Best Beach Reads for a Carolinas Summer

by Kristy Tolley
Woman reading on beach

By Jill Stuckey

With the longer days, beach vacations and pool-side lounging — summer really is the best season for reading. It’s also a great time to explore books set in Carolinas and written by Carolinas-based authors. Here are some great beach reads to add to your summer reading list.

North Carolina

Where the Crawdads Sing | Delia Owens

This book is part mystery and part love letter to the marshlands of Eastern North Carolina. It’s about a young girl who grows up wild in the marshes after being abandoned by several members of her family. She survives, despite her loneliness, because of her love for the land and the creatures and vegetation that live there. It’s beautifully written and toggles between the future and the past as the mystery builds.

Nights in Rodanthe | Nicholas Sparks

A lot of Nicholas Sparks’ books are set in his home state of North Carolina and chances are you’ve read a few of them. This one is set in the small coastal town of Rodanthe, North Carolina where Adrienne Willis takes refuge after her husband abandons her for a younger woman. When a major storm starts moving in, it appears that Adrienne’s perfect getaway will be ruined — until a guest named Paul Flanner arrives. Paul has also come to Rodanthe to escape his past. Now, with the storm closing in, two wounded people turn to each other for comfort.

South Carolina

The Summer Girls | Mary Alice Monroe

This is the first of five books set on beautiful Sullivan’s Island. The series captures the complex relationships of the Muir sisters, three half-sisters scattered across the country, and their grandmother who brings them home to the Sea Breeze to rebuild their family bonds and heal some wounds in the process. Each sister is going through a tough time in her life, and together they take steps toward their individual futures.

For more information about Mary Alice Monroe and her other books, check out our Member Spotlight!

Before We Were Yours | Lisa Wingate

This book is based on the heartbreaking true scandal of Georgia Tann, a woman whose adoption center kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families. In 1939, Rill Foss, only twelve years old, must fend for herself and her siblings after they are taken to an orphanage. At the mercy of a cruel director and the adults in her life, Rill attempts to keep her siblings together and safe. In present day Aiken, South Carolina, a privileged young woman, Avery Stafford, has a chance encounter that leaves her questioning her family’s history and the reality of her birth.

The Lords of Discipline | Pat Conroy

Conroy, one of South Carolina’s prolific authors, sets this book at a fictional military institute that resembles The Citadel of Charleston, South Carolina. The story centers on four cadets who have gone through Hell Week together and come out the other side bonded strongly. This is a beautiful story of friendship, loyalty and betrayal.


A Hope Divided | Alyssa Cole

This is the second in a series about the Loyal League, a group of mostly African American detectives who are fighting against slavery and the Rebels during the Civil War, while also finding deep passionate love. Marlie Lynch has been quietly helping the cause for three years with coded letters about anti-Rebel uprisings in her Carolina woods, poultices for Union prisoners, and silent aid to fleeing slave and Freeman alike. Her formerly enslaved mother’s traditions and the name of a white father she never knew have protected her — until the vicious Confederate Home Guard claims Marlie’s home for their new base of operations in the guerilla war against Southern resistors of the Rebel cause.

For Younger Readers

Middle School:

Three Times Lucky | Sheila Turnage

This hilarious mystery book is about rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau. She’s growing up in the small town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, where everyone knows everyone’s business. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, but she’s found a home with the Colonel and Miss Lana. When a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known. This is the first in a series of fun mysteries featuring Mo and Dale and their small North Carolina town.

Serafina and the Black Cloak | Robert Beatty

This book is set on the grounds of North Carolina’s elegant Biltmore Estate where Serafina is the daughter of the estate’s maintenance man. She is taught never to go into the forest around the estate. However, when children begin to disappear, she has to act. Teaming up with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners, Serafina searches for the Man in the Black Cloak to hopefully put an end to the disappearances.

Young Adult:

Meant to be Broken | Brandy Woods Snow

Set in South Carolina, this book hooks you early on. The characters and the setting are so vividly described, you can picture this small town Southern life, no matter if you grew up in the South or not. It starts as a sweet and typical young adult romance, but two thirds of the way through the book crazy stuff starts happening. It is one twist after another; settle in for the ride.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism | Grady Hendrix

This horror story is like Beaches meets The Exorcist, and it’s set in South Carolina in the ‘80s.  Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade. However, when they enter high school, Gretchen begins to act…different.  As the strange behavior starts to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one explanation – Gretchen has a demon living inside her, and it’s up to Abby to save her.


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