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  • Family Pictures

    Family Pictures by Jane Green.  “Grown up chick lit where the secret parentage of a young girl gets exposed because of her friendship with someone at school who takes her on a trip to NY to "visit colleges."  Turns out Dad had a secret life AND FAMILY.  Dun-duhn-DDUUUUNNNNNNN.  A quick, easy read and perfect for a breezy Saturday afternoon read on the front porch.

  • Hating Game

    The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.  Since this list is supposed to be “beach books,” I’m adding this enjoyable, lightweight novel.  It’s about colleagues, a man and a woman, who cordially despise one another.  Gee? I wonder what happens.  It is chick-lit, I suppose, but well-written and fun, and richer than it first appears.  Five stars for beach-worthiness.

  • Help

    The Help by Kathryn Stockett. "Initially I thought it would be one more (deserved) stab at racism in the South, but this is different. A very different voice and very real. Great book for discussion. Easy to read, good beach book."  "This book, set in the 60s in the South, against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, explores those timeless bonds between women --regardless of race, of age, or of position in life." And another:  "This is my favorite book of the year and it should definitely qualify as a beach book. It is a page- turner for sure. I told a friend about it and she told me that she stayed up until three in the morning to finish it (she has small kids so this is no small sacrifice) … It’s just so engrossing, I wish I could start it over again. Walked by a woman the other day who was reading it sitting on a bench – she said she cannot put it down." I am on vacation with a friend who bought the book last night and was immediately engaged, saying it had changed her vacation. Now she “really has a book.” You know that feeling.

  • Joyland

    Joyland by Stephen King.  “This one is more of a mystery than a novel of suspense. Most of the action takes place in and around a beach amusement park, so it makes a fine summer read. The book focuses on the long ago murder of a woman at the amusement park, whose ghost haunts one of the rides.”

  • Last Painting of Sarah DeVos

    The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith. "This was the best novel I read in 2016.  It's a page turner that tells the story of a 1960s forgery by a young art historian in NYC and then transports you to 1600 Holland and the story of the artist whose painting was forged. Both are women and their lives parallel and connect in surprising ways."

  • Lords of Discipline

    The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy. "I LOVED this book and read it so fast at the beach that I had to force myself to put it down to make it last longer. It's about the Citadel military life and insight into that world is fascinating. But there is also a lot of story and character about fathers and friendships and families."

  • Love in Mid-Air

    Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright. "I am currently reading this fairly well-written but kind of trashy novel. It is a total beach read!!!!"  From Amazon:  "A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say 'no' and instead lets 'yes' happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom. There are consequences for Elyse, her family, and her circle of close friends, all of whom have an investment in her life continuing as normal. But is normal what she really wants after all? In the end it will take an extraordinary leap of faith for Elyse to find--and follow--her own path to happiness."

  • Love Walked In

    Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. I found this book, the first novel by poet de los Santos, extremely engaging, and I stayed up way too late finishing it. (What else is new?) It's dually narrated by Clare, an 11-year-old dealing with her mother's intense emotional difficulties, and a 32-year-old lost-ish soul named Cornelia. How their lives intersect is the crux of the story. This would be an excellent beach read. Nice writing, entertaining (if improbable) tale.

  • Luckiest Girl Alive

     Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.  MID-SUMMER ADDITION!  I read this until 4:00 this morning, so please excuse my incoherence. This is such a quintissential beach read, I felt it was worth calling to your attention.  Also, because I almost didn't read it because of the weird cover - so weird I just had to include a picture of it.  (WTH?).  Okay, brief synopsis:  Through sheer force of will, TifAni FaNelli, now known as Ani (Ah-Nee) has finally gotten everything she wanted - the rich, blue-blood fiance, the awesome job, the right clothes.  But she is both haunted and driven by some terrible, very public incident from her high school years, when she attended an elite school on the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia. You go back and forth between her high school life and her present-day "perfect" life as the old story unfolds.  I hadn't read much about it, but enough to be warned that the "Gone Girl" comparisons are overdone, which they are.  It's dark and you aren't sure how reliable the narrator is (or whether you're supposed to love her or hate her).  I am probably too tired to think through all the many flaws, but as this is (ostensibly) a "beach book" website, I think the key words are:  "read this until 4 a.m."  The most Gone Girl-esque thing about it was how it grabbed me by the collar and didn't let me go.


  • Manny

    The Manny by Holly Peterson. "The ultimate junky, funny, easy beach read."

  • Model Student

    A Model Student: A Tale of Coeds and Cover Girlsby Robin Hazelwood. "A brilliantly written beach read because robin is Yale grad so smart and so funny and it was a great story." It’s fiction about a 17-year-old who is a model while also a student at Columbia University. Great look at the world of modeling.

  • Movie Star

    Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper: A Novel by Hilary Liftin.  "Dating someone famous?  Let this book be your fictional guide." "Fictionalized story most took to be based on Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Trashy but fun."  People tell me they read it in a day.

  • Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife

    Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride & Prejudice Continues by Linda Berdoll. "Oh my gosh, it is trash! But it’s fun, especially if you loved Pride & Prejudice and like to imagine what became of Elizabeth and Darcy after they got married. You have to overlook the author’s attempt, lame at times, to use the language of the times. (Someone must tell her how to use the word 'betwixt,' because she DOES NOT KNOW). If you like this sort of book (continuations of, or different perspectives of, Jane Austen novels) there are others in the genre. The Pamela Aiden trilogy, which begins with An Assembly Such as Thistells the P&P story from Darcy’s perspective. You really and truly can skip the second book in that series."

  • Nineteen Minutes

    Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  This is a typically gripping Picoult novel about a school shooting. "I haven't read anything that great recently but can't put this one down. Good summer fiction." Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens -- until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town's residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy.

  • No Angel

    No Angelby Penny Vincenzi. "This is the first in a trilogy about the Lytton family. I first heard this author mentioned in this article, which offers some other authors and titles, too. It looks like a fun, engaging series, though I haven’t read them yet." Celia Lytton, strong-willed, tough and courageous, moves through life making difficult and often dangerous decisions - with the most far-reaching consequences for everyone...For her husband, Oliver, head of the great family publishing house of Lyttons; for Sylvia Miller, whose life of relentless poverty is transformed by Celia's intrusion; for Oliver's daunting elder sister, who is not all she appears to be; and for Sebastian Brooke, with whom Celia makes the most dangerous decision of all.

  • Overnight Socialite

    The Overnight Socialite by Bridie Clark. "A modern day Pygmalian. It takes place on Park paced and full of laughs. It may be chick lit but it isn’t without character."

  • Portrait of an Unknown Woman

    Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett. "I am into historical fictions so skip this if you are not, but it is about Sir Thomas Moore and his family and it is very engaging. Decidedly low-brow."

  • Sarah's Key

    Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay. Historical fiction about the roundup of thousands of Jewish families in Paris, deported and and ultimately transported to Auschwitz."Easy, interesting read for the beach."  "I read it in a day and understand why it's so popular but suggest reading with managed expectations. It's about a horrifying bit of French history. Sarah's story was poignant, evocative and sad. That said, it is not a very elegantly written book, and I had little sympathy for Julia (doormat!). It also ultimately devolved into a rather silly romance. With all that, I still think it's a good read."

  • Secret Life of Violet Grant

    Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams.  Beatriz writes the BEST beach books.  A Hundred Summers was on the list last year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This is her latest novel, another romantic, page-turning saga set against vivid historical backdrops.  Secret Life has interwoven narratives – that of young Vivian Schuyler in 1964 Manhattan, and of her aunt, Violet Schuyler Grant in 1914 Berlin - an aunt Vivian never knew she had until she receives a mysterious parcel and begins to unravel a secret family history.

  • Secrets of My Hollywood Life

    Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita. "Tween Mother-Daughter reading. There are four books in this series and my daughter and I have read each one and talk about them. In depth. No swear words, some kissing, no sex, no weirdness. Just a fun story of a girl (think Miley Cyrus) who is a huge TV star and longs for a normal life. Light, fluffy, fun."