The Smart Girl’s Guide to Summer Beach Reads

summer beach reads 2015

Let us guess: It’s already July, and you haven’t made a start on your New Year’s resolution to “read more books.” We get it, you’re busy–but this long weekend is about as good a chance as you’re going to get to make good on your resolution and enjoy some down time with a novel. To help get your reading list started, we chatted to two self-confessed book nerds who live and breath publishing.

Alex Posey is the editorial curator at Scribd–the book subscription site that’s attracted a whopping 80 million monthly readers. Basically, Posey dedicates her days to writing book and author features and keeping an ear to the ground for hot new releases. We also snapped up some recommendations from Scribd‘s editorial director, Mallory Farrugia, who specializes in matching readers with the perfect book. Farrugia also happens to have an impressive eight years of experience under her belt, writing and curating for publishing houses across the New York and LA. So yeah, these guys definitely have your long weekend reading list covered.

Read on for your expert-approved summer reading list.

The top beach reads of all time


An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

“It’s quick, funny, and delicious. If you saw “Shop Girl” and liked it, this one is even better!” Mallory told us. “It’s set up like The Great Gatsby, narrated by an observer of the action, rather than someone submerged in it, and the Gatsby character is a relatable young woman finding her way in the NYC art world.”

best summer reading book recommendations

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

“It’s cinematic, romantic, charming, funny, and heartbreaking. Jess Walter’s bestselling novel hits every note that a beach read needs–it will captivate you and entertain you. Plus, part of it is set on the Amalfi Coast, making it even more fitting to read in your cutest bikini,” Mallory said.

best summer reading book recommendations

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

“If you’re as obsessed with ‘Homeland’ as I am, this is your perfect beach read. It’s written by an ex-CIA agent and it’s not only an edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s also totally romantic with a spy-on-spy love story,” Mallory said.

best summer reading book recommendations

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

“One of my must-reads, this modern-day epistolary novel takes down everything from tech bubbles to helicopter moms in a sharp, hilarious, and totally engrossing tale,” Alex said.

the vacationers beach read

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

“This is exactly what I look for in a beach read: exotic, sunny fun, but smartly written, and filled with enough wit and honesty to keep you engaged long after the sun’s gone down,” Alex said.

The best new releases 

mislaid neill zink book cover

Mislaid by Nell Zink

“Zink’s first novel The Wallcreeper was published last year by a small publisher called The Dorothy Project to rave reviews from pretty much everyone, and it was up to the hype,” Mallory explained. “Her new novel shares the theme of weird/bad marriages–but from a different angle–with Zink’s signature wit and style.”

the folded clock cover and book recommendations

The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits

“This book is basically my spirit animal. She writes about everything from motherhood to marriage to The Bachelorette with such authenticity, wit, and insight that my jaw actually dropped while reading it,” Mallory said.

outline rachel cusk book cover

Outline by Rachel Cusk

“Outline is one of the best books I’ve read in the last 10 years, let alone five months. Cusk writes about people and interpersonal relationships in a way that is so smart that it’s scary. And while the insights in this book are weighty, the Grecian setting lightens it, making it the most addictive ‘smart’ read I’ve ever encountered,” Mallory recommended.

Funny-Girl book cover

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

“Funny Girl is a celebration of entertainment—both of those who create it and of those who consume it. Set in London in the ’60s, it’s a fun, quick read written with his signature humor and humanity,” Alex told us.


Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin

“This is a totally hilarious and engrossing tale of the glamorous excesses of Hollywood, and of the costs of a life lived behind that glittering façade,” Alex said.

New book recommendations for Gone Girl fans

A small indiscretionsummer book recommendation

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

“If you liked Gone Girl for it’s suspenseful look inside the psychology of a bad marriage, try A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison,” Mallory said. “It touches many of the same nerves.”

the kindder herman koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch

“If you liked Gone Girl’s delicious way of keeping you guessing who to trust, check out The Dinner by Herman Koch. It’s a different story but the narrator has that same hint of psycho that makes Amy so compelling,” Mallory said.

The best cheesy, guilty pleasure books

summer book recommendation

The Selection, The Elite, and The One by Kiera Cass

“The Selection series is good clean fun. It combines the voyeuristic and dramatic appeal of reality TV with a lovable female protagonist and dystopian setting,” Mallory said.

875181 The Smart Girls Guide to Summer Beach Reads

Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes

“I’ve read Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes more times than I care to admit. It’s an undeniably fluffy read, filled with more of that ‘Gossip Girl’-esque New York glamour than any real conflict. But sometimes that’s exactly what I’m looking for,” Alex said.

Best romance fiction books

the royal wedding summer book recommendation

Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen

“Romance author extraordinaire Maya Rodale recommended the young adult series by Anna Godbersen Bright Young Things and it’s a delight. It’s set in Jazz Age Manhattan and is ripe with romance and nostalgia for a super sexy era gone by,” Mallory said.

the blonde book summer book recommendation

The Blonde by Anna Godbersen

“Godbersen also published an adult novel about Marilyn Monroe last year, called The Blonde, which is sexy and entertaining,” Mallory said.

The best modern chick-lit authors


Meg Cabot

“Meg Cabot has had my heart ever since she introduced the adorably klutzy Mia Thermopolis in her YA series The Princess Diaries. I’m so excited that she’ll be returning to Mia’s world in her upcoming adult continuation of the series, The Royal Wedding,” Alex said.

i take you summer book recommendation

Eliza Kennedy

“Eliza Kennedy’s debut novel I Take You is not for the faint of heart, nor the traditionally romantic–let’s just say the heroine finds monogamy challenging–but it is a hilarious take on modern relationships that’s pretty on-point in our Tinder-obsessed world. I can’t wait to see what buttons she’ll push next,” Alex said.

MORE: Why Readers Have to Try Scribd—the Netflix of Books