let her change the outcome of things that happen on Earth. And with three adult children with crazy lives of their own? There are a lot of options to choose from. It’s the ultimate family saga and is perfect to share with your mom, sister, and third cousin. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“Arsenic and Adobo” by Mia P. Manansala

For all the foodies out there… 

Crossover alert. This novel begins with major rom-com vibes and turns into an Agatha Christie–esque mystery. When Lila moves home after a breakup, she’s tasked with saving her family’s restaurant. But when a famous food critic — who’s also casually her ex — winds up dead, she’s the main suspect. She sets out to clear her name and takes you along on the journey. It’s a super-fun read that’s perfect for the beach, your couch, or any Sunday afternoon. (Amazon, Bookshop)


“People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry

For when you want something with big rom-com energy...

Emily Henry (from “Beach Read” fame) is back with another smart, steamy romance. This one follows Poppy and Alex on a trip to Palm Springs as they work through a rough patch in their 12-year friendship. It's about opposites attracting and friends becoming...more than friends. You will feel all the feels. And probably shed a few tears. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya. (Amazon, Bookshop)


PS: These are editorially selected, but if you purchase it, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.

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