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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Bring ’Em to the Beach: 9 Light and Romantic Books to Pop in Your Tote

From binge-worthy novels to the hottest new cookbooks, this series highlights the reads you need to know about. Whether you’re looking for your next inspiration or a gift for that bookish someone, we’ve got you covered with these roundups, reviews, and more.

This list is created by our Books Editor based on books he’s read or sampled and books that have great Goodreads reviews.

It’s beach time, b*tches! Whether you’re flipping pages as the ocean tide rolls in or you’re kicking it on your BFF’s pontoon, there’s nothing better than cozying up with a breezy, romantic book as you soak up the sun. So, grab your towels, pack your cooler, and lather up on SPF because we’ve gathered the best recent releases in both adult and young adult fiction books that make for the perfect beach companions.

The 9 Best Books to Read on the Beach:

1. Blush by Jamie Brenner

The cover of this book alone makes us want to put on a sun hat, pour a glass of rosé, and eat a buttercream cupcake. It has that “it’s time to relax and indulge” vibe that’s perfect for the beach (or back patio).

The story inside is about a crisis on a family vineyard that can only be resolved by a female trio spanning three generations — Vivian Hollander, her daughter, and granddaughter. It’s a story of winemaking lore, family secrets, courage, and forbidden love. Pour a glass of your fave, make a cheese plate (or get your hands on a cupcake), and prepare to lose yourself in this captivating page-turner.

The author says it’s an “ode to novels” by the likes of Jackie Collins and Judith Krantz, whose books she used to sneak into the house to read as a young teenager.

2. The Layover by Lacie Waldon

As its name implies, The Layover tells the tale of an unexpected layover during Ava Greene’s last trip before leaving her job as a flight attendant. What should have been a quick stop, turns into a weekend trip on the picturesque shores of Belize — except she’s trapped with her greatest nemesis, Jack Stone.

A classic enemies-to-lovers tale, this book is just the kind of rom-com you want in a feel-good summer read — and the author draws on her own experience as a flight attendant to paint a realistic picture of what it’s like behind the scenes.

3. Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

This slow-burn romance takes a compassionate look at what it’s like to live with social anxiety. Maybell — a hopeless romantic that frequently daydreams her way through the day — inherits a house in the Smokies from her great-aunt Violet. When she arrives, she’s faced with some unavoidable realities: The place is falling apart, and she isn’t the only inheritor. She’s forced to share it with the grumpy (but gorgeous) groundskeeper, Wesley.

One reviewer writes, “This was an absolute delight. Maybell Parish gave me Lucy Hutton vibes in all the best ways, and I was giggling and swooning from start to finish.”

4. Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley

Kara has lots of love in her life… though most of it’s fictional. She’s a bestselling romance novelist and Bookstagrammer, but with her best friend’s wedding coming up, she hasn’t written a word of her next novel — which is due, like, soon. And then her ex shows up. She can’t stand him, but also can’t stay away from him when he becomes her writing muse.

We laughed along with this one and enjoyed the ride as she tries to write her own happy ending for once. Plus, we were fans of the adorable dog and trip to Italy in this tale!

5. Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

It’s the first in a new YA contemporary series that’s basically “Jane the Virgin” meets “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” In other words: We automatically added this to our TBR and we’re so glad we did.

The main character, Tessa, has always preferred living on the sidelines in real life and instead lives as a leading lady through the romance novels she writes. But when she gets accepted into a prestigious creative writing program, she gets stuck with a serious case of writer’s block. Her bestie recommends finding inspiration in a real life… and in walks Nico, a brooding artist who may as well have walked out of one of Tessa’s stories.

One reviewer writes, “Reading this book was just like watching a teen rom-com from the 80s, and I just ate [it] right up.”

6. The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer

This is a sweet young adult novel about a high school romance gone wrong. After being dumped by her boyfriend the first day of senior year, Ellie discovers she has to share a “life skills” class with him and his new GF. Ugh. To add fuel to the fire, she’s partnered up with a group of “misfits” for a class competition and is stuck trying to get over her ex and make new friends at the same time.

We loved Ellie’s storyline. She gains confidence as the pages turn and kept us laughing with her humorous and sarcastic attitude.

7. Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

With more than 4,100 Goodreads reviews averaging a blazing 4.25 stars, we’re not the only ones who love this #OwnVoices book. This novel is rich with Bangladeshi American culture and written by a Gen Z, debut author we’re excited to see more from.

It follows Karina, a reserved teen who has 28 days to make a major life decision after agreeing to tutor and “fake date” the school’s resident bad boy. It’s an impressive depiction of a teen character living with anxiety as she navigates finding her strength and true self. And TBH, we wouldn’t be surprised if this one gets picked up and turned into the next viral Netflix teen romance film.

8. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

This YA rom-com is super cute, but fans are also saying it left them a bit teary-eyed at the end — so consider yourself warned. It’s an emotional and thought provoking story but also magical, full of epic dance moves, love, and quirky best friends.

Evie doesn’t believe in true love, especially once she starts seeing visions of how people’s romances will end when she sees them kissing. When she finds herself at a dance studio, partnered with a boy named X, she has zero intentions of pursuing love. But after they tango, she wonders if love is worth the risk.

9. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

The title of this one just screams beach read (and also comes from the New York Times bestselling author of a book actually titled Beach Read. So meta).

The story follows Alex and Poppy, a set of longtime best friends (and maybe something more..?😏) that are nothing alike. They’ve taken a summer trip together every year for a decade — until they had a falling out 2 years ago. Poppy hasn’t truly felt happy ever since and knows she has to convince him to take one more vacation with her.

One reviewer writes, “This book was full of mutual pining, inside jokes, and amazing chemistry.”

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