Recommendations for books to read at the beach From light romance and short fiction to thrillers, here's a list of books that are perfect companions as you retreat to the beach or pool to catch a break from the summer heat.



8 books to enjoy at the beach this summer

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It's finally summer. And with everything going on in the world right now, we could all probably use a little escape. Luckily, Books We Love, formerly known as The Book Concierge, is back early this year with its first-ever summer edition. We've got tons of book recommendations to help you pick the perfect read for those slower moments of summer. And joining me now is Natalie Escobar, an NPR editor who helped put together that list. Hey, Natalie.

NATALIE ESCOBAR, BYLINE: Hey, Juana. It's good to talk to you.

SUMMERS: It's good to talk with you, too. OK, I want to dig into this list. How did it come together?

ESCOBAR: So we asked NPR staff and book critics what their favorite books from 2022 have been so far, so books that have been published this year between January and June. We got hundreds of responses. It might not come as a surprise that NPR folks love to read all kinds of things. And so we narrowed those down to a little over 160 of our favorites.

SUMMERS: Wow, 160. OK, so got to start reading fast. It is summer, which means that some people may have a little more time to read than they might otherwise have. For you, when you think about having that kind of downtime, whether it's by the pool or on a plane or just hanging out at home, what are you looking for in a summer read?

ESCOBAR: So personally, my favorite kind of summer reading is the kind that I can kind of just breeze through, nothing too heady. So my favorite kind of book is one that either I genuinely cannot put down, or the kind that's short, sweet and I can kind of breeze through in an afternoon.

SUMMERS: Yeah. You know, I have to say, it has been a long time since I've read that kind of a book. I read a lot of really good books, but lately, I've been veering kind of into more intense stuff and things that I sometimes honestly have to take a little bit of a break when I'm reading. So I'm excited to hear from you. What is an example of a book on this list that is short and sweet?

ESCOBAR: The first book from this list that jumped out to me was "Present Tense Machine." It's by Gunnhild Oyehaug, who's a Norwegian poet. And her interest in playing with language is super-apparent here. So the premise is kind of a complicated one, so stay with me. A mother mispronounces a word while her daughter plays nearby. And as a result, they both get sucked into parallel universes, and they completely forget that the other person ever existed at all.

SUMMERS: Oh, OK. I like the wordplay here. Go on.

ESCOBAR: And so for the rest of the book, they each go on living their separate lives. They end up living kind of similar, parallel lives. And they're always wondering, you know, is there something more out there? Is there, like, another life I could have lived? It's such a strange premise, but it's one that I'm super curious to see where it goes. Plus, it's only 174 pages, so either way, it's good to get through in one afternoon.

SUMMERS: OK, I like this. I could see this as a book I could, like, read on the train on my way to or from work. But I got to ask, do you have anything for someone who's looking for something with a slightly less complicated premise?

ESCOBAR: I got you. So I've been dying to read something that's both funny and sweet to distract me from, you know, like, everything that's happening in the world right now. So if you're in the mood for that kind of thing, Casey McQuiston's latest book, "I Kissed Shara Wheeler," is a YA novel that's also great for adults. So our protagonist, Chloe, gets kissed by her high school rival, Shara Wheeler, who then, like, promptly disappears. So Chloe and a bunch of boys that Shara also kissed embark on a journey to figure out where the heck she is. Lauren Migaki from NPR's education desk was actually the one who recommended it to us, and she says the book feels like a warm embrace. And I don't know about you, but that's exactly what I need right now.

SUMMERS: I mean, that takes me right back to high school. And with everything going on right now, a lighter read sounds exactly right. That is Natalie Escobar, one of the editors of NPR's Books We Love. Thank you, Natalie.

ESCOBAR: Thanks so much for having me.

SUMMERS: And for all of those recommendations she mentioned and more, you can find that list at

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