Beach Books to turn up the heat

This is an excerpt from WBUR's new Beach Books newsletter. Sign up to get New England reading recommendations sent to your inbox weekly throughout the rest of the summer.

Hello, and welcome to the first official edition of Beach Books!

What genre are we bringing to the beach this week?

Your new summer crushes are here in the form of a TBR (or “To Be Read” if you’re new to book lingo). Sorry if this adds to the growing stack of emotional support books nestled in your beach bag, but I'm swooning over a few romance novels.

I chose romance for this first list because it’s the true definition of a beach book: light and fun and fresh, with some sexiness to send us over the edge. There’s a reason this genre basically bankrolls the literary industry: it's relatable and there is something for everyone if you look hard enough. And as romance continues to diversify with queer and trans authors, BIPOC writers and more, you’re bound to find the right story for you.

So, put down your phone and pick up something that’ll make you fall in love with the idea of love — or at the very least blush. When’s the last time you blushed? We all need that.

"The Wedding Date," Jasmine Guillory

What it’s about: a meet-cute occurs when Alexa Monroe and Drew Nichols attend the same wedding and agree to be each other’s fake dates. After what was supposed to be a quick and easy plan, they end up falling for each other, which comes as an inconvenience for their busy lives in different cities. This is the story of what two workaholics will do for love.

Why you should read it: This is going to be your more classic contemporary romance read. The writing is a lot of fun, plus Guillory is amazing at involving food-centered scenes in stories. The Wellesley alum is dominating the romance scene right now with her books centered on Black women finding love and being desired. She has written many books over the years, but this particular book single-handedly got me back into romance.

"No Filter and Other Lies," Crystal Maldonado

What it’s about: Any YA (Young Adult) fans out there? Maldonado, a Western Massachusetts native, is back after her debut "Fat Chance, Charlie Vega," killing it with her incredibly relatable post-adolescence content. This novel follows Kat Sanchez, a 17-year-old cosplaying online as a cool kid named Max. But after doling out advice and chatting up other teens, Kat (or Max) finds herself falling for a fan named Elena. Now, she’s working through her fake web persona, weird family dynamics and new love interest. Maldonado captures the essence of what it’s like to be a teen today.

Why you should read it: The stress of discovering who you are is a universal feeling. Plus, I’m a huge fan of coming-of-age stories. It’s possibly one of my favorite genres of entertainment.

"Writers and Lovers," Lily King

What it’s about: Set in the 90s, Casey Peabody waits tables at a Harvard Square restaurant to pay off her stack of growing debts and rent. While figuring out how to pursue her creative writing career while processing the end of a fling with a passionate poet, she falls in love with two different men.

Why you should read it: This is a beautifully written, soft story for those wanting less smut, but still tender, intimate moments.

Seen While Scrolling

In this section, we'll highlight fun memes, tweets, TikToks and internet gems all about, you guessed it, books! It'll give you an inside look at what the lit community is talking about.

Monique Aimee is a Boston-based artist who has designed some of our favorite romance novel covers, including Casey McQuiston's “One Last Stop.

Her TikTok gives us a peek inside her process of illustrating covers, her studio and tips on how to create art professionally. Check out this video highlighting all the books she has illustrated.

The 'BUR Beach Blanket

Steamy romance may not be your choice to cool down with in the summer. What’s your favorite genre to read when the weather turns up? Send an email to to let us know!

In the meantime, some of our readers have already sent in their favorite beach book recommendations (thanks, all!):

“I think my favorite book I've read this year is 'Why Fish Don't Exist' by Lulu Miller. But I also loved ‘Crying in H Mart,’ ‘One Last Stop’ and ‘Love in Color.’ ” Sarah, Beach Books subscriber

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Crystal Maldonado's debut novel. We regret the error.


Headshot of Christian Burno

Christian Burno Contributor
Christian Burno is a former arts reporting fellow for WBUR’s arts and culture team.



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