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8 Hot Beach Reads

A steamy romance, gripping thrillers and a dark historical non-fiction round out our picks for the season's most enticing beach reads / BY Athena McKenzie / July 10th, 2021

The ideal beach read is whatever captivates you and keeps you turning the pages. Whether you prefer a steamy romance, an against-the-clock survival story, a compelling memoir or a riveting piece of historic investigative journalism, it’s only a matter of taste. If it’s enjoyed while sipping your favourite summer cocktail, all the better.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1While Justice SleepsStacey Abrams

There’s a small risk this title will make you feel like an underachiever, especially if you’re lounging on the beach, since this legal thriller is by that Stacey Abrams: the U.S. lawyer and Georgia politician largely credited with mobilizing Black voters and ensuring victories for the Democrats in Georgia’s Senate runoff elections in January. Set in the U.S. Supreme Court, it follows Avery Keene, a young law clerk for the Washington judge Justice Wynn. When Wynn falls into a coma, Avery is shocked to learn he has given her power of attorney. She also discovers he was looking into a controversial biotech merger. As political players maneuver to replace the judge, Avery tries to unravel the clues he left behind.

2SufferanceThomas King

Jeremiah Camp seems to embrace a quiet existence, living at an old residential school on a small reserve, with no phone, no Internet and no television. Then, his past comes calling. Once known as the “Forecaster,” Camp worked for a powerful multinational conglomerate that profited from his unusual ability to see complex patterns in the world (including those that led to the dot-com bust and the U.S. Savings and Loan collapse). Before he ran away, he created a list of 12 names – every one a billionaire – and now the people on the list are dying at an alarming rate.

3FallingT.J. Newman

This one comes with a warning: Do not choose this for in-flight reading. It follows pilot Bill Hoffman after he’s been given an impossible choice – crash the plane he’s flying, with its 143 passengers on board, or let his kidnapped family die. The author, a former flight attendant, wrote most of this suspense-filled thriller on cross-country, red-eye flights while passengers were asleep.


4RememberingsSinèad O’Connor

In 1992, when Sinèad O’Connor ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live to protest child abuse by the Catholic Church, it set off a firestorm that destroyed the singer’s career. But, as O’Connor shares in this revelatory memoir, the incendiary act allowed her to escape the superficial and frivolous demands of stardom.

Before we get to this pivotal event, the singer recounts her traumatic upbringing in an abusive household in Ireland. Inspired by a brother’s Bob Dylan records, music was her escape. From her popular cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2U” and her outspoken activism, to her struggles with mental illness, O’Connor puts everything she remembers on the page.

5The RetreatElisabeth de Mariaffi

This thriller delivers double the chills, making it the perfect book to beat the heat. First there’s its wintry setting in an isolated snowy mountain lodge, The High Water Center for the Arts. Second, is its unsettling premise. Dancer Maeve Martin arrives at the retreat hoping to use her time to develop her new dance company. It’s the off season, so there are only a few other guests, and they have already formed strange relationship dynamics. When an avalanche cuts the lodge off from the outside world and traps everyone inside, the guests begin to die mysterious deaths, one by one, and Maeve’s life could depend on who she trusts.

6While We Were DatingJasmine Guillory

What’s a beach read list without a steamy romance? Rom-com darling Jasmine Guillory takes her unofficial series to Hollywood with her latest — the last of the linked novels that started with The Wedding Date. This installment follows Ben – who fans may recognize as Theo’s brother from The Wedding Party – a career-obsessed advertising executive. When he lands a huge campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, he finds it increasingly difficult to keep things professional. Cue serious flirting and physical connection. When Ben helps her with a family emergency, they connect on a new level. But will their relationship only be for the benefit of the Hollywood spotlight?

7Once Upon a Time in HollywoodQuentin Tarantino

Writer-director Tarantino returns to the colourful days of 1969 for this novelization of his 2019 film, which revisits the story of aging cowboy actor Rick Dalton, his stunt double sidekick Cliff Booth, actress Sharon Tate and cult leader Charles Manson and his “family.” Pull up the soundtrack on Spotify to complete your immersion in this fairytale about Hollywood.

8The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial KillerDean Jobb

Sometimes the most chilling tales are the true ones. Thomas Neill Cream was the Glasgow-born son of a wealthy Quebec City timber merchant who earned a medical degree from McGill University in 1876 and almost immediately employed his newfound skills to lethal effect. As the “Lambeth Poisoner,” Cream killed as many as 10 people in Canada, the United States and Britain, a rampage that eclipsed the crimes of the notorious Jack the Ripper. Jobb, a Halifax-based, true-crime writer and former newspaper reporter, provides the first complete account of Cream’s crimes, his victims and how Scotland Yard’s best detectives struggled to end his deadly attacks.


Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.

Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'

Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.

Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.

Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature

Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.

Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.

Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.

Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”

Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956

Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."

The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.

American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history

Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."

New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.

Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.

Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."

European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."

Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.

Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.

Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.

Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro

“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.

Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories

Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel

South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 

Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events

Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards

Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde

Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 

Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations

Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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