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20 end-of-summer beach reads for 2019

Looking for the perfect book for Labor Day weekend? Read on.
Woman reading a book by the lake
Labor Day is officially your last lazy summer weekend to get lost in a good book.deimagine / Getty Images

What goes best with a comfortable lawn chair and an open-ended, late summer afternoon? Besides a cold glass of lemonade (or a glass of rosé), a good book is all you need to complete this picture-perfect situation.

Luckily, there’s a wide variety of excellent novels and nonfiction options to add to your reading list for the final dog days of summer. No matter what type of book you’re looking for, we guarantee you’ll find your final great summer read among these picks, from dark thrillers to historical fiction and touching memoirs.

Fiction Beach Reads

"The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead returns this summer with a novel that explores a dark time in America’s history. As a young black man in the Jim Crow South, Elwood Curtis makes a minor mistake that ends up costing him gravely, landing him in an abusive reform school. In order to survive, he’ll have to join forces with another boy at the school and the decisions they make will change their lives — and history —forever.

"Montauk: A Novel" by Nicola Harrison

The perfect book to sweep you away at the end of the summer, this debut novel takes place in a remote beach town at the end of Long Island in 1938. The plot follows Beatrice Bordeaux, a New York City socialite who’s conflicted between the fancy life she has — including a posh summer in a ritzy Montauk hotel — and the life she truly wants. As her husband toils away in the city, she meets a man at the beach who forces her to rethink everything.

"The Nine" by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

Hannah Webber’s fears of never having a child were banished when she gave birth to her son, Sam. Seemingly smothering him throughout his childhood, both Hannah and Sam are excited about his acceptance into a prestigious boarding school in New England as it’s a chance for Sam to gain some independence. But Sam’s exciting new lease on life is upset when he finds evidence of sexual misconduct on campus. This intricate read centered around a scandalous boarding school comes just in time for the back-to-school season.

"We Came Here to Forget: A Novel" by Andrea Dunlop

From the author of the hit "She Regrets Nothing", this rollicking read follows a former Olympian athlete. Like other athletes, American Olympic skier Katie Cleary must start over after her career disappears. But she decides to take a more drastic route, escaping to Buenos Aires and starting her life over from scratch as “Liz.” Chapters alternate between Katie and Liz as we watch as her old life unravels — and her new life began.

"A Stranger on the Beach" by Michele Campbell

Best-selling author Michele Campbell’s latest thriller is the perfect read for suspense junkies. Caroline’s life is seemingly perfect, until she finds out her husband has a dangerous secret. As her marriage begins to fall apart, she finds herself cozying up to a local bartender and before she knows it, he’s obsessed with her and is willing to do anything to win her love. Everything comes to a head when her husband disappears and she gets pinned for his murder.

"The Wedding Party" by Jasmine Guillory

A pick from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club, the third novel in a romance series picks up as the wedding of Maddie and Theo’s mutual friend is quickly approaching. Even though the two have never gotten along, Maddie and Theo vow to put their problems aside for their best friend’s wedding. But after spending a night together, they end up secretly seeing each other behind their best friend’s back — and as you might guess, mischief ensues.

"My Lovely Wife" by Samantha Downing

In this dark debut thriller, Millicent and her husband decide it’s time to liven up their 15-year marriage. But as it turns out, this couple has much more in mind than simply to plan a relaxing vacation or schedule a sexy date night to spice things up. Instead, they hatch a plan that involves murder to keep their love alive.

"The Bookish Life of Nina Hill" by Abbi Waxman

As an only child myself, I’ll be honest: I’m tired of the “lonely only” character trope. But in this book, I’ll admit it works perfectly. Nina is a self-proclaimed introvert and the only daughter of a single mother working in a bookstore. Yet when she discovers an entire extended family she never knew she had, her quiet life is disrupted — and becomes even stranger than fiction.

"The Stationery Shop" by Marjan Kamali

Set in chaotic 1950s Tehran, Roya likes to escape to her favorite book and stationery shop to get away from it all — which is where she meets Bahman. Before she knows it, the two have fallen deeply in love, making plans to marry. But on the eve of their marriage, violence breaks out in the city and Bahman is nowhere to be found. It isn’t until more than 60 years later that she finally gets the answers she needed about his disappearance.

"The Enlightenment of Bees" by Rachel Linden

If you love feel-good novels, this is the perfect book to take with you to the beach this weekend. At age 26, Mia West has her whole life figured out — or so she thinks. When her boyfriend tells her he needs space, her life is thrown into chaos. When she embarks on a world-wide trip with her roommate, she discovers new cultures and meets new people, which opens her eyes to how much is really out there. By the time she returns to Seattle, she’ll have to decide about what she really wants out of the rest of her life.

"Speaking of Summer: A Novel" by Kalisha Buckhanon

The title sounds a lot more flippant than this novel actually is. One winter night in Harlem, Autumn Spencer’s twin sister, Summer, disappears after going to the rooftop and is never seen again. Facing indifferent authorities, Autumn seeks to find out what happened to her sister on her own — while also dealing with the grief and aftermath of her mother’s death.

"We Never Told" by Diana Altman

This novel follows siblings Sonya and Joan, who’ve always known their mother was unhappy, despite her glamorous life. But when she leaves her young daughters to go to Kentucky and seek treatment for a mysterious tumor in her stomach, they are left without answers and motherless for four months. By the time Sonya finally learns the truth, she begins to think that her mother’s secret is one better kept private.

"The Last Book Party" by Karen Dukess

Aspiring writer Eve Rosen believes her dreams are finally coming true when she gets the opportunity to work for famed New Yorker writer Henry Grey. As his research assistant, she finds herself completely immersed in the literary world and the glamorous life she’s always wanted. But as she spends more time with those in the industry, she comes to find that nothing is what it seems and that she may not be equipped for the life she’s always dreamed of after all.

"The Runaway" by Hollie Overton

When LAPD forensic psychologist Becca Ortiz agreed to foster teenage runaway Ash, she vowed to do everything in her power to give her a good home and keep her safe. But everything changes when Ash disappears, sending Becca on a mission to find her and bring her back home. Traversing through the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, Becca’s convinced that Ash has returned to her old ways with a man who has done nothing but make her life more difficult. If you love crime thrillers, Hollie Overton’s The Runaway is the perfect book to binge before summer comes to an end.

"Her Daughter’s Mother" by Daniela Petrova

If you’re a fan of thrillers like "Girl on the Train" or "The Wife Between Us", you’ll need to check out this new novel. From a distance, Lana Stone starts following her "anonymous" egg donor through the streets of NYC to learn more about her. But after the two unexpectedly meet face-to-face, they become friends. But when Katya, the donor, goes missing, Lana starts digging into her past in an effort to find out what happened, uncovering secrets she never wanted to know in the process.

"The Last Resort" by Marissa Stapley

On the surface you might think this is a laughable rom-com: Couples arrive at the Harmony Resort, a beautiful retreat led by two therapists who seem to have a picture-perfect marriage, in an attempt to salvage their relationships heading for disaster. But when a tropical storm hits and traps the guests in the resort, hidden secrets start to bubble up and drama and intrigue ensue.

Nonfiction Beach Reads

"Love You Like the Sky" by Sarah Neustadter

Looking for more than just a typical beach read? You might want to check out this uplifting self-help book for anyone overcoming loss and grief this summer. After surviving the suicide of her beloved, psychologist Sarah Neustadter shares her most intimate and heartbreaking moments following his death to help answer questions about why these things happen and how to get through it.

"No Happy Endings: A Memoir" by Nora McInerny

McInerny’s life was forever changed when she lost her husband, father and unborn second child all in the span of one year, which she wrote about in her previous bestselling memoir. Amidst the heartbreak, she began to see the ways in which new life blooms from tragedy. Now in this follow up memoir, she’s remarried and a mother of four. Nora is an expert when it comes to loss and starting over and readers will enjoy picking up where her story left off.

"Three Women" by Lisa Taddeo

Journalist Lisa Taddeo spent eight years traveling across the country to get a better understanding of sexual desire — something everyone experiences but rarely talks about. Here, she uncovers the sometimes-shocking stories of three diverse women who are all facing their own dilemmas with desire. From Indiana to North Dakota and the Northeast, this highly anticipated nonfiction book tells an important story about women and the complex lives they lead.

"The Yellow House: A Memoir" by Sarah M. Broom

When Sarah Broom’s mother purchased a home in New Orleans in 1961, everything seemed to be on the up and up for her family. With 12 children in the home and her mother newly remarried, the promise of a happy family and new beginning finally felt within reach. But then Sarah’s father dies, leaving her mother to not only raise her children, but also keep up the hard-to-maintain home. In "The Yellow House", Broom does her best to reconcile her past trauma with the house despite the fact that it was obliterated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This memoir details the history of the Broom family and one of America’s most neglected areas, New Orleans East.

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