For those of you who wait until a vacay, beach day or cottage weekend to get your read on, I’ve got some great news: there is no shortage of beach reads to get lost in while soaking up the sun.
But this isn’t your mother’s reading list round-up. This list features books ranging from just-released titles to some that have been out for the past few years but have left an impression. They vary in genre but are similar in the sense that they’re all not-putdown-able. Another common thread: they all focus on how we navigate relationships with others and with ourselves in a post-digital world. You will see yourself in some of these characters. You’ll learn how to crawl yourself out of a not-so-great relationship, and your eyes will open to how fictional social media really is and why you should never buy into the curated social feeds that may get a rise out of you. Here are 7 page-turning beach reads to pack on your next midsummer adventure.
Campaign Widows by Aimee Agresti
This fun-to-read novel is about three women and a man in Washington, D.C., whose significant others are all working the campaign trail for the next Presidential election. When the characters cross paths, they establish a close bond as they cope with relationship struggles, their jobs (or lack thereof) and how to put their best face forward to keep up appearances during a hotly contested election season.
Do It For Me by Eliza Kennedy
At the beginning of this playful novel, Raney, a partner at a prestigious law firm in New York, finds out her “perfect husband” and father of her twin girls, who is a known television personality and author, has cheated on her. As he’s about to board a flight back to Manhattan, she calls him to ask point blank if he had an affair. When he admits to cheating, she hangs up the phone and springs into action, calling upon her eager-to-please paralegals and office staff to help do her dirty work. By the time her husband lands in Manhattan, his reputation has been ruined, their house is sold, his credit cards are cancelled, and more. This laugh-out-loud read shows the teeter-tottering of Raney’s mind and as she spirals into chaos during a mid-life crisis.
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
This book is a modern-day re-telling of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. This dark, twisty tale focusses on a “nobody” from New Hampshire who moves to New York City and meets a beautiful, well-connected, wealthy woman named Lavinia, who takes her in, takes her out, covers their bills and introduces her to a world of glitz and glamour. But the more time she spends with Lavinia, she starts to see the cracks. Lavinia is a selfish narcissist who only keeps friends around as long as they make her feel loved and pretty and totally in control. Louise tries her best to keep up, but the one time she cracks, the whole story goes dark. I read this one within two days and couldn’t put it down (except for when I had to take a break because of one particularly graphic and disturbing scene.)
Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Released last summer, this novel is the CEO of a couture wedding gown company starts who ventures into a whirlwind of over-the-top workout and wellness trends after gaining some weight. Her business partner – after seeing her in a Page Six-type photo, eating in the front row of a fashion show – tells her she has to lose 30 pounds or she’s out of the company because she’s ruining the brand’s image. And so, Janey decides she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her old body back. The ‘whatever’ it takes is a sartorial look at all the fitness and food crazes we all tend to follow with little to no evidence that they are actually good for us. Each method and trend is more ridiculous than the next, which is actually rather eye opening as a reader. It gives some perspective on how quick we are to seek band-aid solutions, even though we’re actually better off embracing our bodies and our true selves. Don’t be fooled by how thick this book is — you’ll be done it in a weekend.
Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
This short book takes you into the world of celeb chefs and, like Fitness Junkie, is a sartorial look at what it means to be your own brand. From creating an “authentic” back story, to curating your brand and what you share on social, this book trolls the trends we’ve been schooled to think are the secret to success. The book starts with Sunshine Mackenzie, a celeb chef, who wakes up with her husband on the morning of her 35th birthday. By the end of that dreadful day, she has lost her husband, her job, her friends, and her reputation. This book follows Sunshine as she heads back to her roots to find herself. which is a tale as old as time, but Laura Dave makes it fresh by centering the story in modern-day chef culture. I caught myself laughing out loud at Dave’s references to pop culture and food trends we all seem to fall for. More than a book about losing everything and working to get it back, or about food culture, this is a book about social media, and how we curate our social feeds to present a specific image, one that often isn’t true to one’s authentic character.
How Hard Can it Be by Allison Pearson
From The New York Times bestselling author of I Don’t Know How She Does It — (which which Oprah Winfrey described as a “national anthem for working mothers,”) comes this sequel, seven years later. Main character Kate Reddy is now almost 50, perimenopausal and is trying — god is she trying! — to raise two teenage daughters and get back into the workforce, all the while her midlife-crisis-afflicted husband quits his job and spends his days cycling. The book starts with Kate’s 16-year-old daughter confessing that the “belfie” (butt-selfie) she shared on Snapchat with one of her besties has now gone viral, meanwhile, Kate has no idea what Snapchat is, or anything about the digital world, or how to navigate this situation. From the get-go, the book is hilarious and ever-so-charming. You don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this one, nor do you have to be a mom. I highly recommend this one to women who are trying to juggle a slew of things, while hustling hard to get it all done, all whilst playing it cool on the outside while feeling insecure as ever on the inside.
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
This #1 New York Times Bestseller (!) was Reese Witherspoon’s June Book Club Pick. Witherspoon dubbed this book “the perfect beach read,” and she also bought the rights to turn it into a movie (but of course). This book has all the elements you’d want in a psychological thriller: romance, crime, drama, a beautiful setting, and twists and turns that you’ll never see coming. The book follows a couple who are honeymooning in Bora Bora, and all is going swimmingly, until they find, yup, something in the water while scuba diving. Dubbed by many as ‘the book of the summer,’ this book pulls you in from the get-go and keeps you thinking well after the last page.
Main image via Instagram/@dc_booknerd