Picking the perfect beach read isn’t easy. After all, everyone has different things they hope for in their summer reading. Sometimes we want a beach read that is at the beach itself, perhaps a peaceful sojourn, a shocking mystery, or a tale of sunburned lovers.

Others want to feel like they have gone farther than the local beach, and seek a good book that transports them to foreign climes.

Some seek something light and easy to pick up and put down, or alternatively, something that exercises their mind as they relax their bodies.

We have tried to give a wide variety of books for readers, both newer and things they may have missed.

Be sure to share any suggestions you might have for beach reading in the comments!


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Beach Strip by John Lawrence Reynolds
Lets’ start our hunt for beach reads locally with a murder mystery set at the beach strip in Hamilton and written by a Niagara native. Escape with a local author and “a tight well-written mystery.” – THE GLOBE & MAIL

“I’d rather laugh in bad taste than cry in good taste.”That’s how Josie Marshall deals with the death of her detective husband, Gabe, found naked outside their home on the beach with a bullet in his brain. Everyone calls it suicide. Josie knows it isn’t . . . but fears it could be. After all, she had provided Gabe with a motive. The clues are so strong that even Josie begins to believe Gabe shot himself. But when a horrific slaying occurs literally at her feet, she knows Gabe was murdered, and her determination to prove it carries her toward dark corners of the beach strip and exposes the darker sides of its residents. Fending off her fears with humour and outrage, she encounters a drug-crazed drifter, an organized-crime boss with romance on his mind, a woman with a murderous past and a pervert who’s been frequenting her garden shed. When a chance remark leads Josie to the astonishing truth of Gabe’s death, her story takes a shocking turn that no one could have seen coming.

 

This title is available in print and as an e-book.

Some beach titles worth reading: Miramar bay by T. Davis Bunn, Homefront by Kristen Hannah, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.


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The Rome Affair by Karen Swan
A newer release, this chick lit title will transport you to Rome and into the lives of rich and glamorous with the tale of Elena Damiani.

1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.

 

This title is available in print.

Other new books worth reading: The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand, The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron.


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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
This book got a lot of buzz this year. If you are looking for a tale of travel that is more chills than chick lit, and haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet this summer might be a good time to take a cruise in Ware’s imagination with The Woman in Cabin 10.

This was meant to be the perfect trip. The northern lights. A press launch on a luxury cruise ship. A chance for travel journalist Lo Blackwood to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse and to work out what she wants from her relationship.Except things don’t go as planned. Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next-door cabin. But the records show that no one ever checked in to that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that her sleep problems might be driving her mad, or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness….

 

This title is available in print and as an e-book.


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The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Pure escapism romance set in the heart of Paris and the world of gourmet chocolate. Walk along the Champs-Élysées and fall in love with this wonderful guilty pleasure. Any of Florand’s books will do the same but this one of the best rated. It is an e-book selection for people who like their library reads to be easy to pack and hard to lose.

Dominique Richard’s reputation says it all—wild past, wilder flavors, black leather and smoldering heat. Jaime Corey is hardly the first woman to be drawn to all that dark, delicious danger. Sitting in Dom’s opulent chocolaterie in Paris day after day, she lets his decadent creations restore her weary body and spirit, understanding that the man himself is entirely beyond her grasp.Until he touches her. . .Chocolate, Dominique understands—from the biting tang of lime-caramel to the most complex infusions of jasmine, lemon-thyme, and cayenne. But this shy, freckled American who sits alone in his salon, quietly sampling his exquisite confections as if she can’t get enough of them—enough of him—is something else. She has secrets too, he can tell. Of course if she really knew him, she would run.Yet once you have spotted your heart’s true craving, simply looking is no longer enough. . .If you are looking for other guilty pleasure reads try anything by Janet Evanovich.

 

This title is available as an e-book.


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Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
And now, off to Tuscany, in a non-fiction narrative that captures the “beauty and simplicity of life in Italy”.

Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people. In Under the Tuscan Sun, she brings the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer to invite readers to explore the pleasures of Italian life and to feast at her table.

 

This title is available in print and as an e-book.


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The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
If you are looking to escape somewhere less traditional you can take a trip around the world with Arthur Pepper.

In this poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met–a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

 

This title is available as an e-book.


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Beartown by Fredrik Backman
You could also decide to escape the heat in a small town obsessed with hockey and divided by conflict in the new novel by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected. Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

 

This title is available in print and as an e-book.


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Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
So far our travels have been confined to this world, let’s switch it up, shall we? Rebel of the Sands is an action packed young adult novel that transports you to sun-baked deserts filled with magic, djinni, and rebellion. The second in the series has just come out making now a great time to join the adventure.

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.Another option for the summer is something short and sweet that you can read in bits and bites between dips in the ocean. We have two to choose from on our list, and tons more at the library. Check out these collections of stories.

 

This title is available in print.


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Does this beach make me look fat? By Lisa Scottoline
A non-fiction collection of stories and anecdotes by a mother and daughter pair that will make you laugh and relax at the beach. Read a confession or two, take a dip in the ocean, and come back for more!

The unstoppable, irreverent mother-daughter team presents a new collection of funny stories and true confessions that every woman can relate to. From identity theft to the hazards of bicycling to college reunions and eating on the beach, Lisa and Francesca tackle the quirks, absurdities, and wonders of everyday life with wit and warmth. As Lisa says, “More and more, especially in the summertime when I’m sitting on the beach, I’m learning not to sweat it. To go back to the child that I used to be. To see myself through the loving eyes of my parents. To eat on the beach. And not to worry about whether every little thing makes me look fat. In fact, not to worry at all.”So put aside your worries and join Lisa and Francesca as they navigate their way through the crazy world we live in, laughing along the way.

 

This title is available in print.


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Norse mythology by Neil Gaiman
I always found mythology to be more fun that educational but it is also part of the narrative of ancient religion and culture. Grab this book to learn a bit about the myths that shaped the Norse world, presented with the deft and modern touch of master story-teller Neil Gaiman.

Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarök, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

 

This title is available in print, e-book and e-audio.


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Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
Another non-fiction title that combines fun and fact. Her delightful books educate you while her irreverent style can’t help but make you laugh. This title deals with the science of life in space, which tied into the summer travel theme, but any of her books would serve just as well!

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour?To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreal  and entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

 

This title is available as an e-book.


Let’s finish with something that would likely be a reread for many people. Sometimes the lack of pressure and urgency that comes with rereading a book makes it the best choice for summer reading.


Our choice for the perfect summer reread is:

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
It made the top of NPR’s list of the best Summer reads and has made many of our staff lists. If you have another favorite in the series feel free to grab that instead.

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

 

This title is available in print, e-book and e-audio.

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