The best books about smart women trying to figure it all out (sometimes through the help of sea turtles)

Who am I?

I have been writing all my life, but was never able to find my voice until I had my daughters. It was for them I wrote “Wrightsville Beach”. I wanted to show them what a good relationship should look like and how their decisions make a difference in where they will go. I want my readers to relive that feeling of falling in love and to be sent in unexpected directions, as life so often does to us. I want you to enjoy it so much, you don’t want to put the book down until it’s finished and once you do, to sit and reflect on it, savoring the feeling it has left behind.


I wrote...

Wrightsville Beach

By Suzanne Goodwyn,

Book cover of Wrightsville Beach

What is my book about?

Hank is a local guy from Wilmington, North Carolina, trying to make up for one drunken night in his past that left him ostracized. When he unexpectedly starts a summer romance with Jess, a UNCW student, he is quickly enamored. Jess is studying to be a marine biologist and watches sea turtle nests on the beach, infatuated with these marvelous creatures. Through Jess’s belief in him, Hank starts to see himself as more than his mistakes, until his past comes to the forefront and tears them apart. Jess leaves to follow her dream to become a sea turtle biologist, working with turtles on the beach, but finds herself thinking about what really happened that summer between them. Did she really know the truth about Hank?

The books I picked & why

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The Last Song

By Nicholas Sparks,

Book cover of The Last Song

Why this book?

Ronnie is everything a teenage girl should be—independent, sharp, and fierce. Will, the local guy who has it all, is drawn to her unique spirit. He sees through her defiance as they bond over Ronnie’s desire to save a sea turtle’s nest from predators. Over the course of their summer romance, Ronnie learns that Will’s life is not what she expected. In return, Will helps Ronnie make some discoveries of her own. This book is close to my heart in that you see how Ronnie learns how to channel her spirit from being rebellious to guiding her life in a more positive direction. She is similar to Jess in that she rises to the challenges presented to her and we see what a difference her decisions make in getting her to where she belongs.

The Last Song

By Nicholas Sparks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seventeen-year-old Veronica 'Ronnie' Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father . . . until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.

The tale that unfolds is an…


Beach House Reunion

By Mary Alice Monroe,

Book cover of Beach House Reunion

Why this book?

This book is part of a series, but this particular one captured my heart. Cara’s niece, Linnea, is like Jess in so many ways. Having just graduated college, she joins the turtle team that works with the turtle hospital, learns to surf, and of course, falls in love. She also sets out to find her own calling and when she does, it requires sacrifices she did not know she would have to make. It is the pain we all feel when we discover our path does not align with those we love. Mary Alice Monroe has such a strong connection to nature and it comes through in all her books, particularly here when she describes life at the beach and those turtles, oh, those turtles...  

Beach House Reunion

By Mary Alice Monroe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beach House Reunion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author and “skilled storyteller who never lets her readers down” (Huffington Post) returns to her beloved Beach House series with this “authentic, generous, and heartfelt” (Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author) tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family’s enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Comforting in its familiarity, it is still rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara let go of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new…


Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens,

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Why this book?

Kya is left to figure how out how to survive in her home in the swamp after being abandoned by her family. We are drawn in by her awe of nature and the beauty she sees in it, as well as how it encourages her own talents to unfurl. And we have the unusual romantic pairing with Chase that makes us root for them to stay together when misunderstandings drive them apart. The murder mystery aspect just adds further intrigue to the story of a lonely young woman others don’t take the time to understand. And while it may not have sea turtles, we have Kya’s connection to the water and her surroundings that mimic Jess’s love of the ocean and its creatures.

Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 12 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…


The Girls in the Stilt House

By Kelly Mustian,

Book cover of The Girls in the Stilt House

Why this book?

Set in the 1920s, this debut novel captures two young women of different backgrounds that end up living together in a shack in a Mississippi swamp. With the help of Matilda, Ada escapes her abusive father, though they still must both navigate the callous and sometimes lecherous locals that surround them. They both share a connection to their rural surroundings, which offer them food and isolation, as they determine how to escape those who aim to use or harm them. It portrays how grit and determination may not get you where exactly what you want, but can put you on the path to getting there.

The Girls in the Stilt House

By Kelly Mustian,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Girls in the Stilt House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER!
"Remarkable debut.... [a] nearly flawless tale of loss, perseverance and redemption."-Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder-perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don't Rise.
Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to…


The Love Hypothesis

By Ali Hazelwood,

Book cover of The Love Hypothesis

Why this book?

What’s not to love about Olive, who is quirky, spontaneous, and brilliant? While working on her PhD, she makes a foolish move by kissing the star professor, Adam, just so her best friend, Anh, will finally go out with Olive’s ex-boyfriend. But maybe that’s the best move she ever makes, as it starts off a series of events that keeps you turning the pages to find out if Olive and Adam will end up together. Not to mention a rare moment of validation in the science field for Olive that seals the deal. It’s not often you see women in science portrayed as romantic characters, so it’s a refreshing narrative. No turtles in this one, but definitely a connection worth reading!

The Love Hypothesis

By Ali Hazelwood,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Love Hypothesis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Instant New York Times Bestseller and TikTok Sensation!

As seen on THE VIEW!

A BuzzFeed Best Summer Read of 2021

When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman's carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn't believe in lasting romantic relationships--but her best friend does, and that's what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, North Carolina, and Mississippi?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about romantic love, North Carolina, and Mississippi.

Romantic Love Explore 510 books about romantic love
North Carolina Explore 85 books about North Carolina
Mississippi Explore 54 books about Mississippi

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Glass Castle, Anne of Green Gables, and Big Magic if you like this list.