17 New Beach Reads Perfect for Winding Down Summer
Summer isn’t over just yet! Sure, September has officially rolled around, which means autumn is right around the corner. But here in the South, we all know we’ve got at least a few more weeks of sunny summertime weather to soak up before we break out our scarves and boots.
In fact, some (read: me) may argue this is the best time of the year to hit the beach – the crowds have thinned, the skies are crisp and clear, and it has de-humidified enough that it doesn’t feel like the air is trying to wrap you in a hot, sticky hug all the time.
And there’s no better way to unwind at the beach than with an entertaining tome or two. Make the most of summer’s last stretch by spending your time sprawled on the sand with your nose in one of these books.
- Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Vacationers, Modern Lovers is a smart, entertaining novel about love and adulthood in a group of tight-knit friends from college – whose own kids are now going to college. The Skimm describes it aptly as “Friends meets Almost Famous meets the beach read you’ll be remembering all summer.” Sign me up!
- Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
If you love suspense, you won’t be able to put down Before the Fall – the story of the plane crash of a private jet leaving Martha’s Vineyard, leaving only two survivors. Written by the Emmy, PEN, Peabody, and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the TV show Fargo, this mesmerizing novel shifts in narrative from the aftermath to the backstories of other passengers as conspiracy theories begin to surface.
- Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright
A road trip, an adventure of self-discovery, The King… what more could you possibly ask for in a beach read? Last Ride to Graceland follows blues musician Cory Ainsworth as she seeks to answer a loaded question: is Elvis Presley her father? Bonus: the book takes place partially in coastal South Carolina, where Cory’s mom settled after a rebellious year being a backup singer for The King.
- Arrowood by Laura McHugh
If you missed Laura McHugh’s highly successful 2014 mystery, The Weight of Blood, you can see what all the fuss over this author is about with her sophomore effort. A gothic thriller, Arrowood is set in an ornate historical house in southern Iowa – the very same home from which protagonist Arden Arrowood’s twin sisters disappeared twenty years ago. Arden returns to her roots seeking answers, but the truth she finds may be even more devastating than she imagined.
- Invincible Summer by Alice Adams
Feeling nostalgic? Let Alice Adams’ debut novel, Invincible Summer, take you back to your collegiate years and all the fuzzy feelings that come along with making connections at the threshold of adulthood. Adams tells the story of four friends over a period of twenty years as they navigate their 20s and 30s and increasingly long for the magic of youth (and one another).
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
You can’t very well have a must-read list without one of summer ‘16’s most highly anticipated releases, can you? Set 19 years after the last Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child finds our wizarding hero an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic and married father of three. The play delves into Harry’s regrets over his past, while also exploring the narrative of Harry’s youngest son Albus struggling under the weight of the family legacy on his shoulders.
- I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
Did you love How Stella Got Her Groove Back? How about Waiting to Exhale? Then you’re going to devour Terry McMillan’s newest effort, I Almost Forgot About You. An empowering story of charting your destiny, McMillan’s novel follows along as established optometrist Georgia Young quits her job and sets off on a wild journey that just might lead to a second chance at love.
- Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry
When Nora hops a train from London to visit her sister in the pastoral countryside, she gets the shock of a lifetime – her sister has been brutally murdered in her own home. As Nora becomes more and more consumed with uncovering the truth, she begins to lose herself to the obsession. The debut of author Flynn Berry, this psychological thriller will grip you as it thrusts you into a haunting world of grief… and the complex bond between sisters.
- All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Like The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl before it, All the Missing Girls proves author Megan Miranda is a master of suspense. This time, the story focuses on the disappearance of two young women a decade apart. Even more fascinating? It’s told in reverse, as protagonist Nicolette Farrell tries to unravel the complicated truth surrounding her rural hometown.
- The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Sixty-nine-year-old widower Arthur Pepper has spent the year following his beloved wife Miriam’s death doing the exact same things he did when she was alive: get up at 7:30am, pull on the same grey slacks and mustard-colored sweater vest, water his fern, and tend to his garden. But something shifts on the first anniversary of Miriam’s death, when Arthur finds a gold charm bracelet he’d never seen in his late wife’s belongings. What ensues is an irresistible odyssey as Arthur travels the globe in search of answers.
- Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
In a sleepy Kentucky town, two families wrestle with the secrets that have defined them – and their relationship with each other – for generations. A captivating effort from Edgar Award-winning writer Lori Roy, Let Me Die in His Footsteps is a fresh take on the classic tale of tragedy in a small town and how its impact lingers long enough to become mythic.
- Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
If you’re looking for a book that will charm you nearly to death, look no further than Etta and Otto and Russell and James – the story of an eighty-two-year-old woman from the rolling farmland of Saskatchewan who decides to chase her lifelong dream of seeing the sea. Left behind to drift in their memories are Etta’s husband Otto and their neighbor Russell, who has loved Etta for more than fifty years.
- Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
Who doesn’t love a good recipe? And, even better, who doesn’t love a great book? When you bring the two together, you’ve got an undeniably winning combo – and that’s precisely what bestselling author Elizabeth Bard offers in her latest mesmerizing tome, Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes. The stories of life in the tiny village of Céreste will enthrall you, and the recipes will give you something to look forward to when your nose isn’t buried in the book.
- As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner
Sure to resonate with summer beachcombers, As Close to Us paints a poignant and moving picture of three Jewish sisters and the beachfront cottage they frequent with their families… until a horrific tragedy takes place on the sisters’ watch and transforms their sun-kissed world forever.
- Marrow Island by Alexis Smith
When Lucie Bowen left Marrow Island along with her mother twenty years ago, she didn’t imagine she’d return to the same eerie place that an earthquake two decades before had turned into an environmental disaster zone. But when a colony inexplicably emerges there, Lucie feels compelled to explore the creepy surroundings she once called home and uncover what has gone awry.
- The Girls by Emma Cline
The book with arguably the most buzz coming into the summer, The Girls by Emma Cline earned its young author a multi-million dollar book deal from Random House following a bidding war among 12 publishers. And it’s not hard to see why – her debut novel loosely based on the infamous Manson Family cult of young women living in a hippie commune in 1969 is transfixing (and impossible to put down).
- Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin
Life from Scratch follows food blogger Sasha Martin’s delectable journey as she sets out to cook – and eat – a meal from every country in the world over the course of 195 weeks. The subsequent life stories that emerge in the process are entirely evocative and, yes, will have you drooling on your dog-eared pages.