It’s that time of year again! Summer is finally here, and with it the perfect time to unwind and make a date with some of this year’s hottest beach reads, pun intended. Whether you’re heading to your favourite summer beach, planning a luxurious day of pool-side lounging or packing for your next vacation, you’re going to want a few good summer reads to get lost in. Of course, you could reach for some Kafka or James Joyce… but it’s summer! Take this opportunity to unwind with the best summer reads that this year’s beach-read canon has to offer.
To get you started, we’ve put together a summer reading list that will pair perfectly with your ice-cold drink and fluffy beach towel. Our ultimate guide to the best beach books includes useful info about the novels’ plot, why we think you’ll enjoy them and book prices. Better yet, if you don’t feel like walking down to your local bookshop, all of these books are just one click away on Amazon or Book Depository.
- The Dukes Avenue Beach Reads list for Summer 2021
- 1. Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
- 2. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
- 3. The Guncle by Steven Rowley
- 4. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- 5. Beach Read by Emily Henry
- 6. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
- 7. Don’t Breath a Word by Jordyn Taylor
- 8. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
- 9. What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins
- 10. It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark
- 11. A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin
- 12. God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney
- 13. The Rehearsals by Annette Christie
- 14. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
- 15. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
- 16. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir: A Novel by Jennifer Ryan
- 17. Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
- 18. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
- 19. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
- 20. Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford
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The Dukes Avenue Beach Reads list for Summer 2021
1. Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
This highly anticipated romance novel will provide you with a steamy start to your summer reading. It takes Eva and Shane seven days to find love, fifteen years to lose it and another seven days to recapture it. Author of The Perfect Find, Tia Williams, tells a witty love story about two writers whose passionate week-long affair inspires their novels throughout their careers. This beach read turns up the heat so make sure to savour it before a refreshing dip.
2. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
If you’re looking for some great beach reads by black authors, you need to try The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. Harris’s debut novel paints a vivid picture of the starkly white landscape that colours the New York City book publishing scene. Editorial assistant Nella Rogers has long endured being the only black employee at Wagner books. So, when Hazel is hired to work in the neighbouring cubicle, she is excited to welcome her new, Harlem-born and bred colleague.
What Nella doesn’t bargain for are the tensions and disagreeable events that this freshly hired employee brings with her. Manipulation, threats and obsession drive this beach read to thrilling depths that are guaranteed to keep you engrossed until the very last page.
3. The Guncle by Steven Rowley
Uncle Patrick is affectionately known as ‘Guncle’ to his niece Masie and nephew Grant. Why? Because he’s their Gay Uncle Patrick of course! The has-been, gay sitcom star Patrick has always loved his niece and nephew but, when tragedy strikes unexpectedly, he also becomes charged with their well-being.
Assigned full custody of Masie and Grant, guncle Patrick must adjust to becoming a full-time guardian to two grieving children and deal with all the responsibilities that come along with his new role. This heart-warming and humorous beach read makes for a good summer read that reminds you of the enduring power of love, patience and most of all family.
4. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Reids’s Malibu Rising encapsulates all that a summer beach read should have: summer heat, a beach setting and absorbing intrigue. The setting is Malibu in August 1983. The event is Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party. With each page turn, we are transported back to one pivotal day from the lives of four siblings, on which a highly anticipated party goes up in flames, literally. Yet first, the music blares, glasses chink and lifetime secrets are forged.
Using flashbacks, Reid exposes how one faithful day changes all of the Riva sibling’s lives and binds them to a lifetime of family secrets and lies. This book’s irresistible mystery, combined with its unadulterated depth, makes it one of the best beach books published in 2021.
5. Beach Read by Emily Henry
This novel is not just one of the best beach reads because of its title; it’s the fun and romantic read you’ll need when you’re relaxing on a warm summer beach. Emily Henry presents two writers who have very little in common except for their neighbouring beach houses. Augustus is notorious for his tragic fictional endings, whilst January can’t resist her happily ever afters.
So, they strike a deal designed to push them both out of their writing comfort zones. This summer, he has to write his first happy ending and she has to pen the next great American novel. But can they do this without falling for each other as well? We at Dukes Avenue feel that this was one of the best beach read books of 2020, so grab a towel and get reading!
6. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Following her bestselling rom-com Beach Read, Emily Henry publishes another gripping romance between two unlikely friends. Poppy and Alex have always been polar opposites but somehow, they are also best friends. Every summer, for a decade, they have taken a week-long trip together, until a rift brought a stop to their yearly tradition. Now Poppy has convinced her best friend to take another vacation with her in the hopes of repairing their friendship. But are seven days enough to mend their broken fences? This dazzling new beach read surely makes a perfect addition to any summer vacation.
7. Don’t Breath a Word by Jordyn Taylor
Hardwick Preparatory Academy is more than just a boarding school, it’s a place where secrets are kept buried. In the present day, Eva is a misfit that has just been asked to join the most elite secret society in the school. Back in 1962, Connie’s infatuation with golden boy Craig Allenby pushes her to join a group to help test Hardwick’s nuclear fallout shelter. But this test is more dangerous than any of them suspect.
Author Jordyn Taylor intertwines two stories occurring sixty years apart but crucially set in the same boarding school. This thrilling novel makes our list of good summer reads because its mysterious intrigue will feed your desires for summer adventures.
8. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Author of Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid has only the highest praise for Talia Hibbert’s writing: “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.”
The USA Today Bestseller, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, is a laugh-out-loud romance which deals with the very real human struggles of insecurity and illness. Marking the first book in The Brown Sisters series, this summer read follows Chloe and her seemingly fool proof list for “getting a life”. How do you get a life? By being “bad”. Sounds easy enough, right?
If you enjoy Get a Life, Chloe Brown, be sure to also check out the most recent book in this series: Act Your Age, Eve Brown.
9. What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins
Of course, a beach read does not have to be light and cheery. If murder and mystery is more up your alley, Joanne Tompkins’ What Comes After should also make your list of good summer reads. After two teenage boys are found dead, the Pacific Northwest community threatens to be torn apart by the tragedy. The lives of the boys’ families are shaken and continue to get complicated when a mysterious pregnant girl emerges out of the woods and into their lives. An emotional novel about hope, forgiveness and the strength of human connections, this novel is bound to make it to your own personal list of best summer reads.
10. It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark
If your idea of the best beach read is a light and witty romance, then this charmingly entertaining novel is your match made in heaven. This rom-com features Liv Goldenhorn who, for the past twenty years has run a successful wedding planning business called ‘In Love in New York’ with her brother Eliot. When tragedy strikes, Liz is stuck with a new and highly unexpected business partner, her brother’s girlfriend Savannah. Their love stories and those of their co-workers’ intertwine to make for a fun loving beach read about love and second chances.
11. A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin
“One of the smartest, sharpest, and funniest books I’ve read in years… Some books are meant to be devoured – this one does the devouring.”- Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation.
Journalist Jillian Beckley has heard rumours flying around of an exclusive social club for elite members of New York City high society. She is desperate to write the article that will save her career from crashing and burning, so Jillian decides to infiltrate the club and bring down these powerful women in one fell swoop.
Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. She soon realises that these women are more powerful than she had suspected and learns that bad things happen to those that question the secret club’s motives. This book ticks some major summer read boxes, it has comedy, mystery, witty narrative and depth. All you need now is an iced-coffee to go with this spicy beach read.
12. God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney
Secrets. Every family has them… but some hide them better than others. This spellbinding debut novel is set in Northern Texas and follows the life of Caroline, the youngest daughter of seemingly exemplary preacher Luke Nolan. The Nolan family seem to lead the perfect life but lately, Caroline has become aware of cracks forming around her family’s easy life. Her sister Abigail is marrying the wrong man, her father is not the shining example of virtue he appears to be and she herself has slid into some “sinful” situations.
God Spare the Girls beautifully explores the meaning of family, religion, individuality and secrets. It’s depth is as bottomless as the ocean when it comes to this compelling beach read.
13. The Rehearsals by Annette Christie
“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.
Megan Givens and Tom Prescott are about to embark on their enchanting wedding weekend on the beautiful Island of San Juan. Yet, secrets, family rivalry and ten years of worth of history complicate their fantasies of a hassle free, perfect wedding. Following a catastrophic rehearsal dinner, the wedding is called off, but fate has other plans in store for them. The following morning, Megan and Tom wake up to find themselves stuck in a time loop which gives them an unexpected, second chance at love. This whimsical love story is both funny and romantic which makes this debut novel a perfect addition to your summer beach reads.
14. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Since its publication last year, Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library has consistently made it to the New York Times bestseller list. Its reputation precedes it, and we can see why!
Imagine, that within the dividing line of life and death lies a library with endless bookshelves and equally boundless possibilities. Books that allow you to set right your past regrets and make different life choices. Given the chance, would you choose a different path?
Nora Seed finds herself faced with this intriguing possibility and, as she roams through the Midnight Library, she must decide what truly gives her life meaning. This fantasy novel will allow you to lose yourself inside a magical world of possibilities, making it a a sci-fi themed beach read that you’re bound to recommend to your friends.
15. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
Author of the bestselling novel Crazy Rich Asians publishes a new sparkling story of love and yearning. Like Crazy Rich Asians, this book also features the excessive world of the wealthiest 1%, but brings us face to face with harsher topics such as racial discrimination as well.
When vacationing on the beautiful Island of Capri, Lucie Churchill comes across George Zao; a man who instantly inspires in her feelings of dislike and desire with equal measure. Soon, Lucy is caught in a vortex of deceit involving her fiancé, family, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment, and ultimately herself. She desperately tries to avoid giving George the key to her heart and her complex life. But can you actually choose who you fall in love with?
16. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir: A Novel by Jennifer Ryan
Set in Kent in 1940, the dawn of World War II brings with it a disruptive change for the utopian village of Chilbury. Anguish infiltrates this community’s lives as sons and husbands are called to join the war effort, and when the Vicar decides to stop the church choir until their men’s return, all hope seems lost. But the uniting power of song is exactly what these women need during this time of crises. So, with a healthy dose of fighting spirit and some new musical talent, their choir is brought to life once more.
This hopeful and heart-rending tale reminds us of the beautifully healing power of music whilst exploring the less explored effects of the Second World War on small communities. All in all, this work of historical fiction is not just a good summer read but also makes for a great addition to your list of book club books.
17. Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
In its prime, the Golden Hotel was THE vacation resort in the Catskills. For over sixty years, the Goldman and Weingold families have run this dazzling resort, welcoming well-to-do guests from all over and enjoying a warm relationship between their two families. But things are not as they used to be. The hotel is in trouble and so is their relationship. When a tempting offer is set on the table, family secrets, drama and financial scandal erupt. Through it all, can they save their bellowed Golden Hotel before all is lost?
18. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
If you’re a Jane Eyre kind of girl and are looking for a light, beach read to get lost in as you work on your tan, Rachel Hawkins has got you covered. The Wife Upstairs provides a charmingly Southern twist to Charlotte Bronte’s Gothic classic Jane Eyre. This modern-day Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estate and recently widowed Eddie Rochester, is this rich community’s most mysterious resident. As sparks fly between Jane and Eddie, intriguing suspense, sharp wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility will make you wonder if this modern couple will also get their happily ever after.
19. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue, brings us a new romantic comedy to take with us to the beach!
Meet August: a world-weary twenty-three year old, whose recent move to New York City is meant to prove her right: love is merely the stuff of movies and fairy tales, of course. For August, waiting tables at the Pancake Diner is all the glamour life has to offer, topped up with a daily dose of boring train commutes. Enter Jane: the charming, mysterious girl on the train. It seems this subway crush is just what August’s day needs.
There’s one issue; Jane is from the 1970s and is lost in time! And so, August is forced to recapture all that she had vowed to leave behind her in order to help Jane. Maybe it’s time to rekindle her faith in love and magic after all!
20. Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford
This powerful debut exposes one of the most prominent voices of our generation. This memoir is for those whose beach read prerequisite does not need to be light and breezy.
Ashley C. Ford brings us a story of childhood defined by parental mistakes and explores the life we all must lead to both recognize and overcome our family lineage. For Ashley, her father is an image of hope and inspiration. She understands him and she likes to think he understands her too. There is just one problem: her father is in prison and she doesn’t know why. Her search for unconditional love leads to abuse and heartbreak. But it’s when the reason behind her father’s imprisonment is revealed that the story truly begins.
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