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Whether you’re soaking up the sun on your beach towel or simply lounging in the AC of a vacation home, there are a few summer necessities you may want to consider bringing. On top of swimsuit sets and bottles of MD-approved sunscreen, another summer staple is the coveted summer beach read — and there are some notable fiction titles you should consider grabbing in these last months of summer.
The concept of a “beach read” first emerged in the Victorian era when citizens would bring lighthearted books to entertain themselves as they fled the city for coastal areas, writes Salve Regina University professor Donna Harrington-Leuker notes in her new study, “Books for Idle Hours.” However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that these books would be categorized as “beach reads.” In order to accommodate a new desire to escape the heat of the summer months, the publishing industry started marketing books that were released from June to August as “beach reads,” according to Harrington-Lueker. Today, the category is often interchangeable with “summer reads” — and it’s expanded, referring to books that are ideal for leisurely reading, such as the beach, pool, and even your sofa if you want it to be.
To help narrow your search for your next beach read, we’ve compiled the best fiction books, from the Goodreads’ Hottest New Books of the Season list, which is based on books with the most adds to “Want to Read” shelves. From this list, we pulled eight titles that have amassed a 4.0-star (or higher) average rating from the Goodreads community. From bestselling authors like Casey McQuiston to emerging authors like Emily R. Lawson, below you’ll find plenty of entertaining, compelling books to add to your summer reading list.
Best fiction beach reads
‘One Last Stop’ by Casey McQuiston
- Goodreads average rating: 4.28, more than 30,500 ratings
For those looking for a romantic comedy to take on your next beach trip, consider the work of the New York Times bestselling author of “Red, White & Royal Blue.” The story centers around August, a 23-year-old woman who just moved to New York City. August doesn’t believe cinematic love stories exist in real life – until she meets a charming and mysterious woman on the train who changes her whole perception of love.
‘While We Were Dating’ by Jasmine Guillory
- Goodreads average rating: 4.06, more than 400 ratings
Another romantic comedy to consider is by the New York Times bestselling author, Jasmine Guillory. The novel follows the love affair between marketing director Ben Stephens and movie star Anna Gardiner. The pair’s lighthearted flirtation takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency and they reveal truths about themselves that they’ve never told anyone else. At the end of the novel, Stephens and Gardiner are left with the opportunity to turn their fling into something real.
‘Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead’ by Emily R. Austin
- Goodreads average rating: 4.02, more than 1,400 reviewers
Austin’s debut novel follows an anxious 20-year-old named Gilda as she takes a job as a receptionist at the Catholic church. Gilda, an atheist herself, soon finds herself obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.
‘Falling’ by T.J. Newman
- Goodreads average rating: 4.17, more than 3,900 ratings
Newman’s latest thriller is centered around the kidnapping of the pilot’s family. The kidnappers make a deal with the pilot: Crash the plane and kill all 143 passengers onboard and the pilot’s family can live.
‘A Psalm for the Wild-Built’ by Becky Chambers
- Goodreads average rating: 4.52, more than 400 ratings
A few days ago, Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers released her latest fiction novel that envisions a future where everyone has what they want – with the help of robots. The science fiction novel envisions a sustainably maintained world, in stark contrast to our own reality.
‘She Who Became the Sun’ by Shelley Parker-Chan
- Goodreads average rating: 4.25, more than 730 ratings
Set in 1345 China, the novel follows a brother and sister as they deal with the loss of their parents. While the brother is destined for greatness, society overlooks the daughter. As a violent attack by bandits murders the brother, the sister finds herself using her brother’s identity to take his place in a nearby monastery.
‘The Heart Principle’ by Helen Hoang (pre-order)
- Early reviews on Goodreads: 4.28-star average rating, more than 5000 ratings
- Expected release date: August 31
Violinist Anna Sun finds unexpected fame when one of her videos goes viral on YouTube. As she grapples with this newfound career success, she finds herself struggling with burnout as she attempts to replicate that moment. This internal conflict is compounded with the news that her boyfriend wants an open relationship. As a result, Anna embarks on a string of one-night stands.
‘Nightbitch’ by Rachel Yoder
- Early reviews on Goodreads: 4.08-star average rating, almost 190 ratings
- Expected release date: July 20
Named the Most Anticipated Book of July by Time Magazine, Business Insider and others, this novel follows a stay-at-home mother as she becomes convinced she’s turning into a dog. As her symptoms intensify, she turns to “A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography,” a book she found at the library, to cure herself.