The greatest beachy books have a few common characteristics. Firstly, they flow easily and are relatively easy-to-read. There’s nothing wrong with diving into a good Russian classic or flipping through a dystopian, but those are best consumed without the carefree summertime distractions you’ll often find by putting on a straw hat and plopping yourself on a beach towel. Secondly, a good beach read is utterly encapsulating. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, the tome should feature incredibly real characters with depth and a riveting storyline. It should engross you in a way that leads you to set a timer so that you don’t end up a lobster.
For the last few years, I’ve pretty consistently had a book on the go. While I don’t necessarily read as much as I’d like, I’m on track to crush 30 books this year, up from 26 in 2018. And while I admit I’m quite all over the place when it comes to what I read, I do have my favorite genres, many of which are represented in this post.
The first thing to note about this list is that while there is one very obvious romance novel, you definitely won’t be finding any of the major sappy players on here — that’s just not my style. Secondly, I love a good rock n’ roll bio or travelogue, I mean, obviously. I should probably write a post on my favorite non-fiction books in these two categories. And thirdly, I’ve recently put my armor on a shelf and have been diving into some self-help-ish books. Nothing overly cringe-worthy, meaning I wouldn’t be embarrassed to read them on the subway, but books backed by science and discovery that open the reader up to new perspectives.
So, without further ado, here are my picks for the best books to read on the beach this summer. Let me know your favorite beach reads in the comments!
Table of Contents
- Books to Read on the Beach this Summer
- Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
- The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell
- Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Inspired: The Stories of Nine Solo Female Travelers by Chelsey Schultz
- Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan
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Books to Read on the Beach this Summer
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Six is a band known for their hard, bluesy rock n’ roll. Daisy Jones is a wild child who, despite her vices, just wants to be taken seriously as a songwriter. So when Daisy Jones is asked to join The Six, musical history is made… and some other things. A roller coaster ride that makes you feel as though you’re on tour with this (totally fictional) band, Daisy Jones & The Six is more than just an ode to a lifestyle and a fabulous time in rock n’ roll history — it’s a portrayal of the complexities of human relationships.
After I read and loved Reid’s first blockbuster, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” and subsequently heard that she was coming out with a new novel about 1970’s rock n’ roll, I was ecstatic. Published just a few months ago, “Daisy Jones & The Six” encapsulates everything we love about the Los Angeles music scene of the 1960’s and 70’s. This period of history is a time I have a very hard crush on, a feeling that is evident in posts like this one and this one and this one. It’s a scene very near and dear to my heart. Not to mention, Reid loosely based the book on her favorite band, Fleetwood Mac, so there’s that.
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Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
It’s the summer of 1983 in Northern Italy, and 17-year-old Elio spends his long summer days reading literature, playing instruments, and charming girls – until Oliver rolls into town for six weeks as Elio’s father’s assistant, that is. Feelings soon emerge and what begins as an emotional annoyance soon turns into a twisting, heartwrenching love story between Elio and Oliver. Grappling with their growing love behind the shame of their circumstances, their quiet dance becomes something much deeper before the summer is over.
I do believe Call Me By Your Name is my new favorite book of all time. Not only is the fluidity and prose of this novel absolutely beautiful, but the feelings between Elio and Oliver are also incredibly raw and elemental. My heart was torn from my chest reading this book, through the innocent scenes to the graphic. The perfect beachy (or anytime) read, especially if you’re headed to Italy.
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The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell
When journalist Helen Russell’s husband accepts a job at Lego in a remote Danish community, she makes it her mission to discover the cultural nuances of Denmark. Why is Denmark constantly rated one of the happiest countries of the world? How do they maintain this statistic throughout notoriously harsh, dark winters? How many Danish pastries are too many? All these questions and more are answered throughout Helen’s first year of living Danishly.
I first clued into The Year Of Living Danishly when I learned that Helen was going to be a keynote speaker at a conference I went to last year. I adored her speech at the conference and picked up this book soon after. In discovering what makes Denmark tick, Helen dives into politics, cultural norms, social welfare, traditions, and common outlooks. While I was genuinely interested in discovering the culture of Denmark through Helen’s eyes, I also found this book to be incredibly inspirational with some awesome tips on how to live a little more Danishly.
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Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche
Man, if there was ever a book that would make me want to hop on a leaky, retro sailboat indefinitely with a new Latin lover, it would be this one.
After endlessly hearing about ‘Love With A Chance of Drowning’ from friends, I knew I had to give the book a whirl. A fear-struck young Aussie transplanted in San Francisco, Torre meets Ivan after approaching him at a cocktail bar, and after finding out his name after their initial night together, proceeds to fall madly in love with him. In no time at all, Ivan invites Torre to sail the ocean with him, an invitation which Torre hesitantly accepts. From then on, their adventures (and misadventures) are boundless. Sea squalls, whales, and island folk, it’s all there.
Torre DeRoche writes so clearly about her adventures it feels like you’re right there on the boat with her and Ivan. You feel what she feels; whether it’s fear, determination, or utter frustration. Would definitely recommend to anyone in need of some good wanderlust-fuel.
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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
Daring Greatly is an incredibly informative, and sometimes jarring, expose on vulnerability and the techniques we can all use to lead more fulfilling, open, accepting lives. Using research conducted over the course of her career, Brene explains and examines what exactly being vulnerable means and what we need to know about it in order to be more empathetic with ourselves and others.
Brene Brown is everywhere these days and for good reason. Within reading 15% of this book, I had already had a psychological breakthrough. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your own self-talk, limiting behaviors and vulnerability is expertly written in this book, and reading it will be incredibly informative, yet an emotional journey. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
A sweeping multi-generational historical saga set in 20th century Korea and Japan, Pachinko is a hard and fast look at the struggles of a Korean family through Japanese colonization, wartimes, violent racism, the struggle for identity, and feeling like they were left without a country.
Between the character development, the changing attitudes through time, and her outstanding ability to weave a story encompassing a vast array of characters, Min Jin Lee hit the nail on the head. Before reading this, I knew almost nothing about the lives of Koreans living in Japan in the 20th century, and now, despite this being a work of fiction, not only do feel like I understand this part of history a bit better, I feel like my worldview has expanded a nudge.
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Becoming by Michelle Obama
From her modest childhood growing up on the South side of Chicago to becoming America’s first lady and beyond, Michelle Obama has lived an incredible life that is both relatable and inspirational. This is a lady who has a very deep sense of self, who has lived her life by her own terms and for the servitude of others, who acknowledges her privilege, and who pours herself into every endeavor.
This is probably the book that everyone and their grandmother will be reading on the beach this summer and for good reason. Not only is Michelle Obama an amazing storyteller, but she also takes the reader through the emotional ups and downs of both everyday life and how her life has changed through the years. While she is most well known for being the first lady through two terms, her heart was always in social welfare and making the lives of others brighter. A powerhouse.
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Inspired: The Stories of Nine Solo Female Travelers by Chelsey Schultz
Stepping out into the world as a solo female traveller looks different on everybody. For some, the experience is profound with major events guiding them throughout, while with others, the day-to-day feeling of adventure is enough to light the way. In “Inspired: The Stories of Nine Solo Female Travelers“, we are taken on a journey of perspectives from one woman to the next as they each highlight their experiences, positive, negative, and neutral, as solo female travellers.
If you have solo travelled, this book will ring oh-so-true to you, and if you haven’t, by the time you reach the final pages you’re going to want to. No outlook is off limits when it comes to the stories told by the women featured in this book, and because of that, the narratives feel raw and profoundly human. Not only is this a great book to pick up while at the beach, but it’s also perfect for whenever you want a little wanderlusty pick-me-up.
*This book was given to me in exchange for a full review, which will be coming down the pipe shortly.
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Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan
Not only was this Joe Hagan tasked with chronicling the life of one of history’s most notorious media mammoth’s, but he did so with over 500 boxes of personal memorabilia, a plethora of interviews, and slight prodding and slant-attempting from Mr. Rolling Stone himself, Jann Wenner. When Jann first approached Joe to attempt this biography in 2013, Joe knew it would have to go unauthorized in order to really tell the story and tell the story he did.
Jann S. Wenner. Rolling Stone Magazine. I won’t lie, despite recent major guffaws in the magazine’s judgment coupled by an obvious downward plunge in influence, I have always been very much attracted to what Rolling Stone Magazine has historically stood for. What was once a scrappy mag highlighting an underground youth movement quickly reinvented itself into an influential, politicized, celebrity-idolizing behemoth that in itself shaped the mainstream culture.
And Jann Wenner was ruthless. A groupie at heart, Jann was guided through all major decisions with a love of pop culture, a perfect compliment of a partner in Jane Wenner, a narcissistic urge for power, demand for creative writers, and what kicked it all off, a heart full of ambition.
No, Jann Wenner is not an exemplary moral human. In fact, he is in many ways very much unlikeable. But damn if he isn’t an inspiration. It doesn’t matter if you don’t read Rolling Stone today — if you’re interested in a character of a man whose need for speed shaped culture and created one of the most recognizable magazines in the Western world, Sticky Fingers is worth it.
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