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21 Best Beach Reads for the Perfect Escape

Sit back, grab your sunglasses, and relax. Here are the best beach reads to enjoy by the water in 2022.

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21 Best Beach Reads For The Perfect Escape Feature, Getty Images, via merchant (10)

Engaging beach reads for pure escapism

When it comes to picking the best beach reads, we all want books that will sweep us off our feet and help us detach from reality a little. We scoured the shelves to bring you titles that are the perfect summertime distractions and that you won’t be able to put down—from swooning romances to laugh-out-loud comedies to heart-racing thrillers. Psst…you don’t need to wait until your next official vacation to read one of these page-turners. These beach reads are perfect anytime you want to lose yourself in a book.

How we chose the best beach reads

This curated list of the best beach reads includes selections from Reader’s Digest book editors (which are noted by the “Reader’s Digest Editor’s Choice” seal), fan favorites that raked in rave reviews, anticipated novels that have tons of buzz, and best sellers that have received critical acclaim. Once you’ve read them all, you can find more gripping titles from our lists of favorite romance novelsbest books of all time, young adult novels, fantasy novels, and historical fiction.

For more book trivia and inside info on authors and books news, follow the Reader’s Digest Select Editions page on Facebook.

Book Lovers by Emily Henryvia merchant

1. Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Release date: May 3, 2022

Even the cover of Emily Henry’s newest romance will have you dreaming of a plane ride or beach day long enough to let you devour the story in one go. As the title suggests, this delightfully anticipated book was made for bibliophiles. Book Lovers is the story of a whip-smart literary agent and a mysterious book editor who can’t seem to escape each other—even during their summer vacation away from the city. The enemies-turned-lovers trope has never been so enchanting.

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James Patterson: The Stories of My Life by James Pattersonvia merchant

2. James Patterson: The Stories of My Life by James Patterson

Release date: June 6, 2022

Summer reading doesn’t have to be all rom-coms and flights of fancy—after all, reading is important for your brain. Find a balance between frothy paperback novels and intense literary titles with James Patterson‘s highly anticipated autobiography. Despite the fact that it’s nonfiction, it promises to be a doozy of a beach read—all action, ambition, and celebrity, with nary a saccharine story in sight. The book will detail how one small-town boy from upstate New York grew to become one of the best-known writers in the world.

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The Bodyguard by Katherine Centervia merchant

3. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Release date: July 19, 2022

If your perfect beach reads are sizzling romance novels mixed with laugh-out-loud foibles and a dash of fast-paced action, The Bodyguard is calling your name. In a storyline that author Jodi Picoult has called “unequivocally delightful,” professional bodyguard Hannah Brooks must pose as shadowy superstar Jack Stapleton’s girlfriend on a trip back to his childhood home. This easy, breezy romp might easily become one of the best books to read on the beach this year.

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The Family You Make by Jill Shalvisvia merchant

4. The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis

Release date: January 11, 2022

Heads up: If you love The Family You Make, you’re in luck! It’s the first of a new Jill Shalvis series. And though this particular plot is set in snowy ski country, the warmth of the characters’ connection makes it a delightful summer read as well as a great Christmas book. When two strangers get caught in a blizzard, one of them calls home with an impulsive lie that he believes will be his deathbed tale. But when the two live to see another day, they must unravel truth from lies, and real romance from false pretense, without pushing each other away.

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The Lies I Tell by Julie Clarkvia merchant

5. The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

Release date: June 21, 2022

Psychological thriller books can make great beach reads. In The Lies I Tell, a con woman and the woman whose life she might have ruined forge an unlikely friendship. As their relationship deepens, both question their motivations—and their notion of what justice for the past might mean for the future. This twisty, mind-bending domestic thriller will stick with you all summer long.

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Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghamvia merchant

6. Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Release date: June 7, 2022

Annabel Monaghan’s debut adult novel Nora Goes Off Script follows Nora Hamilton, a romance channel screenwriter whose husband has just walked out of her life. In a mischievous act of revenge, she turns her tragedy into a romantic movie screenplay. But when that screenplay gets picked up for the big screen and she’s thrown into the world of celebrities like Leo Vance—aka the “Sexiest Man Alive”—life goes a little off-script.

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Lucy Checks In by Dee Ernstvia merchant

7. Lucy Checks In by Dee Ernst

Release date: August 16, 2022

Lucy Giannetti’s life and career implode after she takes the fall for a high-profile love affair in Lucy Checks In. Desperate and alone, she travels to France to work at the Hotel Paradis, a rustic and rundown inn. But is it possible to begin a brand-new life at the age of 49? Can she find romance, friendship, and happiness so far from home? Add this one to your beach bag to find out!

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My Summer Darlings by May Cobbvia merchant

8. My Summer Darlings by May Cobb

Release date: May 17, 2022

This riveting crime book follows a trio of wine-loving Texas women who want nothing more than a little excitement in their lives. In walks new-in-town Will Harding to quench their thirst. But as each woman’s relationship with Will sizzles, they become more detached from one another and entwined with the mysterious man’s edgy, deadly motives. With My Summer Darlings, prepare for a sexy sizzle of a beach read!

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The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myersvia merchant

9. The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

Release date: March 1, 2022

Before the proverbial ink had even dried, The Tobacco Wives topped bibliophiles’ must-read lists for 2022. It also landed on our roundups of the best historical fiction books and best books written by female authors. The coming-of-age story about a North Carolina dressmaker investigating her town’s powerful elite will get your heart pounding and mind swirling on any summer vacation. It’s the perfect escapist read to entertain, inspire, and feel empowered to make changes once you leave your beach towel.

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Fake by Erica Katzvia merchant

10. Fake by Erica Katz

Release date: February 2022

If you’re looking for mystery books to read on the beach this summer, Erica Katz delivers. In Fake, protagonist Emma Caan creates copies of famous artworks. One day, an art collector whose work she has created for years shows up and introduces himself. He’s rich—filthy rich. And he’s asking her to take on a side hustle that could change her life forever. Of course, things go wrong, but along the way, Katz escorts readers through a dazzling rotation of high-society fetes and venues. It’s a fun, breezy romp through an underground world dripping with gold.

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Gilt by Jamie Brennervia merchant

11. Gilt by Jamie Brenner

Release date: June 21, 2022

From the author of Blush comes another luscious summer sizzler for your list of beach reads. In Gilt, you’ll burst onto the scene of a high-society family of jewelers with something to hide. When family outcast Gemma Maybrook decides to return to the flock to take back what’s hers, sparks will fly. From the concrete jungle of New York to the sun-drenched streets of Provincetown on Cape Cod, author Jamie Brenner takes her readers on a summer adventure.

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One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serlevia merchant

12. One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Release date: March 1, 2022

The perfect beach reads should take you places—preferably beautiful, romantic vacation destinations. In the case of One Italian Summer, prepare to land at the sophisticated Hotel Poseidon in Positano, Italy. There, a woman grieving the loss of her beloved mother begins to question everything: Her marriage. Her happiness. Her purpose. But when a woman like her mother—only decades younger—befriends her, a magical, transformative journey begins. This fantasy book will transport you in more ways than one and make a great mother-daughter book to read together on vacay.

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The It Girl by Ruth Warevia merchant

13. The It Girl by Ruth Ware

Release date: July 12, 2022

In The It Girl, best-selling author Ruth Ware tackles an Oxford campus whodunit. A decade after the crime, Hannah Jones has finally moved on from the murder of her sharp-tongued college friend April. But when a journalist shows up with clues that suggest the wrong man went to jail, Hannah reconnects with her college crew to figure out what happened. And as in most Ruth Ware novels, secrets are revealed as a dangerous game begins.

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The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. Jamesvia merchant

14. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

Release date: March 15, 2022

In The Sun Down Motel, Simone St. James gave readers a delightfully creepy noir fiction masterpiece, and in The Book of Cold Cases, she does it again. With a story reminiscent of the best Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie chillers, a true-crime blogger named Shea gets the chance to meet an acquitted murder suspect in the latter’s dark mansion. This is spine-tingling summer reading that will make you want to turn on all the lights—or read in broad daylight by the pool.

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Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Livia merchant

15. Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Release date: April 5, 2022

If you’re looking for books by Asian authors, pick up Portrait of a Thief. Reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven and Baby Driver, this action-packed yet contemplative heist will have readers’ minds reeling until the last paragraph. The premise is simple: A tight crew of Chinese American students is offered a job—steal back precious Chinese artwork lifted from Beijing generations ago. Grace D. Li’s slick storytelling, combined with touching portrayals of identity, home, and friendship, makes a delicious, moving summer read.

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A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddingsvia merchant

16. A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings

Release date: March 1, 2022

Mazey Eddings’s debut novel, A Brush with Love, is the fresh, breezy breath of air your beach bag needs. Charming protagonist Harper lives with anxiety. And ambition. It’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. That’s why she swears she won’t slip up and topple carefully laid plans even when romance stares her in the face. But when she and “just a friend” Dan spend more time together, can Harper stay the course?

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The Counselors by Jessica Goodmanvia merchant

17. The Counselors by Jessica Goodman

Release date: May 31, 2022

If the blood-splattered swimsuit on the cover isn’t enough to warn you, we’ll say it: This one’s an edge-of-your-seat horror book that will keep you riveted until the end. The Counselors is the story of three best friends who spend the summer before college as camp counselors. When a body turns up in the lake, lies fly and lifelong friendships fray. So who saw what? Who is telling the truth? And who will solve the mystery first?

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The Summer Place by Jennifer Weinervia merchant

18. The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

Release date: May 10, 2022

In Jennifer Weiner’s latest beach read, The Summer Place, a family wedding at an old Cape Cod beach house goes haywire when lovers are unmasked, lies bloom into full-fledged rumors, and intimate secrets spill out into the open. With romance, comedy, and a poignant display of humans in all their messy forms of love, Weiner has again offered the world a perfect summer beach read.

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Husband Material by Alexis Hallvia merchant

19. Husband Material by Alexis Hall

Release date: August 2, 2022

If you loved Alexis Hall’s last great LGBTQ book, you’ll fall head over heels for the next chapter. A follow-up to the author’s beloved Boyfriend Material, Husband Material follows Luc and Oliver to the next season of their relationship. But how many weddings must they attend before Luc drums up the courage to propose?

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One Night on the Island by Josie Silvervia merchant

20. One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

Release date: February 15, 2022

What would you do if you arrived at your vacation rental and realized it had been double-booked by an insufferable (albeit handsome) stranger? That’s the premise of Josie Silver’s romantic hit One Night on the Island. Cleo Wilder has escaped to the Irish wilds to recharge alone on her 30th birthday. Mack Sullivan booked the same charming cottage for a soul-searching retreat. Unfortunately, their trips aren’t quite as solo as they’d hoped. Readers will find this cozy summer romance delightful from the beach, the campfire, or a sunny corner of the house.

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The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garciavia merchant

21. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Release date: July 19, 2022

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau offers a beautiful blend of historical fiction, magical retelling, and sci-fi books. The summer read is set in dreamy 19th-century Mexico, where Carlota lives isolated in a luxury estate under the watchful eye of her father. When a handsome stranger arrives and throws everything off balance, she awakens to uncomfortable truths—and blossoming passions. If you’re looking for books by Latinx authors, this is a perfect summer choice.

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Leandra Beabout
Leandra Beabout is a lifestyle writer covering health, travel and literature. A former high school English teacher, she covers books, words and grammar for When she’s not on deadline, you can find her curled up with a new library book or road-tripping through Europe or the American West.