Nothing says ‘vacation’ like sprawling out on a beautiful beach with a cold drink and an amazing book. The best beach reads are books that captivate you enough to completely block out the outside world — a vacation from your vacation. Sultry romances, plot-driven page-turners, mysteries, and thrillers are usually the genres that suit the white sand experience. If you have an upcoming trip somewhere tropical, check out our list of the best beach reads to take your vacation game to the next level.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Even if you’ve seen the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel is one of the most well-written thrillers of the modern era and will keep you glued to every page. A U.S Marshall is sent to an eerily bleak island to investigate the disappearance of a patient from an asylum for the criminally insane. Through spooky interviews and research, the situation becomes murkier and murkier as the Marshall starts dealing with issues with his own past. With a kind of Truman Show-esque, is-everyone-in-on-it feel and a shocking twist ending, Shutter Island will keep you glued.
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
After realizing the fact that their marriage could last another 60+ years, Sylvie and Dan get to work on spicing up their relationship. Project Surprise Me is their invented game that includes everything from unexpected gifts to unusual experiences and scandalous photos. The outcomes are sometimes funny, sometimes underwhelming, and borderline relationship-ending. Benign surprises become shocking truths, and they both start to wonder if one really ever knew the other. If you’re on the marriage track, or even just toyed with the idea of a lifelong partner, reading this book will be a great beachside page-turner.
Looking for a white-sand paradise to go with your novel? Discover the best beach destinations around the world.
Indecent by Corinne Sullivan
A salacious relationship between teacher and student — it’s an affair we know all too well. Stories of honest, everyday people willing to put their lives and careers in jeopardy for a classroom fantasy are inevitably attractive. Corinne Sullivan’s book Indecent gives us Imogene, an introverted recent graduate who takes a teaching job at an upscale boys boarding school. She’s inexperienced — in both teaching and boys — and falls into a thing with Adam, the most popular and mysterious student. With everything on the line, Imogene has us explore questions of morality, sexuality, gender, and power that make this book much more than a raunchy read.
Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
Most people know Murakami for his 1Q84, his 1,000-page epic that you could read in years, but Dance Dance Dance is his shorter thriller that deals with things like nihilism, vapid American consumerism, midlife crises, and a search for a long-lost love that travels into places both real and imaginary. In quintessential Murakami postmodern fashion, the plot isn’t straightforward, the characters are confusing (for example, “Sheep Man”), and meanings are often hidden. Readers hop on the back of the 34-year-old unnamed narrator, an unhappy writer as he chases his past and realizes about the changing nature of love.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
In a not-so-run-of-the-mill summer romance, the Kiss Quotient is the tale of an awkward fling between Stella, an autistic math genius and econometrician, and Michael, a lively and animated escort. Stella’s talents have earned her far more money than she knows what to do with, but what she has in money, she lacks in dating experience. Stella hires Michael to… well, show her the ropes around the bedroom. There’s lots of fumbling and bumbling, mental blockades due to her condition (kissing cues images of pilot fish cleaning sharks’ teeth), and overthinking. In time, their strictly-professional relationship develops and starts to weirdly make sense. For a steamy romance that’s not too self-indulgent and full of jokes, grab the Kiss Quotient for your beach read.