Beach Bag Books: What I’ve Read in 2020 & 2021 Edition

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite reading season, as I spend a ton of time reading on the beach & while floating in the pool. This summer reading recommendations list is based on books that I’ve read so far this year and books that I read during summer 2020. I’ve also tried to avoid books I might’ve recommended in past summer recommendation posts – last year, I shared some must read YA books for summertime & then books based on what I read in 2019. In my opinion, here’s what makes a good summer/ beach/pool read: 

  • An ‘un-put-downable’ read – a plot/story that makes you want to stay in your pool float and keep reading
  • Usually on the lighter and fun side, typically a contemporary (romance) book
  • Paperbacks preferred

Since you’ve likely seen me talk about these books before, I’m going to keep my summaries/why you should read these books on the shorter side — aka just read them. 

You Have a Match by Emma Lord – If you’re nostalgic for summer camp or find yourself watching The Parent Trap on repeat on rainy summer days, pick this YA contemporary about two sisters who find out they’re even sisters through a DNA test & then go to the same summer camp up. 

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl – Have a Little Faith in Me is such an underrated YA summer camp read that contains so many elements that I love in a contemporary read – the lead protagonist goes to a Christian summer camp to win back her boyfriend only to soon become her cabin’s sex educator and falling for her best friend. I’m so exited to read Sonia Hartl’s contemporary romance debut, Heartbreak for Hire, this summer! 

Beach Read by Emily Henry – Please don’t roll your eyes at this rec, but how could I 1) not recommend Emily Henry’s amazing adult contemporary romance and 2) not recommend a book that is literally called ‘Beach Read’ in general? I know so many of my fellow contemporary romance readers have already read this one, but this is another reminder to not hesitate picking this book following two rival writers with beach houses next to each other up…unlike me who has been overwhelmed with other books and hasn’t yet picked up Emily Henry’s latest amazing contemporary romance, People We Meet on Vacation.

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott – I’ve never actually had a full summer bucket list –  my friends & I have made it our goal to go to certain beaches or restaurants throughout – but maybe I will now after reading Rachael Lippincott’s The Lucky List, following two girls who are on a quest to complete one of their mother’s summer bucket list while falling for each other. 

Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher – I know I mentioned up top that beach reads tend to be on the lighter side, but by all means break that trend with Meet Me in Paradise. The book definitely has some lightness, as Marin is basically forced by her sister Sadie to take a vacation, but there is a twist that I don’t really want to spoil involving an unexpected illness that packs in more emotion and heaviness. If it’s any disclaimer, I binge-read this one on the beach during my first beach day of the year and made myself finish reading as soon as I got home.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London – If you’re someone who doesn’t watch as much TV in the summer (because you’re outside reading all the time like me), get your Bachelor fix with One to Watch. Like Beach Read, you likely saw this one on so many rec lists last year, but is well worth the read too! 

Shipped by Angie Hockman – If you need a tropical vacation in book form this summer, pick up Angie Hockman’s Shipped. This enemies-to-lovers mostly set in the Galápagos Islands had really great conversations on the way women are treated in the workplace and ecotourism and conservation.

The Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland – Most books that include summer in the title often make their way on to summer reading recommendation lists, but The Last Summer at the Golden Hotel is such a unique beach read. The book screams Dirty Dancing and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel S2, following two Jewish families who own a once beloved Catskills hotel and take one last summer together to decide whether to keep or sell the hotel. 

Maybe in Another Life and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Based on my June reading, I’d recommending TJR’s most recent release,
Malibu Rising
, and one of her backlist contemporary romance releases, Maybe in Another Life. If you like multi-generational stories or books set over 24 hours, pick up Malibu Rising; if you’re craving a contemporary with a focus on relationships and need an emotional punch, pick up Maybe in Another Life

What are some of your go-to summer reading recommendations? What kind of books do you like to pick up in the summer? Have you read any of the books that I mentioned? Share in the comments! 

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