10 Best Beach Reads of 2024
(G.P. Putnam's Sons; Harpervia; St. Martin's Griffith; Flatiron Books; Seven Stories Press; Scribner Book Company; Quirk Books; Forever; Mira Books; Amethyst Editions / The Mary Sue)

The 10 Best Beach Reads of 2024

Amid yet another record-breaking sweltering summer, beating the heat is seemingly on everyone’s mind. If planting yourself in some shade and catching up on your reading sounds like your ideal summer day, you may be searching for some good beach reads to bring in your bag.

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“Beach reads” are a little different for everyone, despite the common misconception that people only want to read romances or comedies in the sand. (Or at home, or anywhere—”beach” is a state of mind.) If you prefer horror, sci-fi, or even short stories, rest assured there are hot new titles for you, too.

In no particular order, here are the 10 best beach reads of 2024.

Come & Get It by Kiley Reid

Come and Get It by Kiley Reid
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Kiley Reid’s new novel, Come & Get It, takes place at the University of Arkansas in 2017, where it uncovers dozens of secrets in a single dormitory. The story follows senior RA Millie Cousins, who’s focused on graduating, getting a job, and buying her dream house—until she meets visiting professor and author Agatha Paul, who’s seeking her next story inspiration from the dorm’s residents. What follows is a tangled mess of relationships, gossip, and disastrous decisions that could ruin everything.

Although Come & Get It is currently only available in hardcover, it’s worth the extra weight. Alternatively, you can grab it as an audiobook and listen on your favorite pair of headphones.

The Z Word by Lindsay King-Miller

The Z Word by Lindsay King-Miller
(Quirk Books)

The Z Word follows bisexual protagonist Wendy, whose Pride celebration in San Lazaro, Arizona, is tempered by frequent run-ins with her ex-girlfriend, Leah, and all of Leah’s friends. But soon, navigating their awkward encounters after a bad break-up for which Wendy was at fault takes second fiddle to fighting everyone in their community as they turn into murderous, rampaging zombies.

Author Lindsay King-Miller combines commentary on corporate pride, zombie horror, found family, and several flavors of queer trauma to craft this intense and beautiful narrative, which is conveniently packed into a slim paperback for maximum portability. You can also grab this is audiobook form.

The Pairing by Casey McQuiston

The Pairing by Casey McQuiston
(St. Martin’s Griffith)

Casey McQuiston’s new romance, The Pairing, follows childhood best friends and estranged exes Theo and Kit who accidentally end up using vouchers for the romantic European vacation they never took at the same time, forcing them into close contact after four years apart following a nasty breakup on a transatlantic flight. They’re stuck together for three weeks, but it’s fine. They don’t have lingering feelings at all. But when they get into a full-blown hookup competition, it gets harder to lie to each other and themselves.

If you don’t want to get your stenciled-edge paperback dirty at the beach, the audiobook has dual narrators for maximum character impact.

The Stardust Grail by Yume Kitasei

The Stardust Grail by Yume Kitasei
(Flatiron Books)

The Stardust Grail is a space heist with wide-sweeping implications for the entire galaxy. Graduate student Maya Hoshimoto used to be the best thief in the system, returning stolen alien artifacts to their rightful civilizations until a job went sideways and she went into hiding. But when a longtime friend, Uncle, asks her to help steal the Stardust Grail, a mythical object that could save Uncle’s entire species, Maya can’t say no. Unfortunately, it won’t be an easy job, and they aren’t the only ones searching for it. Not even Maya’s unique visions can prevent run-ins with intergalactic human police.

Yume Kitasei’s sci-fi is fresh and exhilarating and, above all, fun. If the hardcover is too intimidating, the audiobook has an excellent narrator.

Death Valley by Melissa Broder

Death Valley by Melissa Broder
(Scribner Book Company)

In Death Valley, an unnamed woman takes a solo “vacation” at a Best Western in the eponymous Californian desert to catch her breath after weeks spent caring for both her father in the ICU and her increasingly chronically ill husband. She ventures out on a nearby hiking trail hoping to find clarity, but instead goes a little bit mad when she encounters an impossible cactus with a door slashed into its side and walks right in.

Impossibly funny and incredibly bizarre, Melissa Broder’s latest novel highlights her skill with absurdism, which becomes especially prevalent in the audiobook she narrates herself.

The Default World by Naomi Kanakia

The Default World by Naomi Kanakia
(Amethyst Editions)

The Default World follows Indian-American trans woman, Jhanvi, on a quest to secure her future by exploiting rich Silicon Valley bros with more money than anyone needs. When a hookup tells her that he and his fellow fire-eaters (festival-goers) spent $100 thousand to make a sex dungeon in a warehouse basement, Jhanvi sees an opportunity. If she marries a fire-eater, she can use his health benefits to complete her medical transition.

But the more time she spends in their luxurious bubble, the more her cynicism and resolve begin to fade, even as her financial needs persist. Can Jhanvi exist in this version of a found family? Can anyone?

Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Susan Muaddi Darraj’s Behind You Is the Sea follows three Palestinian immigrant families in Baltimore and explores layered dynamics of class, wealth, politics, activism, sex, shame, community, and history, among others. Each family is different from the next, and the tension among and between them confronts stereotypes about Palestinians and immigrants to weave an incredibly complex story. This novel is at turns heartbreaking, enraging, and surprising, but always deftly written.

Darraj’s writing especially shines in the audiobook, narrated by Rasha Zamamiri and Ali Nasser.

The Next Best Fling by Gabriella Gamez

The Next Best Fling by Gabriella Gamez

The Next Best Fling follows the fake-dating trope to its logical conclusion. Librarian Marcela Ortiz is in love with her best friend, but when he gets engaged, she decides to move on. Then she discovers that her bestie’s older brother, ex-NFL player Theo, plans to tell his brother’s fiancée that he’s in love with her at the engagement party. Rather than give into her worst instincts, she talks him out of it. Complicating matters further, when they arrive together at family brunch, everyone assumes they hooked up. Rather than clarify, they roll with it, hoping it will distract them both from their messy feelings. But when they hook up for real and create a no-strings-attached rebound relationship, they both have to contend with new feelings—for each other.

This debut is sweet, spicy, and utterly delightful. If you prefer to have your romance read to you, grab the audiobook and settle in.

The Bookshop Sisterhood by Michelle Lindo-Rice

The Bookshop Sisterhood by Michelle Lindo-Rice
(Mira Books)

The Bookshop Sisterhood follows four best friends—Celeste, Toni, Yasmeen, and Leslie—in the final steps of opening their own bookstore. Unfortunately, before they can fling open the doors for their community and see their dreams come true, each of them faces life-altering events that could derail everything. Through it all, their friendship remains steadfast, and their reliance on each other will matter now more than ever.

If picking up this emotional title in paperback or hardcover doesn’t suit you, the audiobook is beautifully narrated and easy to get lost in.

Woman, Life, Freedom created by Marjane Satrapi

Woman Life Freedom created by Marjane Satrapi
(Seven Stories Press)

Persepolis author and artist Marjane Satrapi’s Woman, Life, Freedom is a collaborative graphic history of the current Iranian revolution featuring work from more than 20 artists, journalists, activists, and academics. It describes what happened to Iranian student Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the Tehran morality police on September 13, 2022, for not wearing a headscarf (which is required for women by the Islamic Republic), then beaten so badly at the police station that she was taken to the hospital, where she fell into a coma and died three days later. This sparked a wave of revolutionary, pro-feminist demonstrations across Iran and the world, with crowds adopting the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom.”

This full-color graphic novel features art, essays, and expert analysis of the revolution in solidarity with the Iranian people.

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Samantha Puc
Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and editor who has been working in digital and print media since 2010. Their work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture and their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.