Keep Summer Alive with These Four Beach Reads

Summertime essentials: going to the beach, hanging out with friends, and reading books…lots and lots of books. Wildcat Editor Amber Kim picks her favorites from the summer of 2021.

With free time in abundance, a majority of Wildcat editor Amber Kim’s summer vacation consisted of binge-reading books at the beach. With the school year just starting, but a few weeks left of summer and perfect beach-reading weather, here are four novels for those Wildcats wanting to revisit summertime feels with a great beach read.

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren (Gallery Books, 434 pages)

When it comes to the ultimate vacation book, Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners is perfect escapist fantasy.

Taking place during a free honeymoon trip in Maui, protagonist Olive is stuck with pretending to be Ethan’s new wife in place of her twin sister, Ami, and Ethan’s brother, Dane. At first, misunderstandings from the past keep Olive and Ethan from getting along, but as they continue to maintain their newlywed facade, the lines of their “fake” relationship start to blur. 

Centering on the enemies-to-lovers trope, Lauren’s novel depicts relationships in a genuine way; it doesn’t fantasize about unrealistic love, but rather embraces the realities and hardships that come with wholly loving someone. 

Not only does the book perfectly capture a realistic relationship, but it also serves as a snapshot of must-visit vacation spots and must-do activities in Hawaii, from a couples massage session to a snorkeling trip to Molokini. 

For readers looking for a book that includes scenes of beautiful beaches and a slow-burn romance, The Unhoneymooner’s is just right.

Beach Read – Emily Henry (Berkley, 380 pages)

The title says it all. Beach Read by Emily Henry is the perfect book to read while lounging at the beach on a sunny summer day. 

Growing up, January Andrews lived a “perfect” life full of happily ever afters until reality hit her. Now, she’s lost everything that made up her “beautiful story,” and she resorts to moving into her deceased father’s beach house. Right as she begins to move in, she meets Augustus Everett, who couldn’t be more different from her. Both are authors from different spectrums, and after making a deal, they go out of their comfort zones by writing each other’s genres: a happy romance for August, and a deep and insightful novel for January. Though both characters are complete opposites, from their personality to their writing styles, it’s evident how much chemistry they have. 

Henry’s novel portrays how the most simple, mundane parts of life make loving someone worth it. How even if there is no happy ending, “the only promise you ever had in life was the moment you were living. And I was. Happy for now.”

People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry (Berkley, 382 pages)

Contrary to what the title implies, this book isn’t just a typical light-hearted romance. 

Alex and Poppy are polar opposites: While Poppy loves to travel, Alex would rather relax with a book at home. What started off as an awkward car ride as college classmates grows into much more, and despite their long-distance friendship, they continue their annual summer trips. That is, until an incident two years ago causes them to break off contact. Now, Poppy wants one more trip to fix everything. 

Everything about their “friendship” is endearing: the romantic chemistry/tension between them, the cute inside jokes, and all of the subtle banter and angst. Reading this book is like seeing a genuine relationship where each character is able to innately understand their partner. I mean, what’s not to love about this book? It features three all-time favorite tropes: second chance romance, friends to lovers, and opposites attract.

Heart Bones – Colleen Hoover (Hoover Ink, 338 pages)

A cute, summer read, with underlying tones of blue.

Growing up, Beyah was neglected by both of her parents, but after an unexpected death changes her life, she spends the rest of the summer rekindling her broken relationship with her father. After a chance encounter with Samson, her next-door neighbor, she learns to open up her heart to others again. 

What makes Hoover’s novel stand out is how authentic and real-feeling the hardships are. While other romances tend to sugarcoat the sad realities of life, Beyah’s raw perspective on life makes for an intensely emotional read. After all, “damaged people recognize other damaged people.” Just from this line, it’s obvious that Beyah’s character is three-dimensional and complex; she’s strong-minded and willing to trust and listen to her heart again despite everything she went through. 

This book takes on the hardships of transitioning into adulthood in ways both beautifully heart-fluttering and painfully heart-wrenching.