Let’s Go to the Beach!

Summer was off to a mild start here in Chicago . . . then last weekend’s heat wave made it very clear the season—and its sweltering 95-degree temps—was upon us. Whether you’re ready to head to the beach, the pool, or just want to dream of being near (ice-cold) water, here are some reads guaranteed to transport you to the beach. From historical fiction and YA to literary fiction and romance, we’ve got you covered. So throw down a towel wherever you are, grab an iced beverage, and enjoy the sand and waves—even if it’s just through the page.

Don’t Date Rosa Santos, by Nina Moreno

Rosa’s grandfather was killed on the boat from Cuba and her father was lost to the ocean before she was born. Now, rumor has it the Santos women are cursed by the sea, and despite living in a coastal town, they don’t go near it. To further complicate matters, Rosa’s abuela refuses to talk about Cuba, which makes it even harder for Rosa to tell her about her desire to study in Havana for a semester. Rosa definitely already has enough to worry about before throwing a boy into the mix, but then Alex, who has tattoos of the ocean across his arms (and parents who own the marina) crosses her path—and Rosa has too much riding on the romance to let her fears stop her any longer. From Florida to Cuba, Moreno explores personal identity, family legacy, and community.

Land of Love and Drowning, by Tiphanie Yanique

The Land of Love and Drowning follows three generations of a family living on Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Though Anette was raised among the upper-class families on the island, by the time her sister, Eeona, is born, the family fortunes have shifted. This novel, filled with lush prose, delivers an intergenerational saga replete with secrets, myths, and family curses. This is both a novel of people and place; the novel opens as the Virgin Islands transfer from Danish to American rule, and it confronts political realities while also taking personal stories into consideration. Throughout, the writing feels like a slow humid day; you can luxuriate in the waves of the prose as it laps at your feet . . . but harsh currents and big ideas are never far from shore.

The Pisces, by Melissa Broder 

When you think of the beach, do you think of mermaids . . . or mermen? Well, I have a merman for you (though, if you’re looking for mermaids, check out some of the siren-inspired YA reads of 2018)—and I can almost guarantee you haven’t read anything like this before. Lucy has stalled writing the Sappho dissertation she’s been working on for over a decade, and her long-term relationship just ended. So, at her sister’s prodding, she travels to L.A. to house-sit. Her Tinder hookups and love addiction group therapy meetings aren’t really helping her feel anything, but then she meets an attractive swimmer on the beach by her sister’s house. This book, essayist and poet Broder’s first novel, got all the buzz when it came out last year, and I feel like I’ve been processing the story since then. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost recommended this for my book club, just because there would be so much to talk about! Fair warning: if you are sensitive to animal neglect in books, maybe skip this one.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, by Sarah Ockler

Elyse was the most talented singer on Tobago—until she lost her voice. Seeking an escape, she accepts a friend’s invitation and leaves the Caribbean behind for Atargatis Cove, Oregon, where it’s too cold to even swim. There she meets Christian Kane, a Stanford student whose family summers in the cove every year. Christian may be known for breaking hearts, but he doesn’t treat Elyse like she’s broken. And when Christian needs a first mate for the cove’s Pirate Regatta, Elyse must find the courage to face down the waves that took her voice. I could practically feel the salty breeze while reading this one, and the coastal town setting offers overheated readers still craving a beachy atmosphere the option of a cooler clime. (Don’t worry, the weather is temperate, but the romance is still plenty steamy and sweet.)

The Unhoneymooners, by Christina Lauren

Olive isn’t the lucky twin; that’s a privilege reserved for bride Ami, who’s scored everything in her wedding, including the bridesmaid dresses and dinner buffet, from winning contests and coupons. But when Amy’s good luck sours in a food poisoning incident at the wedding reception, Olive finds herself stepping in to claim her sister’s free honeymoon to Hawaii. There’s just one catch—she has to go with the groom’s brother, Ethan. Olive and Ethan don’t get along, but they’re going to have to pretend to be newlyweds in order to enjoy their tropical getaway. Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the best-selling authors behind the Christina Lauren moniker, have quickly forged a name for themselves as one of the most versatile duos in contemporary romance, and they always deliver. Here we have a hilarious entry in both the hate-to-love (a personal favorite for the high likelihood of banter) and fake relationship canons. A solid addition to any beach bag.


About the Author:

Melody’s love of words has taken her on a variety of adventures, beyond the adventures on the page, including librarian, bookseller, literary intern, dramaturg, and script reader. Reading hundreds of books a year, she's constantly seeking that next literary fix.

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