From picking the right books to displaying them in Insta-worthy fashion, these tips will make your summer reading positively blissful.

By Caroline McKenzie and Lauren Phillips
June 05, 2017
Photo: Ericka McConnell; Model: Nathalie Darcas for Wilhelmina; Hair and makeup: Jamie Gummere/Blush Beauty
Photo: Ericka McConnell; Model: Nathalie Darcas for Wilhelmina; Hair and makeup: Jamie Gummere/Blush Beauty


The trifecta of sun, sand, and a good book all but ensures a superb nap is to follow. But what about that pesky problem of keeping your place (without dog-earing the pages!) as you dose off for a long summer's snooze? Here at Coastal Living, we're fans of the "literary eye mask." It's easy—just place your book, open to the current page, over your eyes as you sneak in a little R&R. Bonus: it also provides superb SPF! If you're desperate to push through the temptation to slumber and keep on reading, remember that iced coffee and books pair just as well as hot coffee and books. Also, a brisk walk to water and back will jumpstart your reading energy.

Library photo: Alison Miksch; Beach: Brooke Slezak
Library photo: Alison Miksch; Beach: Brooke Slezak


We're smitten with both the look and spirit of the Little Free Libraries—pint-size book receptacles for sharing and swapping on the honor system—that are popping up from coast to coast. To create your own lending box, all you need are a small collection of books and a few pieces of plywood from the local hardware store. (Better yet, order a kit and register your library straight from Little Free Libraries. Ours is the Little Free Library Rustic Book Shed, $325.) Look for a well-traveled path in your neighborhood to set up shop and begin spreading the reading love.

Photo: Courtesy of Talbots
Photo: Courtesy of Talbots


Talbots, in collaboration with Random House, has launched Give A Book. Get A Book. this summer, to both celebrate the joy of summer reading and spread the book love. The program, the largest underground lending library in the country this summer, allows thousands of women to exchange books during the summer reading season. Talbots customers can drop off a much-loved book at their local Talbots and then pick up another book that someone else has dropped off. Festive bookplates allow customers to write notes to future readers about why they loved the book; at the end of the summer, any remaining books will be donated to local organizations. Influential women, including The View executive producer Candi Carter and Dress for Success CEO Joi Gordon, will be sharing their favorite books online to kick off the exchange of impactful books, and Talbots will offer sneak peeks of upcoming books from best-selling authors through June 18. 


It’s not as difficult as it seems—starting a book club, whether it’s for intellectual discussions about the latest literary wonders or laughing together over wine and the latest romance novel (or all of the above!), can be a breeze. Check out Real Simple’s checklist for starting a book club for an easy guide, or take the more casual road and simply ask friends over for wine and cheese. It’s your book club!


Nothing ruins a great new book like a friend, coworker, or perfectly well-meaning stranger spilling the never-saw-it-coming ending. While there's no foolproof way to avoid accidental spoilers, here are a few precautionary measures. First, utilize filters (available on apps such as FB Purity and Tweetdeck) to rid the virtual water cooler—social media—of potential plot-ruining posts. Next, think twice before you pull out a runaway hit in a crowded spot. (In-the-know readers love to brag!) Finally, if you sense someone is midway through a no-turning-back revelation, simply utter these words for an instant change in conversation: "Where are you going to the beach this summer?"


Pinterest is flooded with "shelfies" for good reason: A well-styled bookshelf is a high-yield way to transform a room. Here's our formula behind a refined yet laid-back look: sea glass (whether the real deal or just something in the color palette, the watery hues add a fresh pop of color) + stems (cut flowers bring pretty polish) + shells (for a beachy but sculptural element) + snapshots (grainy candids—especially ones from the beach!—add nostalgia).

Library photo: Alison Miksch; Beach: Brooke Slezak; Talbots: Courtesy of Talbots