Unpacked’s top Jewish beach reads to enjoy this summer

If you're looking to diversify your reading with books written by Jewish authors featuring Jewish protagonists, this list is for you.
(Image by Elizabeth Karpen for Unpacked)

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on your reading list for the year. There’s nothing better than sitting at the beach with an entertaining book, basking in the sunshine.

While a beach read doesn’t need to be devoured on the sand — it can be enjoyed at the park, at camp, or even in the comfort of your air conditioning — a beach read needs to feel like summer.

Read more: Unpacked’s top Jewish book picks for 2024

Whether it’s the spicy romance you’ve been waiting to get your hands on or a thrilling murder mystery, these page-turners are perfect for enjoying in the summertime for their whimsical qualities and vibrant covers.

If you’re looking to diversify your reading this summer and want to read more books written by Jewish authors with Jewish protagonists, here are the best Jewish books for the summer:

“Don’t Forget to Write” by Sara Goodman Confino

It’s no surprise Sara Goodman Confino’s “Don’t Forget to Write” has quickly become a staple novel for lovers of Jewish fiction.

In 1960, Marilyn Kleinman’s world is upended when she is caught making out with her rabbi’s son by the whole congregation. Her parents issue her an ultimatum: Spend the summer with her great-aunt Ada in Philadelphia or kiss her plans for college goodbye. 

The 20-year-old expects Ada to be strict and fall into every bad stereotype of an elderly woman. Instead, Ada is a platinum blonde who drives a Cadillac convertible, quick-talking and witty.

Ada, Philly’s top Jewish matchmaker, sets off for the Jersey Shore with Marilyn to match up every eligible single — except Marilyn. Through her summer working with her great-aunt, Marilyn gains a lot from Ada, just not the lessons her parents wanted her to learn.

Marilyn must decide whether to follow her plan or risk everything, even with her father’s threats to disinherit her. 

This great work of historical fiction is perfect for anyone looking for a fizzy coming-of-age novel with heart, humor, and independent 1960s Jewish women. 

“Last Summer at the Golden Hotel” by Elyssa Friedland

Lovers of Catskills classics like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Dirty Dancing” won’t be able to put down “Last Summer at the Golden Hotel” by Elyssa Friedland. 

The Golden Hotel is no longer the gem it was during the Catskills’ heyday. Now, 60 years later, its operators, the Goldman and Weingold families, have transitioned from best friends to feuding enemies. As the hotel has fallen to decay, so has their decades-long friendship.

A tempting offer to buy the hotel has the foes teaming up once again to make the decision of a lifetime: do they build the Golden Hotel back from the ashes or say goodbye? 

This nostalgia-filled family comedy has a quirky cast of characters and a mixture of business and family hijinks that will leave any reader in stitches. 

“Fleishman is in Trouble” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s stunning debut, New York Times bestseller “Fleishman is in Trouble,” is the ultimate pick for anyone looking to relish a book and then binge the television version immediately after.

Toby Fleishman thought he knew what life would look like after he split from his wife of 15 years: alternating weekends with the kids, lingering resentment, and the occasional co-parenting disagreement. What he didn’t foresee was Rachel dropping off their children one summer day and simply disappearing. 

As Toby navigates his wife’s disappearance alongside the challenges of his hospital work, constant parenting responsibilities, and his newfound popularity on dating apps, he clings to his narrative of being the wronged husband of an overly ambitious wife. But to truly understand what happened to Rachel and the collapse of their marriage, Toby must confront the possibility that his perspective might have been flawed all along.

“Funny You Should Ask” by Elissa Sussman

National bestseller “Funny You Should Ask” follows journalist Chani Horowitz as both a 20-something struggling for her big break and after her brutal divorce 10 years later.

As her former MFA classmates are scoring massive book deals, Chani works writing fluff pieces — until she’s hired to profile A-list actor Gabe Parker. Spending the weekend with Gabe, the new James Bond and Chani’s celebrity crush, the article pulls them closer than she ever expected.

A decade later, Chani returns to Los Angeles after making it as a successful writer. However, her name remains linked to the profile she has been trying to avoid since it was published. As much as she runs, tabloid buzz following her whirlwind time with Gabe Parker follows her. 

Chani is comfortable with ignoring her past until Gabe’s PR team requests that they do a follow-up. As much as Chani wants to say no, she knows that she needs to see him one last time — and he’s been waiting to reunite with her too. 

This second-chance romance will leave you in stitches and get you clamoring for Elissa Sussman’s other hilarious novels.

“Housemates” by Emma Copley Eisenberg

Lovers of Sally Rooney and Maggie Nelson rejoice! Emma Copley Eisenberg’s bestseller “Housemates” is the perfect book for you this summer. 

When Bernie responds to Leah’s ad for a housemate in Philadelphia, their connection sparks an intense friendship rooted in a shared passion for art. Leah expresses her vision through writing; Bernie captures the world behind the lens of a camera.

After Bernie’s revered yet controversial photography mentor, Daniel Dunn, dies and leaves her a complex inheritance, Leah offers to join Bernie on a journey to Dunn’s rural Pennsylvania home. What starts as a simple road trip manifests into a massive endeavor: a quest to document America through their respective media.

Their expedition dives deep into the soul of the U.S., introducing the duo to a diverse array of individuals as they seek to understand contemporary America. Alongside their encounters, Leah and Bernie explore their own artistic visions and desires, discovering the profound intersections of romance and creativity.

“Sadie on a Plate” by Amanda Elliot 

Sadie discovers the perfect recipe for love as she navigates the Seattle food scene in Amanda Elliot’s “Sadie on a Plate.”

This sweet romantic comedy follows a rising chef as she attempts to create innovative versions of traditional Jewish recipes. Sadie’s career is on the up until she has a very public breakup with her boss — a respected chef — and she’s certain her career is over. 

Sadie is given another opportunity to prove herself when she’s offered a slot on her favorite TV show, “Chef Supreme.” 

On her plane to New York City, Sadie has steaming chemistry with her seatmate, Luke, but knows that nothing can happen — at least until “Chef Supreme” is over. After telling him that they can’t see each other for the next six weeks, Sadie arrives on set the next morning to a shocking discovery. 

Sadie must re-earn her reputation and keep her eyes on the prize, but to do that she’ll need to ignore the sizzling connection between Luke and her. 

For more info on real-life chefs modernizing Jewish cooking, check out Unpacked’s profiles of Eitan Bernath and Jake Cohen.

“Camp” by L.C. Rosen

Randy Kapplehoff has made it his mission to win over his summer crush, Hudson Aronson-Lim, at Camp Outland. 

Hudson is only interested in boys who are straight-presenting and barely knows theater-loving Randy even exists. However, at 16, Randy is determined to make himself noticed, reinventing himself into his alter ego “Del,” who is masculine, focused on fitness, and everything Randy isn’t. 

He doesn’t even care that becoming Del means giving up musicals, his unicorn bedsheets and nail polish if he can date Hudson at the end. However, as the duo gets closer, Randy begins to question the lengths he is willing to go to for Hudson to love an inauthentic version of himself.

L.C. Rosen’s “Camp” is a love letter to our first camp crushes and the importance of being true to yourself amid outside pressures. This adorable YA rom-com will leave you giddy and reminiscing about the joys of summer camp.

“As Seen on TV” by Meredith Schorr

“As Seen on TV” is the ultimate tribute to cozy romances and the fish-out-of-water trope. 

New York journalist Adina Gellar is fed up with dating in the big city. If she’s learned anything from Hallmark movies, small-town romances are where it’s at. It’s in the midst of fall festivals, quirky townsfolk, and a far-too-large number of attractive single men that Adina is certain she’ll find love. 

When a massive real estate tycoon narrows in on Pleasant Hollow for development, Adina is certain she’s found the perfect story for her big break — and maybe to find love in the process. 

Except Pleasant Hollow’s name isn’t particularly apt. In fact, there’s nothing “pleasant” about it. No bakery, no fairs, nor lovable residents. The only thing Adina likes about Pleasant Hollow is Finn Adams, except he works for the real estate magnate she is trying to expose. 

Adi must figure out whether her made-for-TV movies didn’t paint an accurate depiction of small towns and whether chasing after what she wants might cause her to lose everything. 

Meredith Schorr’s debut novel will make you laugh and cry, and prepare you for an autumn “Gilmore Girls” rewatch. We at Unpacked are Team Logan all the way.

“The Breakaway” by Jennifer Weiner 

New York Times #1 bestselling author Jennifer Weiner proves why she’s the queen of the beach read with “The Breakaway.”

It’s taken 33 years, but Abby Stern has somewhat found stability. While her job is not the best and she still hasn’t decorated her apartment, despite living there for years, Abby has a great group of friends and an amazing cycling club in Philadelphia. 

After years of struggling with her plus-sized body, she’s at peace with never being a size 0 and is marrying her weight-loss camp sweetheart, Mark Medoff. Everything should be perfect, but Abby can’t help thinking that something is wrong. Her mind keeps coming back to a one-night stand she had with a mysterious man named Sebastian two years prior. 

Abby expects a last-minute biking trip from NYC to Niagara Falls will give her time to get Sebastian out of her system. However, when she makes it to New York, she learns that not only is the womanizing Sebastian on the trip, but her body-shaming mother is there too. 

As the group cycles across 700 miles, Abby must reflect on her strained relationship with her mother and what she really wants from love. 

“Sum­mer Nights and Meteorites” by Hannah Reynolds

“Summer Nights and Meteorites” is the perfect New England romance for those looking for a swoony YA romance with exciting twists along the way. 

Jordan Edelman is done with her chaotic love life. After far too many heartbreaks and dealing with her overprotective father, she’s decided to take a hiatus from boys this summer. Accompanying her dad on his research trip to Nantucket seems like the perfect opportunity to stick to the plan.

However, Jordan decides that a spontaneous hookup on the ferry won’t kill her. Until she discovers that the guy is Ethan Barbanel, her dad’s long-time research assistant and the same boy she’s harbored a grudge against for years from afar. If things couldn’t get more awkward, Jordan begins crushing on him! 

To add even more complications, Jordan’s summer job with a local astronomer throws her into a historical mystery linked to Gibson’s Comet. As she delves deeper into her research, Jordan realizes that her findings could jeopardize her budding relationship with Ethan.

“Maybe Once, Maybe Twice” by Alison Rose Greenberg

Everyone makes a phony pact to marry someone if they’re still single at 35. Except for Maggie Vine, she made that promise twice — and they both returned to her life just before her birthday. 

Maggie is struggling at being a singer and a mother and when hedge fund manager and talented rock singer Garrett Scholl strolls into her birthday party with the intention of kissing her. Garrett appears to be exactly what Maggie needs except that he’s engaged to someone else.

Then, Asher Reyes — Maggie’s teen camp crush-turned heartthrob actor actor — enters her life once again. Suddenly, she’s been offered a life-changing career opportunity and everything seems perfect. However, years after seemingly moving on, Maggie’s past keeps catching up to her. 

Alison Rose Greenberg’s “Maybe Once, Maybe Twice” is a steamy romance perfect for fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Annabel Monaghan. 

“Busi­ness or Pleasure” by Rachel Lynn Solomon

In Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sizzling rom-com “Business or Pleasure,” a ghostwriter and a struggling actor find themselves not only collaborating on the page but also entangled in a passionate affair.

Chandler Cohen didn’t expect to feel like a ghost when she became a ghostwriter. But when an author doesn’t recognize her at a signing for the book she wrote for them, Chandler takes to the bar. Her awkward encounter leads to a night of undeniable chemistry, but it ends disastrously, making her wish she could forget it.

But ignoring that night becomes impossible when she’s tasked with ghostwriting a memoir for C-list actor Finn Walsh. What was supposed to be a simple assignment forces Chandler to come face-to-face with her one-night stand. Determined to maintain professionalism, she must confront their history when Finn learns their hookup wasn’t as memorable as he believed.

As they navigate their professional relationship, Chandler and Finn strike a daunting bargain: she’ll educate him on pleasing a woman in bed when they’re not working on his book. As their bond deepens inside and outside the bedroom, they must decide whether to prioritize business or pleasure — or figure out how they can have both.

“Dear Eliza” by Andrea Stein 

While Andrea Stein’s sophomore novel comes out Oct. 8, “Dear Eliza” is the perfect book to preorder for summer 2025. 

Eliza Levinger’s life fell apart when her mom died of cancer when she was a teen. As an adult, she thinks she has finally gotten it all figured out: A Manhattan apartment, a director job at a non-profit, and the perfect no-strings-attached friends-with-benefits relationship.

However, Eliza’s world is once again turned upside down when her dad dies and her aunt Claude gives her a letter at the shiva that exposes a major family bombshell. 

Now, she and her brother aren’t on speaking terms, her best friend doesn’t understand and her stepmom is threatening to disinherit her. In all of the chaos, she finds an unlikely ally in her brother’s best friend and her former crush, Josh, who might be exactly what she’s looking for. 

“Dear Eliza” is the perfect fit for Emily Henry and Katherine Center readers who are looking for a novel that poignantly discusses grief, love and finding beauty in messes.

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