The 50 Best beach reads

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Whether it’s up-and-coming young authors or heavyweight classics you’re after, Sophie Morris finds the books to occupy your mind while bronzing your body

The experts:

Rebecca Armstrong Features editor of The Independent and i,

Janine Cook eBooks promotions manager for Waterstones bookstores,

Rachel Feldberg Director of Ilkley Literature Festival,

Joanna de Guia Owner of east London’s Victoria Park Books,


Perfect by Rachel Joyce

Doubleday, £14.99

“Joyce’s second novel is another affecting read, both charming and dark, dealing with class and mental illness,” says Janine. “She creates characters you care about.”

Buy from our bookshop

The Son by Philipp Meyer

Simon & Schuster, £14.99

“The Son is epic, spanning 500 pages and 200 years of an American family and the history of Texas,” says Janine. “It remains intimate despite the big sweeping themes.”

Buy from our bookshop

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Phoenix, £7.99

“Refreshing, honest and witty,” according to Janine, “this novel about motherhood zips and fizzes along, from start to end.”

Buy from our bookshop

Blood & Beauty by Sarah Dunant

Virago, £16.99

“Dunant’s skilled portrait of one of history’s most infamous families, the Borgias, has intrigue and passion by the bucket-load,” says Janine.

Buy from our bookshop

The Humans by Matt Haig

Canongate, £12.99

“This life-affirming novel features an alien in the body of a Cambridge maths professor,” says Janine. “Funny, brilliant and wonderful.”

Buy from our bookshop

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Headline, £16.99

“A dark fable from a master storyteller,” says Janine. “Its power is in the seamless blending of magical elements and the real world.”

Buy from our bookshop

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

Tinder Press, £18.99

“A beautifully observed, claustrophobic study of a family unravelling during the summer of 1976,” says Rachel.

Buy from our bookshop

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna

Bloomsbury, £16.99

“Writing that cleanses your palate,” says Janine. “The storytelling draws you into the Croatian village where Duro Kolak hides from the past.

Buy from our bookshop

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Viking, £8.99

When a sick Hollywood starlet turns up at an Italian coastal resort in 1962, the encounter will not be settled for decades. Sparkling and heartbreaking.

Buy from our bookshop

The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

Hammer, £9.99

“A thriller that will make every parent’s heart lurch,” says Rachel. “With her son away at boarding school, Louise starts to lose track of reality.”

Buy from our bookshop



Gossip From the Forest: The Tangled Roots of Our Forests and Fairytales by Sara Maitland

Granta, £9.99

“A montage of forests and fairy stories to return to time and time again,” enthuses Rachel.

Buy from our bookshop

1913: The World Before the Great War by Charles Emmerson

Bodley Head, £25

“Emmerson lays bare the links between seemingly disparate countries and economies 100 years ago to portray a global world,” says Rachel.

Buy from our bookshop

Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations by Mary Beard

Profile, £25

According to Rachel: “Engaging stories of the classical world from a warm, witty writer.”

Buy from our bookshop

In Praise of Messy Lives by Katie Roiphe

Canongate, £12.99

“This collection of opinionated and fun essays is smart, funny and thoughtprovoking,” says Janine. “Perfect for dipping into between dips in the pool.”

Buy from our bookshop

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Sceptre, £12.99

“A rare, wonderful book that gives a glimpse into the mind of a boy growing up with autism,” describes Janine. She finds it “touching, funny and beautiful.”

Buy from our bookshop

Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson

Simon and Schuster, £20

“A detailed picture of Sylvia Plath’s life before her marriage to Ted Hughes,” says Rachel.

Buy from our bookshop

Careless People by Sarah Churchwell

Virago, £16.99

Churchwell goes behind the scenes of The Great Gatsby, which earned F Scott Fitzgerald just $13.13 in royalties, but everlasting fame.

Buy from our bookshop

Modernity Britain by David Kynaston

Bloomsbury, £25

Kynaston’s latest volume looks at how the luxuries of modernity – and its political bedfellows – swept the country in the late 1950s.

Buy from our bookshop

Restaurant Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones

Bantam Press, £14.99

Find out why some restaurants succeed where others don’t, why Michelin matters and where your money really goes.

Buy from our bookshop

The People’s Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records by Stuart Maconie

Ebury Press, £20

A great way to remember important events and fabulous songs by music hack Maconie.

Buy from our bookshop



Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

Picador, £14.99

“An unusual thriller that follows Leila as she becomes someone else online at the behest of a charismatic web philosopher,” says Rebecca.

Buy from our bookshop

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

HarperCollins, £12.99

“You’ll be seeing this time-travel thriller everywhere this summer,” says Rebecca. “A serial killer finds a way to slip though time to murder.”

Buy from our bookshop

Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

Century, £9.99

“Told from the perspective of three different female narrators, Until You’re Mine is,” says Rebecca, “fantastically written and very tense.”

Buy from our bookshop

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

Headline Review, £14.99

“How well do we know the people we’re close to? When Rachel’s friend Cara vanishes, she learns a BFF isn’t always what they seem,” says Rebecca.

Buy from our bookshop

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Picador, £12.99

“Haunting and beautiful,” says Rebecca. “Burial Rites, set in 19th-century Iceland, follows convicted murderer Agnes as she awaits execution.”

Buy from our bookshop

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Sphere, £16.99

“Galbraith’s debut novel is astonishingly assured,” says Rebecca. And of course Galbraith has just been unveiled as none other than Harry Potter’s JK Rowling!

Buy from our bookshop

Someone To Watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Hodder & Stoughton, £13.99

“Iceland’s crime queen continues to impress,” says Rebecca. “Her lawyer heroine Thóra Gudmundsdottir is a fantastic creation.”

Buy from our bookshop

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant

Mulholland Books, £12.99

“Having always worried about stumbling across a dead body, I was relieved not to be Gaby Mortimer, whose discovery of a corpse sees her perfect life crumble,” explains Rebecca.

Buy from our bookshop

Joyland by Stephen King

Hard Case Crime, £7.99

“Set in an amusement park in the early 1970s, it’s a deceptively simple coming-ofage story. It’s so much more than just a crime novel,” says Janine.

Buy from our bookshop

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

MacLehose Press, £12.99

“Dark, disturbing and cleverly constructed, this thriller set in Paris features a flawed heroine bent on revenge, and will take you on an exhilarating ride full of twists and turns,” says Janine.

Buy from our bookshop



Grendel: A Cautionary Tale About Chocolate by David Lucas

Walker, £11.99

“The Midas story beautifully retold but with chocolate!” says Joanna. “Funny, gorgeous and great to read out loud.”

Buy from our bookshop

Sea Horse by Karin Littlewood

Gullane Children’s Books, £5.99

“Gorgeous lush illustrations and descriptive text about friendship, freedom and letting go,” explains Joanna.

Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates

Jonathan Cape, £11.99

“Dog can’t sleep, so he counts. And he ends up counting all sorts of wonderful creatures. Wonderfully illustrated and simply told,” says Joanna.

Buy from our bookshop

Ellie May is Totally Happy to Share her Place in the Spotlight by Marianne Levy

Egmont Books, £5.99

As Joanna enthuses, this is “funny, well-written and nicely illustrated by Ali Pye.”

Buy from our bookshop

Jimmy Coates: Blackout by Joe Craig

HarperCollins, £6.99

“Latest in the series about a boy genetically engineered to kill,” says Joanna. “An exciting series with a feeling of the Bourne Identity.”

Buy from our bookshop

Mondays Are Murder by Tanya Landman

Walker Books, £4.99

“The first of a series of murder mysteries for under-11s, with Poppy Fields solving the unexplained deaths on a Scottish island,” says Joanna.

Buy from our bookshop

A Waste of Good Paper by Sean Taylor

Frances Lincoln, £6.99

“The moving story of Jason, who has behavioural difficulties,” explains Joanna. “He has been given a notebook to fill with his thoughts.”

Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics by Ellie Phillips

Electric Monkey, £7.99

Says Joanna: “Sadie looks forward to her career as a hairdresser. The characters are easy to fall in love with.”

Buy from our bookshop

Killing Rachel by Anne Cassidy

Bloomsbury, £6.99

“The second Murder Notebooks story sees Rose and Joshua closing in on the mystery of their parents’ disappearance,” says Joanna.

Buy from our bookshop

The Phoenix Comic, £8.99 per month

“This comic is fun, well-written and beautifully drawn and,” as Joanna points out, “it will keep kids quiet for a good hour.”



Stoner by John Williams

Vintage Classics, £8.99

“Stoner, first published in 1965, is considered by many to be a forgotten classic. This quiet and elegant novel resonates long after reading,” says Janine.

Buy from our bookshop

2666 by Roberto Bolano

Picador, £10.99

A modern classic of beauty, complexity and tragedy. Bolano died in 2003, the year before the book’s publication. His master work is set in a lawless Mexican border town amid a series of murders.

Buy from our bookshop

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Fourth Estate, £9.99

If you haven’t read Mantel’s Booker winner yet, it’s high time you did! A prize example of lyrical and literary historical fiction, woven around the story of Thomas Cromwell.

Buy from our bookshop

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Abacus, £8.99

A must-read following Banks’ death. The author was top of his class in creating creepy and mind-boggling stories that are erudite and unsettling. This was his first novel.

Buy from our bookshop

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

Vintage Classics, £8.99

In 1930s Mexico, the Catholic church is pitched against a society where religion and progress are in conflict with all the attendant and seismic consequences this brings.

Buy from our bookshop

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Faber and Faber, £8.99

Kundera’s exploration of simply ‘being’ is as timeless as any human condition yet as light as a leaf.

Buy from our bookshop

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Penguin Classics, £7.99

This roaring parody of the English rural idyll, set early in the 20th century, is an entertaining holiday read and one to share with companions.

Buy from our bookshop

A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Vintage, £8.99

If a writer has an idea, chances are Atwood had it 10 years earlier. In the dystopia of A Handmaid’s Tale, women are used as breeding vessels.

Buy from our bookshop

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Penguin Classics, £9.99

Steinbeck has inspired many pretenders to the ‘great American novel’ with this bold tale of Depression refugees seeking a brighter future.

Buy from our bookshop

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Wordsworth Classics, £1.99

This tale of the morals of New York society in the 1920s remains brutal and incisive. It won Wharton the first Pulitzer prize awarded to a woman.

Buy from our bookshop

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...