The 10 Best Beach Reads of All Time!

In my opinion, there are very few things better than sitting on the beach with a book, uninterrupted. It’s the most relaxing thing ever and one of my most favorite simple pleasures.

I get a lot of requests for good beach reads, so today I am going to share my ten favorites, in no particular order. This was very hard to narrow down!!! For me, when choosing a beach read I look for something light and fun. Even though “my genre” is typically murdery thrillers and true crime, for the beach I want something a little lighter. A good page-turner, minus the killing? Haha. Think Elin Hilderbrand, Jennifer Weiner, Christina Lauren, Jane Green, Meg Wolitzer, and Emily Giffin. (Those are a few of my personal fav authors when I’m looking for something light) Tell me your fav beach reads in the comments section!

PS – for more reading inspiration, check out the best books of 2018 / everything I read!

The 10 Best Beach Reads

(again, these are in no particular order… how could I possibly rank them!?!)

Best Beach Reads

The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

This one will always and forever be an absolute favorite book of mine. I never hold onto books after I read them but this has earned a permanent place on my shelf as I love it so much. I am not a big re-reader but have read it twice (and it’s long!) We also have an entire podcast episode about this book (it’s a really early one so don’t judge!!) It’s basically Kate Middleton fan fiction in the best sense of the word. It’s the story of an American girl (Bex) who meets the man of her dreams (Nick) who just happens to be the prince of England. It follows them all the way through college and afterward, through breakups, an engagement, the crazy royal wedding party, and more. It’s juicy and fun and I could NOT put it down!!!

The Idea of You, by Robinne Lee

I don’t know that there’s anyone left who reads this blog that hasn’t read this book but just in case: GO READ THIS BOOK! You must! It’s the perfect steamy summer read. Or steamy winter read. Or whatever time of year. This is definitely not just one of my 10 favorite beach reads but also one of my 10 favorite books ever. It’s the story of an older woman (I hate saying older – she’s 40, I’m closer to her age!) who ends up in a steamy but sweet love affair with a Harry Styles type in his early twenties. The concept did not initially appeal to me but Becca wore me down and once I started, I could not put it down. We also had a book club podcast episode about this one, AND we interviewed the author separately. Such a fun book. If you have not read this book, stop reading this post and order it immediately!

Eat Pray Loveeat pray love review, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is living the dream New York City life and up and abandons the whole thing. It’s funny how with time my views of this book have changed. When it first came out, I was 27 and remember feeling a little bit annoyed by it (I found it rather self-indulgent and couldn’t really relate to it). As I’ve gotten older (and re-read it more recently), I definitely have more of an appreciation for it. It’s been out for ten years now (!!!) and has changed so many lives – inspiring women to go out and search for their best selves and make their dreams happen. I think what I love about this book is that she has everything that we are supposed to want (she’s got the man! the house in the country! the career!) but she still doesn’t feel fulfilled. Her journey takes her through Italy, India, and Bali as she eats, prays, and loves.

Matchmaking for BeginnersBest Beach Reads, by Maddie Dawson

This was possibly my favorite book from all of 2018 and it would make for an absolutely fantastic summer read! All Marnie wants is an ordinary life. The minivan, the picket fence, etc etc. She’s engaged to the man of her dreams and is on track to have everything she ever wanted. Then she meets Blix Holliday (her fiance’s eccentric great-aunt, a matchmaker living in Brooklyn). Blix and her hit it off, but Blix is dying. Marnie’s marriage ends up combusting after two weeks and in a great twist, Blix leaves her Brooklyn brownstone to Marnie (not her nephew or anyone else in the family). The building is filled with oddball but endearing, very lovable friends of Blix’s; and Marnie learns that maybe she’s the perfect person to follow Blix’s matchmaking footsteps. I actually sobbed at the end of this book – it’s so sweet, so heartwarming, just so perfect.

The Hating GameThe hating game, by Sally Thorne

Not everyone loves this one as much as I do (Becca really didn’t like it!) but it’s an absolute favorite and so sweet – I personally think it’s a classic! I feel like the storyline has been knocked off and done a few times (The Unhoneymooners comes to mind) but this one is a classic. Lucy and Josh work together at a publishing company and absolutely hate each other. Hate. And they’re vying for the same job. Lucy finds Josh to be uptight and controlling; Josh can’t understand Lucy’s quirkiness and crazy clothing ensembles. But then… things change and they find out that maybe they don’t actually hate each other so much? It’s a very cute romance (and quite steamy at times, too!) Of course it gets a little predictable at the point, but in a satisfying sort of way, if that makes sense! I loved this book – you won’t be able to put it down.

The KnockoffBest Beach Reads, by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

This is another classic beach read (in my opinion) and will always be an absolute favorite of mine; especially as I spent such a long time working for a fashion start up (there were definitely some funny parallels) and of course, because I always wanted to work for a magazine when I was young! Imogen returns to work at Glossy (a fashion mag) after taking 6 months off for health reasons and finds everything has changed. Eve (her former assistant, straight out of Harvard Business School!) has been put in charge and is hell-bent on digitalizing the magazine – something that’s necessary for the magazine to survive, but she’s doing it all wrong and without any sensitivity. The authors do a great job capturing the difference between the old guard of print media and the young new generation of digital media. Does Imogen pack it up and get out of there, or adapt and learn how to tweet!? I couldn’t put it down, I absolutely loved it. It’s fresh, funny, and smart… if you work in fashion or digital media it’s an absolute must!

The Light We LostBest Beach Reads, by Jill Santopolo

Some books just haunt you and this one broke my heart. Just thinking about it makes me all teary again! It’s about a young woman, torn between the dreamy (but flighty!) love of her life from her younger years and her stable, loving husband. There’s Gabe, who she meets in college. There’s an instant spark. They move in together and are so perfect together but their dreams take them in opposite directions. Gabe becomes a photojournalist (heading to the Middle east) while Lucy pursues a career and a life in New York. The book spans 13 years, in which time Lucy marries someone else and has children. It’s romantic and cripplingly sad at times and will 100% stick with you after you read it. I’m not trying to make anyone cry at the beach, but if you haven’t read this yet, you’ll love it. It’s a great summer read.

Slightly South of SimpleBest Beach Reads, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The whole Peachtree Bluff Series is so good! So read this, and then read the other books too. Kristy has been called the next major voice in Southern Fiction and I just love her books. This one (and the series) is about a family in Peachtree Bluff, Georgia. There’s the mother Ansley who has always done the right thing and put her family first; and her three daughters: Caroline (the somewhat uptight, New York girl who married a high society man and lives on the Upper East Side), beautiful Emerson the actress, and Sloane whose husband is overseas in the military. Things go very wrong for Caroline and she flees New York to hide out in Peachtree Bluff. You really fall hard for all of the characters. They’re each so likable. Flawed, human, relatable. There’s romance and secrets and each book is just wonderful. Writing this made me realize that the third book is actually out… no idea how I missed that – I just went and ordered it!

Love and Other WordsBest Beach Reads, by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren is actually two friends, and “she” is one of my favorite authors. Anything new they have out, I’m pre-ordering. It’s a little bit reminiscent of The Light We Lost, though less heartbreaking. What happens when childhood sweethearts reconnect after ten years apart? Macy is ambitiously working on her career as a pediatrics assistant while planning her wedding to an older, financially secure (but terribly boring) man. Everything unravels when she runs into Elliot, her first love. We don’t really understand why they were ever apart, to begin with (this will come out later). Everything dissolves and he’s all she can think about. Honestly, this book is an emotional rollercoaster in the best way possible. There’s a horrible secret (there always is!) that comes out and a twist. It kept me up all night and is the perfect beach read – just make sure you don’t have any distractions!

Here’s to UsBest Beach Reads, by Elin Hilderbrand

It’s hard to pick a favorite Elin Hilderbrand book (they’re honestly all so good – I liken her work to Chicken Soup for the Soul!) but this is one of my favs. It’s about three verrrry different romantic rivals (Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett) who all a) hate each other and b) were at one time married to celebrity chef Deacon. Deacon dies tragically. His final wish is for his full “family” to assemble together at his beloved Nantucket cottage to say goodbye. They all head to the island (along to the children they raised with him and his best friend). So naturally, chaos ensues. But also naturally, as this is a Hilderbrand novel, it turns very sweet. I loved this book. I love all of her books but this is probably my favorite of hers!

Top photo by Carter Fish.

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  1. Love your list of suggestions, Grace! Can’t wait to get stuck in one of them! ✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    8.13.19 Reply
  2. I have an upcoming beach trip and this list will be on my list of to dos. Thank you!

    8.13.19 Reply
  3. Brianna Rooney:

    I didn’t realize Becca didn’t like The Hating Game – I am with her on that (the characters are horrible humans!) but could see others enjoying as a beach read. I am up to get The Unhoneymooners at the library and already know how predictable it’ll be but still excited.

    8.13.19 Reply
    • They’re so similar! Keep me posted on which one you like better!!!

      8.13.19 Reply
      • Brianna Rooney:

        Ok, I have to say I preferred The Unhoneymooners 10000 times more than The Hating Game! I just HATED the characters in THG, they were so terrible to each other, I couldn’t get passed it. That said, Unhoneymooners was SO predictable but just what I needed.

        8.19.19 Reply
  4. Christine:

    I loved The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand. It was the perfect juicy beach read! 🙂

    8.13.19 Reply
  5. Emily B.:

    I absolutely love your book recs! I primarily check out books from the library, but had to purchase The Royal We. And I’m also team The Hating Game. I read it again immediately after finishing because my book hangover was too terrible!

    P.S. Can’t wait for October 23rd!!!

    8.13.19 Reply
    • YAY – see you on the 23rd!!!

      Glad you agree on the Hating Game – it’s a classic if you ask me (same goes for Royal We, of course!) xx

      8.13.19 Reply
  6. Caroline:

    I absolutely love your taste in books so I just requested Slightly South of Simple from the library 🙂

    8.13.19 Reply
  7. Anne:

    Just finished Evvie Drake Starts Over, and I think that might be the best beach read I have read in quite some time. Loved it!

    8.13.19 Reply
  8. cy:

    I have to do some reading! Like you these aren’t really my genre, but I am always open to new things. Currently reading “Unmarried “and enjoying it. I just finished American Spy. Eat Pray Love was my “bible” for so long. I will always own it. I really enjoy her writing voice. Italy is my favorite country, although I love to travel almost anywhere. I will happily read about Italy or watch a movie set in Italy any time! I was walking through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood on Sunday and there are two beautiful book store there. One older and one quite new. I was thinking how wonderful that books are still relevant. I love getting lost in a great book store. Ironically in San Francisco we have no large chains, but our independent book stores are thriving!

    8.13.19 Reply
  9. cy:

    Sorry I meant the The Unhoneymooners 🙂

    8.13.19 Reply
  10. Katie:

    Added the Peachtree Bluffs series to my to-read list! I am also not a re-reader very often but have read The Royal We twice–it’s such a nice balance of light and sweet but still thoughtful and well written! I JUST finished Red, White, and Royal Blue, a book I saw recommended everywhere but wasn’t sure I would like and I LOVED it and think it’s very similar to The Royal We in terms of tone and subject matter. It’s def on my own Perfect Beach Read list now, and I think you might like it! I predict it might be the rare book I reach for again some time!

    8.13.19 Reply
  11. Betsy:

    Bridget Jones’ Diary will always be my all-time fave beach read! It really opened the door for the whole genre and it has a special place in my bookworm heart for that reason.

    8.13.19 Reply
  12. Kalli:

    I haven’t read any Christina Lauren books (yet!) but didn’t realize it’s two people! Would love to hear from them about their process on the pod! (Not too much to ask, right?! )

    8.13.19 Reply
  13. Woohoo! You always have the best book suggestions! Thanks for sharing!

    8.13.19 Reply
  14. Neda:

    I felt the exact same way you did about Eat, Pray, Love the first time! It’s really interesting how opinions shift with time passing and more life experience gained!

    8.13.19 Reply
  15. MarciaMarciaMarcia:

    I’ve only read the first three, and totally agree about them! The Idea of You was my pool read at the beginning of this summer. I’d also add all three of the Crazy Rich Asians books (I’m mildly obsessed with them), and The Vacationers by Emma Straub.

    8.14.19 Reply
  16. Heather V.:

    Anything by Terry McMillan would be a good beach read. Her books are fantastic. Also Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Susann.

    8.14.19 Reply
  17. SO excited to dive in to this list! Heading to the beach next week and will definitely be downloading a few of these to my Kindle. Thanks!

    8.14.19 Reply
  18. My favorite beach reads are anything by Beatriz Williams (especially Along the Infinite Sea and A Hundred Summers). I’ve never read anything by Elin Hilderbrand but I’m thinking I need to change that soon!

    8.14.19 Reply
  19. Now my TBR list has grown even longer! Too many books, too little time!! But thanks for the recommendations 😀

    8.14.19 Reply
  20. Nancy:

    Love and Other Words is one of my all time favorite books! I have trouble even talking about, I love it SO much. I love all of their books, but this one is just completely amazing!

    8.19.19 Reply
  21. Jenna:

    I’m almost done with The Idea if You and don’t want it to end

    A while back on your Instagram I remember you sharing some responses of good books to read once you finish it but can’t remember what was on the list! Do you mind to share again?? Thanks!!

    5.2.20 Reply
    • Unfortunately I didn’t save it! I did hear from Ashley Spivey that On The Island is similar; I just ordered it!

      5.3.20 Reply
  22. Thank you for the list! I haven’t read all of these (I prefer crime and psychological genre books as well) but need to! For beach reads, I’ve always loved a book called Bling by Erica Kennedy. If you liked the early 2000s rap music scene and Paris Hilton/ Nicole Richie simple life -style throwbacks, this is for you. Bling is a fictional book about a girl who is trying to make it big in an early aughts girl group (think 1998 destiny’s child) but was singularly picked for stardom. She falls in love with her manager – think Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola- and this follows their relationship and her rise to the top of the music scene.

    8.13.20 Reply