The latest beach readings are inspired by Hallmark movies

It’s beach book season again and, as usual, publishers have released a bumper crop of tempting reads. But which one to choose? Luckily, I’ve picked out my favorites, all guaranteed to be good company no matter where you go this summer. My top three picks for the best beach books are inspired by the Hallmark Channel.

“Book Lovers” by Emily Henry borrows tropes from Hallmark movies and gives them a fun twist. The book is about a love story in a small town, but the main character is not the usual brave genius who bakes cookies. Instead, it’s Nora Stephens, a tough literary agent who continually clashes with a tough editor named Charlie. When Nora goes to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina to rest and relax, instead of meeting a fresh-faced farmer or a well-built vet, she keeps running into pasty-faced Charlie.

Throughout the novel, Henry nods to the so-called transformative powers of small-town life and provides a continuous witty repartee between two city-dwelling characters who prefer taxi horns to a chattering stream. Congratulations to Henry who delivers one of the best novels of the summer.

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According to the rules: Authors paint pictures of the South with “Graceland, finally”, “Memphis”

I’ve always been a sucker for a Hollywood novel, and one of the best I’ve read recently is “Nora Leaves the Script” by Annabel Monaghan.

Nora is a screenwriter who writes movies for a fictional Hallmark-like channel, but her own happily ever after is shattered when her husband leaves her and her two children. His life seems bleak until “sexiest man alive” Leo Vance becomes his tenant for a week. Turns out seven days is enough to fall in love with Hollywood’s bad boy. But since Leo has a spotty record with relationships, Nora is wary of risking her heart again. Likeable characters, clever humor, and an unexpected ending make this novel a must-read for the summer.

The last (but not least) novel that cheerfully pokes fun at Hallmark movie plots is As Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr. It’s about Adina Gellar, a journalist from New York, who travels to the small town of Pleasant Hollow in search of a story and maybe love. Too bad Pleasant Hollow doesn’t live up to its name. There’s no charming bakery, no quaint seasonal festivals, and no quirky but welcoming townspeople. The only bright spot is a cute guy named Finn who just might change Adina’s mind about the charms of the town. Schorr’s novel is a true delight and a must-read for “Gilmore Girls” lovers.

My final beach reading pick pays homage to one of my favorite movies, the “Parent Trap,” and the author Ali Brady (a pen name for authors Alison Hammer and Bradleigh Godfrey) gives this plot a coastal flavor in “The Beach Trap.” Preteens Kat and Blake bond at camp, but their friendship crumbles when they find out they’re half-sisters. Fifteen years later, their father dies leaving them a dilapidated beach house in Destin, Florida. The siblings come together to renovate the house and constantly find themselves in conflict. What will it take for the sisters to restore their relationship? If you’re a sucker for HGTV and sibling rivalry romances, throw “The Beach Trap” in your bag.

Local outings

One of Augusta’s own, Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber of the AU/UGA medical partnership, is featured in “Lessons Learned: Stories of Women Physician Leaders” by Deborah M. Shlian. The book shares the career paths of 33 leading female physicians and aims to raise awareness of pay inequities among female physicians, especially those of color.

“Paladin” by Charles Bowen is a World War II novel that weaves together the complexities of Southern society in Augusta, Georgia, with that of Suffolk, England. It traces an idyll between an American fighter pilot and an Englishwoman.

Judy Helmey, a regular contributor to The Augusta Chronicle’s Friday Fishing Report, wrote an illustrated book titled “My father, the sea and me” which recounts how she learned about the family’s fishing boat rental business. To obtain a copy, email the author at [email protected]

Do you have local literary news? Email it to [email protected] By the Book is published monthly.

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