The Best New Summer Books of 2017
When packing a beach bag, space is at a premium—you need a page-turner with characters that win you over instantly and a story that transports you to another world. That’s why we’ve vetted this year’s best beach books and put together a list full of new favorites. Whether you’re looking for historical fiction or mysteries, for a love story or a feel-good novel, we have the books everyone’s talking about and the hidden gems you’ll want to Instagram immediately. From the hottest reads to hit the 2017 bestseller list to brand new paperbacks easy to tuck into your tote, these are the perfect books to make your summer vacation even sweeter.
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Buy It: $10.49; amazon.com
Nicolette left her hometown years ago, after her best friend Corinne's mysterious disappearance; when Nic returns home to care for her father, another girl goes missing under strangely similar circumstances. Will Nicolette be able to solve both mysteries, or will her return home just reopen old wounds?
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
Buy It: $9.52; amazon.com
It's 1944, and Maddie and husband Ellis find themselves on a mission to reclaim their family honor—by moving to Scotland and searching for the Loch Ness monster. This strange setup becomes beautiful and poignant in the hands of author Sara Gruen, author of one of our favorites, Water for Elephants.
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Buy It: $11.70; amazon.com
If you loved Big Little Lies, then Truly Madly Guilty needs to be in your beach bag. This thriller about the cracks in the lives of seemingly perfect families is another addictive story from author Liane Moriarty—and Big Little Lies stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are already set to adapt Truly Madly Guilty for the screen as well.
The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell
Buy It: $9.27; amazon.com
Four friends in Louisiana marry young and hope for bright futures. But will the perfect lives they've built hold up under the pressure of real life? Their friendship might be the only thing that gets them through the trials and scandals that their men—the football star, the bad boy, the local pastor and the congressman's son—put them through.
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Buy It: $7.27; amazon.com
Lina doesn't want to go to Italy, but her mother's dying wish takes her there anyway. Inspired by her mother’s old journals, Lina finds herself retracing her steps to secret bakeries and romantic spots with her new "friend" Ren. Love & Gelato delivers heartwarming family moments and romance.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Buy It: $11.99; amazon.com
When Ann Patchett creates a world, we know we're going to love it, and Commonwealth does not disappoint. Filled with drama between two families, romance that threatens their safe lives, and a famous writer who splashes family secrets all over the world, Commonwealth is incredibly written and perfect for devouring on a beach trip or discussing during book club.
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
Buy It: $21.19; amazon.com
Jeff VanderMeer's incredible Southern Reach trilogy took science fiction and gave it a Southern Gothic twist, and Borne follows in its captivatingly creepy footsteps. Borne’s heroine, Rachel, lives in a dystopian society populated by biotech experiments gone wrong; when she risks everything to invite hope and possibility into her life, she becomes vulnerable to unknown dangers.
Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry
Buy It: $11; amazon.com
Balancing a successful Wall Street career and the roles of wife and mother is tough—nobody knows that better than author and Wall Street veteran Maureen Sherry. This insider’s look at the worlds of finance and motherhood is so pitch-perfect that Reese Witherspoon's company Pacific Standard Films optioned it for a movie.
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Buy It: $11; amazon.com
Emma married her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They were happy, but on their first wedding anniversary, he went missing. Years later, she finds a new soulmate and fiance, Sam—but when Jesse turns up alive, Emma’s life turns upside down all over again.
My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Buy It: $14.64; amazon.com
This new novel by the woman who brought us the Shopoholic series has all its hallmarks: there's the plucky heroine, the seemingly-perfect boss and the struggle to get the perfect man and the perfect bag. But as always, Kinsella’s plot feels fresh and fun; My (Not So) Perfect Life is actually SO perfect for a short vacation from everyday life.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Buy It: $9.80; amazon.com
Ever since Arthur’s wife, Miriam, died, his instincts have been to hide from the world and stick to a predictable schedule. But when he finds Miriam’s secret charm bracelet and learns about the adventures it represents, he finds his solitary life opening up to new possibilities.
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
Buy It: $17.70; amazon.com
Liv, Nora and their families have an amazing cruise vacation planned; everything’s wonderful until the children get lost in Central America while the ship is docked. As the adults start blaming each other and the children are left to depend on their own resources, Do Not Become Alarmed forces us to question how thin our veil of safety really might be.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Buy It: $15.89; amazon.com
Eleanor is socially awkward and dependent; her life is small and predictable, and that's the way she likes it. But her careful schedule starts to fall apart when she bands together with two new friends who open her up to new possibilities. Reese Witherspoon has optioned this title for a movie, so now’s your chance to check out the book before it hits screens.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Buy It: $13.68; amazon.com
Exit West tells the love story of Nadia and Saeed; young and in love, they’re in trouble because their society is crumbling. When they get a chance to leave, they take it—but can they survive as refugees, holding onto their identities and to each other?
The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
Buy It: $13.68; amazon.com
Two middle school girls are held at gunpoint in a sandwich shop, but while Lisa is abducted, Meredith is left behind. She has her freedom, but she’s haunted by the trauma and by questions of why she was let go while Lisa was taken.
The Girls by Emma Cline
Buy It: $11.12; amazon.com
In the 1960s, 14-year-old girl Evie is enchanted by the camaraderie and apparent freedom of a group of girls she meets in the park—their magnetic influence pulls her into a cult, and she’s too naïve to realize destruction and violence may be on her horizon.
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Buy It: $10.58; amazon.com
After a tragic car accident takes his three best friends, high school student Carter Briggs is lost and lonely. He reaches out to his sister, new therapist and parents—but will they be enough to quiet the ghosts that haunt him and quiet the voices of people in town who resent him for simply living?
Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave
Buy It: $16.51; amazon.com
Sunshine Mackenzie is a star. She has a line of bestselling cookbooks, legions of fans and a loving husband—and then she's hacked, and the life she built for herself completely crumbles. She has to return to her childhood home and the sister she's chosen to cut out her her life, attempting to build something new and lasting.
I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
Buy It: $10.28; amazon.com
Dr. Georgia Young is in a rut. She's a successful optometrist with grown children and a comfortable life, but she wonders if it's too late to really pursue her dreams. Since Terry McMillan brought us How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale, we're guessing there's hope for this wistful heroine as well.
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Buy It: $10.77; amazon.com
Based on and borrowing from Jane Eyre, Jane Steele is the story of a sensitive orphan—who’s also an assassin. Author Lyndsay Faye give us all the pomp and circumstance of an old English novel, but her murderous twists turn the genre on its head in way that’s sarcastic and satisfying.
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
Buy It: $6.90; amazon.com
Alice Hoffman (author of Practical Magic) is a master of magical love stories with twists of fate, and this story—about a headstrong woman forced into a loveless marriage who has a passionate affair and ends up the mother of French painter Camille Pissarro—delivers on all fronts.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Buy It: $15.66; amazon.com
In her last year of high school, Nadia Turner feels lost. Her mother has committed suicide, her father is distant, and she finds herself pregnant by the pastor's son. How she chooses to deal with those circumstances effects her and the church, leading to unexpected friendships and alliances.
Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann
Buy It: $17.67; amazon.com
High school senior Matthias is wracked with guilt because his best friend disappears after they have a fight. When he's offered a job at the school they attended, he thinks he'll find atonement; instead, old mysteries come to the surface.
The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor
Buy It: $17.10; amazon.com
Maeve Donnelly swims with the sharks in more ways than one—in this coming-home story set in Florida, she's a marine biologist dealing with an environmental scandal while also navigating the complicated relationship waters of family and love.
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
Buy It: $10.11; amazon.com
It's the days before World War I in England (the same time and setting as Downton Abbey), and members of polite English society are navigating the social sphere and falling in love. What begins as a lovely story about a small town leads to the beginning of an unimaginable war. This title by the author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is compelling and beautifully written.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Buy It: $16.20; amazon.com
This novel follows two girls as they grow up together dreaming of being dancers. Only one has talent, but both move out of their low-income upbringing. Follow their story as they handle friendship, competition and international pressures and upheaval.
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Buy It: $6.86; amazon.com
Teenager Jessie is trying to figure out her new life: Soon (maybe too soon) after her mother died, her father married another woman and moved Jessie across the country to an L.A. prep school. When a stranger online wants to help Jessie fit in at school, she takes the offer—but is it too-good-to-be-true?
Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder
Buy It: $8.78; amazon.com
This is one of the few books on our list you might want to pass to your husband or brother-in-law after you're done reading; it's the story of a group of men who get together to reenact the Washington Redskins' "Throwback Special" play—but behind the sports references are strong friendships, life challenges and a lot of through provoking ideas about marriage and what it means to be a man.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Buy It: $10.69; amazon.com
The wealthy Sinclair family seems perfect on the outside; they even spend summers on a private island. But granddaughter Cadence holds a secret that, when revealed, creates an incredible twist in this perfect-for-summer, can’t-put-it-down story.
The World's Largest Man by Harrison Scott Key
Buy It: $10.32; amazon.com
Harrison Scott Key’s humor and storytelling make this memoir of a bookish Mississippi boy and his hunting, fighting, football-obsessed father heart-breaking, heartwarming—and laugh-out-loud funny. You'll be quoting passages on Facebook and passing it around to family and friends.
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Buy It: $12.53; amazon.com
When a private plane crashes after taking off from Martha’s Vineyard and the only survivors are a down-and-out painter and a little boy, the media storm results in speculation and rumors. Before the Fall is written by TV screenwriter Noah Hawley whose gripping writing style results in a fast-paced, addictive thriller.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Buy It: $10.40; amazon.com
In this science-fiction-thriller-meets-quantum-mechanics page turner, family man Jason Dessen is kidnapped and knocked out. When he wakes, his wife and son are gone, but he’s a celebrated genius. Jason struggles to find out what happened and how he can get back to his real life—if in fact it was ever real at all.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Buy It: $11.20; amazon.com
Set in 1986, Eleanor & Park is full of nostalgia not just for ‘80s, but also for the feeling of first love that swallows you whole. With a mix of innocence and heart-wrenching infatuation, this is the book that will help you remember being a teenager—and that you’ll feel comfortable letting your teen daughter borrow when you’re done.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
Buy It: $7.13; amazon.com
This European story is a tale of neighbors struggling to come to terms with themselves late in life, of adventures not taken, of memories better forgotten, and of a love that’s gone unrequited for years.
Forever Is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan
Buy It: $7.48; amazon.com
James is in love with Lou, but she marries his best friend, Rob. James hides his feelings until eventually Lou and Rob's marriage becomes shaky, and his feelings become clear. Will mutual attraction be enough, or will James and Lou act on their desires—and if they do, what will come of it?
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
Buy It: $9.11; amazon.com
Bartholemew is an adult who's always lived with his mother. When she dies, he's completely at sea; he becomes obsessed with Richard Gere and writes him letters as he tries to assemble a new family. This book by the author of Silver Linings Playbook is quirky and heartfelt just like its predecessor.
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Buy It: $15.02; amazon.com
Looking for a fantasy novel steeped in romance like Twilight or Beautiful Creatures? Cassandra Clare delivered drama, supernatural intrigue and romance aplenty with her incredibly popular Mortal Instruments series, and now she’s ready to start it all up again. The first title in this new series, Lady Midnight, is already a bestseller, and its sequel, The Lord of Shadows, publishes May 23—so get ready to binge on a new guilty pleasure.
Relativity by Antonia Hayes
Buy It: $9.87; amazon.com
Ethan is a talented and precocious boy protected by his single mother. She tries to hide the truth about his father—but when illness forces Ethan’s father back into his life, her carefully built walls begin to crumble.
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Buy It: $9.03; amazon.com
Alice Pearse is excited to take on the role of working mom while beginning a brand new career. She sees "having it all" on the horizon when things come crashing down in this funny, biting and relatable novel.
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Buy It: $17.67; amazon.com
Aviva Grossman is a congressional intern whose affair with her boss becomes front-page news. To escape the scandal, she moves and changes her name; but when she decides to run for public office years later, her past comes back to haunt her in this ripped-from-the-headlines story.