'I absolutely inhaled this book.' The best beach reads for summer, according to the Mamamia team.

The perfect beach book is a very specific phenomenon. 

It's generally a novel, it's usually centred on relationships and, besides the fundamental qualities of being extremely compelling and/or entertaining, it must not be overly complicated, pretentious, or very long.

Beach books are an essential component of a successful Australian summer and it is  – I'll say it – compulsory to devour at least two or three between sweaty naps throughout the holiday break.

With all of this in mind, here are the Mamamia team's essential summer reads – starting with my own, because I am putting this list together and therefore deserve priority.

Image: Pantera Press.


"This is the debut novel from journalist and writer Nadine J. Cohen, and somehow manages to be delightful, hilarious, and heart-wrenching all at once.

The short story is that when we meet the protagonist, Yael Silver, she has just experienced a mental health crisis and the book follows her journey towards recovery. 

Beyond discussing mental health with a huge dose of honesty and emotional intelligence, the book also contains a lot of nuance and unexpected moving parts, including reflections on family trauma, unconventional friendships, and, above all, the complex and enduring relationship between sisters.

Oh – and the plot also centres strongly around the McIver's Ladies Baths in Coogee, so it literally couldn't be more perfect for reading between dips."

Morgan's pick: Body Friend by Katherine Bradon.

"Kind of cheating because I don't usually recommend books before finishing them but I'm loving this book! 

It's a fairly short read, based in Melbourne, about a woman who has a chronic illness and is recovering from surgery when she develops friendships with two other women who are also suffering from or recovering from the same illness. 

The book uses a lot of metaphorical language and is driven mainly by the characters not the plot so might not be for everyone, but it's a really interesting conversation about the bounce between recovery and relapse that happens with chronic illness. But isn't too heavy despite the subject matter."


Isabella's pick: Perfect-ish by Jessica Seaborn.

Image: Penguin Books Australia.

"I devoured this book in one weekend while relaxing in the backyard with my dog.

It's funny, smart, super readable, and all about that life stage of reaching your early 30s and realising there's no such thing as 'having it all together' – even if that's what some people project on social media.

It has strong Dolly Alderton vibes, but it's a fresh take. Plus the cover is banging."


Nicole's Pick: Dark Mode by Ashley Kalagian Blunt.

"It was a love of psychological thrillers combined with my own experience with online stalking that prompted me to pick up Dark Mode by Ashley Kalagian Blunt.

Not for the faint-hearted, Dark Mode grips you from the beginning with a gruesome murder scene, but quickly morphs into a mind-messing thriller/whodunnit, with online stalking and digital abuse at its core.

The author does an incredible job of portraying the heart-stopping terror, mental upheaval, and self-gaslighting the protagonist experiences, as the perpetrator escalates their campaign of online terror. The fast pace and myriad twists and turns make this book unputdownable, as you try to figure out who’s responsible. 

It’s a page turner, written in an easy-to-read, made-for-the-movies style, but Dark Mode also provides an important insight into the complicated and dangerous worlds of online stalking and the dark web, while taking a deep dive into the minds of incels and misogynists, and exploring the ever-increasing risks women face when technology is used to abuse."

Tara's pick: Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss's Glossier by Marisa Meltzer.

Image: Simon & Schuster 


"I absolutely inhaled this book in a weekend spent sitting under a palm tree, so I can vouch for it being the ideal beach read.

The book charts the rise of cosmetics brand Glossier, focusing on its enigmatic founder Emily Weiss, who began as an intern appearing on The Hills and ended up changing the entire beauty industry.

Glossy has a few scandalous moments, with former employees criticising some of Weiss’ questionable choices, but it’s more just a super-thorough investigation into Glossier, and more generally the 2010s beauty boom. And it helps that Meltzer’s writing is always engaging and never boring, making it the kind of book where pages fly by and you can’t put it down."

Alex's pick: Yellowface by R.F. Kuang.

Image: Harper Collins.


"I was given the shortest intro of what this book was about from the person who recommended it to me but didn't want to give too much away, and I was immediately hooked.

I couldn't put it down when I started reading it. Each chapter felt like a train wreck in slow motion that I didn't want to look away from, and I felt incredibly entertained and frustrated reading the unbelievable decisions that the narrator makes throughout the book.

This entire book is about grey areas and I hated (loved) it."

Tara's pick: The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue.

"This book is an easy, funny and relatable read. From Caroline O'Donoghue, aka the brain that brought us iconic podcast Sentimental Garbage, this book tells the unconventional love story between Rachel and James, two young booksellers studying and living in Ireland.


They’re discovering who they are, they’re dating, they’re sorting out their careers, they’re figuring out their sexualities – they’re just like us! The only difference is that Rachel and James’ story unfolds during the 2008 financial crisis.

The Rachel Incident is much lighter and easier to digest compared to some of O’Donoghue’s other works, like Promising Young Woman, which makes it a perfect beach read." 

Alix's pick(s): The Crescent City series by Sarah J Maas

Image: Bloomsbury


"If you haven't read Sarah J Maas' Crescent City series yet... lucky you. Because, friend, you are in for the treat of your life. 

Main character Bryce Quinlan is badass, sassy, funny, and just the kind of gal you wish you were friends with. And probably would be, too, because she's cool like that. 

There's low-key romance, duh – it wouldn't be a beach read without it – but it's also got murder, mystery, *sexy* smutty times, so much action and adventure and twists and turns that I can't even STAND it... Can you tell I'm obsessed?

And the best bit is, if you start reading books one and two now (House of Earth and Blood, and House of Sky and Breath respectively), you'll be done juuuust about right in time for the next in the series, House of Flame and Shadow, which drops on Jan 24, 2024. Sorted. All. Summer.

Admittedly, these are some chunky books, but by god they're worth it. And if you don't have commitment issues, I also highly rec reading Maas' five-book (like I said, a commitment, but one you won't regret) A Court of Thorns and Roses series before CC. (Don't even get me started on Throne of Glass...)

DM me when you're done with all of these books and WE WILL TALK."

Image: Canva.

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