Fall in love with the best beach reads of 2023. Escape into the best summer books to add to your summer reading list.
I often talk about wasting time on overrated bestsellers and wanting to read well-written books.
Yet, not everything you read needs to be thought-provoking and deep. Sometimes it’s just nice to escape into a fun story.
That’s why I’ve decided to compile a list of the best beach reads of 2023. Full of romance and drama and even some delicious fluff, beach reads can be such a nice treat to read while on vacation.
With a little bit of something for everyone, I’m sure you’ll find some fun new books to read this summer if you keep scrolling.
Best Beach Reads 2023
Ten years ago, Bess and Joni spend a summer in Greece with their best friend Evangeline. When Evangeline dies, Bess and Joni find themselves suspects, their brash personalities vilified by the media, but ultimately no charges are filed against them. Since then, Bess has kept the lowest profile possible while Joni has become an outspoken motivational speaker. When Joni’s fiancée disappears, Bess comes out of hiding to support Joni and must face what really happened all those summers ago. A fascinating character study of female friendships, Berman examines how easily our lives can be cherry-picked to paint us white or black, when we are all shades of grey.
Would a list of beach reads in 2023 be complete without a bestselling Emily Henry book? Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they began dating in high school. Except they broke up six months ago and still haven’t told anyone. Thus, at their group’s annual Maine vacation, they find themselves faking a relationship. With the cottage for sale, they don’t want to ruin everyone’s last time there. They’d been together for a decade, how hard can it be to fake another week?
Spoiled rich Nisha Cantor has the perfect life with the best that money can buy until her gym bag is stolen. Then her husband completely cuts her off, forcing her to work as a maid in the five-star hotel where they lived, while she desperately tries to get her possessions back. Meanwhile, downtrodden Sam Kemp is caught in a marriage with a depressed husband who ignores her and in a job with a sexist boss who mistreats her. When Sam tries on a pair of expensive shoes from a gym bag she took by accident, the jolt of confidence inspires her to recognize she deserves more in life.
In 1946, Emilia Winthrop, the daughter of the caretaker, becomes enchanted with Summerly’s new hostess, Olive Rainsford, and the surviving Peabody heirs. When an FBI agent turns up hunting a spy, Emilia’s decisions blow everything apart. Eight years later, the CIA is set to do a prisoner exchange, and Emilia finds once again caught up in the events. A fun historical fiction read that sounds perfect for your summer reading list.
Elsie Hannaway is an adjunct professor teaching theoretical physics by day. But by night, Elsie supplements her income as a fake girlfriend for rich clients. When Elsie’s favorite client turns out to be the brother of Jack Smith, the experimental physicist who ruined her mentor’s career, Elsie’s worlds unexpectedly collide. Elsie is more than prepared for an academic feud with Jack but is completely caught off-guard by the romantic tension between them.
In 1970s Los Angeles, three ambitious women each fight to make it to the top, willing to do whatever reinventing or duplicity it takes to earn success. Evra Scott is the fashion queen of LA by day and the gorgeous girlfriend of Kai de la Faire, Hollywood’s hottest screenwriter. Theodora Leigh won’t let sexism stop her from becoming the hottest movie producer in town. Meanwhile, photographer Bea Dupont watches it all while harboring a longtime crush on Kai.
Popular Beach Reads 2023
A popular food blogger, Hollis Shaw’s life is not as picture-perfect as it seems. When her husband is killed in a car accident after an argument and her daughter pulls away, Hollis decides to try a “Five-Star Weekend.” She gathers her best friend from her teens, 20s, 30s, and midlife together for a weekend on Nantucket. But the perfect weekend turns sour when her friends don’t all get along and her childhood friend invites Hollis’s first love along.
In her early twenties, Fern Brookbanks and Will Baxter spent one perfect day together exploring the city. But when they promise to meet at the lake the next day, Fern shows up and Will doesn’t. Years later, Fern finds herself running her mom’s lakeside resort when Will shows up with an offer to help.
Just as Sadie finds she is a finalist in an art competition, she has to undergo an unexpected brain surgery. Suddenly, Sadie finds she has face blindness, hopefully, just a temporary complication that she is determined to hide. As soon as she meets her new vet, Sadie instantly starts fantasizing about their future wedding. Yet before they can even go on a date, Sadie finds herself increasingly drawn to her annoying neighbor. As Sadie struggles to paint a portrait without being able to see faces, her personal life implodes around her, teaching her love can come from the most unexpected of places.
Bestselling romance writer Fizzy Chen realizes that she’s never actually been in love herself. Forced to make a reality tv show, documentary filmmaker Connor Prince decided that Fizzy would be the perfect romantic lead. Casting all the contestants as romantic stereotypes, Fizzy agrees. Yet, will Fizzy learn that true love actually lies behind the camera?
In 1939, Juliette and Elise become instant best friends in Paris, bonding over being young mothers to little girls. When Elise is targeted by the German occupation, she entrusts her daughter to Juliette. When Elise returns after the war, she finds Juliette’s bookshop reduced to rubble. Neighbors say that Juliette and a young girl survived. But which girl? And where have they gone?
Ever since her aunt’s death, Clementine has put her head down to work harder toward her goals. Living in her late aunt’s apartment, one day she finds herself shocked to find a man in her kitchen. With kind eyes and a seductive Southern drawl, he’s the perfect man for Clementine. Except for the cosmic mistiming: he actually exists seven years ago.
In 1956, Marion learns that being a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall is much more demanding than she imagined. When a bomb explodes in the theater, Marion urges the police to try a new technique: psychological profiling. As she gets caught up in the investigation, Marion realizes that she might be putting herself and those she loves at terrifying risk.
Thrilling Summer Reads
Jack and her husband Gabe are security experts, hired to break into buildings and hack security systems. When a routine assignment goes awry, Jack returns to find her husband dead. Now Jack is the prime suspect and, on the run, she must decide who she can trust while hunting the real killer.
Ten years ago, on the way back from a high school service project, two vans were in a tragic accident and only nine students survived. Yet none of the survivors feels like a hero, each ashamed of a decision they made that fateful night. Every anniversary since, they have met at a North Carolina beach house to check up on each other. Cassidy Brent has tried to distance herself from the other survivors, but when she finds out one has recently died, she finds herself drawn back in. When the group realizes that someone has been talking, they begin to suspect each other, and Cassidy wonders if one of them would go to great lengths to keep them all quiet. A slow-burn mystery, The Only Survivors emanates a tense atmosphere while slowly exposing the weight secrets have on our lives.
The safe community of Stanhope is shocked when nine-year-old Avery Wooler goes missing. Hours before her disappearance, Avery’s dad unexpectedly found her home early from school and blew up at her, already angry because he just ended his longstanding affair. Now Avery’s neighbors want to spill the beans, but it seems that everyone here is lying.
In a well-off neighborhood, four families gather together for a pleasant summer barbecue but are thrown when the perfect hostess explodes at her young son’s mistake. Hours later, the boy falls out a bedroom window in the middle of the night. While he lies critically injured in the hospital, his mother refuses to speak and the friendships quickly being to unravel.
On her forty-fifth birthday, Alix Summers runs into Josie Fair, who happens to also be celebrating her forty-fifth birthday. Soon after Alix runs into Josie again, and the two become friends. Josie thinks her interesting life would be a great subject for Alix’s true crime podcast. Josie manipulates her way into Alix’s life and home before vanishing. Suddenly, Alix finds unexpectedly finds herself the subject of her own podcast and must uncover Josie’s dark secrets to protect her family.
Darby, Rhea, and Mary Beth are determined to get back the parts of their lives they’ve lost to motherhood. But their plans are derailed when a strange medical condition at the Little Academy Preschool has their toddlers craving blood. When the preschool teacher is found dead, suddenly all the toddlers, and their mothers, are suspects in this thriller that explores the expectations we have for mothers.
More Summer Reads
Comedy writer Sally Milz has given up on finding love, channeling herself into her work writing for a television late-night live comedy show. When her average-looking male coworker starts dating a celebrity, Sally decides to write a sketch about how that would never happen for an average-looking woman. As she works on the sketch with Noah Brewster, this week’s pop music host, she realizes that sparks are flying and her life is looking more and more like a romantic comedy.
The Stockton family of Brooklyn Heights has lived off their connections and old money for generations, firmly placing them amongst New York’s one-percenters. Darley, the eldest daughter, traded her job for motherhood but has lost herself in the process. Meanwhile, Georgiana, the youngest, finds herself facing forbidden love, forcing her to choose what she really wants. And Sasha, the daughter-in-law, feels like an outsider after marrying into wealth that she could never have comprehended. Pineapple Street follows all three women, giving a witty look at modern life.
Failed penniless screenwriter Advika Srinivasan’s dreams all seem to come true when she meets award-winning film producer Julian Zelding. Despite the over 40 year age difference, Advika is quickly swept away into a whirlwind courtship and marriage. When Julian’s first wife dies, she leaves a clause in her will for a million dollars to Julian’s “current child bride” if she will divorce Julian. As Advika starts to explore Julian’s past and hear his ex-wives’ stories, she hatches a plan to free herself from Julian once and for all.
In 2004, The Daydreams was the most popular teen show on the air, until it all exploded during the live season two finale. Each star went their own way – Kat, a DC lawyer; Liana, a bored celebrity wife; Summer, the cautionary tale, and Noah, the golden boy who rose to even larger fame. With a reunion special looming, old secrets come alive and the truth will out in what is sure to be a ratings hit.
Five years ago, Geeta’s no-good husband simply walked away and she never heard from him again. However, in her small Indian village, the rumor persists that Geeta killed him. Geeta doesn’t mind since no one wants to mess with a black widow; until women start asking Geeta for advice on how to off their own husbands and they won’t take no for an answer. Heartwarming and hilarious all at once, The Bandit Queens has a well-rounded story with witty characters and a dark sense of humor that makes for an enjoyable, yet thought-provoking, read.
Against all odds, Carol Donnelly has broken the gender-barrier to become a legendary female surfer. Yet her daughters, Mindy and Ginger, struggle to deal with their unconventional childhood and their mother’s physical and emotional absence. As they grow up, their lives start to diverge. Mindy becomes a surfer and gets swept into celebrity while Ginger embraces the counterculture of 1960s California.
Nonfiction Beach Reads 2023
The second son of King Charles III and his first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry has always known he was the spare prince. Traumatized by his mother’s death, Harry struggled to live such a public life, constantly plagued by the ever-hungry paparazzi. In his highly anticipated memoir, Harry discusses his life and his public falling out with the royal family, feeling they did not support his wife enough when she was hounded by the British press. A compelling read, Spare shines on harsh light on Harry’s lifelong battle with the paparazzi.
Lauren Fleshman is one of the most decorated distance runners in the United States. In Good for a Girl, Fleshman tells of how she fell in love with running as a girl and shares her own running journey. Yet, Good for a Girl isn’t just a memoir. It’s a powerful look at how competitive sports are designed for men and boys and routinely fail female athletes, leading to injuries, eating disorders, and mental health issues. Fleshman uses her personal experiences to bravely address a larger narrative about women in sports that is much needed to make the world a better place for our daughters.
Both vulnerable and hilarious, Jennette McCurdy’s tell-all memoir sends a poignant message of the dangers of child acting. McCurdy brilliantly embraces her inner child by describing how desperately she wanted to please her mom by acting, even if it lead to an eating disorder and a chaotic relationship with her family that she didn’t fully understand until attending therapy after her mother’s death.
Poet Maggie Smith never imagined that her career success would lead to the deterioration of her marriage. In her lyrical memoir, Smith tells her tale of heartbreak and rebuilding as she is determined to become a fierce mother even as she finds herself. More than just her story, You Could Make This Place Beautiful contemplates modern womanhood, traditional gender roles, patriarchy’s role in society, and the challenges facing women today.
In a world that ascribes thinness as a value, by kindergarten, children already believe that fat is bad and, by middle school, more than a quarter of students have tried a diet. After forty years of a war on obesity, people aren’t any thinner than before. Fat Talk discusses the daily onslaught of fatphobia and body shaming that children receive and shares strategies that families can have to discuss weight, health, and self-worth.
Which Beach Reads of 2023 are You Most Excited to Read?
What do you think? What beach reads did I forget to add to my list? Did I include any overhyped authors? As always, let me know in the comments!
More Summer Reading Lists: