12 Best Books to Read at the Beach (or Anywhere) This Summer


When we say beach read, often we mean the equivalent of paper-and-ink candy, but that’s not very fair. A summer read can be just about anything—from deeply literary fiction to romance to suspense to nonfiction to pure fun (and maybe all of the above)—so long as the book captivates you and keeps you turning pages, whether you’re splayed out on the sand, relaxing in your backyard hammock, or maybe just commuting on the subway as you count down the minutes to your upcoming summer Friday. If you’re reading something this summer, it’s a summer read! So, whatever your preferred form of entertainment, you’re likely to find something delicious in these 12 new books.

Queen of the Night, by Alexander Chee

Fall into the immersive tale of Lilliet Berne, an opera singer given the opportunity for an original role, only to find that someone has betrayed her, basing the libretto on a long hidden secret from her past. Suspense, romance, music, and Paris! What could be better?

To buy: $28; amazon.com

Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld

A compulsively readable retelling of Pride and Prejudice that makes Darcy a neurosurgeon, Bingley a TV star, and Lizzie a magazine writer in her late 30s. Pair with the original for a summer reading extravaganza.

To buy: $28; amazon.com

Blood Defense, by Marcia Clark

If you were as obsessed with The People vs. O.J. Simpson (and as won over by the character of Clark, who, of course, prosecuted the trial) as I was, you’ll want to pick up the first in her new legal series, in which criminal defense attorney Samantha Brinkman ends up on a double-murder case in which the defendant is a veteran LAPD detective, and one of the victims is a popular TV star.

To buy: $25; amazon.com

Girls on Fire, by Robin Wasserman

It’s the early ‘90s, and high schoolers Hannah Dexter (the good girl) and Lacey Champlain (the bad one) become friends in the wake of the suicide of a popular basketball player. But in this harrowing tale of obsessive female friendship, all is not what it seems. (May 17)

To buy: $26; amazon.com

Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub

Straub’s The Vacationers was the summer-ready read of 2014 that had everyone wanting to jet to Majorca. This season she tells the story of friends and former bandmates who’ve grown into their 50s together, living the perfect Brooklyn lives, until the summer their teenaged children discover sex, the mid-life crises hit the fan, and suddenly everything’s not as perfect as it seems. (May 31)

To buy: $26; amazon.com

Rich and Pretty, by Rumaan Alam

Here is that story about two best friends—Sarah’s planning a wedding, Lauren is single and working in publishing—that will make you rethink your deepest relationships and life choices, for better or worse. (But probably for better.) (June 7)

To buy: $26; amazon.com

The Girls, by Emma Cline

For her debut novel, Cline takes inspiration from the Manson Family murders, weaving a mesmerizing story about lonely, teenaged Evie and Suzanne, who invites Evie into the world of “the ranch”—ruled by its own charismatic leader, Russell—where unimaginable violence is on the verge of exploding. (June 14)

To buy: $27; amazon.com

How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life, by Heather Havrilesky

If you believe advice can’t be a summer read you’ve never encountered Havrilesky, who has the amazing ability to entertain while also helping you feel so much better about absolutely everything. (July 12)

To buy: $25; amazon.com

Neon Green, by Margaret Wappler

What happens with a spaceship lands in the backyard of a normal suburban Chicago family? It’s the ‘90s as you knew it … but with aliens. (July 12)

To buy: $16; amazon.com

Here Comes the Sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn

In this powerful novel set in Jamaica, Dennis-Benn explores the world beyond the resorts, as a group of women battle for independence—financially, sexually, and otherwise. (July 19)

To buy: $27; amazon.com

You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott

You can’t put down an Abbott book ‘til it’s finished, so make sure you’ve applied all your sunscreen before beginning her latest, set in the hyper-competitive, thrilling (and disturbing) world of female gymnastics. (July 26)

To buy: $26; amazon.com

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

The 8th installment of the Potter series, based on an original new story by Rowling, will also be a play. Oh yes, and it’s set 19 years after the last book, when Harry is a dad with three kids working at the Ministry of Magic. How could you resist? (July 30)

To buy: $30; amazon.com