What Is the Perfect Beach Read Anyway?

Posted by Hayley on June 28, 2018


A beach read is, on the surface, a fairly easy thing to understand. It's a book you read at the beach…right? Or perhaps it's a book you'd like to read at the beach. Maybe it's just a book that takes place near an ocean?

There is no definitive answer. Like beauty, a beach read is in the eye of the beholder. We asked you on Facebook and Twitter to tell us what you think the term means. We've got your top responses below, along with some recommendations we think you'll love!


Books That Draw You In

"I think of a beach read as anything that deeply engrosses me—I can’t put it down. I read Gone Girl while enjoying the beach…and I am thrilled to say I did not know the big twist. I remember when I finished that part of the novel, I put it down and just stared at the ocean for several minutes because I was so stunned," says Mary.

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Books with Short Chapters

"Something with very short chapters. Nice places to stop and easily restart when distracted," says Rebecca.

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Books That Make Your Heart Race

"My favorite beach reads are paperback gothic romances, the ones with the frightened young woman running away from the scary house on a cliff. I don't know why, but I have been addicted to these books since I was a kid," says Beverly.

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Books with Sunny Settings

"A plot associated with sunny weather: beach, water sports, sun, eating," says Marren.

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Books That Make You Laugh

"Something easy and funny so that you can lift your eyes here and there to look at the beauty in front of you," says Beatrix.

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Books That Transport You

"A light-hearted book full of awesome adventure," says Romi.

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What's your definition of a beach read? Let's talk in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
13 Ways of Coping with a Book Hangover
16 of the Hottest Romance Books of Summer
The 28 Most-Read New Books of 2018


Comments Showing 1-50 of 73 (73 new)


message 1: by Anissa (new)

Anissa I have to agree with books that draw me in & transport me, as it can then be anything I've been wanting to get into. I' don't mind a sunny locale to match my physical settings either so a beach in the summer & mountains in the autumn work.

I'm already setting aside specific books for our vacation in August and now all I have to do is resist the temptation to read them beforehand. Among them are even a couple arcs for The Au Pair & The Clockmaker's Daughter.


message 2: by Lulufrances (new)

Lulufrances will need to get to "never let me go" asap!


message 3: by Amber (new)

Amber I don't have a beach reach but one I would recommend you read on a cruise ship is Wonder Valley . I found that one in the Carnival Fantasy's cruise ship library and it was a pretty good read.


message 4: by Jonny0z0 (new)

Jonny0z0 A good beach book ? Easy, whatever story floats your boat 🚣🏼‍♂️


message 5: by Julia (new)

Julia I read Lord of the Flies on the beach for my English class....


message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Ramirez I don't usually pair my books with the seasons, but I do tend to appreciate lighter-hearted stories in the summer. Not necessarily chick-lit, but just books with a bit of fluff to them...what would otherwise be a 'weekend read', if that makes any sense.

Road trip books, summer books, adventure books, books with an unusual or exotic setting - all good beach reads for me.


message 7: by Amanda (new)

Amanda My go-to-beach-reads are original James Bond novels. And when I want to change it up I read Dashiell Hammett. Nothing beats sipping some rum and coke in the hot sun while reading some seedy pulp noir!


message 8: by MundiNova (new)

MundiNova Instead of 'beach read' I use the term 'pool trash' - a book you read while sitting by the pool, drinking margaritas, and forgetting you have a boring office job back home.

Pool trash books are usually paperbacks you won't mind getting wet with spilled drinks or bending in half, thus breaking the spine.

Crazy Rich Asians and Less are my summer pool trash winners!


message 9: by AGMaynard (last edited Jun 28, 2018 12:11PM) (new)

AGMaynard If you're "Down Under" and it's winter, try "Cover of Snow", by Jenny Milchman :+)


message 10: by Di (new)

Di My favorite beach read is either Thrill Ride or South Beach! Both are very good, summer-inspired books, which definitely keep your attention. They both give off summer vibes and make you feel good. :)


message 11: by Pamela (new)

Pamela I don't do beaches, but my holiday reads are the same as any other reads.


message 12: by Abi (new)

Abi I got for long books because I've got more time than usual to dedicate to them - it helps with the flow of the story, and stops you dragging it over many weeks.


message 13: by Phoenix2 (new)

Phoenix2 The best beach read was The Beach but I'm trying Kafka on the Shore this year, see where this one takes me.


message 14: by Amanda (new)

Amanda We're not doing the beach this year, but I do have a long flight to London for work. I've been gathering books on my Kindle, so that I don't have to bring a bunch of physical books with me on a flight. So far I have Killing the Devil, Never Goodbye, Reset, Husbands and Other Sharp Objects, and The Passage.


message 15: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Favorite all time beach read... Summer Sisters by Judy Blume


message 16: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones I clicked because of Sawyer :3


message 17: by Finn (new)

Finn I did, too!


message 18: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Hehehehe :D


message 19: by Teri-K (new)

Teri-K Nothing heavy. Something adventurous and fun. The kind of book you can drop and pick up again easily depending on what's going on around you...


message 20: by Heather Codename: ♕Duchess♕ (last edited Jun 30, 2018 10:58AM) (new)

Heather Codename: ♕Duchess♕ Lulufrances wrote: "will need to get to "never let me go" asap!"

The description for Never Let Me Go doesn't match what the book is about. Never Let Me Go is about a vampire.


message 21: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Heather Codename: ♕Dutchess♕ wrote: "Lulufrances wrote: "will need to get to "never let me go" asap!"

The description for Never Let Me Go doesn't match what the book is about. Never Let Me Go is about a vampire."


xD


message 22: by Kelley (last edited Jun 30, 2018 11:56AM) (new)

Kelley Although I didn't read it at the beach, I think Joyland by Stephen King would be an excellent beach read. It's set in the 70's at a boardwalk carnival. As I read, I often thought the only thing that would make this book better is hearing the sound of a boardwalk carnival in the background.


message 23: by Katherine (last edited Jun 30, 2018 11:59AM) (new)

Katherine Hayward Pérez To me, a beach read is anything that gets me hooked and that has a memorable, meaty plot, themes and well-fleshed-out characters, or it could be a reread/ listen of a favourite book. Handle with Care Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult Also, anything with a summer theme by an author I like. Summer at Conwenna Cove Summer at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn These are just a few examples of the types of books I see as good beach books!


message 24: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Wonderer wrote: "So, no topic for "Books that Mostly Men Like" to appeal to male readers as "Books That Make Your Heart Race" appeals to females.

But she did have a picture of a man reading a book so, well played,..."


Can you make a few examples of such books? Because except for the Romance genre I'm pretty sure there is not much gender difference in book tastes.


message 25: by Aenea (last edited Jun 30, 2018 02:14PM) (new)

Aenea Jones Thank you! I really didn't knew any of them by name. I looked at their Goodreads pages and noticed that some of the top reviews are actually written by women, at least.
So maybe it's not so much a matter of gender difference, maybe those books aren't featured due to being either niche (the navy) or lack quality? Especially the Deathlands and Star Force series seem to be on the lower end of quality writing regarding the reviews.
Sorry but except for the Aubrey-Maturin series your examples seem like pulp/trash (sorry).
There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking some trash, I read two books by Richard Laymon too!
But blaming the lack of featuring pulp/trash on discrimination of male readers is a bit exaggerated, don't you think? ^^


message 26: by Marilee (new)

Marilee So, you're saying men prefer military Sci-fi? over other genres? My hubby would beg to differ. Still, I'm glad there are books which excite your reading instincts, but don't assume only women or only men, have their exclusive genres without crossover. I have read all 20 Aubrey-Maturan books. My hubby read several. I do not personally enjoy romances, but I do love a good murder mystery. There is no right or wrong, no exclusive genres. There are just books. I hope, while at the beach or wherever on vacation, we can all find something that pulls us in, excites or amuses our minds and keeps us interested.


message 27: by Aenea (last edited Jun 30, 2018 02:34PM) (new)

Aenea Jones Wonderer wrote: "So GoodReads isn't discriminating against male readers because they're male, they discriminating against the poor taste of male readers."

No, Gooodreads simply doesn't feature pulp, whether it is read by males or females.
For example, a lot of female readers enjoy gay romance, which can get rather trashy as well, and I doubt you would ever see it featured officially, even though it has a large (female) audience.
And the 39 manga I've read are actually quality material with compelling storytelling :)
I could imagine you'd like the Blame! series by Tsutomu Nihei. Dark, post-apocalyptic sci-fi.


Heather Codename: ♕Duchess♕ Sorry “Wonderer” but those genres you listed are not read by mostly men. You might want to do some actual research before typing such asinine comments.


message 29: by Diana (new)

Diana While I usually pick up a romance or fantasy for a beach read It's also likely that I'll have a 500-page history on my e-reader that I can't wait to get to.


message 30: by Adán (new)

Adán Stephen King's The Dark Tower II: The drawing of the three


message 31: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Adán wrote: "Stephen King's The Dark Tower II: The drawing of the three"

The first 3 books of the series are the best! :)


message 32: by German in USA (last edited Jun 30, 2018 04:44PM) (new)

German in USA One of my favorite beach reads is THE MERMAID CHAIR. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6...


message 33: by Ayah (last edited Jun 30, 2018 04:56PM) (new)

Ayah Saving this beach reading list for later :) Also works for road trips and long plane trips.


message 34: by Jake (last edited Jun 30, 2018 06:14PM) (new)

Jake My beach books scheduled for this summer are:

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson,
In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road by Allan C. Weisbecker,
One Summer by David Baldacci,
Reef of Death by Paul Zindel, and
Meg: Generations by Steve Alten.

A couple documentaries, a light read and some scary; hoping it will be some good and diverse beach moments.


message 35: by Ashley (new)

Ashley SAWYER!!!


message 36: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Crane I can thoroughly recommend my two volume novel, - Palma de Mallorca Mystique for a beach read, best if you have a weekend. It is a contemporary Romance that could enthral readers of any age. So just take a peak, and enjoy. The pleasure is as much yours as mine. Thanx - Raymond Crane. If you are seeking a shorter read then I recommend my novella, titled, - The Beach. Thanx again.


message 37: by Nicko (new)

Nicko Moknu Im gonna be the odd one out here and ask who reads on the damn beach? Why would you? :/


message 38: by Arunima (new)

Arunima I'm here because of Sawyer


message 39: by Bara (new)

Bara My favorite summer reads are epic fantasy books. Those huge, heavy tomes filled with characters that may die in the next installment, battles, magic, strange creatures living in imaginary worlds and those books have to have at least one sequel. So my ideal beach reads are books by Sanderson, Martin etc. Now that I think of it I still have the last Eragon book to read and I finished college so I may get to that one finally. But there is ste second Stormlight Archive I've bought this week. Ah, decisions, decisions.


message 40: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Aenea wrote: "I clicked because of Sawyer :3"
Finn wrote: "I did, too!"
Ashley wrote: "SAWYER!!!"
Arunima wrote: "I'm here because of Sawyer"

Ladies, we have our priorities straight xD


message 41: by Fuzzydice108 (new)

Fuzzydice108 Aenea wrote: "I clicked because of Sawyer :3"

Me too.
4.8.15.16.23.42


message 42: by Kristen (new)

Kristen SAWYER!


message 43: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones women xD


message 44: by Kristen (new)

Kristen I mean, Charlie's my #1 on that show and Desmond was the real hottie but Sawyer is Sawyer sooo... lol


message 45: by A.J. (last edited Jul 05, 2018 02:20AM) (new)

A.J. Vosse How about reading short stories on the beach?
I could recommend a collection that will entertain for hours... and still be easy enough to wade through in between the momentary dips into the icy water.

The Lucky Thirteen... food for thought, even on a hot summer's beach!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

And all for less than a Choc 99 and a cold drink!

Thanks!!


message 46: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Kristen wrote: "I mean, Charlie's my #1 on that show and Desmond was the real hottie but Sawyer is Sawyer sooo... lol"

Unfortunately I completely lost interest after the first season, so I only know the cast of season one. I always liked Jack, but the bad girl in me felt attracted to Sawyer too, just like Kate :D


message 47: by Anissa (new)

Anissa These days that beach and plane wreckage would be littered with Kindles, iPads and all manner of mobile phones that people had their reading material on. Still a few hard copy analog books but nothing like what Sawyer had access to all those years ago. More hurry up and read before the batteries die than the leisurely pick and ponder Sawyer had.


message 48: by Greg (new)

Greg As pictured, Michenor's "Legacy" does have the US Consitution in it, and every American should certainly read it through at least once. Not sure it would be good for beach reading. But I found a list published somewhere: the top summer beach reads (in sales) from 1964 to 2013. I'll just mention my favorites from each decade on this list:

1965-"Up the Down Staircase" by Bel Kaufman. One of my favorite books ever.

1979: "Sophie's Choice" by William Styron. Say what you will about Meryl Streep, but I've never seen anything on the big screen better than Streep's Sophie.

1988: "Bonfire of the Vanities" by Tom Wolfe. This book was very much of its time so I don't know how it would read now.

1994: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt. True, controversies abound as to whether this was heavily "fictionalized" but oh, what a set of people!

2001: "John Adams" by David McCullough. Breathtaking.

Current Decade these are the books (aren't on the list) that I'd say are perfect for beach reading:

1) "Barbarian Days"-William Finnegan (2015). This one won a NF/Auto Pulitizer and reads like a dream.
2)"The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach (2011). Best baseball book I've ever read, what could be better for beach reading?
3) "Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue" by MacKenzie Lee (2017). A "Young Adult" book with pirates, edgy sex, search for treasure, this one has it all!
4) "Desert Boys" by Christopher McCormick (2016). Southern California but not on the beach.
5) "Porcelin" by Moby (2016). For music lovers.


message 49: by Greg (new)

Greg Amanda wrote: "My go-to-beach-reads are original James Bond novels. And when I want to change it up I read Dashiell Hammett. Nothing beats sipping some rum and coke in the hot sun while reading some seedy pulp noir!"

Amanda, this summer, it's pulp fiction for me! I can't believe 1) how much there is that is being republished now by different groups, "Hard Case" being one of the publishers and 2) how good they are. Hammett's "Maltese Falcon" (1930) of course is unmissable. But then so is Mickey Spillane ("I, The Jury" from 1947 or the later "Snake") and Patricia Highsmith (the Ripley books and the sensational "Blunderer" from 1954) and Horace McCoy's 1935 "They Shoot Horses Don't They) and about a dozen or so by Ross MacDonald, and of course the 15 Fleming/Bond books. And, if one hasn't read Bloch's "Psycho" or Thompson's "Killer Inside Me" and one wants to read deeply disturbing books, these quality!


message 50: by Greg (new)

Greg Aenea wrote: "Wonderer wrote: "So GoodReads isn't discriminating against male readers because they're male, they discriminating against the poor taste of male readers."

No, Gooodreads simply doesn't feature pul..."


Aenea, I'm reading pulp fiction only this summer (with some big reads like the last version of Proust's "Time", Dante's Divine Comedy, and Joyce's "Finnegan's Wake") but there are hundreds and hundreds of pulp fiction works on goodreads, here are a few authors: Hammett, Chandler, McBain, Erle Stanly Gardner (at one time he was the world's bestselling novelist until Agatha Christie caught up with him), Stout, Queen, Spillane, Woolrich, Thompson, Gore Vidal (under the name Edgar Box), Micheal Crichton (under the name John Lange). And I haven't found a single weak work by Ross Macdonald. And of course there is James M. Cain and Lawrence Block. And today, there are many writers doing "Modern Pulp/Noir" like Christa Faustus and hundreds of writers (it seems) doing Nordic Pulp/Noir. As far as American Modern Pulp/Noir, there is James Lee Burke. There are some truly sensational pulp fiction writers, and just because they were paid a penny a word doesn't lessen their work, imo.


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