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Hero Beach Reads

The 8 Best Beach Reads for Summer 2018

Need some new beach reads to devour on the sand this summer? There’s no shortage of timely titles to get your hands on, from inspiring new fantasies to some of the best books of the past decade.

Editor’s note: For the latest version of this story, see 15 Great Summer Books to Read at the Beach in 2019.

Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen confidential

Honor the late chef-turned-travel-journalist Anthony Bourdain by reading his breakout book. Kitchen Confidential will give you a new view of the restaurant industry. Published in 2000, it again topped bestsellers lists this June following Bourdain’s untimely death—and could teach you a thing or two about dining out on your next vacation.

What People Are Saying: “18 years ago, The Times gave it a rave, saying that ‘Bourdain gleefully rips through the scenery to reveal private backstage horrors little dreamed of by the trusting public.’” The New York Times

Available on Amazon

The Windfall: A Novel, Diksha Basu

The windfall

One of the best summer beach reads of last year, The Windfall is a novel about a couple in India who come upon unexpected wealth. Their newfound desire to fit in with Delhi’s elite, though, comes as their son struggles to hide a secret.

What People Are Saying: “Though money doesn’t necessarily buy the Jha’s happiness, it delivers readers plenty of laughs and more. Soon it’ll come to the screen because Paramount and Anonymous Content (known for likes of The Knick & True Detective) are developing it into a TV series.” –Esquire

Available on Amazon

Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn

Sharp objects

New to the screen this summer, Sharp Objects is a novel-turned-HBO-limited series that’s getting rave reviews. The first crime story penned by Gillian Flynn (who also authored Gone Girl) follows a journalist’s return to her small hometown to investigate two murders under the watchful eye of her estranged mother. It’s one of the best beach reads out there for vacationers seeking a juicy, page-turning thriller.

What People Are Saying: “As viperous as Gone Girl, this potent Midwestern Gothic showcases how women, both subtly and savagely, treat (and mistreat) one another.”—The Washington Post

Available on Amazon

Conversations with Myself, Nelson Mandela

Conversations with myself

If you can’t mark Nelson Mandela’s centennial with a visit to South Africa’s 2018 Mandela 100 celebrations, settle for reading his inspiring final memoir. Conversations with Myself will take you back in time through the apartheid-era hero’s personal notebooks, letters, and diary entries.

What People Are Saying: “Raw and unmediated, told in real time with all the changes in perspective that brings, over the years, mixing the prosaic with the momentous. Health concerns, dreams, political initiatives spill out together, to provide the fullest picture yet of Mandela.”—The Guardian

Available on Amazon

Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan

Crazy rich asians

A new, much-hyped movie with an August release date, Crazy Rich Asians is the first in a trilogy of romance novels that deserve a spot on your list of summer beach reads. The bestseller follows down-to-earth New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore with her boyfriend to meet his family, whom she quickly learns are near-royalty—making him one of Asia’s most-eligible bachelors, and her a big problem for their old-money image.

What People Are Saying: Crazy Rich Asians offers refreshing nouveau voyeurism to readers who long ago burned out on American and English aspirational fantasies. Mr. Kwan either knows, or does a good job of pretending to know, how the very rich of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai show off their lucre.”—The New York Times

Available on Amazon

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara

I’ll be gone in the dark

One of the newest best beach reads of this year, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is crime writer Michelle McNamara’s posthumous best seller about the Golden State Killer, whom she helped investigators tail for years before her sudden death and the subsequent arrest of a suspect in the cold case. Tracing dozens of rapes and homicides in California dating back to the 1970s, the book is an intense page turner that true-crime addicts are gobbling up before the upcoming murder trial begins.

What People Are Saying: “McNamara was smart enough to recognize her own obsession and make it part of the story she tells. At its center is the criminal who terrified Californians in the 1970s and ’80s … but the book is much more than a whodunit.”—The Los Angeles Times

Available on Amazon

Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo, Matthew Amster-Burton

7 pretty good number one_ an american family eats tokyo

For anyone considering a food-inspired trip to Japan, Pretty Good Number One follows an American family’s culinary adventures in Tokyo—from colorful supermarkets to tantalizing dumpling shops. A quick-witted account appropriate for all ages, it’ll make you ravenous for a plane ticket to Japan.

What People Are Saying: “A humorous travel memoir in the tradition of Peter Mayle and Bill Bryson, Pretty Good Number One is the next best thing to a ticket to Tokyo.”—Goodreads

Available on Amazon

Boy Erased: A Memoir, Garrard Conley

Boy erased_ a memoir

Another beloved book about to hit the big screen, Boy Erased is a memoir about author Garrard Conley’s fundamentalist Arkansas upbringing as a minister’s son, and the conversion therapy he experienced as a gay teenager. The story will hit theaters in fall 2018 as a movie co-starring Nicole Kidman.

What People Are Saying: “Conley’s close relationship with his mother, who sits vigil with him in a depressing hotel room as he tries to weather the ordeal of [conversion therapy], is a tender portrait of that special bond so many gay men and their mothers have.”—The Washington Post

Available on Amazon

More from SmarterTravel:

SmarterTravel Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel, and is always looking for the best books and movies for the plane. Follow her on Instagram at @shanmcmahon.

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

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