What makes a great summer beach read? In my opinion it has to draw you in so much that you don’t want to put the book down. Something mindless helps too, but a more intelligent read works as long as the storyline is riveting and the characters are interesting.
Normally I like to toggle between lighter reads and smarter ones during the rest of the year, but all rules are off during beach season and I lean towards the page-turner, thriller types. It’s like mindless reality TV… Sometimes you just need it!
I don’t get to read as much as I used to but I try to put in at least 30 minutes before bed each night and more on vacation. Over the last few months, I’ve read a bunch of great beach-approved reads so I thought I’d review them all for you here.
The Wife Between Us: A-
I can’t believe I gave this book an A- but it was so entertaining that it deserves it’s rating! Don’t expect beautifully written prose here but do expect a twisty turny page turner that you won’t be able to put down. The book is about Nellie, a young woman who is about to marry her dream man, and Vanessa, that same man’s very angry ex wife. The story is told through both women’s perspectives every other chapter. There are a few big twists, one of which I figured out, but the others were good surprises!
I’m warning you in advance, this book is very similar to The Last Mrs. Parrish us so maybe pick one or the other or don’t read them too close together like I did.
The Last Mrs. Parrish: A-
The Last Mrs. Parrish is about a woman named Amber who moves to Connecticut to infiltrate a very rich family with the end goal of stealing the husband, Jackson Parrish, away from his wife Daphne.
So many of you guys recommended this book that I stopped reading another one to start this one. I finished it in about three nights and on the last night I stayed up until 1:00am which is insane when you have a baby to wake up with at 7:00am but I had to know how it would end. Like The Wife Between Us, I figured out the twist pretty early on but it was still so good I didn’t even care. I’m warning you, you won’t be able to put it down!
The Female Persuasion: B+
I like to throw in a few well-written, more meaningful novels here and there during the summer. I didn’t love Meg Wolitzer’s book, The Interestings, despite the fact that so many of you did. I wasn’t even going to read The Female Persuasion but my mom convinced me that it was great so I gave in and went for it.
I found it to be much more readable than The Interestings and I was invested in the characters from the very beginning. It had a strong feminist message and
It follows the life of Greer, a college freshman who meets a famous feminist, Faith, who changes her life. The story follows the two women over the next decade as their lives intertwine and they learn from each other and face the realities of being women in a men’s world.
An American Marriage: B
The book starts with Celestial and Roy, a newly married couple who get torn apart from each other and the lives they knew when Roy is accused of a crime that he didn’t commit. He ends up in prison but gets out early and comes home to a life that is completely different than the one he left. It’s easy to feel for each of the characters and join on their emotional and sometimes heartbreaking journey.
Like The Female Persuasion, this is a well-written novel full of complex characters and a story line that takes a look at a bigger problem in our society today. The only reason it got a B is because the middle was a little slow. The beginning was great and drew me in and the ending was good too, so it’s worth it to push through!
It took me a while to get into this book but once I did, I got invested in the story. It wasn’t my favorite book of the summer but it was entertaining and fun to read if you’re into Broadway or musicals!
Limelight is the story of Allison, a mother of three who moves to New York City from Dallas when her husband gets an opportunity that they can’t refuse. She learns quickly how the big city can eat you up and spit you out, until she gets in a fender bender that takes her to Carter Reid, a Justin Beiber-like pop star who is a hot mess in need of a mother figure.
The reason for the score is that the beginning was tough to get into but worth it in the end.
When Life Gives You Lululemons: B+
Full disclosure, I’m only halfway through this book but it’s a nice light read and so far I’m into it. If you read The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll recognize one of the main characters, Emily, as Miranda’s first assistant. Fast forward to her mid-thirties, and you find Emily as a “celebrity fixer” who ends up needing a PR boost of her own. When her an ex-super model Karolina, gets herself in a serious pickle, Emily steps in, along with their lawyer friend Mirium to “fix” the problem. It’s set in Greenwich, Connecticut which makes it fun to read for me too because they talk about some of the crazy women around here and are spot on!
I’ll report back on my Instagram stories when I finish it but so far so good.
Before these books, I read The Nightingale, The Great Alone, and Little Fires Everywhere. They were all excellent books but a little more deep and far more intense, so if you’re looking for that, I highly recommend all of them (all A+!).
Check out my summer book review from last year here. What should be next on my list? A lot of you have recommended The Alice Network so that one is already queued up!
I’m not into the summer beach reads so much but I need at least one! I HIGHLY recommend The Alice Network as well. I hadn’t even heard of it but picked it up at Target and couldn’t wait to read it each day. Enjoy! And, thanks for your suggestions!
Yay ok! As soon as I finish Lululemons it’s my next read. Can’t wait now!
Dang I’m sad to see the score for American marriage! I just finished Lululemons and need another read!
It’s really good! Just gets a little slower in the middle. I recommend reading it anyway!
Anything by Riley Sager is good – Final Girls and his latest, The Last Time I Lied.
Design by Sydnee | 4 Books I’ve Read Lately
Yes! I just stayed up until 2AM finishing The Last Time I Lied!
So… An American Marriage. #teamcelestial or #teamroy? Although I felt for her, I thought she gave up on him too easily.
Ugh so hard! I kept going back and forth and in the end didn’t feel resolved at all!
Would love if you did a search and replace for the word “trashy” or any of its derivations in this post and instead wrote “readable” or “page turner”. Just because a novel is an enjoyable, quick read doesn’t make it inherently “trashy.” I think that word has extremely negative connotations and would be offensive to any of the authors of these books. Your blog is extremely readable and enjoyable, but I would never call it “trashy”! It would be great to see the authors of these fun books given the respect they deserve. I think it’s important to put a positive spin on books that may not win the Pulitzer, but that a lot of us enjoy, especially on vacation or when looking for a lighter read! (I also steer far away from the phrase “chick lit”.)
Very VERY good point! Just made some edits, thank you for the feedback!
I definitely want to read When Life Gives you Lululemons!! 🙂
I’m almost done with it now and like it even better! It’s a good light read.
I just finished I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. It is not a light beach read but a thought provoking memoir. I guarantee you will be thinking about it long after you close the book. Sometimes truth is as interesting as fiction.
I will try it thank you!
I’m currently half-way through The Female Persuasion and am struggling. I actually don’t feel invested in the characters much (though it’s getting better) and am really unclear as to this feminist message. Fingers crossed it gets better? I’ve got An American Marriage on Audible.
I’ve heard mixed reviews and a lot of people don’t like it. I don’t know why but I felt connected to Greer right away! That said, I felt exactly the way you do about this book but about The Interestings and everyone loved that so I guess it’s a personal preference. Try another 50 pages, I think it gets better.
I agree on Little Fires Everywhere, so good I read it in three days! It does bring up a lot of thought provoking questions as well, my sister and I debated for an hour about the topics in the book. Highly recommend!
The Wife Between Us sounds great! Thanks for sharing!
Ooo some great picks here!