The best beach books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about beaches and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Tides

By Sara Freeman,

Book cover of Tides

Without giving too much away, this book follows a woman who lost a baby. We don’t witness her as a mother, as such. She’s someone whose choices resulted in no child at all. Instead, we witness her in a cavernous, self-destructive funk, in which she leaves her husband and flees to an ambiguous seaside town. 

Here, she drinks too much. She falls asleep in public places. She charms men, just to feel her power over them. And also — she longs for something. Deeply. Like the protagonists in all these stories, she remains somehow absolvable, despite the moments where she does something abhorrent or perplexing. 

If you were to list the protagonist’s transgressions on paper, the character portrait would be unflattering, even loathsome at times. But that’s not how I perceived her. I found myself sympathetic, charmed, and wanting to be her friend.


Who am I?

While it only simmers in the background of Demi-Gods, I find myself returning to this theme in my fiction — of mothers behaving badly. The topic fascinates me because we live in a society that idealizes the Mother. So much so that we have removed sex and desire from this archetype. We even made Mary, the “universal mother,” a virgin. As someone with a womb, society expects me to have children. (I don’t yet.) Fiction has provided a space for me to disentangle my own thoughts around motherhood — on what I might claim for myself, and what I absolutely refuse to take on. 


I wrote...

Demi-Gods

By Eliza Robertson,

Book cover of Demi-Gods

What is my book about?

Demi-Gods follows the story of Willa, who is growing up on an island off the west coast of Canada in the 1950s. One summer, she becomes engrossed with her step-brother, Patrick, from California. Patrick is a golden boy, clever, yet conniving — pushing 9-year-old Willa toward illicit tasks. As Willa becomes a teenager and pays a visit to California, her relationship with Patrick grows more dizzying. 

A few themes preoccupied me while I wrote this novel. For one, desire: how desire can be inconvenient and shameful, especially when we desire those who are bad for us. Second: I was interested in how we exalt each other. How we perceive those we desire as demigods or idols.

Flotsam

By David Wiesner,

Book cover of Flotsam

Impeccable artwork, precision storytelling, and singularly unique invention are all packed into this amazing book experience. The basic concept is brilliant and mind-bending, and actually maybe even a little bit mind-melting. On top of that is an additional treat of wonderful and whimsical glimpses into a magical undersea world, obviously painted with true passion for the subject matter.


Who am I?

I love wordless books immoderately, and I also love books that have meta, surreal, or magical realism elements. This list combines these two features! I was personally so happy that The Red Book was described in a review as “a wordless mind trip for tots,” and I think all the books on this list would perfectly fit that description (and much, much more!) too.


I wrote...

The Red Book

By Barbara Lehman,

Book cover of The Red Book

What is my book about?

This book is about a book. A magical red book without any words. When you turn the pages you'll experience a new kind of adventure through the power of story. In illustrations of rare detail and surprise, The Red Book crosses oceans and continents to deliver one girl into a new world of possibility, where a friend she's never met is waiting. And as with the best of books, at the conclusion of the story, the journey is not over. A 2005 Caldecott Honor book.

There Might Be Lobsters

By Carolyn Crimi, Laurel Molk (illustrator),

Book cover of There Might Be Lobsters

I love this book’s unique approach to sharing a story about fear – it lists all the wild ruminations that can run through our minds. In this case, it’s a dog Sukie who is not enjoying a trip to the beach because, among other worries, there might be lobsters! Sukie’s list of fears grows and grows as the story goes on, and she is paralyzed in the sand – until her precious toy Chunka Munka is swept into the water. Sukie lets love overpower her fear and jumps into the water without a worry to save her precious friend. It’s a wonderful story about what we are willing to do to overcome our fear for the sake of others.


Who am I?

I’m a picture book writer who struggles with anxiety. Some things that seem like no big deal to most people can become a very big worry for me (like Giraffe worries about Spider in It Will Be OK). I found that identifying and naming our emotions—in this case fear—makes it easier to address our feelings and work through them. I want to share my experience of being fearful of things, both big and small, with children to let them know they are not alone and they can have power over scary emotions.


I wrote...

It Will Be OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship

By Lisa Katzenberger, Jaclyn Sinquett (illustrator),

Book cover of It Will Be OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship

What is my book about?

Giraffe and Zebra meet every day under their favorite tree to walk to the watering hole. But today, Giraffe isn't there. Where could he be? Zebra spots him hiding in the tree; Giraffe has seen a spider and is scared silly. Zebra patiently talks to Giraffe and does the very best thing: supports Giraffe for as long as Giraffe needs it.

Fred and Pete at the Beach

By Cynthia Nugent,

Book cover of Fred and Pete at the Beach

Fred and Pete are a pair of dog friends who have an adventure making their way to the beach on their own. The trip is instigated when their guardian leaves them behind as payback for a garbage incident in the kitchen. There are so many fun qualities about this book including the “odd couple” dynamic between the two canines. Cynthia Nugent uses photographs of the dogs surrounded by richly coloured, painterly backgrounds, which gives the book an irresistible, playful realism. These two little dogs have character! The relationship between the dogs, their dialogue, the bumbling adventure, and the marvellous artwork create a charming, amusing story readers will love.

Who am I?

I am an illustrator, author, and animator. When I write and draw, I hope to vividly bring characters and settings to life in the imaginations of readers. Mischievous dogs, mysterious old houses, and brilliant mathematicians are some of the subjects I’ve had the pleasure of putting on the pages of books. I love animals and art, so artistic picture books with animals at their heart, give me a lot of joy. Because the illustrations in a picture book tell stories, I look for artwork that expresses character, mood, and movement. The best picture books leave a mark in visual memory that connects to the feeling of a story.

I wrote...

Tricky

By Kari Rust,

Book cover of Tricky

What is my book about?

Tricky was my first picture book. It is about a pair of rascally troublemakers and what happens when one of them (a dog!) sees the error of his ways. It is a tale of revenge and reform told in a fun and lighthearted picture book. The story was inspired, in part, by some trickster dogs from my own life.

The Beach

By Alex Garland,

Book cover of The Beach

This is the only book on the list that’s not actually a romance. There is romance in it, though, so I think it counts. Regardless, I love this book and will always recommend it. I just happened to read it before I did my first big backpacking trip alone, and it totally influenced the way I approached those three months. In the book, the main character is obsessed with not just being a tourist but really experiencing the world in an adventurous way. It’s been years since I read it, and I still think about it all the time. If I was stranded on a deserted island and could only have one book with me, it would be this one. 


Who am I?

I grew up reading about so many incredible places that I knew by the age of eight that I wanted to be a flight attendant one day. It was the only job I could think of that would allow me to explore every part of the world. And it has. I’ve been flying for seventeen years, and my wanderlust is still holding strong. If I’m not going on an adventure, I’m writing or reading about one. And, thanks to great authors who have created even greater characters, I never travel alone. 


I wrote...

The Layover

By Lacie Waldon,

Book cover of The Layover

What is my book about?

After ten years as a flight attendant, Ava Greene is poised to hang up her wings and finally put down roots. Unfortunately, she's working her last trip with Jack Stone – the absurdly gorgeous, ridiculously cocky man she's held a secret grudge against for years.

When their plane encounters mechanical problems, what should have been a quick stop in Belize suddenly becomes a weekend layover. Getting stuck on a flight with her nemesis was bad enough. Being stranded with him at a luxury resort in paradise? It will take all the rum punch in the country to drown out his larger-than-life presence. Yet the more time Ava spends with him under the hot Caribbean sun, the more she begins to second-guess everything she thought she knew.

Wave

By Suzy Lee,

Book cover of Wave

A gorgeous picture book that captures the joys and excitement of being a child at the sea, playing chicken with the incoming waves. The little girl and a gaggle of gulls get braver and braver, until… SPLASH!

Suzy Lee’s lines are so fluid and expressive, her use of a limited palette works brilliantly, and there’s a clever use of the gutter (middle of the book) to build tension. Dare you not to smile and feel joy.


Who am I?

As a picture book creator, I am always seeking to use as few words as possible – for me, the best picture books are those where the images do most of the storytelling. Wordless books take things a step further and totally engage the child in interpreting the story - the child becomes the story's voice. Wordless books have a special place in my heart and I’m always on the lookout for new silent treasures as they emerge into the wonderful world of picture books. I want everyone to experience the special magic of ‘reading’ wordless books. 


I wrote...

Owl Bat Bat Owl

By Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick,

Book cover of Owl Bat Bat Owl

What is my book about?

A mother owl and her three little owlets live happily on their branch. That is, until the bat family moves in. The newfound neighbors (owls up top, bats hanging below) can’t help but feel a little wary of one another. But babies are curious little creatures, and that curiosity, along with a wild, stormy night, might just bring these two families together.

With subtly and hilariously shifting facial expressions and gestures, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick brings her accessible graphic style to a warm and ingenious wordless tale that is sure to bring smiles to readers of all ages.

Lily's Crossing

By Patricia Reilly Giff,

Book cover of Lily's Crossing

This is one of my all-time favorite children’s WW2 books set on America’s home front. The year is 1944, and Lily is off to spend another magical summer in Rockaway. The beach and the boardwalk, the swimming and fishing, and her friend Margaret are waiting. But the summer soon begins to fall apart. Margaret and her family are leaving for a town in Michigan where her father has a job in a wartime factory. And her own father reveals that he is about to work as an engineer for the army somewhere in Europe.

Loneliness sets in until Lily meets an orphaned boy named Albert, a Hungarian refugee who is spending the summer with relatives. Albert’s parents have been taken by the Nazis, and his sister, Ruth, is left behind in France. Lily and Albert have much to learn from each other, and much to share. This book tells a…


Who am I?

I grew up on Chicago’s home front during WW2. President Roosevelt wanted everyone—adults and children—to do their part for the war effort. So we neighborhood kids formed a Victory club, where we marched around singing, “Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor,” and other patriotic songs. And though we had fun, we understood the meaning of the gold stars in the windows, and knew that terrible things were happening on the other side of the world. There are so many wonderful books set during this time period, and I can never read enough of them. These books, along with my memories, are what inspire me to write historical fiction of my own.


I wrote...

My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes

By Charlotte Herman, LeUyen Pham (illustrator),

Book cover of My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes

What is my book about?

It’s 1945, Chicago, and Dorrie Meyers is starting fifth grade. This is the year of her teacher’s annual baking and essay contest, Sweet Semester. The winners will get their names and pictures published in the Chicago Daily News, and money collected from the baked goods will go to feed hungry children in Europe. Dorrie is determined to win. And she knows one thing for sure. Whatever she bakes, it has to be chocolate. In time, Dorrie meets her cousin Victor, an immigrant from Europe, who has survived the Holocaust. And he is about to teach Dorrie that a loving family and a safe homeland are the sweetest things of all. With some top-secret tips from Victor’s family’s bakery, Dorrie might just have the sweetest year of her life.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

By Jenny Han,

Book cover of The Summer I Turned Pretty

They say you never forget your first crush, and this young adult romance perfectly captures the headiness and angst of falling in love (at any age). Jenny Han pours emotion onto the page, and the love triangle between Belly and the Fisher brothers makes for the best kind of romantic tension. I devoured the whole series.


Who am I?

My dream of writing romance began during a semester in London, where I fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. A few years and careers later, I won the Golden Heart Award for Regency Romance, and I’ve been writing ever since. Now I’m living happily-ever-after in Maryland with my family, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever I quote Jane Austen.


I wrote...

Girls Before Earls

By Anna Bennett,

Book cover of Girls Before Earls

What is my book about?

What a girl wants and what an earl needs lead to an irresistible deal…Miss Hazel Lively, headmistress of Bellehaven Academy, has finally realized her dream of opening a school for girls, and the last thing she can afford is a scandal. Which is why she simply cannot enroll the Earl of Bladenton’s troubled niece. But when Blade makes an offer she can’t refuse, Hazel has a demand of her own: the handsome earl must visit his niece every other week.

Blade soon discovers there’s more to Hazel than meticulous lessons. Their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But their passion poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love just might…

Dare to Love

By Carly Phillips,

Book cover of Dare to Love

A perfect beach-read billionaire book with lots of sizzle! (Seriously, this book should come with fire warnings because you will need a cold shower after it!)

Riley is fiercely independent and Ian is incredibly protective. This makes for a difficult start to their relationship, but once they learn to trust one another, it’s all sparks and steam. The chemistry between these two characters is off the charts and the book holds nothing back. We get to see it all.

This is the first book in the series which makes it even better. I loved getting to meet the characters for the next books and get a feel for them while falling in love with Ian and Riley.


Who am I?

I love writing my steamy, happily ever after romance novels. Billionaires are my Prince Charmings and they have a lot to offer the heroines I write. However, none of my heroines are weak. They are strong and they love the billionaires for who they are, not what they offer. I want a world full of romance, steam, and happily ever afters, so that’s what I love to write. My books are perfect for a relaxing day on the beach that will leave you feeling good.


I wrote...

Saltwater Kisses

By Krista Lakes,

Book cover of Saltwater Kisses

What is my book about?

When small-town girl Emma LaRue won a vacation to an exclusive tropical island, she never meant to get pretend married to the handsome man she met there. She certainly never meant to fall in love.

But she did. And the man was none other than New York's most eligible billionaire bachelor Jack Saunders. When the press finds out about their pretend marriage, it suddenly becomes real and Emma must choose between her dreams and the man that she met on the beach.

Mating Theory

By Skye Warren,

Book cover of Mating Theory

Skye Warren is a queen of romance and feelings, and this book is one I’ve read multiple times. I love that this billionaire romance has Pretty Woman vibes, but it’s own story. Sutton, our hero, has a tortured past and dark demons inside of him, but the love he feels for Ashleigh is so sweet and heartfelt that it breaks my heart every time I read it. They struggle so hard for their love, and the two of them together make for an emotional and powerful read. This is a story of two broken people finding one another and finding a powerful love.


Who am I?

I love writing my steamy, happily ever after romance novels. Billionaires are my Prince Charmings and they have a lot to offer the heroines I write. However, none of my heroines are weak. They are strong and they love the billionaires for who they are, not what they offer. I want a world full of romance, steam, and happily ever afters, so that’s what I love to write. My books are perfect for a relaxing day on the beach that will leave you feeling good.


I wrote...

Saltwater Kisses

By Krista Lakes,

Book cover of Saltwater Kisses

What is my book about?

When small-town girl Emma LaRue won a vacation to an exclusive tropical island, she never meant to get pretend married to the handsome man she met there. She certainly never meant to fall in love.

But she did. And the man was none other than New York's most eligible billionaire bachelor Jack Saunders. When the press finds out about their pretend marriage, it suddenly becomes real and Emma must choose between her dreams and the man that she met on the beach.

Or, view all 12 books about beaches

New book lists related to beaches

All book lists related to beaches

Bookshelves related to beaches