10 of the Best Beach Reads to Lose Yourself in This Summer
The weather is changing, the leaves are green, and the public pools of every city are filling to capacity, meaning it’s officially our favorite time of year: beach read season.
Beach reads may have had a somewhat unserious reputation in the past, but this is 2023; a book can be thoughtful and complex without sacrificing fun, and really, if there’s any better summer pastime than whiling away the hours with a good book, I’ve yet to find it. (My only exception? Books that are explicitly about murder and/or crime. I read those in winter, as needed.) Below, find a list of the books we’re most excited to throw into our tote bags and read somewhere warm this summer.
Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell (March 7)
This one isn’t the easiest read (plan to read it before your nap in the sun, not after), but it picks up the thread of Odell’s previous book, How to Do Nothing, and encourages the reader to experience time in ways that exist outside of a capitalism-enforced attention economy. What could be a better summertime message?
Paris: The Memoir by Paris Hilton (March 14)
You know you want to read it, so why not grab a pink-jacketed copy and toss it in your beach bag? There’s plenty of celebrity fluff in this long-awaited memoir from consummate socialite Hilton, but there’s also a surprising amount of heart.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld (April 4)
Nobody does a beach-read romp like Sittenfeld, and Romantic Comedy is another in her string of must-reads. In it, comedy writer Sally Milz vows to swear off love and focus on her craft at the SNL-type late-night sketch show where she works…that is, until she meets pop star Noah Brewster when he signs on to host, and she starts to wonder if he could be her partner in more than sketch writing.
Oh My Mother!: A Memoir in Nine Adventures by Connie Wang (May 9)
Oh My Mother!: A Memoir in Nine Adventures
The stories that journalist and essayist Connie Wang weaves about her mother, Qing Li, are extremely funny (picture the two of them on edibles in Amsterdam and losing it at a Magic Mike strip show), but they’re also full of love and empathy, making them the perfect thing to gift your mom (or get for yourself) this summer.
Quietly Hostile: Essays by Samantha Irby (May 16)
Warning: Do not read these essays, or anything else by Samantha Irby, in public if you’re not willing to freak people out with uncontrollable laughter. Quietly Hostile is as funny as fans of Irby’s work would expect, diving into the experiences of stressing at red-carpet premieres and trying to train a “deranged” pandemic dog with equal aplomb.
Social Engagement by Avery Carpenter Forrey (May 23)
Millennial wedding culture gets a much-needed skewering in this alternately light and biting novel, following a young woman as she sorts through the wreckage of her brand-new marriage and reckons with a secret that has the potential to upend her Upper East Side-dwelling best friend and roommate Virginia’s swanky life.
Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum (May 23)
Emma Rosenblum's Bad Summer People is set on New York's Upper East Side and Fire Island—and very much filled with the milieu you’d expect: dads who speak in financial terms even when they’re discussing their wives’ performance on the slopes of Aspen, moms whose ability to express genuine emotion is limited by how much time has passed since they last had their Botox touchup. It’s a novel of family and romantic foibles, with a murder mystery thrown in to boot—juicy in more ways than one.
Lucky Girl by Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu (May 25)
New York City in the 1990s is the setting for this carefully woven and compelling story about Soila, a young Kenyan woman who leaves her life in Nairobi behind for college, finds romance with an artist her mother wouldn’t like, and discovers that belonging—as well as love, identity, and the meaning of a life lived well—is more complicated when your life is split between two continents.
Banyan Moon by Thao Thai (June 13)
This book might be a little heavy for a poolside page-through, depending on your feelings about complex intergenerational family dynamics, but it’s well worth reading nonetheless. In it, protagonist Ann Tran goes home to see her mother Huơng after the loss of her beloved grandmother Minh, and finds that dealing with the property Minh has left them—the Banyan House—is more challenging than either could have imagined.
Congratulations, the Best is Over! by R. Eric Thomas (August 8)
Congratulations, the Best is Over!
The bestselling author of Here for It is back with another laugh-out-loud funny and compulsively readable collection of essays about going home again—in his case, to his long-avoided hometown of Baltimore—and trying to build a so-called “normal” life after inhabiting the strange state of Internet virality.
Originally Appeared on Vogue