The Most Popular Beach Reads Across the Country

A header image for a blog about popular beach reads throughout the U.S.

Just imagine: You’re plopped down in a beach chair, toes in the sand, a light breeze off the water, and that calming echo of waves crashing in the background. The only thing that could possibly make this better? Losing yourself in an engrossing storyline while the sun melts your stress (and sunscreen) away. Don’t forget to re-apply!

Book Riot defines a beach read as, “light, fluffy, or compulsively readable novels that are perfect to take on vacation.” Whether they’re dramas, thrillers, mysteries, or our personal favorite, romances, the team here at Shane Co. knows there’s something about a book with an engrossing storyline that just makes more sense to read by the water. In the spirit of these novels and summertime relaxation, we wanted to learn a bit more about the most popular beach reads over the years and how preferences for them change regionally. Keep reading to find out the beach books your state is searching for the most!

The Most Popular Beach Read in Every U.S. State

A U.S. map of the most popular beach reads in every state

Beach reads are popular from coast to coast. One possible reason for that popularity could have something to do with the settings of these novels. For example, California’s most searched beach read is East of Eden, a novel set in Salinas Valley, California, by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck. While he wrote over 30 books, he considered East of Eden to be his best work. This beach read has withstood the test of time by remaining popular today even though it was originally published in 1952. East of Eden is also the most popular beach read in Alaska.

Another beach read with obvious regional connections is Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, published in 2018. The mystery novel takes place in North Carolina, and its Southern imagery has appeal across the region, as it is the most popular beach read in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, as well as South Dakota and Utah.

There are a few other examples of locality likely affecting a novel’s reception. Next Year in Havana, a historical romance that alternates its setting between Havana, Cuba, in 1958 and Miami, Florida, in 2017, is the most popular beach read in Florida. The Paper Palace, on the other hand, is the most popular beach read in Massachusetts. The engrossing women’s fiction novel written by Miranda Cowley Heller is set during the summertime in Cape Cod, and is the perfect beach read for New England summers.

The Most Popular Beach Read Overall

A bar chart showing the most popular beach reads in the U.S. overall

We are in full summertime swing, so it’s time to relax on the beach, prop your feet up, grab a cold beverage, and enjoy your favorite beach read. For most states, that means diving into the New York Timesbestseller Where the Crawdads Sing. The novel has sold over 12 million copies, placing it among the best-selling books of all time, and had a film adaptation come out in July 2022. It’s safe to say that the Delia Owens mystery novel is deserving of being the most popular beach read in the country!

The next most popular summer books include Outlawed and The Joy Luck Club, both the most searched in five states. Anna North’s Outlawed is a Western historical fiction that follows a girl in her quest to create a safe haven for outcast women. It is the most popular beach read in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon. The Joy Luck Club is a 1998 novel by Amy Tan in the form of a series of vignettes about the lives of four Chinese immigrant families in San Francisco.

Another New York Times bestseller, The Jetsetters by Amanda Ward, is the fourth most popular beach read in the U.S. This literary fiction about a woman and her estranged family reuniting when she wins an essay contest is ranked as the most popular beach read in three states: New Jersey, New York, and Texas.

From mysteries to Westerns and even romances, the most popular beach reads across the U.S. come in many genres but all have one big commonality — they’re engrossing stories that are just better when enjoyed on the beach.

Methodology

To find the most popular beach book in every U.S. state, we compiled a list of 123 beach reads using popular websites like Refinery29, Vogue, Reader’s Digest, and Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. We then analyzed the regional interest of the 123 books on our list using Google Trends search data from June 2021 to June 2022. Then, we compared the popularity of each book by the search interest to determine what residents in each state might be enjoying while relaxing on the beach this summer.

Final Thoughts

While they don’t make up the entire genre, romance is a common theme for beach reads. People can really find an escape and put themselves in the shoes of the characters in these novels, and a well-done love story is something the Shane Co. team can really get behind. If you’ve reached the exciting point in your love story where a proposal is on the horizon, make sure to check out our wide selection of engagement rings.


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