31 Beach Reads For Summer 2016, Because Vacation Should Be Filled With Incredible Stories
31 Beach Reads For Summer 2016, Because Vacation Should Be Filled With Incredible Stories
The solstice has passed, the weather is warm and humid, our sweaters are packed and forgotten in containers under our bed, and it's official: summer is here. Before you embark on your hard-earned summer getaways, be sure to pack yourself the perfect summer beach read.
Everyone has their own opinion about what makes for the perfect beach read, but I'll give you my take: I want something compulsively readable, light enough to pack in a carry-on bag, and either sweet enough to make me smile or shocking enough to make me gasp out loud. That being said, my list features a whole lot of romance, a little bit of mystery, a tasting of nonfiction, and a splash of young adult lit. There's truly something for everyone. So grab your sunnies and your lemonade, and spend an afternoon lounging on the sand or basking by the pool with one of these 31 summer beach reads:
Image: Cora Foxx/Bustle
'The Hating Game' by Sally Thorne (August 9; William Morrow)
Debut novelist Sally Thorne positions herself as the next Sophie Kinsella in this sassy, sexy romance that brings new energy to the trite enemies-turned-lovers narrative. Joshua and Lucy work 10-feet away from one another as assistants to the co-CEOs at a publishing house. Despite their constant proximity (or maybe, because of their constant proximity), they absolutely, positively, unrepentantly hate each other. I believe the word 'nemesis' is tossed about on more than one occasion. But after they share a steamy, life-changing kiss in an elevator (where else?), they realize that perhaps all that burning hatred is actually bright, hot, burning lust. Or maybe even something more.
'The Star-Touched Queen' by Roshani Chokshi (April 26, St. Martin's Griffin)
In Roshani Chokshi's debut novel, she introduces us to Maya, a girl cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage doomed by death. When her father, the Raja, negotiates a union of political convenience, she finds herself with a mysterious husband named Amar. But as she journeys to his kingdom in the fantastical land of Akaran, she discovers that her horoscope may be a blessing, not a curse.
This wondrous novel can be read as a standalone, but if you find yourself hooked on Chokshi's luminous prose and imaginative world-building, you only have to wait until next year to pick up the companion novel, A Crown Of Wishes.
'The Girls' by Emma Cline (June 14, Random House)
Summer brings out the devils in us all, and Emma Cline proves that to be more than true in her widely anticipated debut, The Girls. The novel transports us to Northern California in the 1960s, where Evie — a teenager confounded by her sexuality, her identity, and her sense of belonging — meets and befriends the Girls, a threesome of grimy-but-beautiful young women who live on the outskirts of town in a commune led by charismatic middle-aged man. Before long, Evie is a fixture of their ragtag community. Cline's delectable prose and exceptional character development will have you flying through pages until you reach the harrowing climax.
'First Comes Love' by Emily Giffin (June 28, Ballantine Books)
Emily Giffin, best known for the beloved Something Borrowed, is back this summer with a heartbreaking, hopeful examination of the lives of two very different sisters, Meredith and Josie. The novel begins 15 years after the tragic death of their brother, golden boy Daniel. The two sisters are still coping with the aftershocks of his sudden, inexplicable death, and it permeates into every facet of their life. Josie, a single teacher, has sabotaged every relationship she's ever had; and Meredith has become increasingly dissatisfied with her husband, her daughter, and her stale life as a part-time housewife. Both sisters — despite their differences — struggle to find the same things: closure, contentment, happiness, and love.
'A Hundred Thousand Worlds' by Bob Proehl (June 28, Viking)
Bob Proehl's pays beautiful tribute to the 'nerds' among us in his novel about Alex, a nine-year-old boy, and his mother, Valerie, a former sci-fi actress, who trek across the country, visiting countless comic cons, on their journey to reunite with Alex's estranged father. It's a fantastic peek at the world of comic conventions, and an incredible look at the complicated bond between mother and son.
'Vinegar Girl' by Anne Tyler (June 21, Hogarth)
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Tyler gifts us the perfect summer story in Vinegar Girl, a modern retelling of Shakespeare's controversial comedy, A Taming Of The Shrew.
Kate is a preschool teaching assistant and college dropout who lives at home with her father, an oblivious-but-loving scientist, and her sister, a flighty teenager who cares more about fashion and boys than her grades or her future. Kate has never been the marrying type, and she's perfectly content to live at home with her garden and her family. But her father has different plans for her — and they involve his beloved lab assistant, Pyotr, a handsome young scientist facing deportation if he can't secure a visa. Naturally, Kate's father has the perfect solution: marriage. To Kate. Read along as Kate sheds her frigid facade and falls in like (and maybe in love) with the last man she ever imagined marrying.
'You Know Me Well' by David Levithan and Nina LaCour (June 7, St. Martin's Griffin)
Young adult superstars David Levithan and Nina LaCour collaborated on this touching tribute to queer youth in America. Mark and Katie, who are both gay, aren't friends, but they sit next to each other in calculus every day. When they spot each other in a San Francisco gay club at the start of Pride Week, they stumble into what becomes a beautiful, necessary friendship. As the week progresses, Mark helps Katie find the strength and faith to fall in love for the first time, and Katie helps Mark let go of the boy he's wanted forever. It's a sweet, hopeful story about finding the courage to live your truth — whatever it may be. And of course, it's a story about the friends who guide us through it all.
'The Assistants' by Camille Perri (May 3, G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Peter Pan meets The Devil Wears Prada in this story about an assistant to a media conglomerate CEO who accidentally finds a means to use company funds to pay off her student loans and uses the opportunity to spark a movement amongst the underpaid, under-appreciated assistants of the industry. This is the perfect summer read for those dreaming of a Hamptons getaway on an entry-level salary.
'Everybody Behaves Badly' by Lesley M.M. Blume (June 7, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
For those interested in the debauched lifestyles of America's literary elite, you can't beat Everybody Behaves Badly, a nonfiction account of Ernest Hemingway's raucous travels to Pamplona, Spain — the trip that eventually inspired his acclaimed novel The Sun Also Rises. If you're hoping for a trip filled with drunken antics and too-wild-to-be-true adventures, this is the perfect book to inspire your escapades. If there was ever a time to behave badly, it's summer, after all.
'I Almost Forgot About You' by Terry McMillan (June 7, Crown)
Optometrist Georgia Young is 55-years-old and reeling over the loss of her best male friend. In the wake of his death, she quits her job, and embarks on a train journey to rediscover herself. Along the way, she hopes to figure out what went wrong in her past relationships — specifically her two failed marriages — and where she took a wrong turn when it came to her career, friendships, and family. This novel from the author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back is the perfect inspiration for those hoping to break out of their rut this summer.
'Sarong Party Girls' by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (July 12, William Morrow)
Billed as a modern day Emma, this novel is one part coming of age story, one part nuanced social commentary — a true tribute to Jane Austen, who was acutely aware of the societal norms of the day and their implications on her stories. Sarong Party Girl follows Jazzy, a girl with big plans. By the end of the year, she hopes that all her friends will be married. Unlike Emma Woodhouse, party girl Jazzy wants a husband, and she wants him to be rich, successful, and white. Set in the vibrant city of Singapore and written in Singlish, this book is a genuine, funny, and insightful look at gender, class, and social dynamics in one of Asia's most fascinating cities.
'The Bourbon Thief' by Tiffany Reisz (June 28, Mira)
This novel begins just before Paris robs Cooper McQueen of a million-dollar bottle of bourbon after a one-night stand. In exchange for her freedom, Paris offers him a story — the story of the tragic, inexplicable demise of Red Thread Bourbon. It's a dark, twisty tale of love, lust, betrayal, and murder, and it's certainly not one for the faint of heart. At one point, you may even find yourself questioning my sanity in recommending this book. But, when you reach the stunning conclusion, you'll understand why this novel is not one to be missed.
'The Singles Game' by Lauren Weisberger (July 12, Simon & Schuster)
The author of The Devil Wears Prada has a new novel on the books: The Singles Game, an addictive read that transports readers into the sexy underbelly of professional tennis. Charlie, a beautiful 'good girl', is a star tennis player and the only female player coached by legend Todd Feltner. As she becomes less and less impressed with Todd's belittling style of coaching, she fires up a secret romance with the hottest player in the game, Marco. But on her road to self-discovery, Charlie learns that Marco and Todd (and possibly even tennis) may not be what she needs.
'Under The Harrow' by Flynn Berry (June 14, Penguin Books)
This novel is just 219 pages long. It's perfectly slim, and it will slide easily into your beach tote's front pocket. But don't let its size fool you: this novel packs a serious punch. Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the English countryside. But when she walks into her sister's home, she finds her brutally murdered. Nora, haunted by a previous unsolved assault, simply cannot deal with the aftermath of her sister's death and the ongoing investigation. This psychological thriller is less of a whodunit and more of an unsettling exploration into the psyche of a woman on the brink of collapse.
'A Torch Against The Night' by Sabaa Tahir (August 30, Razorbill)
Last year, we named An Ember In The Ashes the best young adult novel of 2015. This summer, Sabaa Tahir will release the highly-anticipated sequel, A Torch Against The Night. This fast-paced political thriller transports us back to the world of Elias, a Martial and former masked soldier, and Laia, a Scholar and slave, who are on the run after escaping the clutches of their brutal new Emperor. The sequel also brings us the perspective of Helene Aquilla, the second-in-command to the Emperor, who has been assigned to track and kill her best friend, Elias. Prepare for all the political drama of the first novel with a fantasy twist you'll never see coming. Plus, there are enough longing looks exchanged between Elias and Laia to keep romance lovers satisfied. You'll put this one down, and immediately begin counting down the days until the next installment is released.
'The Fangirl Life' by Kathleen Smith (July 5, TarcherPerigee)
If you've ever spent any amount of time on Tumblr, you're probably well acquainted with the 'fangirl.' You may even be a fangirl yourself. No judgment; I'm a fangirl, too. This self-help book teaches fangirls how to put all that boundless energy and untapped enthusiasm to constructive use — online and off.
'Falling' by Jane Green (June 19, Berkley)
Emma has never truly been in love, and she sees no problem with that. But that doesn't mean she's completely satisfied with her life. So she gives up her high-stress banking job in New York City in exchange a simple, drama-free existence in Westport, Connecticut. But her life doesn't stay simple for long — especially not after she meets her landlord, Dominic, an intriguing single father she can't help but find attractive. But when Dominic's fiery ex-girlfriend (and the mother of his son) rolls in to town after a six year absence, Emma must confront her true feelings for the man and decide if she's ready to make a huge leap of faith.
'Last Call At The Nightshade Lounge' by Paul Krueger (June 7, Quirk Books)
Summer is the perfect time to indulge in crisp, cool, fruity cocktails with a splash too much alcohol. Hey, they invented summer Fridays for a reason, right? In Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, the bartenders infuse their concoctions with more than just vodka. The novel takes place in Chicago, where demons walks the streets. A crew of monster-fighting bartenders can only track the evil creatures through the help of a few magical cocktails that grant their drinkers a variety of superpowers. College grad Bailey falls in with these bartenders, and suddenly, she finds herself right smack in the middle of the fight against evil.
'Marrying Winterborne' by Lisa Kleypas (May 31, Avon)
Lisa Kleypas never disappoints with her historical romances, and Marrying Winterborne is no exception. The second book in the Ravenels series follows Lady Helen Ravenel, a woman whose quiet life in the English countryside is suddenly upended when she catches the attention of the brash, ambitious Rhys Winterborne, a man who has clawed his way to the top of British society despite his common birth. The two — opposites in nearly every way — negotiate an engagement, but their romance only begins with the exchange of vows. As Rhys awakens his shy beloved's hidden desires, his past threatens to ruin their slowly blossoming love affair.
'In Twenty Years' by Allison Winn Scotch (July 1, Lake Union Publishing)
Twenty years ago, six college friends vowed to be friends forever. But then their ringleader, Bea, died. Since then, that promise has seemed too hard to keep. On what would've been Bea's fortieth birthday, the five remaining friends reluctantly reunite, and together, they hash out their pasts — the good, the bad, and everything in between — and relearn the importance of lifelong friendships.
'Shiny Broken Pieces' by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (July 12, HarperCollins)
The second book in the Tiny Pretty Things duology, Shiny Broken Pieces takes readers back to the brutal world of professional ballet. June, Bette, and Gigi, are now competing for one spot at the American Ballet Company. These girls are determined to land that coveted position, no matter the cost.
'The Loose Ends List' by Carrie Firestone (June 7, Little, Brown Books For Young Readers)
Maddie is ready to spend her last summer before college with her friends and beloved grandmother. But then her grandma reveals she's terminally ill and she's booked the entire family on a "death with dignity" cruise. On the unexpected getaway, Maddie bonds with her extended family, says goodbye to her grandmother, and falls in love for the first time. It's a bittersweet, emotional journey through the high seas that will have you longing to hit the waters in your own attempt at self-discovery.
'Shrill' by Lindy West (May 17, Hachette)
In Shrill, Lindy West examines the many, many ways society quietly demeans women. She dissects the intricacies of feminism, fat shaming, abortion, bullying, love, and more through the lens of her own coming-of-age story in this hilarious, addictive memoir.
'Lucky Few' by Kathryn Ormsbee (June 7, Simon & Schuster For Young Readers)
Austin, Texas, possesses a magic all its own, especially during the long days of summer when the brutal heat forces locals off the streets and into the tepid waters of the rivers and springs that sprinkle the area. Maybe you can't afford a real trip to 6th Street, but you can certainly visit the wonderland of Austin via Lucky Few, a young adult novel about two homeschooled best friends, Stevie and Sanger, who get sucked in to the adventures of their next door neighbor. Max Garza is determined to defy his own mortality through a gruesome checklist called '23 Ways To Fake My Death Without Trying,' and Stevie and Sanger are joining him on the adventure. Read along as they fake their own deaths, fall in love, and navigate the strange, raging waters of adolescence.
'True Letters From A Fictional Life' by Kenneth Logan (June 7, Harper Collins)
James is gay. He's also a bit of a jock, and the sort-of boyfriend to his sort-of girlfriend. He doesn't know how to come out, so he writes letters he never intends to send to his parents, his brothers, his sort-of girlfriend, and his best friends. But when those letters land in the hands of the wrong person, all his secrets become public knowledge. True Letters from a Fictional Life is heartbreaking at times, but overall — as the sunny yellow cover indicates — it's a hopeful, humorous novel about one boy's journey toward self-acceptance.
'The Woman In Cabin 10' by Ruth Ware (July 19, Galley/Scout Press)
Lo is a travel journalist who has been assigned to spend a week on a luxury cruise. It's perfect... at first. The clear blue waters. The bright brilliant skies. The feeling of absolute and unperturbed relaxation. But then, a woman is thrown overboard. Lo sees it. She knows it happened. But all the passengers are accounted for, and the ship sails on. Lo has no idea what happened, but she's desperate to find out. This is a thrilling page-turner recommended only for the bravest of vacationers.
'First Star I See Tonight' by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (August 23, Avon)
When it comes to romance, few people are as consistently wonderful as Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In First Star I See Tonight, she returns to her beloved Chicago Stars series. Cooper Graham is a former QB for the Stars and the owner of an exclusive new nightclub in the city. Piper is an detective-to-be hired by Cooper to keep watch on his employees. Except, she soon discovers, Cooper is the one in trouble. She's determined to help him — whether or not he wants her to. In true SEP fashion, the novel is filled with enough slow-burning tension to get your heart pumping and blood flowing. Make sure you read this by the pool, so you can jump into the cool water when the romance gets too steamy. (Plus, expect some cameos from other couples in the Chicago Stars series, including my favorites, Heath and Annabelle Champion.)
'Daughters Of The Bride' by Susan Mallery (July 12, Harlequin Books)
Trust Susan Mallery to bring us four love stories in just one novel. In Daughters of the Bride, she introduces us to one mother, the bride, and her three daughters: Courtney, the misfit; Sienna, the free spirit; and Rachel, the cynic. They may not be the most functional family, but throughout the novel, they find love in unexpected places.
'Losing It' by Emma Rathbone (July 19, Riverhead Books)
Julia is a 26-year-old virgin, and she's not happy about it. In an effort to add some spark to her life, she travels to North Carolina to spend the summer with her aunt, Vivienne. What she learns is that her 58-year-old aunt is also a virgin. Julia then embarks on an emotional quest to search for her own self-fulfillment in an attempt to avoid the same fate as her aunt.