Fallen out of the habit of reading? These unputdownable picks will get you back into the groove
Growing up, many of us were voracious readers. Yet it’s easy to fall out of the habit, particularly in our always-on world, where instead of losing ourselves in the pages of a book, we get lost in endless social media scrolls, group chats or streaming content. Holidays are an optimum time to get back into reading, yet choosing the wrong title can set you back even further, and make reading feel like a chore. Here, we round up 20 beach reads you won’t want to put down. 1. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty The Australian author of Big Little Lies is known for writing novels as binge-worthy as the best box-sets. This one tells the stories of three seemingly unconnected women, including Cecilia, who finds a letter from her husband of 15 years — still very much alive — marked “to be opened in the event of my death”.
2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
In the 1990s, artist Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl rent a home in the suburbs from Elena Richardson, a wealthy homemaker and mother to four picture-perfect children. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle divides the two households, raising fascinating questions about motherhood, race and class.
3. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
If you’d prefer classic literature, this 1938 gothic thriller is one of the most enduring and enthralling. An unnamed young woman marries a recently widowed aristocrat, and returns to his English estate, Manderley, only to find it haunted by the memory of her titular predecessor and the mystery of her death.
4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The TikTok favourite recounts the rise and fall of a fictional 70s rock band. Presented as the transcript of a music documentary, it features the perspectives of the band’s members, relatives and industry insiders, discussing fame, addiction and the relationship of singers Daisy and Billy, inspired by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac.
5. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
This beautiful short novel sensitively explores class, gender, sexuality, racial tensions and the lasting effects of trauma across generations. Opening with 16-year-old Melody’s birthday party, it traces the histories of Melody’s unmarried parents and reflects on how parenthood altered their lives.
6. Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
Now the subject of four books, with a fifth and final one on the way, Aisling is one of the finest characters in Irish literary history. The novels are a breeze to read, frequently hilarious and often heart-rending, as they follow 28-year-old Aisling, who makes the move from her fictional home of Ballygobbard to the big smoke after a break-up.
7. Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
The British novelist’s nostalgic coming-of-age tale is narrated by a man in his thirties looking back on the long, hot summer of 1997, when he fell in love for the first time after finding himself reluctantly cast in a local production of Romeo and Juliet. It’s a tender tribute to first love and a pitch-perfect summer read.
8. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Sutanto
This riotously funny novel revolves around Meddy, the youngest daughter of a family of immigrant Chinese-Indonesian wedding planners in California. After accidentally killing her blind date, she enlists her mother and aunties to dispose of the body while ensuring a luxurious ceremony at an island resort goes off without a hitch.
9. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
We’re in the midst of a true-crime boom, but nothing comes close to this riveting non-fiction work, which reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and their children. The iconic American writer has an acute understanding of moral ambiguity, eschewing easy sensational detail for nuanced observations of character.
10. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
The lives of three women in New York — transgender and cisgender — become intertwined around an unexpected pregnancy, as the debut author explores what motherhood means to each of her characters. A compulsive, thought-provoking and very funny read.
11. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
In this compulsive thriller, Nella is the only black face in her all-white publishing office, and longs for another black woman as a colleague. She thinks her prayers have been answered with the arrival of Hazel-May, until Nella starts receiving threatening notes telling her to leave the company.
12. Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
The Booker Prize winner returns with another story of a boy and his alcoholic mother in working-class Glasgow. This is an even finer work, centred on a romance between the Protestant Mungo and James, a Catholic who lives on the other side of the housing estate.
13. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
The latest and most mature work from the Irish sensation traces the friendship between Alice, a successful novelist, and Eileen, who works at a literary magazine, and their burgeoning relationships with Felix, a newacquaintance who works in a warehouse, and Simon, Eileen’s childhood companion
14. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
A thoroughly enjoyable debut by a writer in her mid-sixties, the novel opens in 1961, when our miserable heroine is working as the star of a cooking show for housewives. The narrative jumps back a decade to reveal how she ended up on TV after training as a chemist, and learns to use her platform to spark a feminist revolution
15. Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes
If you read the seminal Rachel’s Holiday in the 90s, this sequel will feel like being reunited with an old friend. Even if you’re unfamiliar, Keyes’s writing sparkles with wit, personality and emotional intelligence, and her story of a sober rehab counsellor who finds her life upended by an old flame will have you gripped.
16. Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
One of the most anticipated Irish releases of the year centres on a young Catholic primary school teacher living near Belfast during the Troubles. When she falls in love with a married Protestant barrister, she must keep their affair a secret until her private and professional lives collide.
17. Book Lovers by Emily Henry
This American author is beloved for her summer romcoms, and her latest is another hit, about a literary agent and a book editor trying to escape work on holiday, only to keep bumping into each other.
18. Anna by Amy Odell
The great enigma of modern fashion, Anna Wintour has been a figure of public fascination since even before The Devil Wears Prada. Now, respected fashion journalist Odell brings a meticulously researched, wonderfully entertaining biography of the Vogue editor, full of interviews with those who know her best.
19. The Palace Papers by Tina Brown
Royal watchers will love this deliciously gossipy account of the monarchy since the death of Princess Diana. Written by the former editor of Vanity Fair, it is loaded with juicy details about everyone from Prince Andrew to Meghan Markle.
20. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
The British author has a reputation for crafting up-all-night mysteries. Her newest follows a woman who flees her life in London and heads to visit her brother in Paris, only to arrive and find him missing.