Top Books to Read at the Beach

Woman with her back to the camera sitting on the beach.

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A good beach book is engaging and a quick enough read that you can finish before your sunscreen wears off. Beach reading isn't necessarily literature, but it will entertain. This list can help you choose an entertaining read that fits your personality, whether you like romance, thrillers or something smart but not too heavy. With these beach books in hand, all you need to remember is your towel and sunscreen.

Beach Books With Likable Detectives

Woman reading a book on the beach.

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Serial mysteries are great beach reading for a number of reasons: 1) they are fast-paced, 2) they can often be found inexpensively in mass market paperback, and 3) if you like the first novel, there are usually several others in the same formula that you can read.

Try a ​popular mystery series. These will appeal to you if you like authors like Janet Evanovich and James Patterson. My favorite on the list is by Charlaine Harris.

Modern Romance on the Beach

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" audio book cover.

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Books like "Bridget Jones' Diary" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic" are light, comic choices that provide romance and relief for modern women. If you enjoy these kinds of novels, check some ​great chick-lit books. My favorite is "Savannah Breeze" by Mary Kay Andrews.

Reclaiming Your Childhood in the Sand

Cropped cover of "Stardust."

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Some young adult books — books that have interesting stories and compelling characters — are not only good reads for teens, they can also be very enjoyable for adults. If you want to remember what it was like to be young and let your imagination soar, try these young adult books. My favorite is "Stardust" by Neil Gaiman.

Smart Beach Reads

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" cropped book cover.

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Beach reading, by definition, is not very heavy. It is difficult to contemplate weighty content with sand between your toes and a frisbee flying over your head. But just because you need a fun book for the beach doesn't mean you have to read something completely fluffy. ​These books were some of the best from the past few years, but they are also light enough to throw in your beach bag. My pick from the list: ​"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society."

Books to Make You Sweat

"Matters of the Heart" cropped book cover.

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There is a fine line between romance novels that make you sigh and those that cross the line into an area that is too cheesy or sexual. If you like reading romance, my suggestion is to stick to the masters of the genre: Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, and Nicholas Sparks. They each release one or more books per year, and they have many older books that you can find in the library or mass market paperback for next to nothing. 

Books to Make You Cry

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" cropped book cover.

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Admit it: You like to watch Lifetime movies, you listen to sappy love songs, and you tear up at greeting card commercials. Every now and then, we all need a good cry. There are two sure ways to achieve this with page-turning books that will go well in your beach bag: 1) read a ​Jodi Picoult Book or 2) try books that are Like Jodi Picoult's. My pick: "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards.