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15 best summer beach reads for 2023 to help you unwind

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best beach reads 2023

I like my classic books. But I also like my time off… and a chance to escape into refreshing, laid-back books that are perfect for lazy summer days on the beach.

The books on this list are easygoing, lighthearted, and mostly served with at least a pinch of romance, making for some of the best summer reads for 2023.

(Want less romance? You might like my collection of the best vacation reads for 2023 which covers more genres.)

Many of these novels feel like a vacation in a book, so feel free to enjoy them as a staycation too.

Take your pick and prepare for a summer of beach reads to relax, unwind, and feel like new again. You’re 100% allowed to start your beach reading now…

The best summer reads for 2023 to help you relax and unwind

The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand

Read The Five-Star Weekend for… a captivating, sunshine-filled story about friendship, love, and self-discovery from the bestselling author of The Hotel Nantucket.

In this bestselling beach read for 2023, Hollis Shaw seems to have the perfect life: she’s the creator of a popular food blog and married to Matthew, a dreamy heart surgeon.

Although the book is brimming with summer vibes, it begins with loss, exposing the cracks in Hollis’s marriage and relationship with her daughter, Caroline.

When Hollis hears about something called a “Five-Star Weekend”, she decides to host her own to get her life back on track, bringing together four friends from different stages in her life. I adored reading this (and shared 8 books to read after The Five-Star Weekend).

Happy Place by Emily Henry

Read Happy Place for… Emily Henry’s new book for 2023, painting a picture of summer vibes in Maine and a relationship that isn’t quite what it seems.

If you want a lighthearted romance beach read, pick up Emily Henry’s Happy Place. This is one of the best romance books for 2023, about a seemingly perfect couple who broke up months ago but pretend to still be together for their annual vacation with their best friends.

Cassandra in Reverse by Holly Smale

Read Cassandra in Reverse for… one of the best summer reads for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and Bernadette (with a few twists). The book is also called The Cassandra Complex in some regions.

Cassandra Penelope Dankworth is a creature of habit. She loves museums, jumpsuits, and her boyfriend Will and strongly dislikes mess, change, and her boss drinking out of her mug.

Then, chaos strikes. She’s dumped. She’s fired. Her local café runs out of banana muffins. But something truly unexpected happens: Cassie discovers she can go back and change the past. And how hard can it be?

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Read Meet Me at the Lake for… the anticipated new romance for 2023 by Carley Fortune, bestselling author of Every Summer After, offering warm summer days and rekindled love.

At thirty-two, Fern Brookbanks isn’t where she thought she’d be in life. Instead of living in the city, Fern’s back home running her mother’s lakeside resort. And she’s wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter.

Despite spending just twenty-four hours with Will in her early twenties, Fern has never forgotten the undeniable connection she found with this idealistic artist… a man who promised to meet her one year later, but never showed up. At least, not until nine years later, with a suitcase in tow.

A Perfect Vintage by Chelsea Fagan

Read A Perfect Vintage for… a relaxed getaway to a French country estate with good food, sun, and an abundance of sparkling wine.

As one of the best summer reads for 2023, A Perfect Vintage is the story of Lea Mortimer, a sought-after consultant who transforms dilapidated French country estates into boutique hotels.

Lea relishes her freedom as a single, child-free woman and thrives in her work. But the families she works for? They’re not always so easy to deal with.

The author, Chelsea Fagan, is the founder of The Financial Diet, the largest women’s personal finance media company. 

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto is back cover

Read Carrie Soto is Back for… one of the best summer reads for 2023 if you love Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & the Six.

In this bestseller, Taylor Jenkins Reid masterfully crafts the story of a tennis legend supposedly past her prime at thirty-seven, brought back to the tennis court to give everything she’s got to defend her record.

Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen

Read Lunar Love for… an enemies-to-lovers debut rom-com filled with astrology to escape into this summer on the beach.

In Lunar Love, Olivia Huang Christenson is both excited and terrified to be taking over her grandmother’s matchmaking business.

But when she finds herself head-to-head against the business of L.A.’s most eligible bachelor, Bennett O’Brien, she realises the extent of the situation she’s got herself in.

Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan

Read Same Time Next Summer for… one of the best new beach reads for fans of Emily Henry, described by author Carley Fortune as “bursting with the magic of first love”.

In this new summer romance by the bestselling author of Nora Goes Off Script, everything in Sam’s life is on track, including her upcoming marriage to her doctor fiancé, Jack.

But when Sam tours a wedding venue near her family’s Long Island beach house, she starts questioning everything.

Wyatt is the guy who broke her heart when she was seventeen, and he’s here. As she hears notes from Wyatt’s guitar float across the night air from next door, Sam’s memories come flooding back… and she wonders if she made the right choice.

Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni

Read Sorry, Bro for… a vibrant and heartfelt queer rom-com debut about an Armenian-American woman embracing who she really is.

When Nareh Bedrossian’s boyfriend gets down on one knee and proposes to her in front of a room full of San Francisco tech boys, she realizes this really isn’t what she wants.
 
She finally agrees with her mother to visit their homeland and give Armenian men a chance, but it’s not the doctor or the wealthy engineer who catches Nar’s eye – it’s Erebuni, a woman as immersed in the mystical arts as she is in preserving Armenian identity.

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Read The Bodyguard for… nineties rom-com vibes about a bodyguard who looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could take you out in a heartbeat.

Jack Stapleton’s a household name… one who’s being followed by a middle-aged corgi breeder. He doesn’t want his family to find out about this, nor the bodyguard he knows he has to hire.

Hannah Brooks, Executive Protection Agent, agrees to pretend to be Jack’s girlfriend while protecting him, despite her better judgement. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And that’s a problem.

The Fraud Squad by Kyla Zhao

Read The Fraud Squad for… a story of sneaking into Singapore high society that Ali Hazelwood describes as “immersive, cinematic, and exquisitely fun.”

In Kyla Zhao’s debut for 2023, Samantha Song knows she needs to shake things up if she’s going to leave her drab PR firm and achieve her dreams of writing for a high-society magazine.

To her surprise, the disillusioned son of one of Singapore’s wealthiest families is able to help her infiltrate Singapore’s high society. But the deeper Samantha wades into this facade, the more she fears being exposed.

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn

Read Georgie, All Along for… a whimsical and magnetic love story about friendship and new beginnings for everyone who’s ever wondered about the life that got away.

Georgie, All Along is the story of longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy, who’s made a career out of putting others before herself.

When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie realises that she needs to put her own wants and needs first for once. Little does she know how much is about to change.


The best beach reads if you want something a bit different

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Read Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow for… the Goodreads Book of the Year 2022 about video games, creativity, and fame. An incredible book I’d recommend if you don’t mind slightly heavier reading on the beach.

City on Fire by Don Winslow

Read City on Fire for… a compulsively readable thriller that transforms the events at Troy and the founding of Rome into a riveting modern tale as two empires grapple to control New England. Try this if you don’t fancy reading a rom-com on the beach this year.

Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

Read Little Monsters for… a new summer novel about complicated families and long-buried secrets on Cape Cod. Set over one summer, this is a perceptive story of a family by a writer who knows every nook and cranny of Cape Cod, including both its lushness and its snakes.

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