5 Of Our Favorite Beach Reads To Get Into The Summer Mindset

Let's be honest, nothing quite beats throwing on your swimsuit, heading down to the beach, and relaxing on a sun lounger with a novel that encompasses that summer feeling. If you're anything like us, then a beach read is the thing that really gets you into the mindset of those hotter days and lighter nights, whether it's fiction about romances abroad, vacation mysteries, or time spent outdoors.


Also if you're anything like us, you may find the summer months during a well-deserved vacation to be one of the few times you actually get time to sit down and really, properly read a book — even with all the great advice around about how to read more throughout the year. So, if you're lucky enough to have a vacation planned — or are just one of the fortunate ones who live near a beach — and want a read that will get you in the summer state of mind, we've got you covered with some of our very favorite modern beach reads.

How we chose the best beach reads

To determine the beach reads we think you'll love the most, we only included novels that either have some kind of connection to a tropical location or that take place over the summer months. To make out list as current as possible, we consulted Amazon's Most Read and Most Sold charts for fiction books for the week of May 12, 2024. We also reviewed Amazon's Kindle Best Sellers Top 100 Paid chart to determine what book lovers have been reading as we gear up for the sunshine.


To confirm that our selections met the standard for a quality beach read, we combed through numerous reviews across Goodreads. To that end, our list only includes books that had a four star or higher average user rating on at the time of writing.

Funny Story by Emily Henry

Emily Henry's rom-coms have a reputation for being excellent poolside reads, as they often feature picturesque coastal settings that add to the escapism. The April 2024 release "Funny Story" fits the bill for this, as it takes place in the made up seaside village of Waning Bay. 


But it's not just the setting that grants "Funny Story" a deserved spot at the top of any summer reading list. The book itself is all about having fun in the sun and making the most of a bad situation. The story revolves around friends Daphne and Miles, who come together after their respective partners dump them. The two spend the duration of the novel figuring out how to make most of their single summer, all while untangling their lives from their exes. The best part? They plan to make their exes jealous of their fun in the summer sun by proving all the proof of their amazing time online. Like Henry's other novels, it's quirky and charming, and features a classic romance trope (in this case, fake dating). However, it's the focus on the character's healing process that makes it a standout in the author's catalogue. In fact, the Women.com staff ranked "Funny Story" as one of Emily Henry's most iconic novels yet.


"Funny Story" has a 4.38 rating on Goodreads (from a huge more than 174,000 ratings) at the time of writing, and we're clearly not the only ones who think its perfect for when the sun starts to shine. As one person shared in their Goodreads review, "This turned me from an Emily Henry disliker (not her, just the books) to an Emily Henry OBSESSER. It's that good I'm switching fandoms. Go read this if you want a fun summer read with the most lovable characters ever."

Just For The Summer by Abby Jimenez

Seriously, with a title like "Just For The Summer," how could we not be ready to turn our phones off and sink into this book? The vacation-mode mindset is totally built in to Abby Jimenez's 2024 novel, which tells the story of a steamy vacation fling at a private island lake house. Following characters Justin and Emma, who both deal with a "Good Luck Chuck" style curse of having every ex find their soulmate after dating them, the book explores what happens when these characters attempt to take their fate in their own hands. If the curse is real, this means if they date and split, they'll both find The One right after ... right? The faux couple decide to rent a cottage on a private island for a summer fling, but things get super complicated when their planned seasonal romance is dampened by the arrival of Emma's family.


"This is the perfect romcom to head into spring/summer with, and a PERFECT beach or pool binge (I binged it outside this weekend). and the setting? the Midwest in the summer >>>," one person wrote of the book in their Goodreads review. "The honesty, and communication was so refreshing to see characters who whilst setting boundaries, and being carefree with each other also unashamedly sharing feelings with one another," another fan wrote. And we're not surprised so many people loved it, seeing as the book has an average rating of 4.47 stars on Goodreads from over 124,000 reviews.

This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune

Another book with the warm-weather goodness baked right into the title, 2024's "This Summer Will Be Different" by Carley Fortune brings all the magic of the sunny season to life. It centers on protagonist Lucy, who gets shown around Prince Edward Island by a local man named Felix. Of course, the leading lady gets a little more than she bargained for after the two end up having a steamy night together... only for her to realize that he is actually related to her best friend. Yikes. Lucy returns to the island year after year knowing the man she lusts after is living there, but things get complicated when her bestie Bridget makes a trip to the vacation destination. Lucy is then forced to spend time with her friend, all while trying to resist her undeniable spark with Felix.


The book has more than 15,000 reviews on Goodreads, with an average star rating of 4.22, so, clearly, readers are loving the spark between Lucy and Felix. But it's not just the romance element fans loved, as many complimented the strong female friendship dynamic between Lucy and Bridget. "I also adored Lucy and Bridget's friendship, this is the first female friendship we've read from Carley and I think she nailed it. Add this to your summer to be read pile ladies!" one reader shared in their Goodreads review.

What I Should've Said by Max Monroe

Released in April 2024, Max Monroe's "What I Should've Said" has been heating up the Top 100 Paid For Kindle charts. Norah Ellis is getting married and her July wedding day seems totally perfect. That is until she receives a letter from someone she doesn't even know — which changes everything. With that mysterious note etched in her mind, she decides to ditch the alter and flees from her fiancé, looking to leave her old life behind. As the summer continues on, she tries to start fresh, but there's a spanner in the works when she comes into contact with the no-nonsense bad boy of the town, Bennett Bishop.


This book, which has over 5,300 ratings on Goodreads for an average star rating of 4.38, is perfect for those who want a little more grit from their beach reads. Though it's set in the summer and involves a woman finding herself as the sun shines, don't expect a totally happy-go-lucky, sunshine-y story because this novel contains some highly emotional moments and darker storylines. "Norah and Bennett don't exactly have the best first encounter with each other. Hell not even the second or third. What they did find was an instant chemistry," one Goodreads review explained. "What we the readers find is a beautiful story about betrayal, reuniting, love, grief and new love. It's beyond words."

The Magic of Sea Glass by Jenny Hale

For a different kind of summer read that will tug at your heartstrings, look no further than Jenny Hale's "The Magic of Sea Glass." The 2023 novel is a story of love and loss, as it revolves around Lauren Sutton and her struggle to get over the death of her fiancé. One year after his passing, Sutton decides she needs to do something different, so she sells her business and heads to North Carolina for the summer in the hopes of bringing some purpose to her life again. While there, she discovers a bracelet made of sea glass, which suddenly changes the direction of her life. But that's not the only unexpected thing she finds during her important summer, as she suddenly catches the eye of smalltown fisherman Brody Harrison.


With almost 8,000 Goodreads ratings and an average of 4.43 stars, this book is clearly a solid beach read for those looking for a novel that taps into those summer vibes — but with an emotional and heartwreching twist. "From the gorgeous cover to the phenomenal characters to a plot that sucks you in on the first page, the beautiful North Carolina setting this is what summer reading is all about," one Goodreads review reads. "A wonderful story of love, loss, hope, and second chances that will leave you feeling satisfied in the end," another claimed.