Your Favorite Summer Reads for a (Free) Beach Escape

It's beach season! Who doesn't love a day in the sun, lying out in the sand and playing in the ocean waves? The only thing that makes it better is getting lost in a juicy page-turner. And new research finds that reading makes us happier. Reason is, we get attached to the characters and feel a genuine connection to them. A book is no replacement for real-life friends, of course, but it can expand your horizons and let you get lost into a rich fantasy world. And that's exactly the kind of escape you want on a lazy beach day.

To make your beach reading experience a social one, try what my family does and read as a group. Bring a few novels on vacation, then pass them around so you can all be on the same page and discuss them together. Instant book group! I'm currently loving Piper Kerman's gripping memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in Women's Prison and Jennifer Egan's gorgeous Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Visit from the Good Squad.

Don't know which book to stash in your beach bag? Our Facebook friends from SELF couldn't put down these hot picks. Oyster helps you pick where to read them.

To really embrace the summer feeling Read:

  • Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume
  • Summer Rental, by Mary Kay Andrews
  • The Island, by Erin Hilderbrand

Where: The Setai, Miami Miami is the perfect destination for a getaway without going too far. These light summer reads don't require complete seclusion, as you'll want to share some stories with your girlfriends or dip your feet in the waves every now and then. The Setai’s clean, quiet patch of beach is as posh as it gets in South Beach. If you're feeling a bit too hot, attendants deliver luxurious loungers and spritz guests with Evian on request. How's that for a summer read?

The Setai, Miami

For a good laugh from your favorite celeb Read:

  • Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, by Chelsea Handler
  • Bossypants, by Tina Fey
  • Stories I Only Tell my Friends, by Rob Lowe

Where: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Aruba Clear water, plenty of chairs, and excellent people-watching opportunities. The broad, white-sand beach reminds us of Miami, only the water is even clearer. With plenty of chairs and a constant parade of tan flesh, you can kick back, read, and laugh to your heart's content.

Aruba Marriott Resort

More from SELF

For a deep, gripping story Read:

  • Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
  • The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
  • My Hollywood, by Mona Simpson

Where: Half Moon, Jamaica Half Moon takes its name from the two miles of prime, crescent-shaped beachfront that span the 400-acre property. This breath taking beach is as secluded as seclusion gets -- you can delve deep into your gripping story without interruption. Well, we can't help it if the stunning surroundings catch your attention every now and then.

Half Moon, Jamaica

For a fun, delightful read Read:

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • Nicholas Sparks' novels

Where: Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, Los Angeles Santa Monica is a beach town rich with shops, restaurants, and a tourist-attracting pier with games, rides, and an iconic Ferris wheel. Loews is quite nicely situated close enough to walk to the pier or the Third Street Promenade (a sort of outdoor strip mall), but also far enough away that the streets aren't congested. This gives you the perfect combination of relaxing, delightful, and playful for your favorite book.

Loews Santa Monica, LA

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