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Find more To Beach Their Own
A beach read is anything that takes the reader on a little inner vacation. In other words, for us, “beach” is a state of mind. For some, a beach read is a leisurely stroll through a simple story; for others, it’s a fast-paced, danger-soaked thriller. Or maybe it’s a long, sweeping saga or a book of transporting, incisive poetry. With all that in play, here is our annual selection of beach reads that can be read anywhere, anytime and that are sure to provide readers with just the immersion they crave. We hope this list inspires you to find your own, appeal-based approach to recommending beach reads.
At Your Leisure
You can find lists of nail-biting thrillers anywhere, but what about the reader who wants to slow down and savor a story? Hand them these books: an extraordinary tale of ordinary people on vacation, a divorced couple on a trip to Maine, a tea-serving monk who decides to go off-road, and an enlightening chronicle of the mundane.
The Fortnight in September. By R. C. Sherriff. 2021. Scribner, $16 (9781982184780).
Oh, William! By Elizabeth Strout. 2021. Random, $27 (9780812989434).
A Psalm for the Wild-Built. By Becky Chambers. 2021. Tor.com, $20.99 (9781250236210).
A Walk around the Block: Stoplight Secrets, Mischievous Squirrels, Manhole Mysteries & Other Stuff You See Every Day (And Know Nothing About). By Spike Carlsen. 2020. HarperOne, $16.99 (9780062954763).
Books with a Strong Female Lead
These books all feature main characters you can get behind and root for, whether it’s a librarian-turned-sniper, a civil rights activist, an artist determined to survive a tragic loss, or Black women revealing moments of truth.
The Diamond Eye. By Kate Quinn. 2022. Morrow, $27.99 (9780062943514).
The Firebrand and the First Lady: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice. By Patricia Bell-Scott. 2016. Knopf, $17 (9780679767299).
Leonora in the Morning Light. By Michaela Carter. 2021. Avid Reader, $27 (9781982120511).
Life, I Swear: Intimate Stories from Black Women on Identity, Healing, and Self-Trust. By Chloe Dulce Louvouezo. 2021. HarperDesign, $29.99 (9780063072237).
If you’re looking for a chat with a good friend, but in book form, these conversationally written books will fit the bill, from a deceptively frothy story of sexual freedom in New York, to a contemporary tale of nouveau riche excess, to two collections of essays, one about the many ways women survive, and one about family (and a dance battle with Bruno Mars).
City of Girls. By Elizabeth Gilbert. 2019. Riverhead, $19.95 (9781644730966).
Sex and Vanity. By Kevin Kwan. 2020. Knopf, $17 (9780593081938).
Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To-Guide. By Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. 2019. Forge, $18.99 (9781250759221).
You Got Anything Stronger? By Gabrielle Union. 2021. 256p. Morrow/Dey St., $27.99 (9780062979933).
Cults are more than just a charismatic leader and an eccentric wardrobe, and these reads plum the depths of these fringe groups, from fictional (about environmental utopia, a terror-filled tale of survivors, and a woman searching for her missing sister) to true-crime investigations.
The Ash Family. By Molly Dektar. 2019. 352p. Simon & Schuster, $17 (9781501144875).
Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America’s Most Dangerous Cults. By Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr. 2020. Hanover Square, $28.99 (9781335145239).
The Children of Red Peak. By Craig DiLouie. 2020. Redhook, $16.99 (9780316428132).
Rajneeshpuram: Inside the Cult of Bhagwan and Its Failed American Utopia. By Russell King. 2022. Chicago Review, $30 (9781641604727).
This Might Hurt. By Stephanie Wrobel. Feb. 2022. Berkley, $26 (9780593100080).
Want to get lost in a tale with fabulous world building that follows a large cast of characters over long stretches of time? Try these: multiple generations of African Canadians in Nova Scotia, an epic about a young woman missing in Vietnam, a desert-set fantasy rich with mythology, a widow who remembers her Dakota ways hundreds of years ago, and a decades-long friendship centered around art and love.
Africaville. By Jeffrey Colvin. 2019. Amistad, $16.99 (9780062913715).
Build Your House around My Body. By Violet Kupersmith. 2021. Random, $27 (9780812993325).
Empire of Sand. By Tasha Suri. 2018. Orbit, $15.99 (9780316449717).
The Seed Keeper. By Diane Wilson. 2021. Milkweed, $16 (9781571311375).
Still Life. By Sarah Winman. 2021. 400p. Putnam, $27 (9780593330753).
Tales of Chicagoland
Whether set in the city or the suburbs, these books reveal the many sides of Booklist’s home turf, and include a nail-biting suspense about a serial killer targeting young Black women, a baker and an archaeologist finding love over dinosaur bones, unflinching and incandescent poetry that decries racial violence, and cousins who find home in a suburban family restaurant.
As the Wicked Watch. By Tamron Hall. 2021. Morrow, $27.99 (9780063037038).
Digging Up Love. By Chandra Blumberg. 2022. Amazon/Montlake Romance, $12.95 (9781542033909).
Incendiary Art. By Patricia Smith. 2017. TriQuarterly, $18.95 (9780810134331).
Last Summer on State Street. By Toya Wolfe. 2022. Morrow, $27.99 (9780063209749).
Marrying the Ketchups. By Jennifer Close. 2022. Knopf, $27 (9780525658870).
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