Hello, and welcome to our favorite time of year: Beach reads season. Okay, so it’s not quite full-sun, SPF all day, ‘see ya’ to socks weather – but we’re getting there. And when it hits, you’re gonna need the right buzzy books in your beach bag.
We’ve got you covered. Read on for our picks of the most delightful, funny, light, sweet, and smart reads that you’ve just got to devour this summer. Sunglasses sold separately.
“Meet Me at the Lake” by Carley Fortune
Nearly a decade ago, Fern and Will spent a magical 24 hours together. They planned to meet up again, but Fern showed — and Will didn’t. Now, Fern is dealing with the sudden loss of her mother and struggling to manage the lakeside resort she inherited. When Will appears again, old feelings are uncovered and new secrets are revealed. This is a serious page-turner with “Before Sunrise” vibes.
“Social Engagement” by Avery Carpenter Forrey
Picture it: You’ve just married a handsome, successful guy, in a dream location…but somehow, it’s all wrong. In this darkly funny novel — written by an OG Skimm employee, BTW — we meet Callie in this very situation. The book takes us back through the preceding year, during which Callie moves in with her best friend from childhood, reignites an old flame with her friend’s cousin, and discovers family secrets lurking in forgotten drawers. If you’re looking for a page-turner with some bite, this one’s for you.
“Everything’s Fine” by Cecilia Rabess
A “will they or won’t they” for the modern age. This extremely timely novel follows Jess, a Black woman, and Josh, a white man, from the time of their meeting in college at the start of the Obama era through their twin appointments at Goldman Sachs, and through the Trump years. It’s an open-hearted, funny novel that knows love is never straightforward — and everything is not always fine.
“Happy Place” by Emily Henry
We’ve been waiting for this one from the rom-com queen (and we bet you have too). It follows Harriet and Wyn, who are college sweethearts…errr, were. Each summer, their group of friends head to a family home in Maine. But this trip will be the group’s last, as their go-to cottage is on the market. The twist? Our central couple recently ended their engagement — and their friends have no idea. In our humble opinion, this is Henry’s best work yet.
“One Summer in Savannah” by Terah Shelton Harris
An unexpected connection in the aftermath of something deeply painful is at the heart of this novel. It follows Sara, who’s moved home to Savannah, Georgia, with her young daughter Alana after eight years away. While trying to protect Alana from the family of the man who assaulted her, she comes face to face with her attacker’s twin brother and finds herself drawn to him. Heads up: this story deals with sexual assault.
“Old Enough” by Haley Jakobson
Ahh, to be young. It’s uncomplicated, carefree, and blissful….jk. Meet Sav, sophomore in college. She’s just come out as bisexual, and is making new queer friends and finding a community. But she’s also also reckoning with a past trauma, and struggling under the weight of her new crush. This funny debut gets at the specific pain of being young and finding yourself — and the joy, too.
“The Celebrants” by Steven Rowley
This heartwarming coming of age story follows a group of five college friends all about to enter their 50s. After they collectively mourned the loss of their friend from an overdose two weeks before college graduation, they make a pact: to throw alive “funerals” as a way to appreciate their lives. After a hiatus, Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Marielle, and Craig are back in Big Sur to do it again. But this time might be different once Jordan shares a secret he’s been keeping from the group. Alternating between the present day gathering and previous “funerals” from past years, you’ll grow attached to these characters…and when you finish, you’ll want to go hug your BFFs.
“The Comeback” by Lily Chu
What would you do if a mega pop star ended up in your living room? Enter: this “Notting Hill” meets K-Pop rom-com. Ariadne Hui is a corporate lawyer building her career in Toronto and doing everything she can to be the “perfect” daughter for her father. So when she comes home one day to find K-Pop star Choi Jihoon, her roommate’s cousin, staying at her place for the foreseeable future, her life is quickly turned on its head. She falls for him fast — and all of sudden finds herself thrust in the limelight as the love interest of a superstar. “People We Meet on Vacation” fans, this is the book for you.
“A Perfect Vintage” by Chelsea Fagan
Get ready to be transported to the Loire Valley in France, where you’ll happily spend the (brief) time it takes you to read cover to cover. It follows Lea, a successful 30-something who transforms run-down French estates into luxury hotels. This time, though, she’s brought her friend Stephanie and Stephanie’s daughter along, and they get in the way of her carefully-curated professional act. Plus, Lea starts to fall for the (much younger) son of her boss, making it all much more complicated. It’s just as much fun as it sounds.
“Save What’s Left” by Elizabeth Castellano
When Kathleen’s husband of thirty years up and leaves, she makes a bold choice: She flees her home of Kansas and impulsively buys a cottage in an artsy seaside town. But once she’s there, she realizes it’s not so beachy keen — oh, and that a huge holiday-themed McMansion is being built right next door. You’ll laugh out loud as she goes to war against the development (and her neighbors), and cheer her on as she figures out just what she needs.
“Summer on Sag Harbor” by Sunny Hostin
Sunny Hostin of “The View” is back with another perfect warm weather read. This time, she transports us to SANS, a little-known historically Black beach community in Sag Harbor. Her protagonist, Olivia, has a successful and busy finance career in New York City. But this summer, she retreats to SANS, where she processes the loss of two father figures in her life…and looks into some complicated pieces of her family history. As she works to maintain her community's roots while developers loom, she discovers who she really is, and what she truly wants for herself.
“Run Baby Run” by Melissa Lenhardt
Who doesn’t love a good road trip story? Darcy’s getting married in a week, and she’s feeling a lot of emotions. But before she has time to process them all, she has to drive from Austin to Chicago for the big day…with her estranged mother, Marja. Who she hasn’t seen in three whole years. Needless to say, it’s a bumpy ride. This book is heartfelt, messy, and chock full of all the dynamics only mothers and daughters understand. Get ready to be entertained.
“The Neighbor Favor” by Kristina Forest
“You’ve Got Mail” fans, assemble. Lily Greene works an intense job in book publishing and is sick of being set up on dates by her sisters. When she emails her favorite fantasy author, N.R. Stickland, as a way to vent, the two become close (and Lily harbors hope it’ll turn into something more). That’s until he ghosts her. Meanwhile, the man behind the pen name, Nick Brown, moves into Lily’s Manhattan apartment building and discovers that his sweet, awkward neighbor is actually the woman he was emailing all along. If you love a feel-good will-they-won’t-they romance, this belongs in your stack.
“Same Time Next Summer” by Annabel Monaghan
Sam’s life is completely “together” on paper. At 30, she has the perfect doctor fiancee and a decent job. So when she returns to the Long Island beach town where she spent every summer of her childhood and crosses paths with her high school sweetheart for the first time in years, everything in her life is flipped upside down. Because this one has “Sweet Home Alabama” energy with a Hamptons twist, we binged it in one day. And if you haven’t read Monaghan’s first book, “Nora Goes Off Script,” run, don’t walk.
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