By Bre Pickens
There may be some of you who are wondering: what exactly is a beach read? Any book can be a beach read but the quintessential beach read will be one that is easy, light hearted, fun, and typically has ~romance~. It’s a book that’s easy to put down and pick back up, with minimal reminders needed for what just happened making it the ultimate travel companion. Some alternate names may include easy reads, light reads or airplane books.
Finding a good beach read is like finding the perfect pair of shorts. There’s probably a lot of trial and error, and because every person has their own unique checklist of what they want to see, at the end of day a good recommendation for either isn’t without its difficulties. My list for shorts is concise and includes being loose enough to escape the dreaded camel toe, a high waist to cover my belly button and the provision of minimal chub rub (because who are we fooling chafing is just bound to happen in the heat of summer). My list for what I want in a beach read is a little harder to summarize, as it changes much like the shape of an actual beach
throughout the day. Since my literal job is to sell books my job is also to read books. Which means that I do appreciate when a book is nuanced, but tropes are the bread of butter of the beach read genre so it’s just about finding which authors bring something new to these stereotypes so that I don’t find myself flinging a book across a room yelling in a dramatic fashion.
“When books are your life—or in my case, your job—you get pretty good at guessing where a story is going,” Emily Henry wrote as her opening line in her newest title Book Lovers and I couldn’t relate to something more. With so many books meant for easy reading out in the world these archetypes and plots can start to blend together until you’re left looking at a shelf in a store thinking "All of these books look exactly the same and I don’t know where to start."
Most of my fellow booksellers will agree that we love giving recommendations (talking about books with people is one of the key reasons we took the job after all) and so I’ve put some of my personal favorites together below. These are the ones where there are tropes that the main characters fall into, but instead of feeling flat on a page I was instead left thinking how wonderfully dynamic and real the characters felt.
To make this possibly more engaging I’ve teamed up with another coworker of mine to help make my dream Cosmo Quiz: Book Edition come to life. If you’d like to have a fun game,then follow the questions! For those who may have a little bit a harder time reading I’ve got the books listed below the graphic with just a short summary, and I hope you enjoy these year-round beach reads.
If you’ve made it this far, I presume you’ve either had to adjust your monitor to help read, I’m actually entertaining you so far, or you just aren’t that into colorful graphics. Eitherway, the tropes start here! As a side note I’ve separated my recommendations based on straight or LGBTQ+ romance/ themes so keep those in mind as you browse.
Good luck finding your next beach read!
Two best friends had a falling out two years ago while on a vacation. Now Poppy’s convinced Alex to come on vacation with her one final time and has only one week to fix what went wrong the last time….
Dev is amazing at crafting a love story for his job as a producer on reality television but can’t seem to find someone in his own life to stick around. When tech whiz Charlie gets picked to be the prince charming on the show these two seem to have more chemistry than any of his female co-stars. Can these two find happily ever after?
When Izumi (Izzy “because it’s easier that way”) finds out that her biological dad is the crown prince of Japan Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, falling in love with a new bodyguard, and struggling to figure out what it means to be Japanese American with her new role.
Patrick has always loved his niece and nephew but that doesn’t mean he was prepared to be their primary guardian after being their Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP for short) and his Guncle rules may not cut it as he starts to juggle parenting with his broken heart.
Eve Brown is a hot mess in life but makes a beautiful mess in the kitchen. Jacob Wayne is a B&B owner who is ready to dominate the hospitality industry and isn’t prepared for Eve in his kitchen, his spare bedroom, his entire life really. But he isn’t hating it as much as he should….
Felix Love has never experienced love and is starting to wonder if living on the margins as black, queer, and transgender, means that he will never be deserving of a happily ever after. When transphobic messages lead Felix to the center of a quasi-love triangle, he is set on a journey of self-discovery that ends up with him finding the love he deserves.
Nora’s entire life is about books, and she’s made a name for herself as one of the most cutthroat literary agents in the industry. The only person she loves more than her job is her little sister, Libby, so when she’s begged to come on a sister trip to Sunshine Falls it’s impossible for Nora to say no. What she didn’t expect: her arch nemesis from the city keeps popping up all over during the course of her sister getaway.
Delilah wanted nothing more than to leave her hometown of Bright Falls, and she did and is now making pretty good money as a photographer in the city and landing a lot of ladies in the process. When she gets hired by her ex-stepsister to return home and photograph her wedding, she figures she may as well have some fun with a bridesmaid while she’s stuck in her hometown. Enter Claire Sutherland: bookstore owner, single mom, and nothing like what Delilah was expecting.
Danika Brown wants everything except a romantic relationship which is why when Zaf saves her during a fire drill gone wrong and the internet starts shipping their love story Dani has a plan: fake a relationship for the public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. What follows is the opposite of the easy lay that Dani was expecting and may be everything they both need.
Alex has been freshly dumped and wants her girlfriend back. Molly can’t get the nerve to talk to her crush. Together they hatch a plan to show their respective love interests that they’re worth their time…only trouble is that falling in love with each other wasn’t part of their five step plan to get their girlfriends.
Vivienne Jones may be a witch but she’s still just a woman getting over a broken heart. Enter (or rather re-enter) Rhys Penhallow during the town’s fall festival and chaos ensues. Maybe casting an ex hex wasn’t such a good idea after all…?
When an out and proud track star falls in love with a closeted bisexual beauty queen while in her senior year of high school, their future together hangs in the balance as they both discover what it means to live their truths.
Finlay is the opposite of killing it as a stressed, newly single mom to two who can barely pay the Wi-Fi bill let alone the mortgage as she passed her literary agent’s deadline for new chapters weeks ago (which her ex-husband is currently holding over her head). Which is probably why when she gets mistaken for a hit woman in a Panera bread and is offered a buttload of cash she doesn’t immediately turn it down…right?
Yadriel summoned a ghost and now he’s stuck with him. It was the wrong ghost, and Julian is determined to figure out how and why he died. But the longer Julian stays around the less that Yadriel wants him to leave.
Cecilia is the ideal Victorian lady which also makes her the ideal thief. Ned is a sometimes assassin who is immediately smitten with Cecilia when he first meets her. He also happens to be under orders to kill her by his boss, a pirate, and before long the two of them must team up before the society of women who raised her is dismantled.
For August, a cynical 23-year-old, moving to the city was supposed to feel like a fairy tale. Instead, she spends most of her time on the subway commuting. Then one day she sees Jane, a dazzling punk rocker who turns out is actually from the 1970s who has been displaced in her daily commute as well.