I don’t really feel like this needs a lot of preface. I’m just gonna list 10 excellent beach reads. That’s all.
I. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Evelyn is quite the drama queen. After years living in recluse, she reaches out to a specific, unassuming journalist to share the scandalous and fantastical story of her career as one of the most iconic actresses Hollywood has seen. As she tells the stories of her seven husbands, more rebellion and propaganda is involved than one might imagine. Spanning from the golden age of Hollywood to modern day, this story has all the drama, glamour, romance, and scandal one could hope for in a beach read. And the ending….well, just wait; it’s perfectly satisfying and astonishing.
II. A French Wedding. Hannah Tunnecliffe.
Ahhhh, this book. Full of all the arts: music, cooking, painting. Six college friends reunite on the coast of Brittany after years of all being together for Max’s 40th birthday. Throughout the weekend, secrets are revealed, romances are rekindled, and drama coats it all as the friends leave the weekend with much different views of each other than ever before.
Of course, this book being set in France is what first enticed me. Hannah Tunnicliffe writes characters with such realistic back stories and so much depth, it’s hard to believe they’re not real people.
III. One True Loves. Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Another one by good old TJR. If you’re feeling a little blah, a little blasé, a little unexcited about things in general, you need to read this book. You cannot help but empathize with Emma and the dilemma she finds herself in when her husband who’s been presumed dead for years calls to tell her he’s alive and coming home…but meanwhile, she’s engaged to a new man. Emma suddenly has to figure out who her one true love is. What does that even mean? Can you have more than one true love? What do you do when you have, after years of heartbreak and grieving, allowed yourself to love again, just for your first love to arrive back in your life? Ugh. THE FEELS.
The pages practically flip themselves. Please please read this book.
IV. The Life List. Lori Nelson Spielman.
Another good one when you feel like you want a little romance and empathy in your life. Brett and her mother are very close, so when the mother dies, Brett feels like she’s lost her best friend. According to her mother’s will, Brett has to complete her ‘Life List’ she’d made when she was the hopeful and naïve age of fourteen in order to receive her inheritance. By why? Her romantic, optimistic childhood dreams don’t nearly resemble her now 34 year old ambitions and some seem impossible! Go to Paris? Fall in love? Rekindle her relationship with her father who died 7 years ago? Some goals seem attainable – after all she already feels in love with her irresistibly handsome boyfriend, so that one can be checked off, right? As Brett figures out why her mother required such an unusual task and realizes how far she’s veered off the path she imagined for herself, one thing becomes clear: sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the simplest and unexpected places.
V. The One That Got Away. Bethany Chase.
Sarina Mahler’s got it all in the bag. After her mother’s death 10 years ago, alll she’s wanted is a perfect family and things seem to be aligning up nicely. Her architecture practice is ~killing it~ and her HAWT and adoring boyfriend, Noah is surely going to propose any day now. Well, coincidentally, while Noah is on a temporary assignment abroad, Sarina’s former flame (and did i mention retired Olympic swimmer?) Eamon Roy arrives in town asking her to help renovate his recently purchased fixer-upper. Eamon is a dream client – he trusts Sarina’s eye and quickly, she’s reminded of all the reasons she fell for him back in the day. Y’ALL. I love some good dramatic romance. Poor Sarina’s carefully structured future with Noah doesn’t seem all that perfect anymore. Whyyy did Eamon have to reappear in her life? Sarina is faced with a feeling no one wants to experience: Am I making the right choice? What do I truly want in life and love?
VI .The One That Got Away. Leigh Himes.
Yes, same title, different book. I’m realizing I love books where the main character has to make a choice to determine her path for love. Here, Abbey Lahey is living the middle class wife nightmare: a harried, working mother of two children, struggling to make ends meet in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Well, one day, a stumble down a Nordstrom escalator sends Abbey into an alternate universe where she wakes up to ‘the one that got away’: Alex Vanholt. He’s handsome, rich, and enamored with his wife, Abbey….Vanholt? While at first dazzled by her new life full of glitzy parties, expensive, tailored clothes, and nannies, Abbey slowly begins to notice flaws in her new glamorous, pristine life. She begins to find herself reminiscing on her old life and almost missing the craziness that came with her blue collar life. Torn between these two realities, Abbey evaluates herself and begins to reclaim herself, whoever that is.
This book tugs at your heartstrings and is an excellent reminder that what speaks to the brain isn’t always what speaks to the heart.
VII. Rules & Civility
This one is for the more structures amongst us – the ones who like a little more poise and culture in their beach reads.
Ahhhh, early 1900’s Manhattan. Think 1940’s Gossip Girl. Katey Kontent is thrown into the world of the affluent after a chance meeting with Tinker Grey. This book maneuvers through all of Katey’s thoughts and new relationships with excellent fluidity and appropriateness. Nothing seems forced or unnecessary in this tale of a young woman who’s introduced to the upper echelons of New York society and manages to fit in with nothing to go on other than her intrinsic confidence and quick wit. It’s full of glamour, a dash of drama, and the perfect amount of romantic relationships. You put this book down wanting to transport to pre WWII New York City and live amongst the city’s elite.
VIII. Eligible. Curtis Sittenfield.
Whoooo. This book is the modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I’m just gonna copy and paste the book’s summary because I don’t think I can explain it better.
“This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .
And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.”
IX. Me Before You series. JoJo Moyes.
This is kinda a 3-1 deal. This whole series tells the heart-wrenching, soul-searching, love lost and found story of Louisa Clarke. Honestly, you just want to be this girl’s best friend. She’s quirky, she’s true to herself, and she’s experienced such awful loss and heartbreak you want to hug her and never let her go. The first book, tells the story of Louisa’s unexpected love with the man she’s hired to take care of, handsome and surprisingly witty Will Traynor. The next two books continue on with Louisa’s experience with crippling heartbreak, new love, exciting new possibilities, and the seizing of once in a lifetime opportunities only for it to potentially destroy the stability she worked so hard to create for herself. Also, if you haven’t seen the movie ‘Me Before You’. I highly encourage you to read the book first then watch the movie. I had to sit 10 minutes after the credits rolled to compose myself I bawled so hard. UGH. so. good.
X. The Last Letter From Your Lover. JoJo Moyes.
Jojo knows how to tug on your heartstrings, lemme tell ya. Bouncing back and forth between 1960 and present day, this book tells the story of Jennifer Stirling. In 1960, Jennifer wakes up in the hospital remembering nothing – not the car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even her own name. While looking for something to remind of the woman people tell her she is, she finds a note of passion signed “B”. Modern day (well, 2003) journalist Ellie Haworth discovers the letter and becomes obsessed with finding the recipient and sender of the letter and finding out what happened to these seemingly forbidden lovers. Y’ALL. This story wraps you around it’s little finger and cements itself in your heart. It’s like you get addicted to this book. Every chapter is more seductive. The story of Jennifer as she searches for this mysterious “B” – a man who seemed wiling to risk anything for a life with her. She’s faced with so many questions. Who is this man? Why hasn’t he been looking for me? What if my husband finds out?
This is probably my favorite book of all time. It’s perfect mixture of culture, glamour, suspense, romance, and poise.