Porch Reads: TikTok's Beach Book Alternative Bridges Fun And Formality

'Tis the season for beach reading, as store shelves are lined with whimsical stories ahead of the dense, research-style academic reads which launch as the weather cools and school terms resume. If you've never felt truly at bliss reading either beach reads or classic literature, you may find your perfect home in porch reads. Porch reads describe books written at the intersection of mindless and mindful, which find the balance between lighthearted entertainment and thought-provoking passages that leave you entranced with the storyline while pondering the meaning of the story's themes as they correlate with your own life. 

Beach reads came about as its own genre as a spin-off to traditional summer reading lists but with the adult twist of summers filled with fanciful daydreams and romantic storylines that always end with a happily ever after. Beach reads, such as those on this list, transpired from readers' desire to escape, whether from the summer heat or chaos of summer break from school. The genre has grown more mainstream with easy-to-read books which have little to no conflict, thus, making them as smooth as a bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day. For readers who enjoy beach reads but who would like more provocative and contemplative elements to consider while turning the pages, porch reads are TikTok's gift between the genres.

Find feminist icons without leaving your porch

Finding the perfect porch read is quite easy once you know what to look for, with many suggestions available on TikTok and other social media platforms. Books with strong female characters written from feminist angles are a wonderful place to start your porch reading journey. These stories have engaging storylines, where you continue to ponder the plot long after you've put the book down, yet are not too heavy for summer. Try starting with the classics, opting for feminist fiction titles such as "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte or "The Edible Woman" by Margaret Atwood. 

A modern book acclaimed for its well-written, multi-faceted female characters facing life prior to the women's movement, "Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus will have you fully engaged with each page. You'll unwittingly learn about life before women's voices were heard and how these bold women were treated as they fought to be seen for their talents. You may also wish to check out these nonfiction books about fascinating women in history.

Historical fiction blends breezy stories with our curiosity for bygone eras

It's clear that consumers want more thoughtful takes on whimsical stories, which can be seen in the stories told across films, shows, and on bookshelves. The acclaim and popularity of the streaming series "Bridgerton" has created something called "The Bridgerton Effect," wherein the desire and demand for regency-era historical fiction novels, both romantic stories and plots without romance, have increased significantly since the show's debut.

In addition to inspiring Regencycore and thematic trends across social media, the fascination with the world of "Bridgerton" has opened doors for historical fiction's place on the porch, paired perfectly with a warm summer evening and glass of your favorite beverage. 'The "Bridgerton Effect" has certainly provoked readers to search for regency-era novels, but the trend has expanded to other time periods with books that take readers back in time with stories about love, adventure, and quests for meaning, all while offering a hefty dose of historical facts and context that explains these historical times a tad differently than what you remember from history class.

Stories of young characters discovering mementos and journals of ancestors, such as a grandparent's WWII diary, are great porch reads. Examples include "When We Were Young and Brave" by Hazel Gaynor and "Sisters in Arms" by Kaia Alderson. You'll soon find yourself looking into the real-life events described in these stories, leaving you with a new way to absorb history. 

Ponder over stories of everyday life flipped on its head

For a mix of historical fiction, futuristic themes, and good ol' romance with strong female characters, series such as "American Royals" by author Katharine McGee take you into present-day storylines under the context of the U.S. having chosen monarchs instead of presidents. Indulge in what American royalty would look like today, with dukedoms of Florida and Texas, and immerse in these novels' family-oriented and romantic plots while pondering what life would be like if George Washington had decided to become King George.

In another iconic American era told from a fresh perspective, "Park Avenue Summer" by Renee Rosen will appeal to "Mad Men" fans. The story follows a fierce female protagonist who grasps onto the social vibrancy of the '60s to transition her midwestern roots to New York City's Park Avenue, amid the rise of women's magazines. "Park Avenue Summer" has been referred to as an homage to "Sex and the City" in the spirit of reimagining the iconic show if taken place decades earlier.

As you rock back and forth on your porch chair, indulge in stories reimagined that will leave you wondering if things should have turned out differently in history. These books, among others, will soon have a permanent place on your porch and in your mind.

Porch reads provide brainy benefits extending beyond the porch

Contemporary media options such as streaming services and social media platforms with both short- and long-form content are easy ways to pass time, chill out, and absorb content fairly mindlessly. In contrast, reading in today's world can feel like a chore. Researchers have attributed this attitude towards reading to how schools approach reading and literature, whether assigned reading is treated as a positive, exciting opportunity for curiosity or as a dreaded necessity, per a 2010 article in the Journal of Research in Reading. If you've always seen reading as an undesirable activity, porch reads are here to change your mind — if you give them a chance. The balance between captivating content and stimulating interests can open your world to this mystical medium between iconic literature and breezy beach reads.

Besides immersing yourself in a great story, reading has outstanding impacts on your mental health. In fact, just a few minutes of reading a day can decrease stress, muscle tension, and lower heart rate. Books can also increase our ability to empathize with others; find connections with characters; feel less alone; and learn about new identities, eras, regions, and cultures. Reading on a regular basis is a form of self-care that promotes self-connection and emotional connection with others. While the positive escape of porch reading may be a solo undertaking, its lasting effects will help you connect with the world.