75 Best Beach Reads for Genre Lovers (Fantasy, Science Fiction & Beyond)

So a little while ago, Gentle Reader, I asked in my fan group for recommendations of beach reads but genre fiction.

75 Best Beach Reads for Genre Lovers

75 Best Beach Reads for Genre Lovers

I was thinking, light hearted, fast paced (or at least a quick read), full of humor, and with a setting that evokes summer sunshine and good friends but… fantasy and scifi, romance, YA.

Specifically for readers who enjoy my books.

Of course, I also added some of my own favorites and here we go… (I will say the summer setting aspect got lost a bit in the chatter but these are still all great, fun reads.

Kelly and I made you a nifty downloadable checklist which you can download for free here.

47 Stand Alone Genre Beach Reads

  1. Strange Love by Ann Aguirre – A human woman is accidentally abducted by an alien. He gives a translator to both the woman and her very good dog Snaps. Part satirical science fiction romance, part space opera. Some violence, but cozy with consent emphasized.
  2. Beyond the Sea by Keira Andrews – a m/m romance between two bisexual characters who are stranded on a desert island together
  3. Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater
  4. The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen – Gentle fantasy romance with necromancers – a woman is trying to save her family’s undertaker business.
  5. To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose- dragons + steampunk, indigenous/anticolonial
  6. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
  7. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
  8. Good Neighbors by Stephanie Burgis
  9. Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
  10. A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark – magic, mystery & steampunk
  11. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman – librarian/book thief/spy travels the multiverse to save books from the threat of chaos magic + maintain order across parallel worlds.
    Court of FIves Kate Elliott
  12. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott – I chose this one specifically because of its setting, the Nile Delta seeped in summer heat. This YA fantasy is basically Little Women + the Hunger Games but in an alternate Roman-occupied Egypt.
  13. A Knight to Remember by Bridget Essex – portal fiction about a lady knight from a parallel world who falls in love with a modern lady librarian.
  14. The Warrior’s Guild duology by Scarlett Gale – Low-angst high fantasy romance with found family, food, and fluffy unicorns. She’s a kind hulking warrior and he’s a tiny timorous virginal monk. The first book is slow burn but once she manages to coax him out of his shell (gently! respectfully!) it gets quite spicy; book 2 is basically a fun, smutty DND campaign.
  15. The Dark Days Club by Allison Goodman
  16. Libromancer by Jim C Hines
  17. Out of the Blue by Jason June
  18. Howel’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  19. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
  20. A Wizards Guide to Defensive Baking by T Kingfisher – Ursula came up a lot, probably because she is so funny.
  21. The Lightening Struck Heart by TJ Klune – one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, I cried I laughed so hard. It’s basically Pratchett but make it gay plus classic fantasy quest! His The House on the Cerulean Sea got mentioned (I blurbed this book so obviously I loved it – it’s comforting but a little heavy at points, I’m not sure I would call it a beach read) I would also warn against his Wolfsong series  way too heavy. The House in the Cerulean Sea
  22. That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon by Kimberly Lemming – spicy humorous romance.
  23. Wolf Children (manga) by Mamoru Hosoda
  24. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna – het romance set in a contemporary world with magic. Found family, mentor witch fuzzy feelings/ enthusiastic newbie, fabulously gay adopted grandpas that are the best husbands, and very light but tight world building.
  25. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – because of its sun saturated desert setting.
  26. Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell
  27. Mara Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – another YA pick from Miss Gail, this time a straight up historical, again because of its sand & water feel. About a slave girl recruited to become a spy against Hatshepsut the imposter queen. Yes it’s a bit dated but it’s very very fast paced and engaging. Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
  28. No One Noticed the Cat by Anne McCaffrey
  29. Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik – fun romancey space opera
  30. Our Dining Table by Mita Ori – yaoi manga all about found family and food. I love this book so much. Extremely comforting and an absolutely charming beach read.
  31. The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton
  32. Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  33. Travelers Along the Way: A Robin Hood Remix by Aminah Mae Safi – gender flipped Robin Hood set in the Middle East during the crusades, brilliant, fun, female soldiery vibe.
  34. The Kaiju Protection Society by John Scalzi
  35. Damsel by Evelyn Skye
  36. White Trash Warlock by David Slayton
  37. Cassandra in Reverse by Holly Smale
  38. Her Majesty’s Wizard by Christopher Stasheff – fantasy with lots of word plays and puns.
  39. Vermilion by Molly Tanzer – talking animals, mystery, LGBTQ+ friendly.
  40. Lord of Two Lands by Judith Tarr – one of my favorite historical fantasy rereads, it’s actually Tarr’s style of writing that I think most makes her a beach read. She has a curt brief way of writing that’s very fast and neat feeling. This is the story of Alexander the great told from the perspective of an Egyptian priestess and the Greek soldier who falls in love with her. It’s GREAT.
  41. Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan – There is something about the way Vaughan writes culture conflict that rivets me. I love a good romantic misunderstanding (a GOOD one, mind you).
  42. Unnatural Magic by C. M. Waggoner
  43. Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu – graphic novel about a young bookstore witch who ventures into the woods to find her childhood friend & crush fighting a demon.
  44. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – A heartwarming historical graphic novel, set in Paris, with stunning art, and a charming yet important narrative.
  45. Past Imperfect by Rowan Worth 
  46. Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

28 Genre Beach Read Series

  1. Ilona Andrews’s Innkeeper series
  2. Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mysteries
  3. R.J. Blain’s Magical Romantic Comedies series (with a body count)
  4. Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series – features werewolves and other magical creatures (Miss Gail’s note: these can get dark, triggers for rape)
  5. Becky Chambers’s Wayfarer series – space opera that is like a hug also her Psalm for the Wildbuilt series (has lots of tea in it)
  6. MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead and… series
  7. Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Austen: Vampire series
  8. Stephanie Garber’s Caraval books 
  9. Maria Grace’s Jane Austen’s Dragons series – a top fun comfort read
  10. Meghan Cianna Doige’s Archivist series (also Cupcakes, Trinkets and other Deadly Magic)
  11. Janet Evanovich’s Lizzy and Diesel series
  12. India Holton’s Dangerous Damsels trilogy – pirates, witches, and tea!
  13. C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series
  14. Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series
  15. Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms series, I personally would recommend By the Sword (me and my obsession with lady knights)
  16. A. Lee Martinez’s Constance Verity series
  17. Christopher Moore’s vampire books
  18. Kristen Painter’s Nocturne Falls series – an entire town magically protected so humans don’t see the supernatural living among them. Light, sweet, fun, no stress. The characters are connected, but you don’t have to read them in order.
  19. Cindy Spencer Pape’s steampunk Gaslight Chronicles series 
  20. C. L. Polk’s Kingston Cycle trilogy and also The Midnight Bargain
  21. Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell books
  22. E J Russell’s Mythmatched series
  23. Vivian Shaw’s Dr Greta Helsing series
  24. Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted Inc series 
  25. Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s series
  26. Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series
  27. Martha Wells’s Muderbot series
  28. Tilley Wallace’s Manners & Monsters series

Final Thoughts

Notes on this list from Miss Gail:

  • I don’t list books only available in KU or via subscription services.
  • Some recommendations were left off the list for personal reasons (this is my blog, after all). It’s called taste curation for a reason.
  • Some left left off because the recommendation was incomplete and I don’t have time to go chasing things around the internet.

Gail Carriger Cupcake Room Party Convention Black

Comments are currently open, please feel free to leave additional suggestions there.

You should also feel free to challenge anything one this list, if you don’t think it’s a “beach read”! I’ve only read some of them, not all, and people’s definitions of beach reads are clearly wide & varied!

Books by me that I consider beach reads?

The San Andreas Shifters

San Andreas Shifters series SAS Sumage Solution Omega Objection Enforcer Enigma Three Books


Max needs 3 things – magic, a boyfriend, and a werewolf.

Bad boy mage with an attitude problem meets a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex in this charming gay romance set in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),

Miss Gail 

Other rec lists like this?

30+ Black Authors Writing Queer Comfort

20+ Books To Read While Gail Types, Stuff “Like” The Parasol Protectorate

15 Books That Make Me Happy (Miss Gail Recommends Comfort Reads)

10+ Great Queer Cozy SciFi (books similar to the Tinkered Stars)

If You Like Gail Carriger + This Famous Book Than You Should Try…


Posted by Gail Carriger

11 Responses

  1. Jane Rimmer said:

    I love the Jane Austen’s Dragons series, and the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. Thank you for a great list. I have several requested from my library.

  2. Rosie said:

    Have you read Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard? I’m on holiday at the moment (though not at the beach), and have been reading it again for the third time in the last six months. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

  3. Rosie said:

    This looks great, I’m taking notes! Have you read Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard? I’m on holiday at the moment (though not at the beach), and have been reading it again for the third time in the last six months. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

      1. Rosie said:

        I am definitely guilty of shoving this book into the face of EVERYONE but it is WONDERFUL and GENTLE and FULL OF SO MUCH LOVE you will adore it I promise

  4. Helen Olivier said:

    I would like to caution the fellow readers that the series that starts with The Lightening Struck Heart gets dark at the end of volume 3. I was unpleasantly surprised by this because it started as such an amazingly absurd lightheárted comedy.

  5. Diane D. said:

    A great mix: a number of old and recent faves; more than a few already waiting in my TBR, or at least already wishlisted; a bunch more now added to my wishlist/ KU reminders; and a couple (few?) I pulled the trigger on and bought right now. I also visited a couple of the other lists linked at the bottom, with similar results. Genre books that leave you with a smile FTW! Thank you!

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