The Best Summer Beach Reads of 2019

Bedside Reading founder Jane Ubell-Meyer shares her picks for the hottest books to pack for your next trip.

The Best Summer Beach Reads of 2019

Summer reading time has arrived.

Images courtesy of the publishers; design by Emily Blevins

Summer is quickly approaching. For me, that means it’s almost time to attack my stockpile of new “beach books.” Some are light and breezy, while others are heart-wrenching memoirs or stay-up-all-night thrillers. My most important requirement for a beach read is for it to be a page-turner that truly transports readers—to another time, another place, even an alternate world. Below are this season’s must-read summer beach books.


Book covers courtesy of the publishers; design by Emily Blevins

Guesthouse for Ganesha

by Judith Teitelman (She Writes Press, 2019)

Judith Teitelman’s debut novel is the touching tale of 17-year-old Esther Grünspan, recently left at the altar. Readers follow Esther over 22 years, as she journeys through war-torn Europe to save her own life and the lives of her children and then to heal her broken heart. The unexpected inspiration she finds in Ganesha—the elephant-headed Hindu god, who also serves as a narrator of the novel—carries her forward.

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The Night Before

by Wendy Walker (St. Martin’s Press, 2019)

When Laura Lochner does not return home the morning after meeting a blind date from an online dating site, her sister, Rosie, fears the worst. She’s worried not only about what might have happened to her sister but also what her sister may have done to her blind date.

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The Guest Book

by Sarah Blake (Flatiron, 2019)

New York Times best-selling author Sarah Blake takes readers on a journey following the Miltons, a respected family from Maine. Over more than 400 pages, Blake masterfully weaves a family history spanning three generations to uncover secrets that were once buried deep in the past but are now finally coming to light.

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Book covers courtesy of the publishers; design by Emily Blevins

Wholly Unraveled

by Keele Burgin (Little A, 2019)

This gripping memoir kept me up all night. In it, best-selling author Keele Burgin recounts the harrowing saga of escaping from a Catholic cult, an abusive father, and her journey toward self-discovery. Through her own unraveling, Burgin weaves an inspiring tale detailing how she rose above the turmoil of her past to find a new sense of purpose and a new lease on life.

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Normal People

by Sally Rooney (Hogarth, 2019)

This buzz-worthy sophomore novel from award-winning author Sally Rooney is a story of complicated young love, power, family, and friendship. Classmates Connell and Marianne have a tangled history, yet as many times as they wander apart, they are always drawn back together. It’s subtle, complex, and emotional.

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by Jo Nesbø (Knopf, 2019)

I first read the Norwegian thriller author Jo Nesbø on a trip through Europe and easily became addicted to his novels. In his newest release, Knife, we follow rogue police officer Harry Hole as he faces his biggest challenge yet. On the heels of a bad breakup, and disturbed by the recent liberation of a serial murderer he helped put away, the jaded detective emerges from a drunken night to his own waking nightmare.

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Book covers courtesy of the publishers; design by Emily Blevins


by Jane Stanton Hitchcock (Poisoned Pen Press, 2019)

Remember reading in bed with a flashlight when your parents made you turn off the lights? This is truly how I felt with this new novel. Bluff has been called “a smartly plotted upper-crust caper” by Booklist and for good reason. In it, readers discover the high-stakes world of New York socialites, murder in broad daylight, and revenge. This one is not to be missed.

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City of Girls

by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books, 2019)

In this highly anticipated novel from New York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), readers enter a glittering love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Vivian Morris, the 89-year-old narrator, she recalls the pivotal decisions and moments that allowed her to grow into the woman she is. Gilbert sagely pens the lifelong journey of a woman’s quest for purpose, love, and autonomy.

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Cemetery Road

by Greg Iles (William Morrow, 2019)

When people ask me for a new book to recommend, Greg Iles’s The Quiet Game is my go-to. In his latest thriller, a Washington, D.C. journalist receives news of his father’s terminal illness and must go back to his hometown of Bienville, Mississippi, where he’d vowed never to return. What he finds upon arrival is a very different town from the one he left. This gripping novel leads readers through a minefield of secrets that stretch from the deep South all the way back to D.C. and beyond.

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Book covers courtesy of the publishers; design by Emily Blevins

Fleishman Is in Trouble

by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Random House, 2019)

New York Times Magazine staff writer (and AFAR contributor) Taffy Brodesser-Akner explores the often convoluted intersection of marriage, divorce, and modern culture in her debut novel. Nuanced, funny, and insightful, Fleishman Is in Trouble follows the story of Toby Fleishman as he attempts to navigate his new life, his medical patients, and crumbling marriage while trying to decipher where it all fell apart.

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The Farm

by Joanne Ramos (Random House, 2019)

Author Joanne Ramos’s exquisite take on dystopian fiction akin to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale will have readers on the edge of their seats. The Farm tells the story of Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, who arrives at Golden Oaks resort (“The Farm”) in New York’s Hudson Valley looking for a chance at a better life. But the price for this fresh start—and its enticing paycheck—is high: for nine months, Jane’s daily life on The Farm turns into a strictly monitored and structured existence as she serves as a surrogate mother. This debut novel is topical, thought-provoking, and emotionally driven—and should be on everyone’s list this summer.

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The Long Flight Home

by Alan Hlad (Kensington, 2019)

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During WWII the British used homing pigeons to carry coded secrets to thwart the Germans. In Alan Hlad’s fascinating story based on true events, he explores the special bond between an orphaned girl who raises the homing pigeons and an American soldier desperate to help the Royal Air Force.

>>Next: Read Your Way Across the USA: 14 Books to Inspire Your Next Trip

Jane Ubell-Meyer has previously worked at Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Wall Street Journal Television, Hearst Magazines and as a film producer in Hollywood. Her entrepreneurial roadmap led her to launch Madison & Mulholland, Inc. in 2004.
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