Ah, the summer beach read. It’s a classic literary sub-genre, a category typically made up of books written by and for women — books labelled with the dreaded “chick lit” tag. They’re usually light, breezy, and full of romance. And you know what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I read those books year-round. I’m a firm believer that a stereotypical “summer beach read” should be enjoyed any time, and that they have the potential to be as smart, funny, and page-turning as any other book. That said, sometimes on a hot summer day, all you want to do is curl up on a dock or lay out on a towel in the sand with a book that makes you feel good, makes you laugh, or makes you want to fall in love, or a book that’s so thrilling not even the call of the ocean or a calm lake could make you put it down.
These books fit that criteria. You’ll be recommending them to friends long after the weather cools and fall hits — but let’s not think about that yet. Call them beach reads or just call them great books, here are our picks for the must-read titles of the season.