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17 Fun Science Fiction and Fantasy Beach Reads

Try these sci-fi and fantasy books while you enjoy some sun at the pool or the beach.

Book on the Beach
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  • Photo Credit: Ben White / Unsplash

Summer is finally here, and with it come all of our favorite things: Long days, hot nights, and plenty of time next to a large body of water. Whether that’s the pool or the beach doesn’t matter much to us. The more important question is what book we're binging. 

Every summer, you see the beach read lists come out. But have you ever wondered what exactly makes a book a beach read. After all, it seems like that would be a highly personal experience that varies from person to person. My dad is likely to read a historical nonfiction novel where I would much rather be swept into a fast-paced adventure with plenty of twists and turns. But it turns out, there is somewhat of an actual definition for a beach read.

The idea of a beach read can be traced back to the 1800s. Many Americans began taking summer vacations in the early 1800s, heading to the mountains and beaches to enjoy some idle days of rest and relaxation. As these vacations became more popular, the publishing industry took note. In 1872, ads for summer reading began popping up. More lists followed, and the books all shared specific attributes.

A beach read, both in 1872 and today, are books that are considered lighter reads. Sometimes that meant literally, as the mass-market paperback liked to point out. But mostly, a beach read is meant to be easy to read and highly entertaining. It should keep you enthralled for a few hours while you lounge on the beach but allow you to put it down for an afternoon nap or a quick swim to cool down. Of course, even that definition could apply to just about any book, if what you’re reading is enjoyable and entertaining.

Good thing the first rule of book club is we never shame anyone about book club. If you love it, you should read it, whether it’s under a pile of blankets in the middle of the night or slathered in sunblock on the beach. And to help you find your next great escape while basking in the heat, here are some sci-fi beach reads ready to take you through our galaxy and beyond.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Beach Reads

Abberton House

Abberton House

By Debbie Ioanna

Every house has secrets—even dream houses. When Adam, Catherine, and their daughter Bella, move into Abberton House, it’s everything they imagined it would be until they realize they may not be alone. One hundred years separate two families, but the house brings them together. Moving in may be the worst decision the family has ever made.

You’ll be grateful for the bright sun as you’re immersed in this dark, gothic horror story filled with sinister secrets, unexpected twists, and a heart-pounding ending.



By James Byron Huggins

The CIA knows the value of a reliable hitman. That’s why, when one of their legendary killers dies, they use the top-secret Project Genesis to bring him back. But something went wrong: Whatever the man had for a soul is gone. Devoid of feeling, he’s become the ultimate killing machine. Worse than that, he’s on the loose. It comes down to a lost soldier struggling with too much loss, a faithless priest, and the scientist responsible for recreating the man they hunt. As time ticks down, they race to stop Cain. And if they don’t, the survival of the human race may die with them.

Cain is a fast-paced thriller where the ultimate battle of good versus evil is played out through government agencies and global warfare.

Dark Orbit

Dark Orbit

By Carolyn Ives Gilman

Exoethnologist Sara Callicot is part of a team of scientists assigned to investigate a potential habitable planet. But her mission is to keep an eye on Thora, a banished elite. Her delusional visions sparked a revolt. Sending her to the far reaches of space is the best option. But when they arrive on the planet, a crewmember is murdered and Thora disappears. 

Lost in the dark expanse of the planet among a blind species that navigates through extrasensory perceptions, Thora might be the only one who can help them. But she has to overcome her own demons and convince the crew to trust her first.

The Dragonback Series Books 1–3

The Dragonback Series Books 1–3

By Timothy Zahn

Jack Morgan is a thief and a con-artist. But when he flees his planet after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he meets Draycos, a warrior reptile whose entire species is targeted for extinction. The two will do whatever it takes to survive. Even if that means bonding—literally.

This spectacular six book series will take you on adventure after adventure through the depths of space with two flawed but lovable characters.

Empire of Lies

Empire of Lies

By Raymond Khoury

Everything changed in 1683 when Mehmed IV, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire is visited by a tattoo-covered stranger who appears mysteriously in his bedroom. Now, Ottoman flags have been flying over Paris—and all of Europe—ever since they were defeated over three hundred years ago. 

But all is not well in the Empire. The Christian Republic of America might start a war, extremists violently attack, and economic collapse looms. Secret police officer Kamal Arslan is tasked with keeping peace until a tattooed man shows up in the Seine and exposes a secret the Sultan will do anything to keep buried.

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Fourth Wing

By Rebecca Yarros

The last thing 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail wants is to become a dragon rider. But her commanding general ordered her to. Smaller than the rest of the cadets, Violet worries that even if the dragons don’t kill her, her peers might ... especially because of who her mother is. Every day brings the possibility of death, but outside Basgiath War College, things are worse. The kingdoms wards grow weak, the war turns deadlier, and Violet suspects those in charge have secrets that can destroy them all. It will take her wits and more to graduate. As the school motto says, she either graduates or dies.

Fourth Wing is one of the summer’s most bingeworthy SFF books. If you haven’t devoured it already, you’ll absolutely want to take it on your next pool day.

The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin

Combat Codes

By Alexander Darwin

After war destroyed the world, the surviving nations swore to never use weapons of mass destruction again. Now, highly-skilled warriors known as Grievar Knights represent their nations and scores are settled in hand-to-hand combat. Murray Pearson was once one of those Knights, famed for his brutality until his loss devastated his nation. 

But he thinks he’s found a new champion in the underground combat rings. Before the orphan known as Celo can go the combat academy, however, he has to prove his worth in the underworld arenas where survival is never guaranteed.

A brutal, fast-paced story that punches like a bare-knuckle fight. It’s violent, intimate, and completely addicting.

The Blood Trials by N. E. Davenport

The Blood Trials

By N. E. Davenport

Ikenna Amari’s world is shattered when her grandfather is murdered. He raised her after her mother’s death, trained her to be a warrior, and helped her keep her secret. Ikenna is blood gifted, which makes her an enemy of the very country she fights for. As the Legatus, only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered her grandfather’s death. To find out who, Ikenna has to become a Praetorian. But to do that, she has to survive the Trials—a brutal test that only a quarter survive. Surrounded by enemies, desperate for answers, and hiding a secret that would see her executed, Ikenna risks everything for the chance at revenge.

A stunning debut that hurtles from beginning to end, this New Adult science-fantasy mashup has action, intrigue, and a steamy romance.

Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary

By Andy Weir

Ryland Grace is humanity’s last chance. Only, he has no idea. He’s been asleep for a long time, waking up with no memory of who he is, why he’s in a spaceship, and what happened to the two corpses travelling with him. As his memories come back, so too does his mission. 

Only, now he has to figure out an impossible scientific mystery with the entire human race hanging in the balance. 

Loki's Ring by Stina Leicht

Loki's Ring

By Stina Leicht

Gita Chithra is calm under pressure. That’s why she’s good at rescue missions. She and her crew on the Tempest cross galaxies to help. But when she gets a distress call from the AI she trained, the one she sees as a daughter, she knows this won’t be simple or easy. Ri is trapped in Loki’s Ring, an alien-created solar system. Everyone there has been infected with some kind of contagion. Gita and her crew are soon stranded, vulnerable, and embroiled in horror. Their only hope relies on an old friend, and if they refuse to help, everyone Gita has ever loved will die.

This female-driven space adventure is Gravity meets Arrival filled with gripping action, intergalactic intrigue, and a stunning cast of feminist, diverse characters.

Savage Legion

Savage Legion

By Matt Wallace

Taken from the slums, the Savages are people no one will miss. They’re also the best weapon the empire ever created. Their brutal efficiency and sheer numbers make them expendable. The empire throws them by the thousands to destroy whoever threatens it. But Evie is not a Savage. She’s a warrior. And she’s determined to find the man she once loved. The man who may have the secret to destroying the empire for good. To find him she must become brutal. She must fight for the empire. She must become a Savage. 

Then she’ll show them exactly what a Savage Legion can do. This epic adventure series gets better with every book, and with the entire trilogy now out, you can binge all three books on your next beach vacation.

asian authors tbr list jade city

Jade City

By Fonda Lee

Two crime syndicates control the island of Kekon. A rare magical jade grants almost superhuman abilities to whomever wears it. Known as the Green Bone clans, the syndicates once protected the island and the powerful jade from invasion. Now, they war for control. 

The Kaul family is one of the syndicates, but when tension with their rival explodes in the streets, the war that ensues will affect not only every Green Bone on Kekon, but the future of the entire island.

A gripping trilogy with The Godfather vibes, everything from the magic to the kung fu will capture your complete attention and refuse to let go until the last book.


Red Rising

By Pierce Brown

As a Red, Darrow mines the depths of Mars, building the planet so his children’s children might one day live on the surface. But Darrow and the Reds have been told a lie. The truth is, Mars has been habitable for generations. And the Reds simply slave beneath the ground to make life easy for the ruling Golds. 

Inspired by justice, sharpened by hate, Darrow infiltrates their legendary Institute to learn all their strengths and weaknesses. Because sometimes to destroy your enemy, you must become them first.

Leviathan Wakes James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes

By James S.A. Corey

Humans have conquered the solar system. We have civilizations on Mars, the Moon, and the Asteroid Belt. Jim Holden is an ice miner hauling cargo from the rings of Saturn to the Belt. But when he and his crew find a derelict ship, they accidentally stumble on a secret someone is willing to kill for. 

Detective Miller was looking for a girl when the trail led him to that derelict ship. Now, Holden and Miller have to figure out who is willing to kill on an unfathomable level and why the girl is the key … and they have to do it before planetary war breaks out.

the pace between worlds

The Space Between Worlds

By Micaiah Johnson

Anyone can travel between the multiverse—as long as your counterpart isn’t still alive. That’s where people like Cara come in. Her parallel selves are…unlucky. They’ve managed to die in 372 worlds. Their bad luck means good luck for her, as she’s taken out of the wastelands to live in the wealthy walled-off Wiley City. 

But when one of her remaining eight selves dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara suddenly discovers an old secret. Her past and future are connected in ways she never dreamed. And she may play a role that risks not just her world, but all of them.


Space Opera

By Catherynne M. Valente

After war nearly tore the galaxy apart, the Metagalactic Grand Prix was born. It’s part gladiatorial, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and it all carries a continuation of the wars from the past. But instead of combat, it’s a competition of song, dance, and physical performance. The stakes are high, and no one can sit out—and this year is even better. 

Humankind has discovered the universe. Only, there is no diplomacy or council meetings or even outright battles. Instead, if they want to control their destiny, they have to sing. The fate of humanity lies in one band’s ability to rock.