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14 Beach Reads Perfect For Spring Break

Fun, devastating page-turners for some pure escapism.

I have a problem with the term “beach read,” to denote a book that lacks substance. Here at NYLON, we firmly believe a book with substance can be a beach read so long as it’s a page-turner, whether that’s in a fun way, a devastating way, or both. Read on for the 13 books we’re most excited to read on the beach this spring break.

Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados

Isa and Gala, the heroines of Happy Hour, move to New York City in the summer of 2013 simply to live. They barely make ends meet by eating $1 slices of pizza and doing a series of odd jobs from art modeling to being a studio audience for a television show, their hands sore from so much fake clapping. Ultimately, what matters to Isa and Gala is the experience of life itself, which includes the joys of oysters, champagne, and the freedom that comes from a life in pursuit of tiny, beautiful luxuries.

Verso Books

Verso Books

the new me by Halle Butler

This might be the only beach reads list written by a Millennial woman that doesn’t include Ottessa Moshfegh’s very good novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation. It does however include Halle Butler’s 2019 riveting novel The New Me, which similarly explores Millennial anxieties through from the perspective of an unlikeable, self-hating woman trying to heal but is ultimately at odds with the tools out there in which to do so.

Penguin Random House

penguin random house

Women by Chloe Caldwell

You’ll devour this devastating, addicting novella about a love story between a young woman and her first relationship with a woman in a matter of hours. Plus, it only comes in a small paperback, so it’s easy to stash in the most impractical of beach bags.

We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida

This thrilling novel is like Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend if it were set in 1980s San Francisco, where the forest meets the sea meets the mysterious disappearance of a teenage girl in a wealthy beachside neighborhood.

HarperCollins

HarperCollins

Vagablonde by Anna Dorn

Dorn offers biting commentary on the viral fame, blue check-culture, and constant seeking of external validation that seems to define our generation in this debut novel about a lawyer who gives up her career and any and all life stability in pursuit of becoming a rapper.

Unnamed Press

Lakewood by Megan Giddings

All you need to know about this book is that I devoured it in four hours. But if you want some basic plot info, it’s about a woman who signs up for a medical experimentation trial to help her mom pay for healthcare because we’re lucky enough to live in the United States of America...and then sh*t gets weirder than you could ever imagine.

HarperCollins

HarperCollins

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Kiley Reid has written the perfect Trojan horse of a novel that is not only a page-turner in its observational humor and tight prose about being aimless in your early 20s, but also full of substance about racial and class divides and what accountability looks like.

Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys: A Memoir by Viv Albertine

You’ll get utterly lost in the gritty punk universe of feminist music legend Viv Albertine’s memoir about how she she grew up as an outcast in the London suburbs who didn’t know how to play guitar to become a founding member of the The Slits, rubbing elbows with the Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks while inspiring The Clash.

Macmillan

Macmillan

Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly

This is the kind of book you’ll pass to your friend just to show them how astoundingly economical Fennelly is in her prose. It also totally flips the concept of what you think a memoir is in your head; she can tell you a story about her life that makes you go from feeling nothing to everything in just a few lines.

Norton

Norton

A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan

Get inspired to get off Instagram forever, with this funny psychological thriller where a couple becomes so obsessed with one of their ex-coworkers who has since become an Instagram influencer jewelry designer, that it literally messes with the laws of the universe.

Little, Brown and Company

Little, Brown and Company

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily Danforth

Why do the most addicting stories happen at elite New England institutions? In this satirical gothic novel, set at a New England girls boarding school in 1902 and present day, two girls obsessed with each other and a bisexual writer mysteriously die on the school’s campus. A century later, a writer uses the story to celebrate the school’s queer, feminist history. But things start to get weird when the book gets adapted into a movie and its lesbian it girl stars arrive to begin filming.

HarperCollins

HarperCollins

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby now writes all your favorite shows including Shrill and And Just Like That, but she got her start writing books of humorous essays that she’d work on during downtime at her veterinary clinic desk job. My favorite of hers is We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, which chronicles her unglamorous life and razor-sharp observations pre-TV writer fame.

Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

If you really just need to escape from your life, please let Donna Tartt help you. This 1992 intellectual thriller is about a group of liberal arts students under the power of an enigmatic Ancient Greek professor who leads them headfirst to danger. Mystery, intrigue, East Coast elitism, a murder, a socialite named Bunny— what more could you want?

Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House

The Pisces - Melissa Broder

After toiling away writing her dissertation on Sappho and then being unceremoniously dumped, Lucy heads to Venice Beach to dog sit for her sister in her gorgeous glass home. She’s hoping to decompress, attend love addiction group therapy, and generally lead a smooth-brained Los Angeles sabbatical. That all goes out the window when she meets and falls in love with a mysterious night swimmer who — spoiler alert! — is a merman. The Pisces’ sharp humor and fantastical eroticism is giddy, dark, and guaranteed to keep you hooked.

Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House