Life·13 min read

22 Buzzy Books to Read at the Beach (or On Your Couch) This Summer

books to take to the beach 2022
Design: theSkimm | Photos: Hyperion Avenue, Penguin Random House, Macmillan
May 26, 2022

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Good reads and the warm weather go together like us and our SPF (IYKYK). There’s just something about a light breeze and sunshine that makes reading the perfect book all the more satisfying. So whether you’re hitting the beach, the pool, your favorite park or your couch (with your trusted AC), we’ve got ya covered on all the latest and greatest new reads dropping this summer. From fun and frothy rom-coms to Sally Rooney-esque dramas and new celebrity memoirs, you’ll be soaking up the sun and your new fave book in no time. This summer’s gonna be lit(erary).

Fiction to read out by the pool

“By the Book” by Jasmine Guillory

Bookworm vibes + a modern retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” = this read that’ll make ya smile. In it, Isabelle, an editorial assistant and the only Black employee at a publishing house, is overworked, underpaid, and ready to grow in her career. So in an effort to secure a promotion and impress her boss, she heads to California to retrieve an overdue book manuscript from an AWOL celebrity. Naturally (because this is a Jasmine Guillory romance after all), as she tries to help him get rid of the writer’s block and finish his memoir, their relationship goes from business to pleasure. You’ll be blushing and crushing until the very end. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“I Kissed Shara Wheeler” by Casey McQuiston

Calling “Red, White & Royal Blue” and “One Last Stop” fans. Casey McQuiston is back. This time we’re heading to the fictional Willowgrove Christian Academy in Alabama. After 'it' girl Shara Wheeler goes missing on prom night, her academic rival, Chloe, decides to investigate her disappearance. The catch? They recently kissed… and she’s using notes that Shara’s left behind to try and find her. It has “Pretty Little Liars” meets “Cruel Summer” vibes and will keep ya hooked until the last page. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Book Lovers” by Emily Henry

In this enemies-to-lovers romance, a passionate literary agent who knows everything there is to know about rom-coms and meet-cutes becomes the main character in her own love story. After heading south to a small town in North Carolina in hopes of a relaxing monthlong reset, our heroine finds herself having repeated run-ins with none other than her archnemesis from New York. Is it just us? Or do you already feel the chemistry brewing? (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Can’t Look Away” by Carola Lovering

Thriller alert. Meet Molly Diamond. She has an idyllic life on paper — living in Connecticut with her husband and young daughter. But in reality, she’s given up on her dream of writing, feels quite out of place in her community, and is struggling to have her second child. So when she meets Sabrina, who’s new in town and opens up to her about her own fertility issues, Molly thinks she’s found a friend she can finally relate to. But it turns out Sabrina has secrets of her own and an ulterior motive for befriending Molly. Get ready to be on the edge of your seat. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“On Gin Lane” by Brooke Lea Foster

Enter: This ritzy 1950s drama about NYC socialite Lee Farrows and her almost picture-perfect summer trip to the Hamptons. After her fiancé gifts her a luxe hotel as an engagement gift (casual) and it goes up in flames, she’s forced to come to terms with what she really wants in life. Will glamour, social status, and wealth be enough? You’ll have to read this one to find out. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“The Emma Project” by Sonali Dev

A friends-to-lovers story with a Jane Austen twist? Count us in. In this modern retelling of “Emma,” you’ll meet Naina, who just ended her engagement and is ready to bring economic independence to millions of South Asian women through her microfinance foundation. Icon. And just when she thinks she’s finally put her past relationship behind her, her ex’s little brother becomes her biggest business rival. If you love a sweet family story with Hallmark rom-com vibes, you’ll def wanna give this one a read. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Half-Blown Rose” by Leesa Cross-Smith

From Paris with love. After her hubby publicly betrays her, a sophisticated 44-year-old moves to France to start over. Cue fancy dinner parties, walks along the Seine, and a hot-and-heavy affair with an irresistible French 20-something that’ll give you “Seven Days in June” vibes. Oui oui. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Counterfeit” by Kirstin Chen

In this delicious romp about a counterfeit bag scheme, you’ll get “Hustlers” meets “The Bling Ring” meets “Molly’s Game.” There’s Ava Wong, a Chinese American lawyer who always does the right thing. And her college roommate Winnie, who she hasn’t heard from in 20 years. Now, thanks to Winnie, Ava gets roped into her super-high-stakes handbag scheme — and might be the one to take the fall. Dun, dun, dun. This one is so fast-paced and bingeable that it’s already been scooped up to be turned into a TV show. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Meant to Be Mine” by Hannah Orenstein

What would you do if you knew the exact date you were going to meet the love of your life? This new read from the author behind “Playing With Matches” explores just that. When Edie’s grandmother was young, she predicted the exact moment she would meet her soulmate. And ever since she’s been correctly foretelling the dates everyone in Edie’s family would meet their ideal matches. Now, Edie’s moment is here, but her perfect soulmate comes with some not-so-perfect complications. Is Edie’s destiny set or will she create it for herself? Give this one a read to find out. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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PS: If you’re looking for more books about love, we gotchu. We rounded up our favorite reads with enemies-to-lovers plotlines, friends-with-benefits twists, and more. Check it out.


“The Heart of the Deal” by Lindsay MacMillan

Rae is a 25-year-old Wall Street banker looking for love…on a very specific timeline. She wants marriage and children on lock by the time she’s 35. So when she meets Dustin and the two hit it off, she thinks she’s found her match. But as their relationship unfolds and she gets to know him, the future she plotted out in her mind starts to veer off track. If you’re looking for a sweet and touching read that explores mental health, the pressures of being a successful woman, and what comes next after things don’t go according to plan, this one’s for you. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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Fiction you’ll want to enjoy in a quiet place

“This Time Tomorrow” by Emma Straub

Emma Straub’s latest novel is giving “13 Going on 30” mixed with “Back to the Future” vibes. On the morning she turns 40, Alice wakes up to find herself back in the ‘90s reliving her 16th birthday. But this time around, her young-again dad, who’s in the hospital in her present-day timeline, is back to his healthy, lively self. It’s a beautiful read that mixes the entertaining element of time travel, an endearing love of the Upper West Side in NYC, and heavy questions about mortality and the choices we make. PS: Straub’s 2014 book, “The Vacationers,'' is a Skimm HQ fave and is also a fab pick for your next getaway. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“The Latecomer” by Jean Hanff Korelitz

From the author of “The Plot” and “The Undoing,” this story follows the strained marriage and family dynamics of a wealthy family. There’s the lonely matriarch, Johanna, who decides to have another child after her distant triplets are ready to cut ties and head off to college. She thinks that having another baby is what could solve her problems and put her missing pieces together. But what she soon finds threatens to undo everything she ever thought about her life. One messy drama with tons of family secrets coming right up. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“What We Do in the Dark” by Michelle Hart

This “Conversations with Friends”-esque coming-of-age novel follows a college freshman, who begins an affair with an older, married professor. It’s a story of self-discovery that explores grief, loneliness, and the aftermath of a seemingly toxic relationship. Plus, it’s filled with all that hyper-specific Rooney-esque writing we can’t get enough of. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty” by Akwaeke Emezi

This new, buzzy read is all about love after loss. It’s been five years since Feyi lost her husband in a tragic accident. And now, with the convincing of her best friend, she decides to start dating again. Enter: one fateful night where she attends a summer rooftop party in Brooklyn and meets someone who, via an entertaining string of events, flips her love life completely upside down. It’s a heartwarming, yet complicated story of second chances, self-identity, and love after grief. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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"The Wild One" by Colleen McKeegan

A summer camp thriller with “Yellowjackets” vibes? We’ve never said ‘yes’ so fast. This one jumps between two timelines as you follow three friends who are haunted by something horrible from their time at Camp Catalpa years ago. Will the past come back to haunt them? Probably. Will you be entertained while it’s happening? Definitely. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Patience Is a Subtle Thief” by Abi Ishola-Ayodeji

This coming-of-age story follows Patience, an 18-year-old student, who comes from a politically influential family in Nigeria. Patience's father banished her mother from the family home years ago. And since then has been secretive about the reason behind her mother's ostracism. So when Patience moves to Lagos for university and tries to get more details on her mother, she gets roped into a scheme by her cousin that endangers her life as she knows it. It’s a thrilling story of family ties, secrets, and sticking up for the people you love. Now, can someone just turn it into a TV show, please? (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“These Impossible Things” by Salma El-Wardany

This story of friendship, religion, and love will be your next fave. Malak, Kees, and Jenna have been friends for as long as they can remember — from navigating school and boys to their relationship as a trio and their Muslim faith. When the romantic choices that both Kees and Malak make cause them to grow apart, Jenna is caught in the middle of their ongoing rift. As time passes, there’s a crisis that brings the trio back to each other. Can they come to terms with the decisions they’ve made and reignite their friendship? Only time will tell. It’s a buzzy debut that’ll you’ll def want to add to cart. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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Warning: This story mentions sexual assault, which could be triggering to some readers.

“The Girls in Queens” by Christine Kandic Torres

It’s always been Brisma and Kelly. The dynamic duo are best friends and grew up together in Queens. But when they begin high school, everything changes. Brisma starts dating high school baseball star Brian and damages her relationship with Kelly in the process. Years later, after they’ve mended their friendship and come back into contact with Brian, an allegation against him reopens old wounds and forces the friends to re-evaluate their relationship. It’s told in alternating timelines, so you’ll be saying ‘just one more chapter’ ’til ya finish. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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Nonfiction you can read wherever, whenever

“The Office BFFs” by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey

Whether you’ve watched “The Office” too many times to count or are just getting started with the cult-fave series, this one from Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela) is bound to have you giggling. An extension of their popular podcast, where they rewatch episodes of their hit TV series, Fischer and Kinsey give a behind-the-scenes look into the early days of making the show, their friendship, what they think Jim wrote in his teapot note for Pam, and more. And, there are tons of fun pictures to go along with the stories too. Heart = warmed. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Mean Baby” by Selma Blair

Yep, that Selma Blair. Aka Elle Woods’ enemy-turned-BFF in “Legally Blonde.” Or Cecile in “Cruel Intentions.” Blair covers everything from her childhood and her struggles with alcohol and relationships to her career and her multiple sclerosis diagnosis. It reads like she’s talking to a friend, so it’ll be a great beachside (or couchside) companion. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“We Were Dreamers” by Simu Liu

A superhero origin story? Sign us up. Liu is the star of Marvel’s first Asian superhero film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” He writes about his family’s immigration story from China to Canada, his journey to Hollywood after getting fired as an accountant, and his experience with cultural stereotyping. If you’re looking for a read that’ll have you feeling motivated and inspired, pick this one up. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Everything I Need I Get from You” by Kaitlyn Tiffany

Fans, stans, and boybands — oh my. In this fun read, Kaitlyn Tiffany unpacks the history of internet fandom. She reclaims the idea of the fangirl in a feminist light, arguing it’s a way to create art, community, and innovation online. Plus, she examines One Direction and Harry Styles, breaks down fan conspiracy theories, and the phenomenon’s impact on capitalism. Fangirls, unite. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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