The Reader's Couch Podcast

Unpacking the History of Beach Reads & 6 New Recommendations

Discover the history of beach reads and summer reading and get six book recommendations.

Last Updated on June 28, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

Unpacking the History of Beach Reads + 6 New Recommendations

Unpacking the History of Beach Reads & 6 New Recommendations


Ever wondered what kinds of books are actually beach reads?  Discover the history of beach reads and summer reading, which began in the early 1900s.  We uncover how the term “beach read” came to be and discuss the subjectivity of ‘beach reads’ – how each reader defines it differently, yet the common thread is an engaging narrative that can still offer depth.  I also share six recommendations to add to your TBR!  So whether you’re lounging on the beach, sitting in a park, or simply chilling at home, you will find intrigue in our discussion.


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The History of Beach Reads

Unpacking the History of Beach Reads

Have you ever wondered about the history of summer reading and beach reads?  On the podcast, we unravel the fascinating history of beach reads, which started with summer reading in the early 1900s, and then share some recommendations of six beach reads released in summer 2023 to add to your TBR.

What is a beach read?

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, a beach read is “a book you can take on holiday, which is good enough to keep you engaged but not so serious it will spoil your holiday.”

The History of Beach Reads & Summer Reading

I found an article by Katy Waldman in The New Yorker, The Invention of the “Beach Read,” that I highly recommend you read.

Based on my reading of this article, and according to Waldman, summer reading became a thing due to two significant developments: one, travel became easier and more widely accessible due to steamships and railroads, and it allowed folks to escape the overcrowded cities; and two, folks were inspired to travel and engage in summer reading and other leisure activities because they were influenced by magazines and newspapers who started running articles on resort towns, summer activities, things to do and buy, plus the images of idle strolls at the beach and leisurely reading.

Publishers, of course, jumped on this trend, and they started creating summer reading lists and guides and series designed to keep folks occupied with reading material for the entire summer.

On the other hand, the term “beach reads” came into widespread use during the 1990s.  So while the summer reading trend began in the early 1900’s beach reads was of the 1990s and, in my opinion, created purely for marketing.

Again, I highly recommend you read the article by Katy Waldman in The New Yorker, The Invention of the “Beach Read.”

6 Beach Reads to Add To Your Reading List

Ciao For Now by Kate Bromley

A delectable enemies-to-lovers summertime romcom set in Rome about an American interning at a fashion house who butts heads with the designer’s surly son and sparks fly.


A Most Agreeable Murder by Julia Seales

When a wealthy bachelor drops dead at a ball, a young lady takes on the decidedly improper role of detective in this action-packed debut comedy of manners and murder.


Yellowface by R. F. Kuang

A satire of the publishing industry that centers on a struggling writer who steals her successful dead college friend’s manuscript and publishes it as her own.


Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

Set in a fictional town on Fire Island, a group of upper-class New Yorkers’ summer is upended when a dead body is discovered face down off the side of the boardwalk.


The Beach at Summerly by Beatriz Williams

A ravishing summer read that takes readers back to a mid-century New England rich with secrets and Cold War intrigue.


The Con Queen of Hollywood by Scott C. Johnson

Chronicles the international hunt for a psychopathic con artist who impersonated entertainment executives and exploited creators and gig workers.


Looking for more book reads or summer reading inspiration?

Whether you’re an avid reader looking for your next book or a literary enthusiast interested in the evolution of literary genres, this episode provides some insight that will start conversations about what makes a book a beach read.  So make sure to tune in, and who knows, you may just find your next favorite book from the list of recommendations!

Looking for more podcast episodes?  Tune in here.


Unpacking the History of Beach Reads + 6 New Recommendations

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Summer is a time for relaxation, adventure, and exploration.  So if you're looking for the best new books of the season, this guide is just for you.

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