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Bookish Goods for the Coastal Grandma Aesthetic

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Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

One of my nightly hobbies is TikTok. I don’t use it, but I consume it in a passive way, which makes me enjoy it more than most other social media. My For You Page is a mix of MomTok, CheeseTok, MedTok, AnimalTok, ThriftTok, ChicagolandTok, and a few other really random-yet-delightful sides of the app (it is the one app I do not engage in much bookish content, and that’s probably why I can use it so passively!). I get served quite a bit of stuff about fashion and style, too, featuring fat people talking about and sharing what they’re loving for the season. While it does not ~influence~ my purchases, it’s been a really great way to keep abreast of what’s trending and what it is other people are loving right now. This summer’s big aesthetic is one that has been delightful to watch: coastal grandma.

Coined by TikTok user Lexi Nicoleta, the coastal grandma aesthetic is a laid back preppy style, a la many of the moms you may have seen in ’90s films (the mom in The Parent Trap is a good example). It’s not as uptight as prep and not as nostalgic as the ’90s. It is beachy and it is minimal. It is the kind of aesthetic that fits readers, as it invites slowing down, journaling, reading on the beach or in a hammock or on the veranda after working in the garden and tossing veggies on the grill. It is a trend that is not trendy.

Is it kind of ridiculous to see 20-somethings wanting to live the imagined leisurely life of 50- and 60-something white ladies? Yes. Is it also an aesthetic that encourages being leisurely, comfortable, and not trendy? Yes. In a world that has spent too long chasing trends, has been under the reality of pandemic, continues to see children and elderly people killed for going about their day to day lives…let’s let the young people enjoy things like this and let ourselves do it, too. Life is too short and I’d rather pop open a bottle of wine in my thrifted linen button down while listening to a cozy audiobook, barefoot in my garden, planning out my next morning’s trip to the shore to beach comb.

Coastal grandma is, at its core, tired adult just trying to indulge in self care.

I’ve taken a spin on this aesthetic today, much like for cottagecore and dark academia. These bookish goods are for those who love that coastal grandma aesthetic and who want to invite some of that ease and softness into their homes and lives.

Bookish Goods of the Coastal Grandma Aesthetic

Image of an embroidery pattern featuring a person with space buns reading on a mushroom.

Start with a little embroidery project. This one features a reader amongst the garden with a good book. The digital pattern requires you to gather supplies, so choose whatever vibe you want. $6.

Image of a light blue t-shirt that reads "coastal grandmother social society, home by 9."

9 p.m. might be pushing it, but this coastal grandmother social society tee gives you all of the basics, including that being social is reading books alone together. I love the light blue, but you can choose from several colors. $25, up to size 5X.

Image of a blue and white notebook.

Keep a common place book with this gorgeous coastal blue notebook option. $15.

Image of a book mark with fake pearls and a metal sand dollar

There are a lot of options for sand dollar bookmarks, but the simplicity of this one appeals to me. $7.

Wooden sign in loopy font that says "read."

There aren’t a lot of bright or bolds in the coastal grandmother aesthetic, but this simple read sign would fit perfectly. $32, and you can choose other colors.

Image of a blue and white book holder pillow.

Why hold your book if you can use a pillow to do it instead? This book pillow gives all of the coastal grandma vibes. $30.

Orange seersucker tote bag

Of course, you’ll need a seersucker tote bag to haul your library and indie bookstore finds. You can grab this in several colors, but this orange is a nice pop without overdoing it. $25 and you can get it personalized. May I recommend “Beach Reads?”

Image of 2 green sea glass bookends on a shelf with a plant.

These sea glass bookends are out of this world. $43 for the set, and as of writing, there is only available. If it’s gone, poke around for others or go the DIY route — you’re at the beach, after all.

Floppy hat with the words "just one more chapter" on a beach blanket.

The floppy beach hat will keep the sun out of your eyes as you finish just one more chapter and the bow gives it that little extra something. $35.

Brass sand dollar bookends

A neat piece of the coastal grandmother aesthetic? Vintage, antique, and thrifted are all great. These vintage brass sand dollar bookends are a perfect fit. $30. There are several other similar sets on Etsy if this one is sold out.

Image of pile of vintage sea shell book plates

Last but certainly not least, make sure you keep your books in your possession with these vintage sea shell book plates. A lot of 50 will cost $12.