Summer Beach Reads
Searching for something light-hearted and escapist to read this summer? Here is a list of five books you won’t be able to put down, perfect to take on holiday or on your next beach trip!
You and Me on Vacation, Emily Henry
This is a funny, heart-warming romance book following friends Poppy and Alex, who met 12 years ago in college and made a pact to go on holiday together every summer. The novel flits between their current trip and their previous holidays, up until two years ago on their trip to Croatia when everything went wrong. In a last-ditch attempt to rekindle their friendship, Poppy plans a trip to Palm Springs, where they are plagued with awkwardness, boredom, extreme heat, and sexual tension.
Alex and Poppy are polar opposites, but Henry effortlessly conveys their friendship (amongst other feelings) through their banter and complete ease with each other. The pair are always on the verge of romance, but face lots of hurdles and ‘right person wrong time’ scenarios. As a reader you will be rooting for them, desperately hoping they figure their feelings out.
You and Me on Vacation is perfect to dip into whilst you’re on holiday, sat by the beach or on the side of the pool, and will also give you inspiration for countless future holidays through the trips Poppy and Alex have taken together throughout the years.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a historical fiction novel centred around reclusive Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo, who goes to a journalist to give her final interview and tell her life story. She offers tales of stardom, her rise to fame, and her relationships. The book is split into seven sections, each named after one of her seven husbands, giving the story a fast-paced feel. As the novel progresses, it becomes more of a story about ambition and female identity, as Evelyn grapples with her desires to break into Hollywood stardom and the sacrifices this comes with, including altering herself to fit certain expectations and encouraging her own sexualisation. The novel ends with the revelation of Evelyn’s true love, which is both heart-breaking and inspiring. Overall, Reid provides a heartfelt, enjoyable, and easy read, perfect for you to pick up this summer.
The Satsuma Complex, Bob Mortimer
This book follows legal assistant Gary Thorn as he becomes entangled in mystery. After meeting a girl in a pub but not catching her name, he attempts to track her down across London. He also faces the disappearance of one of his friends, and sets out to find out what happened, whilst visiting copious amounts of pie shops along the way. The novel is filled with hilarity and absurdity, which blends fantastically with Gary’s sleuth work.
The Satsuma Complex is a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and offers a breath of fresh air in a world of sinister crime novels. It’s an amusing page-turner, enthused with Bob’s signature humour, that makes for a great read this summer, especially if you like Bob’s style of comedy or enjoy shows like Would I Lie to You and Hypothetical.
Dear Dolly: On Love, Life and Friendship, Dolly Alderton
Alderton has written as a columnist for The Sunday Times since 2015, where she shares her wisdom and experience with readers. Dear Dolly is a collection of agony aunt-style responses to questions from this column, which are both amusing and honest.
Even if you don’t relate to any of the submissions, it is easy to become immersed in Dolly’s empathy and compassion which radiates in every piece. Her responses are genuinely useful and full of wisdom, wit, and contain advice which I’m sure will come in use for me one day. She deals with sensitive issues inn a mature, respectful way, and offers insight into topics which often cause anxiety and insecurity for women. Due to the form of the book, there is no actual storyline, making it an easy read which feels more like talking to a sibling or an old friend than reading advice from a stranger.
Dear Dolly is perfect for young women who are still finding their identity and understanding their place in the world in the wake of heartache, friendship dramas, and unexpected problems, and can easily be dipped into whilst you’re on holiday or devoured in one sitting.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein, Coco Mellors
Mellors’ debut novel is a story of unlikely romance which blossoms in New York City. Cleo, a 24-year-old artist from England, moves to New York in hopes of achieving artistic success. Here, she meets Frank, a wealthy man 20 years older than her. They get married in a blur of city lights and chaos, giving Cleo the opportunity to apply for a Green Card and finally achieve the artistic freedom she dreamed of when moving to the city.
However, this is not a romance novel, and Frank and Cleo’s relationship appears to start crumbling before it has even properly begun. Mellors also touches on the sensitive topics of mental health and addiction, as Cleo, Frank, and their friends face different struggles which come to impact their friendships and relationships.
The characters are not particularly likeable, and actually come across as rather pretentious and superficial. However, I was gripped by their story of chance encounters, unexpected romance, imperfect marriage, and devastation, and would recommend this book as a quirky, more melancholic twist on a romance read this summer!
Words by Abigail Manley