Dive into these must-read books perfect for vacation or anytime

Spring is here, the weather is getting warmer, and the dream of long beach days is on the horizon. Even if long beach days aren’t on your horizon, there is still the possibility of some long, wistful days spent with… a book. We’ve all heard the term “beach read,” and although its origin has never been pinpointed, there is a by-name association that beach read books are light, fluffy, and vacation-themed. We’d like to think they’re moving beyond that; to anything you can dive into and get lost in.

If your to-be-read list isn’t growing as quickly as usual, we’re here to help. Here are a bunch of books to dive into—from social commentaries that manage to be fun to good, old-fashioned love stories.

Penguin Books

Self Care: A Novel by Leigh Stein


If you've ever scrolled through Instagram and wondered if wellness influencers really exist the way they do on screen in real life, Self Care by Leigh Stein is for you—because let's face it; we all know they don't. It's about two female cofounders of a wellness start-up. Maren Gelb is on a forced digital detox, thanks to a viral tweet that is not being very well received. Her partner, Devin Avery, is the outward projection of insufferable perfection, but inwardly—a mess. It's a quick, readable romp about reckoning with yourself when your "brand" is all about... self care.

happy place is one of the best beach reads for 2023
Penguin Books

Happy Place by Emily Henry


If your love language is stories about smart moody men and even smarter, moodier women finding each other in this loveless world—Emily Henry is the author for you. Henry is a "beach read" master who delivers intelligent, fun dialogue and main characters you want to hang out with (or sleep with). It's the perfect recipe for a day in the sun with your head buried in a book. A Happy Place finds newly-broken-up couple Harriet and Wyn struggling to keep their game faces intact while they spend a week with their friends in a cottage in Maine—a getaway that's been a yearly tradition in their friends group for the last decade. They haven't told their friends about their breakup yet, and faking it for the week is turning out to be a little harder than they thought it would. Witty banter? Check! Sexual tension? Check! Totally relatable end-of-relationship crap? Check!

Sunshine Nails is one of the best beach reads for summer 2023
Atria Books

Sunshine Nails: A Novel by Mai Nguyen


Vietnamese refugees Debbie and Phil Tran have carved out a comfortable life for themselves in Toronto thanks to their family nail salon. But when a flashy nail salon chain opens across the street, their world turns upside down. Their landlord is threatening to jack up the rent and they are daily reminded that the garish competition is winning. When their daughter returns home after a messy breakup, the family comes together to dream of ways to take their rivals down. So much thought went into crafting these characters and telling a more and more common gentrification story—you'll truly be hanging on every word to see how everything unfolds for this family. Pre-order your copy today (releases on July 4th, 2023).

Romantic Comedy is one of the best beach reads of 2023
Random House

Romantic Comedy: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld


Sally Milz is a sketch comedy writer for a show that airs every Saturday night. Sally's happy with her career and totally satisfied with the occasional random hook-up—let's just say she's kinda given up on her search for love. When one of her co-writers starts dating a glamorous actress who guest hosts the show, Sally wonders why random, totally mediocre men are constantly landing incredibly hot women way out of their league—and why the same doesn't seem to hold true for women. That is, until super-hot popstar Noah Brewster is the musical guest one week, and he and Sally immediately hit it off. Romantic Comedy is as much a relevant social commentary as it is a blast to read—and that's hard to pull off.

Random House

Once More With Feeling: A Novel by Elissa Sussman


From the novelist who brought us Funny You Should Ask (which you should also totally read), comes the sophomore love story Once More, With Feeling. Katee Rose thinks she's living the dream as a famous pop star dating another wildly famous pop star, but her whole world implodes when she hooks up with someone who has always been her friend—and also happens to be her boyfriend's bandmate. Now she's living her life as plain old Kathleen Rosenberg and she's fine with it, that is, until an opportunity arises to thrust her back into the spotlight. An opportunity brought to her by Cal Kirby, the "friend" that derailed her entire life. This manages to be a relatable story about being human, the choices we make, and the feelings we can't deny. Pre-order your copy today (releases on May 30th, 2023).


You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir by Maggie Smith


"This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful..." ends Maggie Smith's wildly well-known poem about the state of the world and raising children in it. The stunning words now represent the title of her new memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful, widely regarded as one of the most anticipated books of 2023. This is not a light book. It's heartbreaking and eye opening, and underline-worthy. It's about life and marriage and family—and expertly manages the most difficult lesson; that life is never what you expect and harder than you imagine. It's an instant New York Times bestseller, and worth all the hype.

The Charm Offensive is a best beach read for 2023

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun


If you love a certain bachelor-based reality TV show and you love a good love story, The Charm Offensive is for you. Dev is a man who's always believed in fairy tales, so it makes sense that he produces the biggest fairy tale of all; a long-running TV show that brings people together. When disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie becomes the show's bachelor, Dev wonders if he'll be able to get the quiet, stiff, anxious man in front of him camera ready—and ready to find a woman. Turns out Dev and Charlie have more fireworks than any of the contestants on the show, and what develops is a super cute love story all about who makes you feel safe and how to find what you truly need.


You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty: A Novel by Akwaeke Emezi


Feyi lost the love of her life five years ago in a tragic car accident and is desperately ready to learn how to enjoy something again. She's putting the pieces of her life back together; she's a successful artist, she has a ride-or-die best friend, and she's dipping her toes in the world of casual hook-ups. She's not ready to move on in any real way, until she meets someone who whisks her away for a whirlwind summer luxury trip. But the trip takes a dangerous turn when she falls deeply for someone who isn't who she came with—and might be the most complicated person she could have fallen in love with. No one writes like Emezi, and this book is stunning and satisfying. Pre-order a copy today (releases on June 8th, 2023).


Killers of a Certain Age: A Novel by Deanna Raybourn


Described as "James Bond meets the Golden Girls," this fun story does not disappoint. Four women have spent their lives as the deadliest group of assassins out there, but when they reach retirement age, they soon figure out that the organization that's been employing them has some very permanent plans for their future. They have to rely on experience and each other to get themselves out of this kill-or-be-killed situation. You'll devour this book for the action and appreciate it for the social commentary regarding just when exactly it is that women become disposable.

Related: 10 Books So Good You’ll Cry When They’re Finished

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