This summer’s best beach books and holiday reads

Posted by
Anna Brech

It's hard to define what makes a really great beach read. A dash of romance? A gripping thriller? A hint of escapism? Or heartbreaking historical fiction that will have us sobbing into our sunbeds?

The truth is, it's probably a bit of all of these. Holidays allow us a golden, guilt-free window of opportunity to read until we develop tan lines on our forehead (from all that frowning into the sun). We positively gallop through a mish-mash of different books, soaking up thrilling plot lines and discovering our favourite new authors as if our lives depended on it.

So if your Kindle is looking a little lacklustre, it's high time for an update. Get set to holiday in style with a look at 25 essential new reads for the summer, from this year's answer to Gone Girl to the latest from Jojo Moyes:

Words: Anna Brech

  • The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion

    By Fannie Flagg

    Fannie Flagg wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and her latest cross-generational family saga is full of the kind of warmth and humour we've come to know and love her for.

    Buy it here

  • The Fever

    By Megan Abbott

    Fans of Gone Girl will seize upon this dark and thrilling tale about a mysterious illness that sweeps through a small-town high school community, unraveling long-held family secrets along the way.

    Buy it here (out in June)

  • Indiscretion

    By Charles Dubow

    A cautionary tale of lust and envy, Indiscretion plays out one unforgettable summer in the Hamptons and has been hailed as the modern day answer to The Great Gatsby.

    Buy it here

  • Mr Mercedes

    By Stephen King

    Master of suspense Stephen King's latest offering tells the story of a retired homicide detective haunted by a string of old cases he never solved.

    Buy it here

  • The Lemon Grove

    By Helen Walsh

    This tense and sexually-charged narrative follows the story of a married woman who falls for her stepdaughter's boyfriend while on a family holiday in Majorca.

    Buy it here

  • The One Plus One

    By Jojo Moyes

    Jojo Moyes' hotly anticipated new read weaves together the story of a modern, unconventional romance and is just as moving as the critics will have you believe.

    Buy it here (out in June)

  • A Curious Career

    By Lynn Barber

    As one of Britain's most prolific journalists (her celebrity subjects have included everyone from Lady Gaga to Salvador Dalí), Lynn Barber's blend of memoir and past interviews is entertainment guaranteed.

    Buy it here

  • Fallout

    By Sadie Jones

    Anyone who loved Sadie Jones' gripping debut novel The Outcast will be equally hooked by this fraught tale of creative ambition and betrayal in a radical theatre group of 1970s London.

    Buy it here

  • Perfect

    By Rachel Joyce

    A story of secrets, a terrible mistake and the price of perfection straddling two decades (1970s and today), this intriguing and mesmeric read comes from the author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

    Buy it here

  • The Museum of Extraordinary Things

    By Alice Hoffman

    Alice Hoffman's 24th novel is set New York City just after the turn of the 20th century and reels the reader in with an irresistible blend of romance, drama and magical realism.

    Buy it here

  • Frog Music

    By Emma Donoghue

    Those who raced through Emma Donoghue's Room will pounce upon her new and deliciously dark whodunit set in 19th Century San Francisco. The city's cast of swindlers, millionaires and bohemians is conjured up in vivid detail as an unsolved murder is investigated.

    Buy it here

  • Mrs Hemingway

    By Naomi Wood

    This sharply observed story breathes life into Ernest Hemingway's four wives - Hadley, Pauline, Martha and Mary - and the way in which they hold their own in marriages marked by passion and deceit.

    Buy it here

  • The Vacationers

    By Emma Straub

    The hilarious tale of "America's most dysfunctional family" (think affairs, debt and teen virginity issues), whose tensions come to head when they holiday together on a remote island villa.

    Buy it here (out in June)

  • Kinder Than Solitude

    By Yiyun Li

    A rising star of the US literary scene, Yiyun Li has been hailed for her "effortlessly calm" and nuanced writing style. Her latest book moves between China and America and focuses on three people and a murder one of them may have committed.

    Buy it here

  • One Night In Italy

    By Lucy Diamond

    Lucy Diamond's charming new offering follows the lives of three conflicted women - Anna, Catherine and Sophie - who are forced to confront past betrayals and the prospect of new love affairs one fateful summer in Italy.

    Buy it here (out in June)

  • The Moon Field

    By Judith Allnatt

    This heartrending loss of innocence book is told through the eyes of a young soldier, whose early experience of love and loss is shattered forever by the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.

    Buy it here

  • Meatspace

    By Nikesh Shukla

    This hilarious and disturbing read picks up a popular theme by examing what happens when our online personas are more interesting than real life.

    Buy it here (out in July)

  • The Divorce Papers: A Novel

    By Susan Rieger

    A wonderfully light debut from Susan Rieger, The Divorce Papers tells the story of a young criminal lawyer who is strong-armed into taking on a high-profile divorce, which she then has to juggle with her own chaotic work and love life.

    Buy it here

  • I'll Be Right There

    By Kyung-sook Shin

    Kyung-sook Shin is the woman behind best-selling novel Please Look After Mom. Her latest read is set in 1980s South Korea amid political revolt and follows a 20-something woman who's forced to come to terms with her traumatic past.

    Buy it here

  • The Italian Girl

    By Lucinda Riley

    Rosanna Menici and Roberto Rossini are bound together by their extraordinary talents as opera singers but their obsessive love comes at a price. Bestselling author Lucinda Riley is in her element in this evocative story of self-discovery played out in the landscapes of Italy.

    Buy it now (out in July)

  • Bark: Stories

    By Lorrie Moore

    Lorrie Moore is queen of the short story format and her latest collection will have you hooked with its offbeat wit, a quirky cast of characters and little domestic observations that are absolutely true to life.

    Buy it here (out in June)

  • Northanger Abbey (Austen Project 2)

    By Val McDermid

    Who can resist Val McDermid's modern re-telling of gothic classic Northanger Abbey? It's all too easy to revel in the second book in The Austen Project series, set during Edinburgh Festival.

    Buy it here

  • The Quick

    By Lauren Owen

    This critically acclaimed debut set in Victorian London takes on a sinister Dickensian air as it delves into the story of a shy young poet from Oxford who disappears after befriending a charming high society aristocrat.

    Buy it here

  • Landing Gear

    By Kate Pullinger

    Kate Pullinger isn't that well known here but she's built up a fan base in the US and Canada thanks to her ability to create drama from the banalities of contemporary life. Landing Gear explores the unexpected ties that bring people together through the central figure of a man who stows away in the base of a plane.

    Buy it here

  • The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms

    By Ian Thornton

    The riveting story of a student whose life changes irrevocably because of one tiny detail that comes into force the day he offers to be chauffeur to Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Ferdinand's subsequent assassination changes the course of history forever.

    Buy it here (out June)


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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