9 Beach Reads with Michigan Connections

Pass the time this summer with these page-turners
beach reads
Photo: IStock

Whether you’re looking to get wrapped up in an adorably cheesy rom-com, a thriller, or a story about family life, these books with Michigan connections are great beach reads.

The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne

The story of a sister who locked herself away in a psychiatric hospital following the deaths of her parents is full of twists and turns that will have you struggling to put this book down. The Wicked Sister is a family thriller that takes a deeper look at the trust between loved ones. Written by Detroit native Karen Dionne, this novel is a true page-turner.

The Summer Cottage by Viola Shipman

Combining charm, escapism, and comfort, The Summer Cottage is the pinnacle of beach reads. The story, written by Viola Shipman — a pen name used by author Wade Rouse, who divides his time between living in Saugatuck and Palm Springs, California — follows main character Adie Lou Kruger as she spends her summer at her parents’ old cottage on Lake Michigan. Kruger struggles with her husband’s affair, empty nest syndrome, and middle age as she works to revamp the cottage, as well as her life.

The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian

A Detroit resident and the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Leisure Seeker, Michael Zadoorian released his last book in May of 2020. The Narcissism of Small Differences follows a Michigan couple struggling with their lack of desire to have children, the opinions of others, and the perils of adulthood. This comedy features characters who are so real that you’ll be questioning whether you met them in another life.

Black Bottom Saints by Alice Randall

Detroit native Alice Randall is a critically acclaimed songwriter and novelist. Her newest release, Black Bottom Saints, doesn’t disappoint. The story recounts the life and times of Joseph “Ziggy” Johnson, a gossip columnist who found his niche in Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood. Ziggy named 52 “saints” of the era from famous musicians to local heroes, sprinkling in fabulous cocktail recipes and juicy anecdotes as the story unfolds. The perfect amount of history intertwined with glamour, grit, and good times.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

With a name like Beach Read, this rom-com had to make our list. Written by Emily Henry, a graduate of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, the story follows two writers who have given up on love and meet under unlikely circumstances. One is a romance novelist while the other works on literary fiction. Despite their differences, the two form a bond to defeat their writer’s block. The award-winning and heart-warming read is perfect to pass the time while catching some rays.

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

Former Boyne City resident Katherine Heiny released Early Morning Riser this year and the novel was met with massive praise. The story is set in Boyne and follows Jane, a small-town girl who happens to fall in love with the town womanizer, Duncan. Through twists and turns the Early Morning Riser explores true love, discomfort, and trust. This beach read will tug on your heartstrings and have you cracking up.

It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan

Port Huron native Terry McMillan has an array of popular novels including How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale. Her newest book, It’s Not All Downhill From Here, focuses on a group of friends, their internal struggles, and the ways that they show up for one another. A relatable and heartwarming beach read, this tale of friendship is a must-have for the summer. Once you finish it, be sure to pass it on to one of your loved ones.

The Pink Pony: Murder on Mackinaw Island by Charles Cutter

This murder mystery uses Mackinaw Island as its backdrop. When a sailboat racer is found dead at the popular bar The Pink Pony, former lawyer Burr Lafayette is recruited to represent the accused. It’s twisty and dark, bringing some edge to the otherwise sleepy town. Written by University of Michigan Law School grad Charles Cutter, this legal thriller is the escapism you’ve been looking for.

The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season by Molly Fader

Set in the middle of Northern Michigan, Molly Fader captures the traditions of cherry season in this story. Following Hope and her 10-year-old daughter as they hide from a terrible secret, The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season highlights the highs and lows of family life, reminding us that blood is always thicker than water. The story is warm, twisty, and sweet, all rolled into one delicious beach read.