Sunshine, a cold drink, and a good book in hand. It’s a recipe for a perfect summer afternoon. So much, in fact, that nearly every library and bookstore you visit as the whether turns warmer has a display of book dedicated to “beach reads.”
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best beach reads for the summer, from historical fiction to fantasy and more.
You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth
You Are a Badass at Making Money might not seem like a typical beach read, but this no-holds-barred guide to financial success is filled with personal lessons and essays from Jen Sincero who herself went from living in a garage to traveling the world. Sincero’s how-to guide focuses less on how to invest and how much to save, but more on reflecting on what’s holding your back from making money and how to shake up your life and unleash your potential.
It’s not a new read, but Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow’s 2005 Alexander Hamilton, wasn’t only a New York Times Best-Seller, but also the inspiration for the award-winning and perennial sell-out hip-hop musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda has confessed to picking up Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, a founding father and the first Secretary of the Treasury, during a much-needed beach vacation and credits it to the inspiration for his 2015 musical Hamilton. Hamilton infamously died in a duel with Aaron Burr, but his story lives on in print and stage. Chernow even helped Miranda develop the musical, sitting once in the orchestra pit during the performance.
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance
If “weird” is more your speed, then Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy may be for you. Classified as eco-sci-fi, VanderMeer’s work has been compared to authors like Thoreau and Kafka. The story in the novels Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance follows a team of explorers as they make their way through a mysterious and deadly wilderness called Area X. Psychedelic experiences abound in a secret agency’s expeditions to Area X, located in Florida’s marshes. The area appears to be recovering from some kind of altered natural event, and has a transformative—or even fatal—effect on those who visit.
Fangirl: A Novel
For a more light-hearted fantasy reminiscent of the struggles of early adulthood, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl: A Novel follows Cath, a college freshman who is having trouble adjusting to her new life. The novel explores Cath’s social anxiety disorder and its effect on her relationships. Her outlet is writing, and the story follows Cath’s popularity as the award-winning author of a Harry Potter-esque fan fiction series about a boy magician named Simon Snow. The storyline follows Cath’s struggles at school, in her personal life, and in completing her novel. For those who want more of Simon Snow after reading Fangirl, Rowell has also published an actual Simon Snow book called Carry On—a reflection of the novel Cath wrote in Fangirl.
The Shetland Island Mysteries
Developed into a hit television series by the BBC in 2014, this series got its start with the 2008 novel Raven Black: Book One of the Shetland Island Quartet. Author Ann Cleeves was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for best crime novel of the year for the debut novel of this series, which follows the disappearance of a young girl Catherine and the quest to find her killer. The crime brings back memories of the disappearance of another village girl years earlier and, while a simple loner is the main suspect, the investigation casts a shadow of suspicion across the entire community.
Where They Found Her
Kimberly McCreight’s 2016 novel Where They Found Her weaves a story about the lives of three women, all struggling in some way. Molly Sanderson, who lost her youngest child and recently relocated to New Jersey with her family, is testing out a new career as a reporter when she catches a story about the body of a newborn found in the woods. Barbara, the wife of the police chief, is struggling to keep her life together amidst the struggles of her son, and Sandy is dealing with a troubled relationship with her own mother. Told from Molly’s perspective, the story examines the complex bond between mothers and daughters and the bond that can both tie them together and break them apart.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Gail Honeyman’s debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, is a story of a socially awkward woman’s journey of growth. As a woman who goes out of her way to avoid socializing and stay in her own carefully constructed bubble, Eleanor finds new friendship in an unkempt coworker and an elderly stranger. Lauded as a feel-good tale of awakening, the novel is slated for development into a major motion picture by Reese Witherspoon.