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FIRST Summer Reading Guide: 13 Must-Read Books That Feel Like An Instant Vacation!

Kick off beach season with one of these page-turners — from mysteries to thrillers, rom-coms and more!

Sunshine, sandy shores, long weekends, salty air…there are endless reasons why summer is a favorite time of year. Another reason we love this season: new books! There’s nothing quite like sinking into a beach chair or a hammock and cracking open a new read. So to kick off beach season, we rounded up our favorite new — and most-anticipated — books! From Swan Song by the “reigning queen of beach reads” Elin Hilderbrand, to Sunny Hostin’s Summer on Highland Beach, Eileen Garvin’s Crow Talk and more, there’s truly something for everyone.

Keep scrolling to discover our 13 summer must-reads! We even included audiobook recommendations to keep you company during a long road trip or travel day. Happy reading!

Best book club picks

Literary Fiction: Crow Talk by Eileen Garvin 

Literary Fiction: Crow Talk by Eileen Garvin 

Bestselling author of The Music of Bees Eileen Garvin returns with a poignant novel that centers on two women. Frankie O’Neill is a lonely ornithologist working on her thesis, and Anne Ryan is an Irish musician, far from home, raising her son, Aiden, who refuses to speak. They all wind up in Beauty Bay, a stunning community of summer homes on the shores of June Lake in the Pacific Northwest. Then, when Frankie finds an injured baby crow, a journey toward hope and healing for herself, Anne and Aiden begins.

Historical Fiction: All the Summers in Between by Brooke Lea Foster (Available 6/4) 

All the Summers in Between by Brooke Lea Foster (beach reads)
Gallery Books

Told in the dual time lines of 1967 and 1977, this dazzling story set in the Hamptons follows wealthy Margot and hardworking Thea, who become unlikely friends one summer while working together at a record store. Then, a decade later, the women reunite and are forced to reckon with a tragic incident that happened one August night all those years ago. A tale of glamour, intrigue and friendship set during a transformative era.

For more historical fiction: 12 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books That Will Send You Back in Time

Humor: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan (Available 6/4)

Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Fans of Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan will delight over her hilarious new novel full of heart and wit. Organizer Ali Morris’ life is a mess. Her mom died two years ago, then her husband left and she hasn’t worn pants with a zipper in a long time. On her first adventure out in jeans, Ali meets Ethan, the handsome man who didn’t seem to mind that her dog peed on him. Ali isn’t in a good place to strike up a new romance, but surely there’s no harm in a summer fling, right?

Family Saga: A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey  (Available 6/25)

A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey (beach reads)
Gallery Books

Undeniable Southern charm and one family’s unforgettable history meld in this story starring Keaton Smith, who travels to sun-soaked Beaufort, North Carolina, for a fresh start and to help put her mother’s childhood home on the market. Soon, she uncovers secrets about the grandparents she never had the chance to meet. Rewind to 1976: Rebecca “Becks” Saint James is making a name for herself as the best hostess in North Carolina. Keaton and Becks are connected through time by the house on Sunset Lane. A story of family ties, friendship and love. 

Related: 14 Captivating Family Saga Books Filled With Drama, Mystery, History and More!

Women’s Fiction: Summer on Highland Beach by Sunny Hostin

Summer on Highland Beach by Sunny Hostin
William Morrow

Bestselling author and co-host of The View Sunny Hostin is back with the third installment of her Summer Beach series — and this time, she’s transporting readers to Highland Beach along the Chesapeake Bay. Olivia Jones’ life is intertwined with the coastal community of Highland Beach. But from the secrets surrounding her aunt’s death to a controlling grandmother and more, Olivia’s legacy is complicated. To add to the drama, she must decide if she wants to return to her life — and love — in Sag Harbor. 

Best poolside or beach reads

Romance: Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez

Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez (beach reads)

A slow-burn romance, a pretty lakeside island, witty banter…Abby Jimenez’s new novel ticks every box for the perfect beach read. Justin and Emma both believe they are cursed when it comes to romance, so they concoct a plan to “date” for the summer to change their luck. Will real love follow?

Historical Mystery: The Lost Letters from Martha’s Vineyard by Michael Callahan (Avaliable 5/21)

The Lost Letters from Martha’s Vineyard by Michael Callahan
‎ Mariner Books

In 1959 L.A., Mercy Welles is far from her roots and has molded herself into a movie star…then she vanishes. Almost 60 years later, Kit O’Neill finds a box of items that reveal her grandmother was the Mercy Welles—and this fact leads Kit to Martha’s Vineyard.

Romantic Comedy: Alternate Endings by Ali Rosen

Alternate Endings by Ali Rosen (Beach reads)

This charming, second-chance love story follows Beatrice Leal, a single mother in the midst of a nasty divorce. But when her boss’ own divorce forces her to travel from NYC to Ireland once a month, Beatrice has to deal with her company’s new chief tech officer, Jack Sander, who broke her heart 20 years ago.

Chick Lit: A Wedding in Lake Como by Jennifer Probst

A Wedding in Lake Como by Jennifer Probst

Readers are whisked to Italy’s Lake Como in this fun, feel-good saga. Despite their lives taking them all in different directions, three friends, Ava, Madison and Chelsea, made a pact to be at each other’s weddings. So when a destination wedding in Italy brings them back together, they must face the past and heal old wounds.

Fiction: Dear Dotty by Jaclyn Westlake  (Available 6/4)

Dear Dotty by Jaclyn Westlake (beach reads)

Laugh-out-loud moments and rich characters abound in this debut novel by Jaclyn Westlake. Rosie Benson is struggling in life, so she turns to her globe-trotting great-aunt Dotty — the only person who lets her be herself. But after Dotty passes away, Rosie discovers more about her aunt, and herself.

Best audiobooks for a road trip

Thriller: The Resort by Sara Ochs

The Resort by Sara Ochs
Sourcebooks Landmark

A heart-racing vacation thriller begins in this riveting story as soon as Cass sets foot on Thailand’s famous Koh Sang resort looking for an escape. Since then, she’s learned the three rules of the island: Leave the past behind, be careful who you trust and if someone discovers who you really are, run. With danger around every corner, Cass will have to outrun the ones who are after her.

Love audiobooks? Best Audiobooks to Keep You Company, From Celebrity Memoirs to Rom-Coms & More

Contemporary Fiction: The Summer We Started Over by Nancy Thayer 

The Summer We Started Over by Nancy Thayer (beach reads)
Ballantine Books

Beloved author Nancy Thayer is known for her touching, hopeful books — and her latest follows suit. When Eddie Grant goes home to Nantucket, she and her sister, Barrett, have to confront their painful family dynamics since losing their brother. Navigating this loss, the sisters find renewed faith and courage.

Mystery: Swan Song by Elin Hilderbrand (Available 6/11)

 Swan Song by Elin Hilderbrand 
Little, Brown and Company

Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand is the reigning “queen of beach reads,” and her upcoming Swan Song brings her Nantucket novels to a captivating finish. Ed Kapenash is ready to retire after serving for 35 years as chief of police on Nantucket island. But just before his retirement, he receives a phone call that puts him back on the job.

Related: 10 Completely Captivating Cozy Mystery Books to Snuggle Up With!

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For more FIRST Book Club picks:

FIRST Book Club: ‘The Paradise Problem,’ ‘Good Material’ and More Recommended Reads for May 10 to May 16

FIRST Book Club: 6 Feel-Great Reads You’ll Love for May 3rd – May 9th

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