If you couldn't bear the thought of picking up a book over the past 15 months, you're not alone. Like so many other pre-pandemic hobbies that previously brought us joy, our reading habits were disrupted as we traded subway commutes and Wi-Fi-free plane rides for daily doomscrolls on the couch. At last, it feels like we can breathe a collective sigh of relief as we return to some semblance of normalcy (whatever that means!) just in time for a very hot, very vaccinated summer oceanside with an excellent book. For a dose of much-needed escapism, Marie Claire asked 13 authors who reign supreme over The Beach Read—Jennifer Weiner, Jasmine Guillory, Elin Hilderbrand, etc.—to recommend their personal favorites. You know the ones: the light, introspective, thrilling page-turners that pair best with a cold drink, toes scrunched in the sand. Discover their picks then order them for yourself, below.
Almost Paradise by Susan Isaacs
"My all-time favorite beach read is Almost Paradise by Susan Isaacs. This book has something for everyone. Historical fiction fans will love the details of turn-of-the-century New York. Romance lovers will love the relationship between the two main characters—an actress-turned housewife and her Hollywood star husband, who come from very different families and circumstances, and who are meant for each other, but can’t always see it. There are unforgettable supporting characters, mother-daughter (and stepmother-daughter) drama, one of the all-time great fictional villains with one of the all-time best character names (Dorothy Heissenhuber!) and an ending that still makes me cry."
—Jennifer Weiner, author of That Summer
"I love getting lost in a story that I cannot put down—and even better if it involves a lot of laughter and swooning. Talia Hibbert always delivers and her books are the perfect material for a beach trip or a pick-me-up. She's unputdownable, every time."
—Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Malibu Rising
"Lizzy Dent's The Summer Job swept me away to an idyllic hotel in the Scottish highlands, filled with a cast of quirky, lovable hospitality workers. Following the main character, Birdy Finch—as she fakes her way through the summer as a sommelier and falls in love with a handsome chef—was the best kind of escape. Dent's writing is both hilarious and wise, and she had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see whether things would come together for charmingly chaotic Birdy, or fall apart in spectacular fashion."
—Emily Henry, author of People We Meet on Vacation
Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass
"This YA romance set on the island of Tobago is the perfect escape—the location is beautiful and relaxing, the characters and storyline pull you in right away, and you get swept away in the romance. There's music, adventure, second chances with a first love, family complications, and so much more: everything I want in a summer read!"
—Jasmine Guillory, author of The Proposal
Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
"One of my favorite summer activities is reading on the beach, an engrossing book in hand. Beatriz Williams’s stunning Along the Infinite Sea is the perfect companion for such a beach day. It will utterly transport you as you follow the characters along a romantic, emotional, and page-turning journey."
—Chanel Cleeton, author of Next Year in Havana
"After almost a year and a half of pandemic living, this summer invites each of us to reimagine our lives anew—to decide what we want to bring from this time into the after, and what we want to let burn. During this summer of reimagining, I will be rereading Ashley C. Ford’s brilliant new memoir, Somebody’s Daughter. Ashley’s writing is so clear, sharp, and smooth—bringing into vivid focus her complicated childhood, brilliant mind, and golden heart. She is a writer for the ages, and her breathtaking portrait of evolution, fortitude, and forgiveness is the perfect meditation during a summer in which so many of us will be making peace with what is, and reimagining what is next."
—Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed
"The Rehearsals is romantic escapism with an irresistible Groundhog Day twist. You will be charmed by Megan and Tom as they relive the worst day of their lives…until they get it right. Annette Christie has written a fun, yet thought-provoking rom-com."
—Elin Hilderbrand, author of 28 Summers
Priest by Sierra Simone
"It's all in the title with Sierra Simone's Priest. This is one of the sexiest books I've ever read. (Ironically, it's also one of the most beautifully spiritual books I've ever read.) It will make you sweat, and that's perfect if you're at the beach. You can just blame it on the sun."
—Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient
"I want my summer reads to help me escape into a different world—and Edgar award–nominated mystery writer Mariah Fredericks’s A Death of No Importance fits that bill! Set in glitzy Titanic-era New York City, Death follows lady's maid Jane Prescott into the homes of her wealthy employers, where she finds murder—and romance! I love learning new historical facts while I race through the pages to see if Jane catches the killer (and a husband). Thank goodness there are sequels!"
—Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries
"Nothing helps me escape into summer like a great edge-of-your-seat thriller and that's exactly what you'll get with Version Zero by David Yoon. It's about what happens when a group of young, idealistic friends team up with a reclusive tech billionaire (think Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg) to take down the internet. Let's just say, you'll never see the end coming!"
—Nicola Yoon, author of Instructions for Dancing
"The last book in the Vernon Subutex trilogy by Virginie Despentes was translated this year—together, the three books are everything I want from a rock concert, a visit to Paris, and an addictive TV show, all in wildly consumable novel form. (And in fact, the books were adapted into a popular TV show in France.) Try out the first one, and see if you don’t immediately rip through all three."
—Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby
"If you want a dystopian dose of Marvel summer blockbuster action film meets steamy sci-fi romance, then Deal with the Devil is the perfect beach read for you. To save someone he holds dear, Knox, leader of a band of genetically engineered TechCorp enforcers who have defected, must bring in Nina, leader of The Mercenary Librarians, a team of badass women helping their TechCorp ravaged community. With the promise of a secret stash of Library of Congress data, the two teams embark on a post-apocalyptic road trip that endangers their hearts—and their lives."
—Alyssa Cole, author of How to Find a Princess
"Emily Henry has two books currently on the New York Times bestseller list, so I'm preaching to the choir, but her novel Beach Read is a total joy for anyone who has ever found themself turning red in the face over how differently women's fiction writers are treated. The book is smart and fun and yes, good for the beach, though it would be equally good at any other point of the year, too."
—Emma Straub, author of The Vacationers