2023 Beach Reads On Our Favorite And Most-Anticipated Lists

Beach reads are an inherent symbol of escape thanks to their typically lighthearted content and fun nature, which is why here at Glam, we can't stop picking them up. Folks might mostly consider beach reads to be novels, but we at Glam have never scoffed at a memoir, either. The central idea is that the book should complement your vacation. You're relaxing on the beach — or any other vacation spot; the beach is a state of mind in this concept — and should remain in that tranquil state, not becoming distressed by heavy material or puzzled by literary musings. (If that's your vacay jam, we won't yuck your yum, though.) The beach read is an idyllic vehicle on which you can travel from brine-wafting ocean breeze to any and every world imaginable — all while on a beach towel and perhaps with your favorite adult beverage in hand.

Now, if you're in a reading rut, you're in luck: Glam's editors are reading a range of books this summer, from light-as-a-feather romantic dramas to underwater adventures and memoirs that translate heavier life experiences through humor and grace.

Lindsay Ray: Happy Place by Emily Henry

If your idea of the perfect beach read consists of love and heartbreak mixed with a little sexual tension, complex human emotions, chaotic friendships, and a smidge of drama, then A: Did we just become best friends? And B: I have the perfect summer read for you. Emily Henry's "Happy Place" will take you to your happy place — whether that's a sandy beach, a poolside lounger, or your backyard deck — all the while keeping you laughing and crying with your fictional besties.

Imagine this: You and your best friends from college and their partners are all one big happy family. For the last decade, each summer, the six of you have traveled to your "happy place," a cozy coastal cottage in Maine. This year, there's a slight (big) problem: You and your partner have broken up ... and have yet to tell anybody. To keep the peace, you're stuck sharing a room, pretending to be together (while still desperately wanting each other) until after the trip when you'll come clean. This decision has you asking yourself: How many times can one heart break?

That's Harriet's story. By the end, I had a case of the dreaded book hangover and didn't want it to end. It broke my heart, and I put it back together again. You'll close the last chapter with a valuable lesson in love, life, and friendship, giving you everything you could ever want in a beach read — even if, like me, you live nowhere near a beach.

Vanessa Elle: Scotlander by Sheila McClure

Though I usually like my beach reads to be set at the actual beach — or at least against a summery backdrop — this season I'll be making an exception for Sheila McClure's "Scotlander." Telling the story of protagonist Willa, whose late best friend signs her up for an "Outlander"-themed event at a real Scottish castle, where she meets and falls for the son of the family who own said castle, this is a book I would read literally anywhere, anytime.

Though a gray and hazy Highland landscape will likely whisk me far away from my beach towel, it will doubtless be worth it to dive into a love story set in one of the prettiest countries on the planet. The description of love interest Finn as "irritating—and irritatingly sexy" suggests that we may be in for a slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers vibe, which I'll take over #instalove any day. This one had me sold at the mention of a Scottish romance, but I also feel like Willa's arc as she deals with the loss of her bestie will pack the emotional punch I need this summer.

Esmeralda Baez: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

I'm a sucker for a good thriller. That said, there's no shocker my most anticipated beach read for this summer is going to involve "The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave, especially when it's already been adapted into an Apple TV+ series. And while I am usually a book-first-then-watch-the-movie kind of person, I couldn't help watching the show when catching a first glance at the trailer. Nonetheless, if the book is half as good as the movie, which it usually is, then I have high hopes that it's going to be one good beach read.

The storyline involves a woman named Hannah Hall, played by Jennifer Garner, who is suddenly taking care of her stepdaughter Bailey (played by Angourie Rice), after her husband Owen (portrayed by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) takes off, leaving her one last note telling her to "protect her." Now, it's up to Hannah and Bailey to find out what lead to the mysterious disappearance of Owen, while also trying to figure out who can really be trusted. "The Last Thing He Told Me people will be thrilled with it if they're fans of the book. Laura Dave has thought through every possible choice. She knows what she wants to put on the screen," shares Jennifer Garner in an Apple TV+ interview. On that note, I'll be tossing enough sunscreen into my beach bag to finish this book in one sitting.

Erica Brooke Gordon: A Little Closer to Home by Ginger Zee

I first became aware of Ginger Zee, the chief meteorologist for "ABC News," when my nephew appeared briefly with her in an ABC news segment shot at the Philadelphia Zoo c. 2016 or 2017. After I heard she wrote a book about her struggle with depression, I picked it up one day on a whim. While "A Little Closer to Home" is the follow-up to Zee's debut memoir, "Natural Disaster," you don't need to read it first for this one to make sense.

"A Little Closer to Home" is an engaging memoir and a quick read. Despite the heaviness of the topic, the story itself is not. Zee breaks her follow-up story down into easily-digestible parts. She writes with humor and is self-deprecating. Millennials especially will find her writing relatable, as she includes a lot of '80s, '90s, and early '00s references. Several parts of her story resonated with me as well.

My favorite line of the book was its last: "The storms don't last forever; they can't, and they won't. It's not how the atmosphere works and it's not how life works." In addition to loving the obvious metaphor, the line especially resonated with me on a day I felt down and made me feel better. Now, when I see the author reporting on ABC's "World News Tonight" or "Good Morning America," I feel like I know her — like she's a friend. You don't get that sense from every memoir by a public figure, which is a testament to its authenticity.

Preston Smith: Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan

To be clear, the perfect beach read doesn't have to be set near water, but it's certainly a nice, on-theme coincidence when it happens. Rick Riordan might be best known for his mythological novels (hello, Percy Jackson!), but he's proven in "Daughter of the Deep" that he's not afraid to branch out into other forms of fantastical adventure and escape — this time calling on literary history by planting his characters in the same world as "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas" by Jules Verne. (Yes, the protagonist, Ana Dakkar, finds the Nautilus — a classic mid-lecture daydream for recovering English majors everywhere.)

"Daughter of the Deep," though a smooth and airy read overall, explores family trauma and other heavier topics in classic Riordan fashion, making the human experience accessible for people of all ages. This isn't a shocker given that Riordan is primarily a middle-grade author, but it aids this book's status as an amazing beach read. Just imagine lying on the beach after a swim and being instantly transported to depths we can't normally reach. It can instantly elevate your vacay experience, and though I'm personally only 35 or so pages in, I'm yearning for water like never before, this book a siren call that almost cements it as another mythological fixture in Riordan's bibliography.