Blanche’s Book Club: 2021 Beach Reading Guide!

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It’s been a few years since I’ve put together a Beach Reading Guide — not to be confused with my annual Summer Reading Guide (check out this year’s list) — but that’s because it’s been years since I’ve been to the beach!

I know the formal summer season is coming to a close, and right now is sort of a weird time for vacations, but I wanted to offer up a book rec roundup fit for your lake house, your beach trip, or maybe just that lounge chair in your backyard.

If you’re ready for fall books, the Fall Reading Guide is set for September 20!

Now that we’ve got that covered, here are my summer reading recs:

‘Sky Falling’ by Mia McKenzie

Book description: When she was twenty-six and broke, Skye didn’t think twice before selling her eggs and happily pocketing the cash. Now, a twelve-year-old girl tracks Skye down during one of her brief visits to her hometown of Philadelphia and informs Skye that she’s “her egg.”

Skye’s life is thrown into sharp relief and she decides that it might be time to actually try to have a meaningful relationship with another human being. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy.

Things get even more complicated when Skye realizes that the woman she tried and failed to pick up the other day is the girl’s aunt, and now it’s awkward.

With its endearingly prickly narrator and a cast of characters willing to both challenge her and catch her when she falls, this novel is a clever, moving portrait of a woman and the relationships she thought she could live without.

This sounds like the perfect amount of drama for a beach read and I’m curious to know what happens!

‘We Run the Tides’ by Vendela Vida

Book description: Teenage Eulabee and her magnetic best friend, Maria Fabiola, own the streets of Sea Cliff, their foggy oceanside San Francisco neighborhood. One day, walking to school with friends, they witness a horrible act–or do they?

Eulabee and Maria Fabiola vehemently disagree on what happened, and their rupture is followed by Maria Fabiola’s sudden disappearance–a potential kidnapping that shakes the quiet community and threatens to expose unspoken truths.     
   
Suspenseful and poignant, We Run the Tides is Vendela Vida’s masterful portrait of an inimitable place on the brink of radical transformation. Pre-tech boom San Francisco finds its mirror in the changing lives of the teenage girls at the center of this story of innocence lost, the pain of too much freedom, and the struggle to find one’s authentic self.

Told with a gimlet eye and great warmth, We Run the Tides is both a gripping mystery and a tribute to the wonders of youth, in all its beauty and confusion.

I added this book to the list and thought, “That cover looks familiar…” and it was on my bookshelf already! I’m excited to read this one.

‘The Ex Talk’ by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Book description: Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio. 
 
When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.  
 
As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

As an avid podcast listener, this sounds like a delight! It honestly could be a Hallmark-style movie, too… it’s always the guys they hate in the beginning that they end up falling for 🙂

‘Everyday Vitality’ by Samantha Boardman

Book description: In Everyday Vitality, psychiatrist Dr. Samantha Boardman shows readers how to find strength within their stress and how to transform full days into more fulfilling days. Drawing from scientific research and her own clinical experience, she shares strategies for cultivating vitality–the positive feeling of aliveness and energy that lies at the core of well-being and at the heart of a good day.

You will discover how increased vitality boosts productivity, builds coping skills, and enhances your ability to manage negative emotions. Dr. Boardman demonstrates how to override counterproductive responses to the onslaught of daily hassles and to respond with flexibility and fortitude instead of fear and rumination. Rather than disengaging from the world while you find yourself, she shows you how to boost your vitality by living well within the world.

Whether it is having a good conversation, doing a favor for someone, going for a walk, or reading an interesting article and then calling a friend to talk about it, commonplace experiences and micromoments serve as the building blocks of everyday resilience. Everyday Vitality explains how to identify them in your life, develop them, and use them as a foundation on which to thrive.

Whether you are twenty or eighty, Everyday Vitality will give you the tools you need to get the most out of each day and to live your life to the fullest.

A self-help isn’t the first thing I think of when I make a beach reading list, but this one seems so useful (and light), especially during these tough times, when all we really have are the small everyday things.

‘Early Morning Riser’ by Katherine Heiny

Book description: Jane falls in love with Duncan easily. He is charming, good-natured, and handsome but unfortunately, he has also slept with nearly every woman in Boyne City, Michigan. Jane sees Duncan’s old girlfriends everywhere–at restaurants, at the grocery store, even three towns away.

While Jane may be able to come to terms with dating the world’s most prolific seducer of women, she wishes she did not have to share him quite so widely. His ex-wife, Aggie, a woman with shiny hair and pale milkmaid skin, still has Duncan mow her lawn. His coworker, Jimmy, comes and goes from Duncan’s apartment at the most inopportune times. Sometimes Jane wonders if a relationship can even work with three people in it–never mind four.

But any notion Jane had of love and marriage changes with one terrible car crash. Soon Jane’s life is permanently intertwined with Duncan’s, Aggie’s, and Jimmy’s, and Jane knows she will never have Duncan to herself. But could it be possible that a deeper kind of happiness is right in front of Jane’s eyes? A novel that is alternately bittersweet and laugh-out-loud funny, Katherine Heiny’s Early Morning Riser is her most astonishingly wonderful work to date.

I think we all know this guy… right?! This one sounds like the perfect balance of humor and frustration.

‘Rock the Boat’ by Beck Dorey-Stein

Book description: When Kate Campbell’s life in Manhattan suddenly implodes, she is forced to return to Sea Point, the small town full of quirky locals, quaint bungalows, and beautiful beaches where she grew up. She knows she won’t be home for long; she’s got every intention (and a three-point plan) to win back everything she thinks she’s lost.

Meanwhile, Miles Hoffman–aka “The Prince of Sea Point”–has also returned home to prove to his mother that he’s capable of taking over the family business, and he’s promised to help his childhood best friend, Ziggy Miller, with his own financial struggles at the same time. Kate, Miles, and Ziggy converge in Sea Point as the town faces an identity crisis when a local developer tries to cash in on its potential.

The summer swells, and white lies and long-buried secrets prove as corrosive as the salt air, threatening to forever erode not only the bonds between the three friends but also the landscape of the beachside community they call home.

Full of heart and humor–and laced with biting wit–Rock the Boat proves that even when you know all the back roads, there aren’t any shortcuts to growing up.

This sounds like it could also be a Hallmark movie, which I love. Beach town drama = perfect for a beach book!

‘If You Lived Here, You’d be Famous by Now’ by Via Bleidner

Book description: For Via Bleidner, transferring to Calabasas High from the private Catholic school she’s attended since second grade is a culture shock, not to mention absolutely lonely. Suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar world of celebrities, affluenza, and McMansions, Via takes a page from Cameron Crowe and pretends she’s on a journalism assignment, taking notes on her classmates and jotting down bits of overheard gossip.

Getting through high school in Calabasas is something else―from Kim Kardashian endorsing the students’ favorite hidden lunch spot, to the theater program hiring a famous dog to play Elle Woods’ Chihuahua in its production of Legally Blonde, and Kanye trying to take control of your school to make it the very first YEEZY institution.

But instead of floating through high school detached from her peers, Via finds that putting herself out there―for her writing, of course―just might have been exactly what she needed. She unexpectedly finds an eclectic group of friends to call her own, including a multi-multi-millionaire, a wild-card throwback intent on going viral, a former Disney actor, and a doughnut-dealing madman.

With wit, candor, and sharp observations, twenty-one-year-old Via grounds the surreal glamour of Calabasas with reflections on her own coming-of-age, sharing her teenage misadventures as she struggles to fit in, faces crushing social pressure, and eventually makes her own way.

I mean… if you’re a fan of this kind of California plastic culture (I am), I think this sounds like quite a treat. Pour a margarita for this one!

‘Blush’ by Jamie Brenner

Book description: For decades, the Hollander Estates winery has been the premier destination for lavish parties and romantic day trips on the North Fork of Long Island. But behind the lush vineyards and majestic estate house, the Hollander family fortunes have suffered and the threat of a sale brings old wounds to the surface.

For matriarch Vivian, she fears that this summer season could be their last–and that selling their winery to strangers could expose a dark secret she’s harbored for decades. Meanwhile, her daughter, Leah, who was turned away from the business years ago, finds her marriage at a crossroads and returns home for a sorely needed escape. And granddaughter Sadie, grappling with a crisis of her own, runs to the vineyard looking for inspiration.

But when Sadie uncovers journals from Vivian’s old book club dedicated to scandalous novels of decades past, she realizes that this might be the distraction they all need. Reviving the trashy book club, the Hollander women find that the stories hold the key to their fight not only for the vineyeard, but for the life and love they’ve wanted all along.

Blush is a bighearted story of love, family, and second chances, and an ode to the blockbuster novels that have shaped generations of women.

Wine, a romance book club, and an estate house!? What more could you ask for in a summer read? Nothing!

‘If the Shoe Fits’ by Julie Murphy

Book description: Cindy loves shoes. A well-placed bow or a chic stacked heel is her form of self-expression. As a fashion-obsessed plus-size woman, she can never find designer clothes that work on her body, but a special pair of shoes always fits just right.  

With a shiny new design degree but no job in sight, Cindy moves back in with her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, the executive producer of the world’s biggest dating reality show. When a contestant on Before Midnight bows out at the last minute, Cindy is thrust into the spotlight. Showcasing her killer shoe collection on network TV seems like a great way to jump-start her career. And, while she’s at it, why not go on a few lavish dates with an eligible suitor?

But being the first and only fat contestant on Before Midnight turns her into a viral sensation—and a body-positivity icon—overnight. Even harder to believe? She can actually see herself falling for this Prince Charming. To make it to the end, despite the fans, the haters, and a house full of fellow contestants she’s not sure she can trust, Cindy will have to take a leap of faith and hope her heels— and her heart—don’t break in the process.

Best-selling author Julie Murphy’s reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is an enchanting story of self-love and believing in the happy ending each and every one of us deserves.

I have read ALL of Julie Murphy’s books, except for this one and I’m so excited to read it!

‘All the Colors Came Out’ by Kate Fagan

Book description: Growing up, Kate Fagan and her father forged their relationship on the basketball court. They were an inseparable pair, two kindred spirits bonded together by sweaty high fives, and an unflappable dedication to the New York Knicks.

But as Kate grew older and life added complications to both her love of sport and her role as a daughter, they drifted apart -relying on a yearly pair of matching sneakers to remind each other of their connection.

When Chris, Kate’s 6’5″ athletic father, was diagnosed with ALS, they embarked on a new, entirely uncharted chapter of their relationship. Kate left her job at ESPN to help her mom and sister and care for her father, just as he had done for her, until his eventual assisted death.

And yet while enduring the painful experience of witnessing her idol’s rapid deterioration, Kate reconnected with her father to find an even deeper, more meaningful relationship. At its heart, this is a love story between Kate and her dad, the lessons learned, and, ultimately, how his debilitating disease made her reconsider their powerful relationship, along with her own life choices.

A perfect meeting of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE and RUNNING HOME, ALL THE COLORS CAME OUT is written for the women who found their dad on the court, track, pitch, or field. It is an ode to the unbreakable bond between father and daughter and the invaluable understanding they share.

Kate Fagan wrote “What Made Maddy Run” (a book that changed me), so I’m going to read anything she puts out. But, as a daughter who lost her father and we did share a bond over sports… this one’s going to be bittersweet.

‘She Regrets Nothing’ by Andrea Dunlop

Book description: When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers.

Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal–not to mention setting off several new ones–as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins.

But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate–and the dark side of wealth.

This sounds like it has a good balance of glamour and darkness 🙂

‘Seven Days in June’ by Tia Williams

Book description: Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award‑winning novelist, who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their buried traumas, but the eyebrows of the Black literati. What no one knows is that fifteen years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. While they may be pretending not to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry—or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books through the years.

Over the next seven days, amidst a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect—but Eva’s wary of the man who broke her heart, and wants him out of the city so her life can return to normal. Before Shane disappears though, she needs a few questions answered…

With its keen observations of creative life in America today, as well as the joys and complications of being a mother and a daughter, Seven Days in June is a hilarious, romantic, and sexy‑as‑hell story of two writers discovering their second chance at love.

This one has such great reviews, and I figured I needed a solid steamy romance on the list!

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Also, check out my printable bookmarks and Book Club Journal Pages in my Etsy Shop

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