Ultimate Beach Reading: A Summer Reading Guide (FREE for you!)

Ultimate Beach Reading: A Summer Reading Guide (FREE for you!)

(2013 Update: The 2012 Beach Reading Guide has been archived. Head here to get the 2013 guide.)

If you’re at all like me, you think beach chairs and pool decks are made for reading. But nothing is more frustrating than taking a much talked-about book on vacation only to realize it’s terrible and you’re stuck with nothing.

Anybody can browse a bestseller list, but just because a book is a best seller doesn’t mean that you will want to read it. (Hello, Fifty Shades of Grey.)

You all know I love to read, and read a lot. You know where I’m coming from. If you like this blog, I think you’ll find something perfect for you in this guide.

I’ve chosen some bestsellers that are actually good. I’ve also tried hard to give you some fabulous reads that you’ve never heard of. With the exception of the new releases, I’ve personally read every book on this list and I can vouch for them (or answer your questions).

They’re divided by category, so you can flip right to the section that interests you most.

I also share tips I’ve figured out through years of dealing with summer reading’s challenges: sun, water, sand, travel. (Has anyone else ever recommended throwaway books before?)

Early Praise for Ultimate Beach Reading

Sound good? Here’s how to get your free copy.

Get the Guide

The Ultimate Beach Reading guide is free to subscribers. You’ve got two options to get yours:

Option #1 – Subscribe to the RSS feed. You can sign up for via your favorite feed reader by clicking this link.

Option #2 – Subscribe via email. Your can get our posts delivered straight to your email inbox by signing up here.

The link to the guide is at the bottom of each post.

I’d love to hear your feedback when you’re done reading your guide! Come back and comment on your favorite summer read right here, or follow the hashtag #beachreading on twitter.

Happy summer, and happy reading!


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53 comments | Comment


  1. Well, as you know, I’ve done that a LOT this year (picked up a book that was recommended or got great reviews, only to feel like it was a waste of time and money to read it). I’ve got a stack that I’m working through right now and I’m really hoping to find at least ONE winner in it, but I’m starting to think that they are few and far between.

  2. Ohhh, this makes me want to go to the beach so badly! But I am landlocked, and nowhere near close to one. I grew up going almost ever summer for a week, and I miss it!

    • Anne says:

      Kelly, you’ll get back there one day! In the meantime, take comfort in the fact that a good book can be enjoyed anywhere 🙂

  3. Maggie S. says:

    Thanks for the guide. I’ll be out and about today. Library? Used bookstore? Free wi-fi for my Nook? I could get totally nuts.

    I guess I will have to sit in the backyard. The books won’t know.

    • Anne says:

      Ha! Try not to get too crazy! And the backyard is one of my favorite places for reading 🙂

  4. Rebecca says:

    You shine so brightly! This is a remarkable project and spot-on with your focus of the modern accomplished woman. A truly beautiful blend of genres and I love, love, love the annotated bibliography style. Can’t wait for our library trip this afternoon 🙂

  5. Tim says:

    While I may never have read Fifty Shades of Grey, now that I’ve seen Funny or Die’s satire Fifty Shades of Blue I don’t need to: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/5c061dfb20/fifty-shades-of-blue-with-selena-gomez . Funny stuff. Hope it inspires your blog writing.


    P.S. Shameless self-promotion – Kim Kirby just posted today a new guest article I wrote about being called to the principal’s office: http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/05/25/on-being-presumptuous/
    Hope you and other MMDers get a chance to check it out!

  6. Christina says:

    What a nice surprise for a neverending Friday morning at the office! 2012 is my year of “don’t read anything except what I want,” so I am definitely looking forward to checking these out. I’ve never heard of Susan Howatch, but those sound fascinating, especially for this pastor-to-be. I’m going to check out The Happiness Project and Drop Dead Healthy, too.

    (Guess this means I need to pay my library fines. 🙂

    Some great reads to add to the list (of the fantasy-ish variety): the Thursday Next books (The Eyre Affair and sequels) are fabulous beach/car trip/airplane reading, especially for bibliophiles. (Series is about Thursday, a “literary detective,” who has to go inside books to solve crimes.) I adored Philip Pullman’s YA book The Golden Compass and its sequels. I don’t agree with Pullman’s religion (he says he was trying to write an atheist version of Narnia, kind of a secular humanist fairytale) and wouldn’t necessarily give them to kids. But if you can get past the anti-religious elements, the story is magical, there’s lots to think about re: religion and freedom, and Lyra Belacqua is a plucky heroine who would be right at home with Katniss Everdeen, Meg Murry, and Hermione Granger.

    Thanks, Anne!

    • Amanda Roby says:

      I second the Thursday Next series, as well as Shades of Grey (not Fifty Shades of disgusting…) also by Jasper Fforde. It appears Shades of Grey, a beautifully written dystopian novel in which your caste is determined by which colors you can see, will be part of a series. 🙂 Makes this Fforde fan very happy.


      • Anne says:

        I’ve never heard of Thursday Next! Thanks to you both for the recommendation. Also I have read some hysterical commentary on the Shades of Grey/Fifty Shades of Grey confusion–but I haven’t talked to anyone who’s actually read Shades of Grey. Thanks for sharing, Amanda!

  7. Thanks for the reading guide – you’ve given me some new ones to check out (literally; I love my library!). You’ve included several that I love, so I’m hoping the others are also ones I’ll enjoy. 🙂

  8. Tiffany says:

    I just discovered your blog today and subscribed. I’m loving the Beach reading ebook! Perfect for vacation planning. I shared the link to your site and info about the ebook on my Eat at Home facebook page. Thanks so much!

    • Anne says:

      Welcome, Tiffany! Thanks so much for the kind words about the reading guide, and thanks for sharing it with your readers! (Your site looks fantastic, by the way–I’d never visited before but am so glad I did.)

  9. Angela says:

    Oh dear, I’m in trouble! My library list has just grown exponentially! 🙂 Thanks so much for the e-book and all the recommendations.

  10. Anne says:

    Linda, thanks for subscribing! If you’re in RSS, look at the bottom of each post, and you’ll see the link. If you’re subscribed via email, the next post will go out Friday morning at 6am EST. You’ll see a link at the bottom of the post.

    Please, please email me at modern mrs darcy (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any trouble, and I’ll make sure you get your copy!

    • Anne says:

      Beth, after you subscribe, look for the link to the guide at the end of each emailed post or in the footer of the RSS feed. If you have any trouble, email me at modern mrs darcy (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll make sure you get your copy. Thanks!

  11. Kerry says:

    Hi ladies,

    I am sick of every book I start reading being miserable! Can anyone suggest a happy summer read without characters going through depressing ordeals?


    • Anne says:

      Kerry, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day springs immediately to mind. The problem with fiction is that plots thrive on conflict, and conflict is often, well, depressing.

      Maybe nonfiction would be a better choice? What’s your favorite genre? I love memoirs and they don’t have to be depressing, like Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires. Tell me what you like and I’m sure we can find you something 🙂

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