Seaside Stories: 12 Must-Read Beach Books from 2023

A graphic showing a wave crashing on the shore and 12 beach books from 2023, with the text "beach books published in 2023."

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Don’t miss out on these captivating beach books from 2023!

With countless new books being published each year, the volume of books to choose from makes it nearly impossible to read them all. Readers must carefully select which books to prioritize, knowing that there are many worthy options available. And with so many new book releases each year, some inevitably get more attention than others, meaning it can be easy to miss out on the perfect beach read simply because it wasn’t on your radar.

Reading books from previous years provides an opportunity to discover hidden gems that may have flown under the radar upon their initial release. Ultimately, whether you’re seeking compelling storytelling, a breezy vacation read, or a fun romance, exploring favorably-rated books from the previous years ensures that you’re engaging with books that have been proven to resonate with readers.

By waiting to read new releases, you give ample time for ratings, reviews, and feedback to accumulate, offering insight into a book’s quality and appeal before adding it to your reading list. This approach allows you to make more informed decisions about which books to prioritize, which means your reading time is well-spent on titles that align with your preferences and interests. Additionally, waiting for ratings to come in can help you avoid potential disappointments by steering clear of books that may not live up to expectations. By exercising patience and leveraging the collective wisdom of fellow beach book readers and reviewers, you can maximize your enjoyment and satisfaction from your reading experiences.

It’s always worth looking at books that were released in previous years because you never know if an amazing beach read is out there waiting for you. The large number of options available means there is always something new and exciting to discover. This list focuses on beach books from 2023, which was a year that had a lot of highly-rated beach books, some that didn’t get enough media attention, but perhaps deserve a spot on your reading list.


12 Beach Books to Add to Your Reading List

Check out these captivating beach books from 2023 and add them to your list!

A graphic showing a wave crashing on the shore and 6 covers of beach books from 2023, with the text "12 beach books new in 2023."

Showing books 1–6 of 12 beach books from 2023

1. My Magnolia Summer by Victoria Benton Frank

In New York City winter never seems to loosen its hold and for South Carolina transplant Maggie (born Magnolia after the fairest summer flower) the balmy beach weather of April back home on Sullivan’s Island feels like a distant memory. Until a phone call from her sister, Violet, changes everything.

Gran, the treasured matriarch, has fallen into a coma after a car accident caused by Maggie’s troubled mother, Lily. But once Maggie returns, she finds that her hometown of Sullivan’s Island holds even more secrets. The Magic Lantern, the restaurant owned and run by generations of women in her family, is now rudderless, and her sister seems headed for a savage breakup.

Once she is between the marsh grasses and dunes of South Carolina, she feels herself changing like the Atlantic tides, rediscovering the roots she left behind, and a new and different version of herself—one who can see how a minor crash into the back of a very handsome farmer’s truck may become fortunate. Or perhaps it’s even… fate?

When the three generations of South Carolina women join forces—the family pillar Gran, troubled Lily, impulsive Violet, and redoubtable Maggie—anything is possible. 

With stunning descriptions of the magic of the Lowcountry, this novel will transport you to a world of treasured family traditions and unexpected twists of fate.
— From the publisher

2. Welcome to Beach Town by Susan Wiggs

Every town has its secrets…

In idyllic Alara Cove, a California beach town known for its sunny charm and chill surfer vibe, it’s graduation day at the elite Thornton Academy. At Thornton, the students are the worldly and overindulged children who live in gated enclaves with spectacular views. But the class valedictorian is Nikki Graziola, a surfer’s daughter who is there on scholarship. To the shock of everyone in the audience, Nikki veers off script while giving her commencement address and reveals a secret that breaks open the whole community. As her truth explodes into the light, Alara Cove will face a reckoning.

Nikki Graziola’s accusation shakes the foundation of Alara Cove, pitting her against the wealthy family whose money runs the town. Her new notoriety sends Nikki into exile for years, where she finds fame—but not fortune—overseas as a competition surfer…until a personal tragedy compels her to return to Alara Cove.

As Nikki struggles to rebuild her future, she finds that the people of the town have not forgotten her. But time has changed Alara Cove, and old friendships, rivalries, and an unexpected romance draw her back into the life of the beach town she’s never quite forgotten, and where joy and redemption may be possible after all.
— From the publisher

3. A Little Ray of Sunshine by Kristan Higgins

A kid walks into your bookstore and… Guess what? He’s your son. The one you put up for adoption eighteen years ago. The one you never told anyone about. Surprise!

And a huge surprise it is.

It’s a huge surprise to his adoptive mother, Monica, who thought she had a close relationship with Matthew, her nearly adult son. But apparently, he felt the need to secretly arrange a vacation to Cape Cod for the summer so he could meet his birth mother…without a word to either her or his dad.

It’s also a surprise— to say the least—to Harlow, the woman who secretly placed her baby for adoption so many years ago. She’s spent the years since then building a quiet life. She runs a bookstore with her grandfather, hangs out with her four younger siblings and is more or less happily single, though she can’t help gravitating toward Grady Byrne, her old friend from high school. He’s moved back to town, four-year-old daughter in tow, no wife in the picture. But she’s always figured her life had to be child-free, so that complicates things.

When Matthew walks into Harlow’s store, she faints. Monica panics. And all their assumptions—about what being a parent really means—explode. This summer will be full of more surprises as both their families are redefined…and as both women learn that for them, there’s no limit to a mother’s love.
— From the publisher

4. The Darlings by Hannah McKinnon

On a secluded stretch of Cape Cod, a wedding is being planned at a beloved beach house—only for a long kept secret to emerge that hurtles both the wedding and the family off course, in this fresh, lyrical new novel from the acclaimed author of the “charming and warmhearted” (PopSugarThe Summer House.

At age ninety-two, Tish Darling is the matriarch and protector of what’s left of the Darling family fortune, including the decades-old beach house, Riptide. Located on the crook of Cape Cod, it’s a place she once loved but has not returned to in decades, since a tragic family accident one perfect summer day. Still, she is determined to keep Riptide in the family. Even if that means going back there on the cusp of her granddaughter’s wedding. Even if it means revealing someone else’s truth.

Her daughter-in-law Cora has her own complicated feelings surrounding Tish’s return as well as doubts about her place within the Darling family. After all, Cora came into the family carrying a secret that her husband promised to keep for her forever. Tish’s sudden return to Riptide may force everything they’ve worked so hard to protect out into the light.

Meanwhile, Cora’s eldest daughter, Andi isn’t exactly looking forward to her little sister’s wedding so soon after her own divorce. To make matters worse, her ex has arrived on the Cape with his insufferable new girlfriend. Andi has no idea how she’ll be able to survive this family reunion…until she bumps into an old friend from the past. A friend who may just offer her a second chance.

As the three distinct generations of Darling women arrive at Riptide, they have no idea that this summer will forever change them. One old secret, kept with the best of intentions, threatens to not only divide the family, but shatter each member’s sense of who they really are. Can the ties that bind survive, when the history you’ve always been told turns out to be untrue?
— From the publisher

5. On Fire Island by Jane L. Rosen

A book editor spends one last summer on Fire Island in this sparkling and surprising new novel from the author of A Shoe Story.

As a book editor, Julia Morse lived and breathed stories. Whether with her pen to a manuscript or curled up with a book while at her beloved Fire Island cottage, her imagination alight with a good tale, she could anticipate practically any ending. The ending she’d never imagined was her own.

To be fair, no one expects to die at thirty-seven. So when the unthinkable happens to Julia, rather than following the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, she chooses to spend one last summer near those she loves most.  

As she follows her adoring, novelist husband Ben to their—unexpectedly full—home on Fire Island, she discovers the ripple affect her life has had on the trajectory of so many: her baseball loving, young-at-heart neighbor who believes it’s best not to go it alone, two bright-eyed teenagers eager to become adults, and her best friend who must shake off heartbreak for a new chance at love.

With poignant comedy and insight, On Fire Island is an ode to the stories all around us and to the brightest types of loves…for the people closest to you and the places that shape you.
— From the publisher

6. The Summer Girl by Elle Kennedy

Elle Kennedy’s next spicy and emotional romance in the blockbuster Avalon Bay series.

College student Cassie Soul hasn’t spent an entire summer in Avalon Bay in years, not since her parents divorced and her mother spitefully whisked her away to Boston. Now that her grandmother is selling the boardwalk hotel that’s been in their family for five decades, Cassie returns to the quaint beach town to spend time with family, ring in her twenty-first birthday…and maybe find herself a summer fling.

On her first night in town, she finds the perfect candidate: Tate Bartlett, Avalon Bay’s fun-loving golden boy.

Tate, sailing instructor and lovable player, is no stranger to flings. In fact, he’s always down for a good time. But the moment he meets Cassie, he knows she’s not the girl you play games with. Cassie is gorgeous, hilarious, and, frankly, the coolest person he’s ever met. The last thing he wants to do is risk breaking her heart, and so he reluctantly puts her in the friend-zone…only to realize he made a huge mistake. Soon, his attraction to Cassie becomes impossible to ignore. He wants that fling now. Big-time.

And maybe even something more.

As Cassie and Tate walk the line between friends and lovers, they’re about to discover that their situation is the least complicated part of this equation. Because Avalon Bay is full of secrets—and their relationship might not survive when those secrets come to light.
— From the publisher


If you’ve enjoyed this list of beach books from 2023, check out: These Surfing Coffee Table Books Will Look Perfect on Your Coastal Bookshelf


A graphic showing a wave crashing on the shore and 6 covers of beach books from 2023, with the text "12 beach books new in 2023."

Showing books 7–12 of 12 beach books from 2023

7. All the Days of Summer by Nancy Thayer

Heather Willette has a good life in Concord, Massachusetts. But when her marriage fizzles out, Heather has to decide what sort of life to live next. Ready to seek out her own happiness and discover herself again, Heather decides to leave her husband and rent a cottage on Nantucket. And her plan is going perfectly—until her son, Ross, announces he’s moving to Nantucket to work at his girlfriend’s family’s construction business instead of going back home to work with his own father, like he’d promised. Worst of all for Heather, this means having to get along with her.

Kailee Essex is thrilled that Ross is willing to move to her hometown. She has big hopes for their happily ever after, especially now that her parents are finally showing interest in her career. She’s less thrilled, however, about his mother living nearby. Kailee has clashed with Heather since the day they met. But anything is possible in the summer sun and sea breezes of Nantucket—even reconciliation. And when change comes sooner than either Heather or Kailee expect, they must learn to overcome their differences to fight for the future they want.

With All the Days of Summer, beloved storyteller Nancy Thayer delivers a moving novel that explores the complexity of family and the unexpected ways fate can guide you forward.
— From the publisher

8. Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan

Beach Rules:
Do take long walks on the sand.
Do put an umbrella in every cocktail.
Do NOT run into your first love.

Sam’s life is on track. She has the perfect doctor fiancé, Jack (his strict routines are a good thing, really), a great job in Manhattan (unless they fire her), and is about to tour a wedding venue near her family’s Long Island beach house. Everything should go to plan, yet the minute she arrives, Sam senses something is off. Wyatt is here. Her Wyatt. But there’s no reason for a thirty-year-old engaged woman to feel panicked around the guy who broke her heart when she was seventeen. Right?

Yet being back at this beach, hearing notes from Wyatt’s guitar float across the night air from next door as if no time has passed—Sam’s memories come flooding back: the feel of Wyatt’s skin on hers, their nights in the treehouse, and the truth behind their split. Sam remembers who she used to be, and as Wyatt reenters her life their connection is as undeniable as it always was. She will have to make a choice.
— From the publisher

9. The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela Kelley

TWO LIFELONG FRIENDS.

Jess loves her work as a high-profile lawyer in Charleston. But when her marriage implodes, she retreats to her childhood home on Cape Cod with her thirty-year-old daughter, Caitlin, hoping to regroup with her longtime best friend, Alison.

ONE BOOKSHOP BY THE BAY.

Alison’s career has taken a hit after twenty years as an editor for the magazine Cape Cod Living. But when she learns her beloved bookstore on the Cape is looking for new ownership, a new dream starts to form.

AND THE SUMMER THAT COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING.

As the two friends reopen the bookstore, they also open themselves up to the magic of second chances.
— From the publisher

10. Big Trouble on Sullivan’s Island by Susan M. Boyer

Can this charming do-gooder carry the day?

Charleston, SC. Hadley Cooper has a big heart. So when the easygoing private investigator gets a request from a new friend to stake out her husband’s extramarital activities, she immediately begins surveillance. And when her client is discovered dead on her kitchen floor, the Southern spitfire is certain the cheater is the culprit … even though he has the perfect alibi: Hadley herself.

Flustered since she observed the cad four hours away in Greenville at the time of the murder, the determined PI desperately searches for clues to tie him to the crime. But when her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be the lead detective on the case, arrests a handy suspect, Hadley fears a guilty man is about to walk free.

Can this Palmetto State sleuth make an impossible connection to prevent a miscarriage of justice?

With dry wit and delightful dialogue, Susan M. Boyer delivers an eccentric, vegan gumshoe sure to appeal to any fan of Southern women’s fiction. With her merry band of sassy friends, Hadley Cooper is a Lowcountry detective you won’t soon forget.

Big Trouble on Sullivan’s Island is the engaging first book in the Carolina Tales series. If you like strong heroines, quirky sisterhoods, and plenty of Southern charm, then you’ll love Susan M. Boyer’s wonderful whodunit.

Read Big Trouble on Sullivan’s Island and take a trip to the lush Lowcountry today!
— From the publisher

11. Happy Place by Emily Henry

A couple who broke up months ago pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends in this glittering and wise new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Henry.

Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.

They broke up five months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.

Which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blissful week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.

Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week…in front of those who know you best?
— From the publisher

12. The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand

After tragedy strikes, food blogger Hollis Shaw gathers four friends from different stages in her life to spend an unforgettable weekend on Nantucket.

Hollis Shaw’s life seems picture-perfect. She’s the creator of the popular food blog Hungry with Hollis and is married to Matthew, a dreamy heart surgeon. But after she and Matthew get into a heated argument one snowy morning, he leaves for the airport and is killed in a car accident. The cracks in Hollis’s perfect life—her strained marriage and her complicated relationship with her daughter, Caroline—grow deeper.

So when Hollis hears about something called a “Five-Star Weekend”—one woman organizes a trip for her best friend from each phase of her life: her teenage years, her twenties, her thirties, and midlife—she decides to host her own Five-Star Weekend on Nantucket. But the weekend doesn’t turn out to be a joyful Hallmark movie.

The husband of Hollis’s childhood friend Tatum arranges for Hollis’s first love, Jack Finigan, to spend time with them, stirring up old feelings. Meanwhile, Tatum is forced to play nice with abrasive and elitist Dru-Ann, Hollis’s best friend from UNC Chapel Hill. Dru-Ann’s career as a prominent Chicago sports agent is on the line after her comments about a client’s mental health issues are misconstrued online. Brooke, Hollis’s friend from their thirties, has just discovered that her husband is having an inappropriate relationship with a woman at work. Again! And then there’s Gigi, a stranger to everyone (including Hollis) who reached out to Hollis through her blog. Gigi embodies an unusual grace and, as it happens, has many secrets.

The Five-Star Weekend is a surprising and captivating story about friendship, love, and self-discovery set on Nantucket. It will be a weekend like no other.
— From the publisher


If you’ve enjoyed this list of beach books from 2023, check out: Fall Reading List: 10 Fall Books to Get Cozy With


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A graphic showing a wave crashing on the shore and 12 covers of beach books, with the text "12 beach books to add to your summer reading list. From Stars and Anchor dot com."

12 beach books from 2023 to add to your summer reading list


As you can see from this list of beach books from 2023, there are so many great options where sun, sand, and storytelling collide.

These beach reads are perfect for your summer beach or pool days, vacations, entertainment on your commute to work, or as something fun to read in your free time at home. So when you kick back and soak up the sunshine, don’t forget to dive into these beach books from 2023. They’re waiting to whisk you away on unforgettable adventures, whether you’re lounging seaside or curled up on your porch at home.

When choosing your next book, whether you pick up this year’s newest beach books, or beach books from 2023, 2022, 2021, and so on, there is always the perfect book out there waiting to be discovered.

Have you read any of these beach books from 2023? If so, which ones do you recommend? Are you adding any of these beach books from 2023 to your summer reading list? Let us know in the comments.

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