Best Books for Your Summer Beach Reads

There’s a reading vibe for every season and summer reading is particularly sensational for bibliophiles. The days are longer, so you can enjoy more hours of amazing reading light. Warmer weather offers more opportunities for reading outside in parks, on porches and patios, and, of course, by the ocean. It’s time to stuff your beach tote with everything you’ll need to savor this sunny reading season:

Sunscreen? Check. 

Beach towel? Check.

Beach reads? We’ve got you covered.

Literati has a selection of fiction and nonfiction picks perfect for the pool, a seaside getaway, or even a staycation. Grab your sunglasses (AKA your summer reading glasses) and let’s dive in. 

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

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When was the last time you did absolutely nothing and didn’t immediately feel the need to counteract it with hyper-productivity the next day? A summer vacation filled with books on the beach is the perfect time to quiet the noise of the technology-oriented world, and consider a new philosophy presented by Jenny Odell in Austin Kleon’s Read Like an Artist book club pick, How to Do Nothing

Why this book is making a splash: 

  • It will help you take a vacation and learn how to actually enjoy it
  • It may provoke a guilt-free beach bonfire of all your to-do lists (smores, anyone?)
  • It challenges you to rethink what, exactly, it means to pay attention

Why We Swim 

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In the summertime, when heat makes the air shimmer, you may find yourself inexhaustibly enamored by water. Bonnie Tsui feels that same way, and she’s passionate about getting to the bottom of what draws us to this element—despite it being somewhat contrary to our human nature. From the Finding Wonder book club curated by Atlas Obscura, Why We Swim has been hailed by critics as a “love letter to water” and will pair beautifully with a lake trip, poolside hang, or beach lounge session. 

Why this book is making a splash: 

  • It’s a captivating blend of biology, personal reflection, and historical examination
  • Readers may consider the benefits of doing a polar plunge more than once in a lifetime
  • It’ll stir up summer nostalgia about your earliest memories of jumping waves in the ocean, or cannonballing into a lake at summer camp

People We Meet on Vacation 

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Poppy and Alex are best friends, complete opposites, and maybe the perfect match. People We Meet on Vacation is the best thing to happen to friend zones since When Harry Met Sally. Whether you’re off exploring the mountains or the sea, this slow burn romance novel will be your favorite way to put your feet up after a long day of adventuring. 

Why this book is making a splash: 

  • It’s a romance novel even non-romance novel readers can’t help but get sucked into
  • Emily Henry’s banter-infused dialogue has readers everywhere audibly snorting
  • You’ll wish you could plan a real-life getaway with Poppy, your new fictional best friend and wanderlusting soulmate

What Comes After

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If poolside romance novels aren’t really your vibe, you might want to add this debut book by Joanna Tompkins to your list instead. Two neighboring parents are dealing with tragedy: Isaac is grieving the death of his son, while Lorrie is struggling with an atrocity committed by her son. When a pregnant teenager comes to town, the two are forced to connect and ask themselves deeper questions about their losses and how to cope with—you guessed it—what comes after

What Comes After is the perfect page-turning mystery to read by flashlight in your tent or while curled up next to a crackling campfire. 

Why this book is making a splash: 

  • It’s a gripping exploration of grief, lined with the optimism of forgiveness and camaraderie
  • Set in the alluring Pacific Northwest, it’s best read while tucked away in a woodsy cabin
  • It’s packed with characters you’ll wish you could reach out and hug—especially the dog, Rufus

Step Into Summer with Literati

Put on your flip-flops, pack your favorite book from this list, and head to the beach. Don’t forget the sunscreen, though—because with these beach reads, you’ll be savoring every page for hours in the summer sun.

If an ocean getaway isn’t on the horizon for you, don’t worry. Literati will send you summer (without the sand) in a monthly book box. Check out our 12 Literati Book Clubs and dive into your summer, fall, winter, and spring reading lists.


NPR. ‘Why We Swim’ Looks For Answers In People And Places Across The Globe.

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