5 Beach Reads That Aren’t Set On A Beach

by Rebecca Holland

Articles, Book Lists | 2 July, 2021

We all love a good beach read. A feel-good book that entertains you on your break from work. Whether you’re escaping to the seaside this year or indulging in an afternoon at your local park, beach reads can be a total escape. And contrary to the name, they don’t have to be set on or at a beach! Having grown up in a seaside town, I find that reading about the sun, sea and sand isn’t always appealing. If, like me, you’re looking for some alternative summery reads, here’s a list of 5 Beach Reads That Aren’t Set On A Beach.


Oyinkan Braithwaite

If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller featuring strong female protagonists, then look no further. My Sister, the Serial Killer, is about two inseparable sisters, one of whom happens to be a serial killer. Set in Lagos, this book dives into the action on page one and is a rollercoaster ride to the finish. At 226 pages, it’s a fantastic length for a thrilling and entirely escapist ride that can be read in an afternoon.

Nominated for multiple prizes, including The Booker Prize and The Women’s Prize, it fits the textbook definition of a beach read. 

About the author: Oyinkan Braithwaite is a Nigerian-British novelist and writer. She was born in Lagos and spent her childhood in both Nigeria and the UK. My Sister, the Serial Killer is her first novel.


Robin Talley

If you miss the theatre, this book will be a tonic. In The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, sixteen-year-old stage manager Melody vows off dating for the benefit of her High School’s upcoming production of Les Misérables but doesn’t count on meeting aspiring actress Odile. Featuring queer theatre kids, stage drama and superstitions, it’s a fun read that will transport you backstage and give you a ticket to the theatre’s front row. It’s the longest book on this list at 446 pages, but it has short chapters which feel quick to read. 

As an #OwnVoices sapphic story, it’s also a great LGBT+ beach read.

About the author: Robin Talley is an American author of young adult books about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning characters. She lives in Washington DC.


Renee Watson

The third book of 5 Beach Reads That Aren’t Set On A Beach is a heartwarming tale about the importance of family. Some Places More Than Others follows twelve-year-old Amara as she completes her school’s suitcase project in New York City. Exploring family relationships and the history, culture and people of Harlem, it’s a story of 224 pages that genuinely melted my heart and made it soar, all in one tale.

It’s a middle grade read, but if you’re looking for a heartfelt book that will give you all the warm, fuzzy feelings, then this might be the ideal, inspiring beach read.

About the author: Renee Watson is an American teaching artist and author of middle grade and young adult books. She is a New York Times bestselling author.


Emily Henry

I couldn’t write a list about 5 Beach Reads That Aren’t Set On A Beach without including the book that inspired it. Beach Read follows two heartbroken novelists with writer’s block living as neighbours for the summer, and there’s definitely, unquestionably, no falling in love. It’s a laugh-out-loud rom-com that’s made for the summer. It appeals to the romantics, the realists, and those who enjoy a good book about (two) books and a couple of novelists for good measure.

A Goodreads choice nominee for romance, it’s a fantastic romance read for the summer.

About the author: Emily Henry is a full-time writer and proofreader who writes stories about love and family for teens and adults. She is a New York Times bestselling author and lives in Cincinnati.


Taylor Jenkins-Reid

And last, but by no means least, in the list of 5 Beach Reads That Aren’t Set On A Beach, it is a fabulous story that is both entertaining and unforgettable. Daisy Jones & the Six is a fictional memoir about a rock band in the 1970s that never existed, but you’ll wish they did. It’s a rock’n’roll-ercoaster of a book that captures your emotions and takes you on a wild ride. There’s sex, drugs, scandals, and it’s brimming with 70s nostalgia.

It was a Goodreads choice award for historical fiction, and at 335 pages is the right length for a summer read.

See the full review on Velvet Opus

About the author: Taylor Jenkins-Reid is an American Novelist and New York Times bestselling author.

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