I grew up in a beach town; the salt water is in my blood. I like to read "beach reads" (whatever they are) all year round. But now that it's summer, I feel free to shine some sunlight on all the books I love that take place at the beach!
From board books to wordless picture books, from classic middle grade novels to contemporary YAs, from evocative literary fiction to adult thrillers, there are beachy books for every type of reader. So even if you're land-locked this summer, you can feel the sand in your toes when you pick up one of these titles.
Here are some of my all-time favorite books that take place at the beach:
Wave by Suzy Lee: I like this book so much I decorated my daughter's nursery with its artwork! A wordless picture book, the story tells of a young girl frolicking in the waves. If you squint your eyes just right, you can picture yourself right there with her.
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson: I used to roll my eyes when people talked about the beauty of lake beaches. They're not really beaches! But then I read this YA novel and, well, now I'm a convert. Lake beaches are beaches. And this book features a compelling one.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: The coast of Italy. I feel like I don't have to say anything more. (Adult)
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams: Is there any place else like the rocky coastal shores of the Northeast? This soapy (in the best way) adult novel is set in the 1930s and features a coastline I dream about.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume: The ultimate beach book, which I legitimately re-read once a year, preferably while floating in a pool. (My water-stained, dog-eared copy proves it.)
And of course, The Baby-sitters Club Super Special #10: Sea City, Here We Come! by Ann M. Martin: I can't leave a BSC book out of any list I create, and this one has always been a favorite. Martin based her fictional Sea City on the Jersey shore and as a native it's always felt authentic. I still read it every summer!
The other bloggers offered some of their recs for their favorite fictional beaches, too. Stephanie loved Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman, a story is about two friends named Hailey and Claire who find a mermaid in a local swimming pool after a storm.
Emily LOVES the picture book Beach by Elisha Cooper—another beach girl (she grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida), she believes the absolute best times to go to the beach are in the early morning before all the tourists have arrived, and just before sunset, when it’s starting to clear out. (I can confirm this to be true.) She says, "Looking at those spreads in this picture book reminds me of the many peaceful hours I spent on an almost empty beach growing up!"
I have another fellow Jersey Shore blogger in Alex, who grew up just a few miles north of me. She says, "When I think of fictional beach scenes I immediately think of Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks. Maybe it’s because I am secretly a hopeless romantic and the idea of falling in love at the beach is alluring to me, or maybe it’s the fact that my husband and I vacation in North Carolina during the summers, but this books pulls at all my summer loving heart strings."
Our summer intern Allison says the beach in Henry & Mudge and the Forever Sea by Cynthia Rylant is her favorite, because the whole book is a beach scene! "I chose this scene because it was one of my favorite book series as a child and it combined two of my favorite things: beaches and dogs."
And Julia chose Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Much of the second book, The Story of a New Name, takes place in an Italian beach town. (See my note above about Italian beaches!) Julia says, "I love Ferrante’s writing because she can sustain long periods of intense human emotion for hundreds of pages, and it’s riveting and exhausting. There’s no better example of this intensity than during Lenu and Lila’s summer on the beach in The Story of a New Name."
Share your own favorite fictional beaches over at #summerreading, why dontcha?
Beach photo courtesy of Brittany Sullivan