Author Meg Cabot Recommends 4 Of Her Favorite Beach Reads Late summer is the time to lose yourself in novels, so we asked author (and Key West resident) Meg Cabot to share a few of her favorite books to while away the hours on the water.


Book Reviews

Here Are 4 Fabulous Beach Reads — Whether You're On A Beach Or Not

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Summertime opens up a whole avenue of literature, beach reads - even if you're nowhere near a beach, novels that are great for just getting lost in while you relax outdoors, some just out, some that have been around a long time. Meg Cabot, author of "The Princess Diaries" series, among other books for young readers, young adults and adults, has some recommendations for books that can be devoured anywhere. Thanks very much for being with us.

MEG CABOT: Well, thanks so much for having me. I'm delighted to be here.

SIMON: Well, we're delighted to have you. First on your list, you've got a great crime novelist out of Baltimore, Laura Lippman, who is creator of Tess Monaghan, a reporter who decides to do something useful with their life and becomes a private eye.

CABOT: Yeah, she's one of my favorites. I love the Tess Monaghan series. And I love Baltimore, too. My mom lives in Annapolis, so I always love reading about the goings on next door in Baltimore. And she has a new book out this summer called "Dream Girl."

SIMON: I've read about it.

CABOT: Yeah, it's Tess Monaghan adjacent. Tess Monaghan actually makes an appearance, so I was excited to read that. And it's - I also - it's pretty dark. It's a little bit of a kind of departure for Laura Lippman.

SIMON: Well, let's ask about some historical mysteries that are on your list. The Jane Prescott mysteries...

CABOT: Right.

SIMON: ...Written by Mariah Fredericks, set in 1910 New York.

CABOT: Yeah, the Gilded Age. That's what they call it. That's right around when - well, I think in the second book, the Titanic goes down, not to give anything away because it's not...

SIMON: What? The Titanic went down?

CABOT: I know. Another spoiler. Well, it's kind of fun for fans of, like, "Downton Abbey." This is what people were doing on the other side of the pond in New York City. So we've got a main character who's a lady's maid, and she is kind of the upstairs, downstairs kind of feel. So you're seeing what she's doing in the servants quarters, but then she's observing all the beautiful ladies in Manhattan and the wonderful clothes and the sumptuous food. But then Jane, the maid, is also out on the streets of New York and kind of seeing the restlessness and the poverty that's going on. It's really fascinating and fun to watch. And, of course, I don't know about this maid because it seems like everywhere she goes, there's a murder (laughter).

SIMON: That would make you think maybe you don't have to come in tomorrow. I was so glad to see John D. MacDonald's name on your list. He's considered one of the grandmasters of crime fiction and not just crime fiction.

CABOT: Yeah.

SIMON: His Travis McGee series - Travis McGee has his headquarters on a boat called Busted Flush. Where do you think people might begin with John D. MacDonald these days?

CABOT: I always think of these books as kind of like, dude - you know, there's chick lit people talk about. And then this is, like, dude lit. It's definitely kind of the hardboiled mystery novels that - my dad loved these books. You know, they're of their times. They started in the 1960s, and they went on into the '80s. So they've got kind of this - they're a little dated, but they're also so much fun to read because they're set in Florida, and John D. MacDonald loved Florida. He just writes about it so lovingly, and he's so concerned about the environment.

SIMON: I have not read his books in years, but I - yeah, I think you would be struck both by how some sections certainly are dated, yet others are - were ahead of their time. And that...

CABOT: Yeah.

SIMON: You know? That's not a bad record for a great novelist, is it? Let me ask you about Alyssa Cole...

CABOT: Yeah.

SIMON: ...Who is a contemporary master in the romance genre.


SIMON: She's got a book out that I guess - it involves emails from an African prince.

CABOT: (Laughter).

SIMON: And having recently won the Czech lottery, I can understand this.

CABOT: (Laughter). Yes, "A Princess In Theory" is the first book in a series that Alyssa Cole, who's a great Black romance author. She also writes thrillers, too. But this - "A Princess In Theory" was one that I - kind of surprised me because it's that funny idea. I mean, we all get those emails from the Nigerian prince or wherever he's from. And this is a great romance idea. So she has a character in this book who is getting those emails. She's a Black grad student. And, you know, she deletes them, as we all would. But hers actually turn out to be from a real prince from an African country. And it turns out she's a foster kid. And this guy is really trying to tell her that she - you know, she has a connection to this country. And every time she deleted the email, it turns out she's actually throwing away her future because this guy wants to marry her.

SIMON: Meg - if I may call you Meg.

CABOT: Of course.

SIMON: Meg, what are you going to do for the rest of summer (laughter)?

CABOT: Well, fortunately, you know, there's a lot of Travis McGee books out there (laughter)...

SIMON: All right. OK.

CABOT: ...That I haven't gotten to yet. But there's a lot of other great books coming out in all genres, the mystery genre and the romance genre. So I think we have a lot to keep us busy. And I do eventually have to write some books myself (laughter).

SIMON: Right. Meg Cabot, who herself will have a new book, "No Words," that comes out in September. Thanks so much for being with us.

CABOT: Oh, thank you so much for having me. This was a ball.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.