Now that the kids are out of school, summer can finally start! The slower pace during the summer gives me more time to do things that get pushed aside during the rest of the year — especially, read more books, one of my favorite pastimes. Even though our family isn’t taking a vacation to Hawaii or some dream beach locale, I can still armchair travel with my beach reads.

Don’t let the “beach reads” in the title fool you though. My definition of an essential beach read is simple: an engrossing book that lets me escape my everyday life. Each book on my list is perfect for reading in a lounge chair by the pool, on a cruise ship by the sea, or in the comfort of your air-conditioned home. Let your kids enjoy summer their way — with screens, frolicking by the pool, or running around at the park — while you curl up to one of these exciting beach reads.

More Great Reads: