Getaway Tales

Books that put the “beach” in beach read.


By J. Courtney Sullivan

Every summer, the Kellehers descend on their Maine beachfront property, won in a barroom bet just after WWII. It’s a grand old place where grandchildren dig through forgotten furniture and discover old secrets. But the grownups hope that certain drawers remain shut, as three generations of Kelleher women have something to hide. From J. Courtney Sullivan, who winningly explored female friendship in her previous novel Commencement, comes a sun-drenched tale of family drama.

Sag Harbor

By Colson Whitehead

Whitehead’s semi-autobiographical fourth novel chronicles the surreal world of Benji, a teenager in the mid-’80s who happens to be the only African-American in a Manhattan prep school, but who spends his summers in a middle-class, all-black community in the Hamptons. The summer months prove sweet, hilarious, and tantalizingly brief, and Whitehead treats this coming-of age tale — in which questions of race and class loom large — with a light touch and an eye for telling details.

Summer Rental

By Mary Kay Andrews

Friends Ellis, Julia, and Dorie rent a run-down house on North Carolina’s Outer Banks one August. Even though the ladies have been inseperable since grade school, it turns out they’re keeping secrets, from each other and from their spouses. In fact, everyone they meet — from the hunky landlord to a runaway who joins them in the house — is hiding something. This is the perfect book to beguile a few hours: a tale of misunderstandings and reconciliations in a sandy, flea-bitten summer retreat that’ll keep you glued to your chaise lounge waiting to see what happens next.

Time of Wonder

By Robert McCloskey

McCloskey, a two-time Caldecott winner who brought us such beloved children’s classics as Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal, here captures the beauty of the ocean, foggy mornings, and the freedom of a summer on the coast. Visceral sensations — of joy as a sailboat clips the waves, of fear when a hurricane strikes — are rendered in beautiful, color-rich pictures that invite readers of all ages to pause and pore over every enchanting page.


By Peter Benchley

If the idea of relaxing by the shore seems a little too ho-hum, then pick up Peter Benchley’s first novel, published in 1974 and famously adapted for the big screen by Steven Spielberg. The book spent 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and why not? The author combines the stories of three men’s lives with a gripping tale of a summer resort thrown into panic by the arrival of a hungry…well, you’ve probably heard. Wildly inaccurate when it comes to chondrichthyan behavior, it’s the worst PR sharks ever had — and yet a frightfully fun read.  Staring out at the waves will acquire a whole new frisson.