Is there anything more relaxing than soaking in the warm weather, cracking open a brand new book, and listening to the relaxing sounds of waves crashing onto the sand? We don’t think so!
While there are countless exciting activities to do on the beach, diving into a good book should not be overlooked. The warm weather puts your body and mind at ease, while the soothing sounds provide the perfect soundtrack to your beach read.
Plus, reading offers many benefits, such as boosting cognitive activity. If you’re packing for a beach vacation and realize you don’t have any new books ready to go, here’s a list of our favorites to consider.
No matter what genre of literature you find most exciting, you can find a beach read that suits your taste!
Book lovers and beach lovers, read on for just the thing:
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
If you love a fantastical love story with twists, turns, and romantic gestures: The Time Traveler’s Wife is for you! Audrey Niffenegger builds a love story about Henry, a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel, and Clare, an artist who has to learn to live with her husband’s frequent absences.
This bestseller perfectly spans different genres, including romance, science fiction, and fantasy. The love in this story, both platonic and romantic, will keep you invested in the plot as you find yourself deeply invested in each character. Additionally, Niffenegger builds Henry’s experiences of time travel with such details and care that you truly feel immersed in the strange reality.
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
If you love a detailed period piece that’s filled with wonder and creative details, be sure to add Water for Elephants to your reading list before your next beach trip. This story centers around Jacob Jankowski.
Jacob is an orphan who jumps on a train and finds his way to a traveling circus filled with misfits trying to survive the Great Depression. He is in charge of caring for the circus animals and meets Marlena, the star of the equestrian act.
We follow their journey across the country as they learn to love and struggle to make ends meet. And although the story deals with some dark subject matters, it is decorated with glitz and glamor, thanks to the dazzling circus performances. This is a must-read if you want to be fully transported into another world.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you want to check off another novel on your “classics” list while on vacation, turn to The Great Gatsby. Although you probably read a few chapters of this iconic novel in high school, it is worth revisiting as an adult.
Diving into the extravagant and exciting details of the elaborate parties thrown by Jay Gatsby will make lounging at the beach feel even more luxurious. This story also follows the romantic tension between Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, making the novel even more exciting for romance novel lovers.
This summer romance will have you turning pages quickly, as you’ll be fully engrossed in flashy parties, heartbreak, and romantic pursuits.
A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
If you’re a fantasy lover looking for some time without distraction to dive into your next series, take A Game of Thrones with you on your summer beach trip. Although this heavy book might weigh down your beach tote, you’ll be thankful to have this exciting fantasy world at your fingertips.
As the beginning of one of the most popular fantasy series of all time, the first novel will introduce you to Westeros, a kingdom ruled by a royal dynasty, and will take you through countless stories of betrayals, intrigue, and supernatural occurrences.
It can be tricky to find the time to start a lengthy book with a plethora of foreign details, but the beach provides the perfect relaxing and distraction-free environment.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
If you’re looking for a historical fiction novel full of Old Hollywood glamor and details the triumphs and trials of fame, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is for you. This novel centers around Evelyn Hugo, a 79-year-old woman who’s ready to tell her life’s story to the world, giving every last detail of her glamor and scandal.
After opening this page-turner, you’ll immediately feel invested in the characters and desperate to get more details on the mysterious past of this Marilyn Monroe-esque celebrity.
This novel also features a delicious twist you won’t see coming and will leave you feeling a mix of emotions. Love plus glamor plus anticipation equals the perfect beach read. This is the kind of book that you can re-read over and over, each time feeling like the first time.
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
If you’re a mystery lover, you should choose The Secret History as your next beach read. While some mysteries can be dense and challenging to follow, Tartt was able to create a page-turning novel that’s full of intrigue and subtle hints while still making it exciting to follow.
This novel follows a group of eccentric college students at a small liberal arts school in New England as their search for academic transcendence leads them down a dangerous path.
What starts out as an innocent story of young, small-town college students finding and studying their passions ends in a story of corruption, betrayal, and evil. If you love twists, turns, and a detailed world, you won’t be able to put this book club pick down.
My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
If you prefer novels that follow real-life storylines and are full of beautiful details and lovable characters, pick up My Brilliant Friend. This novel is the first out of a four-part series by Elena Ferrante that follows the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo.
Telling the story of their friendship and narrated by Elena, this story is set in Naples, Italy, and details the intimate moments between Elena and Lila from youth to adulthood.
Within the first few chapters of this novel, you’ll feel attached to both Lila and Elena and glued to the pages as you explore their lives together. With some unexpected twists and turns and beautiful storylines, this novel is sure to be the relaxing beach read of your dreams.
After you’re done, hand it off to your best friend — you’re basically the literary agent of your friend group at this point!
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
If you want your beach read to totally transport you out of the stressors in your life and take you to a world of humor and joy, be sure to pack Where'd You Go, Bernadette, in your bag. This fast-paced, heartwarming comedy follows the family of Bernadette Fox, a former architect living in Seattle. She is married to Elgin, an engineer at Microsoft, and has a teenage daughter named Bee.
The story is narrated by Bee, who studies her mother’s various emails, memos, and transcripts. She is trying to solve the story of her mother’s unexpected disappearance before a family trip to Antarctica.
The wacky plot, quirky characters, and themes of love, family drama, bonding, and escape will have you clinging to this great book.
Duma Key, Stephen King
If you find yourself gravitating toward the horror genre of literature but you aren’t sure if that counts as a beach read, we have a recommendation for you. Stephen King is one of the best horror writers of all time.
His novel, Duma Key, has been described as a horror novel turned beach read. This shocking story takes place in the Florida landscape and is sure to put you in the mood to read on the beach.
Though it might not be your typical beach read, you’ll still enjoy the classic Stephen King elements such as mystery, psychological horror, and drama. This story follows Edgar Freemantle as he moves from Minnesota to Florida, trying to escape the trauma of losing his arm in a construction accident and a failed marriage. He finds community within two mysterious Florida characters and begins to paint.
As you read about the secrets revealed and the power Edgar’s paintings hold, you’ll be thrust into themes of love, creativity, the mysteries of memory, and the nature of the supernatural.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
This incredible novel from 1996 was on The New York Times bestseller lister — truly high praise! For a reminder of the importance of giving and receiving love and finding joy in everyday life, pick up Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.
This seemingly simple plot is layered with meaning and heart, as it follows a group of lifelong friends who are staging an intervention to help a young playwright unravel the truth of her complicated and eccentric mother. The group of friends and the playwright learn together the power of forgiveness and acceptance and learn how to deal with painful pasts.
The bond these young women share and the ways in which they explore complicated feelings are told with such sincerity, thoughtfulness, and even humor, that you’ll have trouble putting the book down. Despite the layers of comedy, this book is definitely considered to be a tear-jerker, so you might want to throw on some vintage-style shades to protect your puffy eyes as you walk into the bookshop to buy another book by Rebecca Wells.
Reading on the Beach Tips
Now that you have your summer book of choice ready to go, you need to prepare to read comfortably on the beach. There are a few things you can throw in your beach bag to make diving into your beach read much easier.
If you’re bringing a hardcover book to the beach, you might want to leave the dust jacket at home. Especially if you’re someone who loves to display their best books at home as decoration, it’s essential to preserve the integrity of these fragile covers. If you leave the dust cover on, you may find some accidental tears in the paper caused by the other items in your beach bag.
Additionally, removing the dust cover will reduce the number of things in your bag that can be damaged by water.
If you’re reading a lengthy book, such as A Game of Thrones, and you don’t want to weigh your bag down, consider opting for an e-reader. These small, slim devices can be a lifesaver if you’re a fast reader and want a collection of books or short stories at your fingertips at all times.
Make sure the ebook you choose is compatible with beach reading. The bright sun on the beach can make it difficult to look at any type of screen, so pick up an e-reader with a beach setting. This light setting will dim and mattify your screen, making it easy to read under the bright sun.
Protecting your book from sand and water is crucial when throwing it in your bag at the end of the day. Wet swimsuits, beach toys, or towels can soak the pages of your beach read and permanently damage it. No one likes flipping curved pages and reading blurry words, so investing in a waterproof bag for your delicate belongings is a must.
A large ziplock bag works just as well as an up-scale toiletry bag; anything waterproof will do. You might even want to get a bag big enough for your super-long murder mystery novel, as well as your electronics, to protect all of your valuables that can’t get wet.
Even if you bring a physical book instead of an e-reader, the glaring sun can sometimes make it difficult to focus on the pages of your book. When the bright sun reflects off of the white pages and shines directly into your eyes, you can have trouble keeping your place in the story.
To ensure a comfortable and shady environment to immerse yourself in the world of your novel, bring an umbrella with you to the beach. Having a personal way to ensure shade will make any spot on the beach ideal for reading.
As we said before, books obviously do not mix well with water. After a refreshing ocean dip, you might want to jump into your beach chair and dive right back into your beach read. However, you won’t be able to rest the book on your stomach while reading without soaking and damaging the bottom of it.
Holding the book up can tire your arms after a while, so be sure to have a beach towel handy to add a protective layer between your wet tummy and your book.
Other Beach Essentials To Pack
Now that you have your beach read picked out and all of the beach reading essentials packed, it’s time to throw in the other necessities.
First and foremost, if you’re spending most of your time lounging in a beach chair and engrossed in a debut novel, you’ll need adequate sun protection.
Though you might not even notice the blaring sun while you’re distracted by the plot of a summer reading book, your skin may suffer the consequences. Throw in a variety of sunscreen options into your bags, such as face sunscreen, a spray bottle, and lotion.
Set a timer on your phone to reapply every two hours, and you’ll be safe and ready to lay in the Cape Cod or Malibu sun with a book in your hands all day long.
Wearing the proper footwear can make or break a beach day. If you forget to pack open-toe shoes, you’ll have to suffer with tennis shoes that become filled with sand and heavy to walk across the beach. If you don’t pack a waterproof option, you can accidentally damage some of your go-to shoes with water and sand.
The best option to slip on your feet as you walk to and from your spot on the beach is waterproof and open-toed.
Finally, to finish off your beach bag, throw in your favorite accessories. You already have your towel and shades packed, so now it’s time to add a beach hat, a cover-up, and a scrunchie.
A beach hat is the perfect beach accessory as it adds flair and style to your outfit while also protecting your face from the sun. The skin on our face is incredibly vulnerable to sun damage, so adding an extra layer of protection is always a good idea.
A cover-up is a helpful accessory for trips up to the hotel bar, into the restroom, or on the boardwalk walk. Most cover-ups are breathable and have a beachy style, so you won’t have to worry about sacrificing your tropical style or overheating when adding another layer.
Lastly, if you’re dipping in and out of the water, you will probably want a way to get your hair out of your face. Your hair is susceptible to breakage when wet, so opt for a soft scrunchie rather than a rubber hair tie when packing your beach bag.
Beach Vacation: Happily Ever After
Treat yourself to a beach vacation and give yourself the opportunity to immerse yourself in an exciting story while being surrounded by soothing sounds and gorgeous scenery.
Whether you try a new genre or re-read an old favorite, cracking open a book on the beach is nothing short of euphoric.
A novel look at how stories may change the brain | eScienceCommons
Stephen King | National Book Foundation
Sun-damaged Skin: Photoaging, Signs, Causes & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic