A beach read is more than strictly a book you read by the ocean. You don’t even have to be near the shore to read one. It’s less about the setting, strictly speaking, and more about the feeling. Beach reads are books that deeply engross you, leaving you hanging on to every word. They’re the books that can define the summer in your memories, with characters and plot twists you still think about months or years later. This list brings together 40 of the best beach reads 2023 has to offer, organized by release date so you know when you’ll be able to find them.
As you peruse through the books on this list, think about the type of stories you like to read on vacation or over a weekend. Do you prefer lighthearted and escapist reads, like romantic comedies and cozy mysteries? You’ll find plenty of both. Or do you enjoy reads with serious, high-stakes moments — perhaps a thriller or a sci-fi adventure? You’ll find those here, too. Whatever you’re in the mood to read more of, you’ll find a book to look forward to this summer.
Once you’ve found book recommendations to preorder or request at your local library, you’ll want to check out Book Riot’s New Releases Index as your definitive guide to upcoming reads. It’s a curated list of book releases through the upcoming month that you can customize by date and genre preferences.
The Best Beach Reads of May 2023
The Nigerwife by Vanessa Walters (May 2)
When her niece Nicole Oruwari goes missing. Auntie Claudine travels to Lagos, Nigeria determined to find and protect her. But she soon discovers what happened to Nicole is linked to sinister family secrets, secrets linked to Claudine’s past that she hoped would never resurface.
The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer (May 9)
Clover Brooks is a death doula who has lost a grip on what brings meaning to her own life. Until, that is, an unforgettable patient leads her on a cross-country adventure. Soon, Clover finds herself asking questions about love and connection that she’s never before contemplated.
Bang Bang Bodhisattva by Aubrey Wood (May 16)
Kiera Umehara is a trans woman living in a near-future cyber dystopia whose gig work barely keeps the rent paid. When she’s framed for a murder she didn’t commit, she must reconcile with her old business partner, private investigator Angel Herrera, to clear her name.
Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay (May 16)
Samantha Gale has never been a fan of reading, in part because having dyslexia makes it difficult, but she hopes to write a cookbook compiling her family recipes. Because she’s chaperoning her half-brother Tyler at a local robotics competition, she’s primarily spending her summer at the library.
On meeting the library director Bennett Reynolds, her plans take an unexpected turn as she helps him search for his estranged father and pursues her culinary dreams.
A Novel Disguise (Lady Librarian #1) by Samantha Larsen (May 16)
Following the mysterious death of her half-brother, Tiffany Woodall assumes his identity as a duke’s librarian. Doing so offers her more freedoms as a woman living in 18th century England.
But all is not as it seems at the duke’s estate. And when the body of a servant is found, Tiffany must find the killer before they target her next.
Hard Dough Homicide (Spice Isle Bakery Mystery #2) by Olivia Matthews (May 23)
Culinary cozy mysteries make for peak summer reading! This series follows Lyndsay Murray, who owns a family bakery in the Little Caribbean neighborhood of Brooklyn. When her former high school principal Emily Smith drops dead of an apparent poisoning her retirement party, it’s up to Lyndsay to solve her murder.
The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle (May 30)
When Jess Baxter discovers a set of encyclopedias among her late mother’s possessions, it’s more than grief and sentimentality that leaves her unable to part with them. To her, they symbolize all that her mother valued. They contain a part of her and by extension, a part of Jess.
Through them, Jess discovers an archive of items donated by people who wanted the memories connected to them to be preserved. As she unravels the stories of these items, she discovers truths about herself and what legacy she wants to leave behind someday.
Big Gay Wedding by Byron Lane (May 30)
Barnett Durang surprises his mom Chrissy with a plan: he and his fiance would like to get married at her animal rescue farm. Chrissy loves her son and is interested in meeting his husband-to-be, but she worries how their small Louisiana town will react. What follows is an outpouring of love and celebration that surprises everyone and brings the community closer.
The Best Beach Reads of June 2023
All the Right Notes by Dominic Lim (June 6)
When composer Quito Cruz returns to his hometown to perform at a charity event, he reluctantly agrees to see if his college ex Emmett (now a successful actor) would be willing to join. But Quito soon realizes that he’s not as over Emmett as he thought, which complicates everything about preparing for the performance and whatever comes afterward.
Single Dads Club by Therese Beharrie (June 6)
Rowan Quinn, a new single parent, moves to a coastal South African town where his grandmother lives so she can help him raise his son. Here he meets Delilah Huntington, an heiress-turned-waitress who helps him connect with more single dads…and who he falls in love with along the way.
A Botanist’s Guide to Flowers and Fatality (Saffron Everleigh #2) by Kate Khavari (June 6)
Botanist Saffron Everleigh is no stranger to using her expertise to solve crimes. When she is called to investigate a series of murders involving poisonous flowers, she discovers that each bouquet may be hiding a sinister message. And if Saffron’s suspicions are correct, decoding the messages through Victorian floriography will be key to catching the killer.
Mickey Chambers Shakes It Up by Charish Reid (June 6)
Unable to make ends meet on her paltry salary as an adjunct professor, Mickey Chambers takes a bartending gig despite having no previous experience. Little does she know that the bar owner (and her new boss) Diego Acosta has enrolled in her online writing course. While the two fail to get along at first, they discover that they have a lot they can teach each other…and that they enjoy each other’s presence in more than just a platonic way.
On Earth as It Is on Television by Emily Jane (June 13)
Following a perplexing first contact, three people across the world search for their place in an absurd but also joyous universe. With spaceships hovering in the air and life on Earth irrevocably changed, what does it mean to be human and to truly connect with each other?
Much Ado About Nada by Uzma Jalaluddin (June 13)
This contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion stars Nada Syed, an engineer inspired by her upcoming 30th birthday to pursue her dreams for her personal and professional future. Along the way she reconnects with Baz, the brother of her friend Haleema’s fiancé, with whom she has a complicated history.
Scent of a Garden by Namrata Patel (June 13)
After suddenly losing her sense of smell, perfumer Poppy Patel returns to her hometown in California, where everything — even her family — has changed. Her grandmother’s garden is where she first found her love of beautiful, complex scents. But that garden lives only in the past, and Poppy must find the strength within herself to move forward.
Scotlander by Sheila McClure (June 13)
Grieving the loss of her best friend Valentina, Willa Jenkins is shocked when she discovers that Valentina signed her up for an Outlander-themed vacation at an actual Scottish castle. Though she’s not in the mood for a vacation, she goes anyways. Outlander was one of the ways Willa and Valentina bonded, and Willa hopes it will bring her closure.
When she unexpectedly bonds with Finn, a grumpy but kindhearted man whose family owns the castle, Willa wonders whether the feelings she has for him will survive outside the destination trip.
Murdle: 100 Elementary to Impossible Mysteries to Solve Using Logic, Skill, and the Power of Deduction by G. T. Karber (June 13)
I can’t imagine a summer day better spent than in a beach chair overlooking the shore and solving bite-sized mysteries to make me feel better about my attempts at Cain’s Jawbone. In the spirit of Wordle and inspired by the author’s daily mystery game, this short story collection brings together one hundred short murder mysteries and their solutions to test your deduction skills.
Can’t Let Her Go by Kianna Alexander (June 20)
Peaches Monroe and Jamie Hunt have been close friends and colleagues for years. Both long for more than friendship, but Jamie dreams of a life outside Austin, Texas that Peaches can’t follow as a caregiver and small business owner. Nevertheless, their chemistry is hard to deny and as they grow closer, they find clarity on what they hope for their futures along the way.
The Infinite Miles by Hannah Fergesen (June 20)
Best friends Harper and Peggy bonded over their shared love of Infinite Odyssey, a cult sci-fi TV show starring a mysterious time traveler named the Argonaut. But when Peggy goes missing, Harper numbs her grief and uncertain future without her with work.
Until, that is, the Argonaut himself appears with information about what happened to Peggy. Hannah soon finds herself facing an intergalactic evil, with the slow realization that the Argonaut is not all that she believed him to be on television.
Where Ivy Dares to Grow by Marielle Thompson (June 27)
Saorise Read feels out-of-place with her fiancé and soon-to-be in-laws, all of whom can hardly disguise their contempt for her. So perhaps it’s no wonder that she finds herself falling through time between now and 200 years ago, where she meets a mysterious and alluring man named Theo Page. Soon, she finds herself caught between a hostile present and a welcoming past.
The Most Anticipated Beach Reads of July 2023
Role Playing by Cathy Yardley (July 1)
After joining an online role-playing guild, older gamers Maggie and Aiden become close virtual friends. And when they meet up in person, the chemistry between them is like magic. As they grow closer, they help each other cope with the loneliness and family troubles both are going through.
Sunshine Nails by Mai Nguyen (July 4)
Following a difficult breakup, Jessica Tran reluctantly moves home to help her parents Debbie and Phil run their nail salon. But with rent in the neighborhood rising at an unsustainable rate, the family worries they will be forced to close their business. Unless, of course, a little sabotage can slow the neighborhood gentrification…
Wanderlust by Elle Everhart (July 4)
Magazine writer Dylan Coughlan is shocked to discover she’s won the vacation of a lifetime. With luck like this, there’s always a catch, and Dylan’s is this: she must take the trip with Jack — a man she once ghosted. Both agree to go for the sake of travel, but neither expect to bond with each other as closely as they do.
Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa, translated by Eric Ozawa (July 4)
Upon learning that her boyfriend is engaged to another woman, Takako feels adrift. When her uncle offers her work at his second-hand bookshop and a free room, she accepts it despite longing for more in life than what she perceives as a dead-end job. But as Takako gets to know the store regulars and explore the neighboring shops, she gains a greater understanding of herself, her uncle, and the community around her.
Burn the Negative by Josh Winning (July 11)
Journalist Laura Warren is reluctant to report on the remake of cult horror film The Guesthouse — and not just because of the rumors that it’s cursed. She starred in the movie as a child, and she knows the truth behind the gossip better than anyone.
When the remake lives up to its fatal reputation, Laura must face the demons behind the film and break the curse, before it kills everyone on set.
You, with a View by Jessica Joyce (July 11)
Noelle Shepherd is determined to find her late grandmother’s old flame, in part to help her cope with grief, and she has a photo of the two together to help her. But when the photo goes viral on TikTok, Noelle’s shocked to discover she knows him — or at least, his grandson Theo. She and Theo were high school rivals, and she holds an unresolved grudge towards him.
On learning that their grandparents were engaged and planned a honeymoon trip, Noelle and Theo begrudgingly agree to travel the route together. Little do they know, the road trip turns into the beginning of their own love story.
One Tough Cookie by Delise Torres (July 18)
Karina Cortés isn’t a hopeless romantic, preferring a life where she is free to pursue what makes her happy. The last thing she wants to do is repeat the pain her mother caused her when she chose her boyfriend over Korina. But when her work at the Singular Cookies company leads her to cross paths with the handsome and sweet mechanic Ian Feliciano, she struggles to deal with her undeniable feelings for him.
To Have and to Heist by Sara Desai (July 18)
While struggling with student loans and in need of a profitable job, Simi Chopra’s life takes an even more stressful turn when her best friend is accused of stealing a priceless necklace.
A handsome stranger named Jack offers a solution: steal the missing necklace back to prove her friend’s innocence and earn the reward promised for its return. Now, Simi must organize a high-stakes heist while making sense of the growing chemistry between her and Jack.
Intermission by Phyllis R. Dixon (July 25)
Nearly 30 years after they found fame, ’90s pop sensation The Diamonds reunite for the first time since their breakup. But reconciliation means facing the reasons they split up in the first place. If they can move forward through the pain, they’ll have a chance to heal, reach new heights in their careers, and rekindle their friendship.
The Possibilities by Yael Goldstein-Love (July 25)
Hannah is struggling to adapt to parenthood in ways she can’t fully put into words, a gnawing feeling that makes her worry she is losing her grip on reality. But when her baby Jack disappears, she soon realizes he has fallen into the multiverse. Hannah must travel through alternate realities and every way her life might have gone to rescue him — and rescue herself in the process.
The Best Beach Reads of August 2023
Kiss the Girl by Zoraida Córdova (August 1)
This book is part of the Meant to Be series, which retells the Disney princess stories as romance novels.
At 25, superstar Ariel del Mar longs to explore life outside of her sisters’ pop band the Siren Seven following their goodbye concert series. Her father, who owns the Atlantica Records record company, wants her to continue with a restrictive solo career that she wants no part in.
Escaping on a tour bus with singer Eric Reyes and his fledgling band seems like her chance to finally be free. But Eric’s manager will only let her tour with them on a condition: she cannot date Eric, even if the sparks between them are undeniable.
With Love, from Cold World by Alicia Thompson (August 1)
While working at Cold World, an amusement park dedicated to year-round winter festivities, Lauren Fox finds a frenemy in her coworker Asa. Cold World is struggling financially, however, and as the two reluctantly team up to organize a fundraiser, Lauren realizes that maybe she and Asa are more alike than different — and that maybe she is falling for him.
The Hundred Loves of Juliet by Evelyn Skye (August 1)
Following a painful divorce, romance author Helene moves to Alaska where she meets a fisherman named Sebastien who seems…shockingly familiar. Though she knows she’s never met him before, she knows she’s seen his face in her dreams.
Plagued by memories of past lives, she soon discovered that she and Sebastien have been star-crossed lovers in every one of them. Though their fates are intertwined, they have always ended in tragedy. As they fight for their happy ending, they fear that they are cursed to repeat the past as they always have.
Bellies by Nicola Dinan (August 1)
After a fateful meet cute in college, Tom and Ming fall in love quickly — and hard. By graduation, neither can imagine a future without the other. But when Ming comes out as transgender, both face complex questions about identity, both personally and in the context of their relationship.
Accidentally in Love by Danielle Jackson (August 8)
Sam Sawyer can always count on her close friend Reid to look out for her when her management job at a pinup photography studio gets hectic. But when Reid’s upcoming engagement leads her to meet his brother Russ, she at first finds the up-and-coming restauranteur irritating.
Both, however, are slotted to run vendor’s booths at an upcoming festival. And the more time they spend together, the more Sam feels an attraction to Russ that is difficult to ignore.
New Adult by Timothy Janovsky (August 15)
In this upcoming romcom inspired by 13 Going On 30, 23-year-old Nolan Baker feels like his life is a mess. He wishes he was 30 already, when he’s sure he’ll have it all together (“it” being his work and romantic situations in particular). But what happens when one morning, he wakes up seven years in the future and everything’s different from what he thought?
The Secret to a Southern Wedding by Synithia Williams (August 15)
After her mom reveals she is getting married to someone she recently met online, Dr. Imani Kemp takes a brief pause from her OB-GYN practice to return home and hopefully talk some sense into her mother. What she doesn’t expect is Cyril Dash, the son of her mom’s surprise fiance, and the intense attraction she feels around him.
Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas (August 29)
Nine years ago, Nena was attacked by what she believes to be a vampire near her father’s ranch in 19th century Mexico. And now, during the 1846 invasion of Mexico by the United States, the vampires have returned. Nena must use her skills as a curandera to protect her father’s ranch and her childhood sweetheart Néstor, with whom she was recently reunited.
The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp by Leonie Swann, translated by Amy Bojang (August 29)
Agnes Sharp lives in a communal home shared by a group of quirky elderly folks in the picturesque English countryside. And of course, everyone knows that in a cozy mystery, that’s the setting where murder is most likely to occur.
But there’s more than meets the eye to Agnes and her friends. When a body is discovered near their house, they’re all just glad the police didn’t turn up the one they’re hiding in their shed.
My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine (August 29)
That’s right: we’re finishing off the list with not one but two vampire books. Cassie Greenberg’s new roommate Frederick J. Fitzwilliam is strange, to say the least. Paranormally so? Maybe. It would certainly explain the “never going out in direct sunlight” and “courting tactics straight from the 19th century.” But with rent as cheap as it is (and Frederick surprisingly charming), who can complain?
If you’re planning a vacation this summer, check out the best travel books of 2023 for everything from trip advice books to memoirs to bring along with you.