Sizzling sun, shimmering water, sandy toes and a nice light book—the perfect summer combination.
But what makes a good beach read? It can’t be too heavy (both philosophically and physically), the plot should be compelling (but not overly hard to follow) and the story should be fun.
Beach reads are a not-so-guilty pleasure that can be hard to resist. So why not indulge?
Whether you’re into summery settings, chilling thrillers or sweet romances, these easy-breezy books are the perfect thing for your next beach day.
1. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
This collection of young adult short stories about summer love features contributions from bestselling authors, including Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Lev Grossman and Veronica Roth.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “These tales are short and sweet, a perfect interlude between beach beverages and splashing in the water. While I am far removed from my teenage years, it made my heart swell.” — Laurie Hynes, Library Assistant at Jasper Place Branch
2. Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay
As the tagline says, the first entry in the Library Lover’s Mystery series is “about a library where the mysteries refuse to stay in the fiction section.” This cozy mystery follows library director Lindsey as she works to prove her friend and employee isn’t a murderer.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “I love lighter fare during the summer and cozy mysteries always hit the spot. Bonus factor is that the author is also a librarian so the day-to-day details of working in a small public library are accurate.” — Beth Wortman, Collections Librarian in the Collection Management and Access Division
3. Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson
Small-town girl Katie always heard that New York was weird, but she had no idea just how weird until she moves there and discovers that magic is real in this romantic urban fantasy. She’s as ordinary as they come, but that might just be an asset. Though she’s not sure it’s going to help her catch the eye of her office crush…
EPL Staff Recommendation: “It's a nice, easy, read that is humorous and appeals to both sexes.” — Linda Holmes, Library Assistant at Castle Downs Branch
4. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The first in the Neapolitan series, this novel from acclaimed Italian novelist Elena Ferrante weaves a rich tale about two friends growing up in Naples, from their fateful first meeting as 10-year-olds through their school years and adolescence. Through their friendship, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country caught in the grips of transformation.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante make me wish I was on a beach in southern Italy!” — Julie Ruel, Library Assistant at Abbottsfield - Penny McKee Branch
5. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Set in a beach town, this young adult pick has plenty of summer atmosphere. Belly spends every summer at a beach house with Conrad and Jeremiah. Year after year, she goes unnoticed until the summer everything changes—for better or worse.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is available as a book, eBook, audiobook CD and downloadable audiobook. The second book, It’s Not Summer Without You, and the third title in the trilogy, We’ll Always Have Summer, are also available in various formats.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “I’ve been reading this trilogy every summer for years, and I can still remember being that kid at summer camp, who was too entranced by this story to join in the campfire songs.” — Chloe Braget, Summer Programmer at Whitemud Crossing Branch
6. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This charming novel about a neighbourhood curmudgeon—the titular Ove—explores the profound impact one life can have on others.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “It's a great beach read because it's quick, quirky, hilarious and it might make you cry hysterically. Beach crying is totally okay though because you can blame it on salt water, sand or the sun in your eyes.” — Marina Fernandes, Communications Coordinator in the Marketing and Communications Department
7. It by Stephen King
In this terrifying classic from the King of Horror, seven adults return to their hometown to confront a nameless evil they first encountered as teenagers.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “Am I the only one who reads Stephen King at the beach? Too scary in any other setting! I read It on the beach in the Philippines last summer. It had a great summer-y vibe since it takes place over the summer holidays and has a sort of nostalgia-tinted glow of being a kid over summer break.” — Laina Kelly, Library Assistant at Capilano Branch
8. One Day by David Nicholls
Emma and Dexter meet on the last day of university in 1988 and find themselves unable to stop thinking about one another. As their lives intertwine and diverge, they meet again on the same day every year.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “One Day by David Nicholls is the perfect beach read. It's funny, heartbreaking and hard to put down... and the book is (of course) way better than the movie!” — Kelly Higgins, Library Assistant at Lois Hole (Callingwood) Library
9. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
A story of first love and first heartbreak, Why We Broke Up follows 16-year-old Min as she writes a letter to her ex explaining why they broke up. Along with the letter is a box filled with mementos of their relationship, each one heartbreakingly documented in Min’s letter as the reasons that led to the end of their relationship.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “The writing style of this easy read is so lovely it takes you to right to that place. Full of love, longing and heartbreak, but all of it is beautiful.” — Kyla Henry, Library Assistant at Castle Downs Branch
10. Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
Amidst a deadly turf war between vampires and their slayers, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood—the world’s last remaining purebred vampire—finds himself ushering an unwitting young half-breed into her dark new life.
EPL Staff Recommendation: “Nothing better than a good paranormal romance erotic series to lose yourself in on vacation. Once you start this series you won't be able to stop. Good thing there are 19 in the series and a follow-up series called the Black Dagger Legacy!” — Andrea Thompson-Dick, Library Assistant at Heritage Valley Branch
No matter what you like to read at the beach, we’ve got plenty of poolside picks to keep you entertained all summer long.